"Stan Freberg? I've Heard Of Him, But..."
by Michael "Rabbit" Hutchison
(To see a list of Stan's work or to buy his albums, just click here:
Stan Freberg has been a great influence on my life.
Not only did I develop a sense of humor similar to his, I even chose a career because of him!
So, who the heck is he?
That's what you're thinking, right? Be honest. Maybe you've heard of his name but don't really know who he is.
The first thing you should know about Stan...HE'S EVERYWHERE!
Here are some of the ways you may have heard of him:
- Stan started his career doing voices for Warner Brothers cartoons. He was one of the Goofy Gophers ("Oh, indubitably!"), the Abominable Snowman ("I will pet him and pet him and call him George."), six-foot-tall Junior of the Three Bears ("Duhhh...Someone's been sleepING in MY bed!"), Chester the little dog ("Sure, Spike! Sure! I know where there is it a cat!")...and, in one hilarious cartoon, Pete Puma (pictured).
Bugs Bunny: "How many lumps do you want?"
Pete Puma: "Oh, three or fourrrrr...."
Bugs wacks him four times on the head with a mallet
Pete Puma (in extreme pain): "EeeeeEEEEEeeeee!!!!"
- Have you ever heard a novelty record in which this romantic couple coos "John!" "Marsha!"? That was Stan. He recorded novelty records throughout the fifties and sixties. Other hits include a Banana Boat song ("Day-oh!") in which the hepcat bongo player is bummed by the calypso shouting of the Belafante-esque singer, and his send-up of Mitch Miller's percussive "Yellow Rose of Texas", featuring a proud Texan whose singing is drowned out by the "cotton-pickin' snare drummer."
- Stan Freberg was the very last person to have a network radio variety show. He took over Jack Benny's old slot and produced 15 entertaining and slightly ground-breaking shows. I say "slightly" because he dealt with a heavy amount of censorship from the network. Not that Stan is ever crude, just that CBS was very timid when it came to content. Stan wasn't even allowed to say "Atomic bomb" on the air.
- You may have heard a promotional spot that Stan recorded to emphasize the power of radio. As Stan narrates, sound effects are used to convince us that Lake Michigan is being drained, then filled with whipped cream and topped with a gigantic cherry. Try doing THAT on television!
- "Take an Indian to Lunch this Week". His most famous album, Stan Freberg Modestly Presents the United States of America, has enjoyed widespread popularity for three decades. A wacky version of American history, the first album covered the discovery of America up through the Revolutionary War. The second volume was finally recorded and released last year, and the third volume is coming soon.
- Most of all, you'll know Stan Freberg from his work in advertising. Stan is the father of the modern funny ad. At the time Stan entered the field, all advertising was done with a "captive audience" attitude. Announcers barked at housewives to pay attention to demonstrations of this product against Brand X, then they repeated their taglines often five or six times before the ad would come to a merciful conclusion. Stan's dangerous, horrid idea was that advertising should be at least as enjoyable as the shows surrounding them. For decades, Stan shocked his clients with ads which were satirical, hilarious and sometimes frightfully honest. When Butternut coffee wanted to sneak their instant coffee onto the market five years after everyone else had made an instant coffee, Stan turned it around and sang "Five years isn't exactly instant but that's how long it took." When Butternut wanted to break into the California market, Stan made a six and a half-minute mini-musical commercial...without mentioning the coffee until the last thirty seconds! We take funny advertising for granted now (although most modern advertising seems more like a nonsensical music video), but if it wasn't for Stan Freberg, most advertisers would be droning on about their scientific tests.
- Even those of you who aren't novelty record fans have probably heard of "I'm gettin' nuttin' for Christmas" in which Stan plays the part of a bratty kid helping "Santa" rob his parents.
- Stan recorded a seven minute skit entitled "Green Chri$tma$" that blisteringly attacked Madison Avenue for cashing in on the Christmas Spirit. If you haven't heard it, you can probably find it on those Christmas Funny Songs CDs. I'm writing this in October and I'm betting you can already find them in stores (Stan was soooooo right)!
- Okay, if you don't know Stan from any of his GOOD stuff, you'll probably remember those awful Encyclopedia Britannica TV ads that ran a few years ago. Remember the blonde kid with glasses who "was writing a report about space..."? Yeah, the kid that David Spade said was "in need of a serious beating"? Well, that's Stan's son Donovan, and Stan did that campaign. It's...it's not quite representative of his body of work.
- Another one of my favorite people, "Weird Al" Yankovic, currently has a Saturday morning show on which Stan Freberg and his son Donovan are regular characters.
I've become a CDNow reseller in order to link directly to Stan Freberg's many albums, including the New Tip of the Freberg Boxed Set which includes a video of his TV ads!
Tip of the Freberg Boxed Set
Final 8 Episodes
First 7 Episodes
First 7 Episodes
Very Best Of Stan Freberg
Vol. 1 & 2-Presents The U.S. Of America
Vol. 2-Presents The U.S. Of A.
So that's Stan Freberg. And yes, he really did affect my career.
He inspired me to enter radio advertising, which I did for three years!
I worked at a radio station in Wausau, Wisconsin, as a copywriter...and I easily won several Addy Awards. I say easily not because I'm a great genius but because radio ads are still, by and large, so incredibly boring that there isn't much in the way of competition.
My own Addy Award-winning radio spots!!!
TO DOWNLOAD MY ADS:
The following 4 ads are .WAV files.
Due to their length (30-60 seconds) they are saved in WinZip Format.
Just click on the title to begin the transfer, then save the file.
Decode the file using WinZip: http://www.winzip.com.
Rabbit Hutch Links:
Main Page Resume Comic Relief Dibny Dirt
WAVe Page Links The WAVe Page Democrat Quiz Martians
What do you think of Stan Freberg?