While I was preparing to not watch the UConn Lady Huskies tangle with Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish in the Finals of the 2015 Division 1 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship (when I watch them, they lose so Stewie and Geno, you’re welcome), three time zones away, a truly remarkable human being, Stan Freberg, was shuffling off his mortal coil.
As a Child of the Novelty of TV in America in the 50’s I knew of him more so than knew him at all. He was a genius at what he called ‘pay radio’ what the rest of the industry called records. But he harnessed his humor, which was in its way was as outrageous as Nichols and May, Shelly Berman and Lenny Bruce were in more conventional comedic traditions to create television commercials that demanded you watch them. To this day, his rendition of Harry Belafonte’s Banana Boat Song, cracks me sideways.
We look forward to the humor (or as far as I’m concerned, the possibility of a hint of humor) in Super Bowl TV commercials sometimes more often than the contest on the field-but until Freberg’s ad agency, whose motto was “Ars Pecunia Gratis” (Art for Money’s Sake), humor and television commercials were on different plants in different galaxies.
Those were strange days, indeed. I remember as a (non-Brussel) Sprout watching a commercial for a cigarette, “There Is Nothing Like a Lark,” that stole the theme music from The Lone Ranger which, musical illiterate that I was, was actually the William Tell Overture. I knew they ripped off the Lone Ranger and Tonto; Freberg was infuriated they had misappropriated William Tell.
Adam’s birthday I forget; this commercial I remember. Crescendo and out.-bill kenny