Last Saturday night, I was in Arlington, VA with my dear friends Renee, Dan, Laurie & Guyan. After a wonderful BBQ feast we were sitting around the dinner table and a discussion started about old TV shows….we narrowed it down to specific TV shows of the 1950’s. For the next 2 hours we laughed and laughed and laughed some more. I guess the wine and scotch had a little something to do with it!
I haven’t heard so much loud “belly laughter” in years. It was hilarious. We were yelling out names like “Rin Tin Tin, Circus Boy (we have now given that nickname to Dan), What’s My Line, Perry Mason, Gunsmoke, The Honeymooner’s and more! It was so crazy that Renee actually took a video of our craziness and sent it to our kids (my son and her daughter are married). The kids think we should be committed to a mental institution and they are probably right!
The night got even more rowdy. Now we started tying in actors and actresses to the 50’s TV shows. Ed Sullivan, James Arness, Lucille Ball, Red Skelton, Lloyd Bridges and more and more! The fun just would not stop.
It was nearing bed time (I go to bed real early!) and I remembered a TV show that I haven’t heard about in years- The Amos n Andy Show! When I blurted it out everyone screamed but they also had strange looks on their faces. Did they wet their pants from laughter?
Now, there was a lot of controversy about the Amos n Andy show. According to Wikepedia- “The show was very popular in the United States from the 1920s through the 1950s on both radio and television. As the show came to television, black actors took over the overwhelming majority of the roles; white characters were infrequent. Although the television version in particular received some criticism even in its own time, it is notable that apart from a few of the regular characters, most of the characters portrayed are simply ordinary people, and not stereotypes. Even the Harlem neighborhood appears as any other normal American community: there are policemen, cab drivers, stores and shopkeepers, mothers with baby carriages, all going about their business in a perfectly unremarkable manner: they just happen to have black skin. Even “Amos” himself is a perfectly acceptable character, and no stereotype. He is a married man and an entrepreneur who owns and operates his own taxi business, the Fresh Air Cab Company. “Andy” is arguably more an unfortunate stereotype. He is chronically unemployed and a bit slow-witted. Despite his unemployment, he always seems to have a bit of money at hand, and one or two episodes suggest he has an adequate income from some stock holdings. “Kingfish” too is something of a stereotype going in the other direction, a clever, fast-talking huckster, always ready to cheat his friends with some get-rich-quick scheme. In this, though, Andy and the Kingfish are not so much black stereotypes as stock comic characters: they are very much in the mold of Abbott & Costello, with Andy as the naive, trusting Lou, always preyed upon by his unscrupulous friend.”
Do you have a favorite 1950’s TV Show? Please share it here!
I found several episodes of Amos n Andy on You Tube! If you want to have some great laughs, take a look. Try to get around the stereotyping….just have fun and enjoy watching.