Sunday, August 3, 2014

Berowne's 231

Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "D" is for "deep fat fryer" :-)
This week's prompt reminds me of the past.  But then, everything reminds me of the past.  So here’s another episode in the series titled “Berowne’s Mediocre Adventures.”

Come back with me, if you will, to the early days of television.  I was making a poor but meager living as a radio announcer, but I wanted to get on this New Thing – tv – because that was where the big money was.

People were making fifty to a hundred dollars a week, or so I heard.

However, there seemed to be some sort of conspiracy – I’d have called it a vicious cabal but I wasn’t sure what that was – to keep me from the visual medium.  But the big day finally arrived.

Seems a new television station had recently opened in Philadelphia,WFIL-TV, and a sponsor sent me down there to do commercials.

The show I worked on was an example of how to produce tv programs when you don’t have money to produce tv programs.



They just invited in kids, high-school types, to come to the tv studio and dance, with an emcee playing music, while a camera panned around among the happy teeners.

The show was quite successful, at least to the standards of the day.

One day when I showed up the atmosphere at the studio was funereal; they had lost their emcee.  He had been charged with doing something emcees weren’t supposed to do so he had to be let go.  The new host was a bit strange, in my opinion, because he looked so young.  It was as though the producers has just brought up one of the kids from among the dancers and put him in charge.

But no, young as he was he had a background as a professional announcer and soon took over the show, which was named “Bandstand,” and made it his.  His name was Dick Clark, as some of you have already surmised, and Dick had been blessed with the DNA or genes or whatever it was that would permit him to look pretty much like a teenager for the rest of his life.

It was on that same station that I had my first great problem as a video announcer.  A problem indeed; I was persona au gratin, told to leave and not come back.  This came about because the station was very new; some things worked, some didn’t.

What I was guilty of was “laughing on the air.”

As an announcer you could laugh as an expression of joviality and good humor, but you couldn’t laugh at the tv station itself.  Yet, because it was so new, things happened there that were funny.



One day I was doing a commercial for a deep-fat fryer.  The device, filled with oil of some kind, rested on a table and I stood behind it extolling its virtues: “You’ll bless the day you brought it into your home and kitchen.”

I poured in a plateful of chopped-up potatoes and plugged it in.  What happened next was weird.  The sound system in the studio continued working, but the device had blown out all the lights.  We, the whole building, were in total darkness.   

The camera guy and the floor manager began to laugh.  It became too much for them; they fled the studio and started to roll around in the dark outside corridor, laughing hysterically.

I decided to try to soldier on.  I got to the bit where I was speaking about the fryer’s amazing low price and the easy-payment plan that was available, well aware of the surreal situation that the item I was so persuasively selling couldn’t be seen by anyone, not even me, so I soon couldn’t continue.  The noise from outside started me laughing too.  I went out and joined the studio staff in the corridor.

I may have been laughing on the outside but on the inside I was wondering just how this muddy situation was going to be for my future, how it would look on my resume: “Performed highly effectively as tv announcer, in one instance so effectively as to blast the whole station into total darkness.”  Who would hire such an individual?

Well, as things turned out so many people laughed on the air at that new tv station it got me off the hook.  I was liberated.  It was decided that the incident had not been my fault and I was allowed to continue working there.  I didn’t try to fry any more potatoes, however.  

22 comments:

Kathe W. said...

Oh I remember American Bandstand, but unfortunately I never caught your Fryer routine! Your relating that story had me howling with laughter! Cheers!

Helen said...

Oh, how I would love to see an old video clip of that wonderful moment in your career! American Bandstand was the show I rushed home from school to watch ~~ I still remember many of the dancer's names. The 50s were the best of times (for me.)

humbird said...

Fun story! Thank you for sharing the history of first tv shows. Glad the accident hasn't destroyed your career.

Arushi Ahuja said...

berowns m glad you kept the job!! just wondering however, were you able to sell any of the fryers at all?? ;)

Little Nell said...

It sounds as if it was a sizzling success!

Kutamun said...

"Stick fat " is still some of the best advice i've ever had !

Jennifer Chandler said...

Great memory! Thanks for sharing :) I agree with some of the others: if there was some footage of the deep fryer incident, I'd love to see it!

~Jen

Tess Kincaid said...

Your memoirs are fascinating, Mr. B...

Berowne said...

You've certainly made my day, Tess K - thanks so much.

Roger Owen Green said...

Hmm - thought I had commented.

In any case, I remember AB, when it went national. Probably saw more Dick Clark shows (Pyramid, New Years Eve) than almost anyone.

ellen b. said...

Ha! Great experience from your archives of life.

Leslie: said...

Oh my gosh! This is hilarious! I don't know how anyone could NOT have laughed. Good thing you kept your job...and what an experience that really must have been. We didn't get it in Canada until later but we sure enjoyed the show when we did see it!

Leslie
abcw team

Hildred said...

Do they have re-runs???

K V V S MURTHY said...

Good things to know..Thanks for sharing.

Jae Rose said...

You didn't have your chips then ;)

Sheilagh Lee said...

I'm glad you didn't lose your job

Karen S. said...

Oh my goodness, I remember this show, and fighting over it because I wanted to watch a children's show, and my older sister had to watch American Bandstand! What an interesting tale!

Lmkazmierczak said...

Wonderful story...Dick Clark was a class act♪

Marsha said...

hahahahahahaha, very funny, well done, loved it. Don't you wish you had a video tape of that show?

Berowne said...

Sincere thanks for the great comment, Marsha.

Eddie Bluelights said...

Interesting story - read twice and enjoyed here and at Tess's Magpie Tales.

Eddie

Katherine said...

Oh my goodness how hilarious, I love your story... how funny!Too bad we can't press the replay button today to see that moment in time. Love it! Thanks for sharing.Hope you're having a wonderful weekend. Cheers Kath

 
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