From the minstrel shows in the decade immediately following the opening of Carnegie Hall in 1891, through the early 1900s vaudeville and beyond, Carnegie Hall has been a venue for major comedy performances for more than a century. Generation upon generation of comedic giants have performed on the main stage—Fanny Brice, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Bob Hope, Lenny Bruce, Carol Burnett, George Carlin, Bill Cosby, John Belushi, Jay Leno, Ray Romano, Ricky Gervais, and Louis CK, to name a handful. As a location for major New York Comedy Festival events each year, the Hall continues to be one of the prime venues for comedy in the city.
It is fitting, then, that this week's Live from Carnegie Hall celebrates the anniversary of the final performance by two legends of radio, television, and live comedy for more than half a century, Bob & Ray.
Artist: Bob & RayAlbum: Bob & Ray: A Night of Two StarsLabel: BobandRay.comDate Recorded: May 31, 1984Fun Fact: Bob & Ray got their break as a comedy duo in the mid 1940s when WHDH in Boston—where they both worked separately as DJ and newsreader, respectively—brought them together to fill air time when the Boston Red Sox baseball broadcasts were rained out.
Bob (Elliott) and Ray (Goulding) were in the deep twilight of their career when they appeared at Carnegie Hall on this night in 1984. Having begun to perform their classic American brand of subtle, character-driven dry humor as radio men in Boston during World War II, they became stalwarts of radio, telvision, and stand-up during the next four decades.
Their Carnegie Hall shows—they also performed on June 2, 1984—were their farewell live appearances together. The audiences were treated to a catalog of many of their most famous and favorite routines, including "The Slow Talkers of America," "The Komodo Dragon," "Einbinder Flypaper," "Biff Burns in the Sports Room," and "Wally Ballou in Times Square."
Just six years after the Grammy-nominated Night of Two Stars recording, Ray Goulding died at the relatively young age of 68. After Ray’s death, Bob Elliott joined Garrison Keillor for a season of American Radio Company of the Air, broadcast from the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Bob continues to appear on TV, in film, and on radio, including playing the father of his real-life son, actor and comedian Chris Elliott, on the Fox sitcom, Get A Life, as well as appearances on television hits like King of the Hill and Parks and Recreation.
Enjoy some of the sounds and images of that memorable night in American comedy history.
"Slow Talkers of America" from Bob & Ray: A Night of Two Stars. Courtesy of BobandRay.com.
"Komodo Dragon" from Bob & Ray: A Night of Two Stars. Courtesy of BobandRay.com.
The full Bob & Ray: A Night of Two Stars track list is available at bobandray.com/albums/nts.html.
The Al Hirschfeld-drawn caricature of Bob & Ray used on the CD cover and in all of the promotional material for the concert. Courtesy of BobandRay.com.
Bob & Ray three sheet poster outside Carnegie Hall. Photo by Daryll Pill.
Bob & Ray perform on the Carnegie Hall stage. Photo by Daryll Pill.
Archival Bob & Ray publicity photos. Courtesy of BobandRay.com.
Related:Live from Carnegie Hall Series History of the Hall