This Is Me--2019 A to Z Theme

The Challenge of 2019 was the 10th! Since this was kind of a milestone year for A to Z my theme was a retrospective of sorts, looking at my 10 years as a blogger as well as ruminations about my life as it is and as I hope it yet can be. I've got places to be and people to see along the way. Hope you'll join me for this part of my journey...

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog.

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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Variety Shows ( #AtoZChallenge )



If all the world's a stage then a variety show is like a microcosmic representation of the universe in all of its infinite variety...


Image result for ed sullivan show
A holy grail of television variety shows


#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter














       One of the biggest attractions of the vaudeville stage show was the variety of entertainers presented.  In the span of a couple hours on the same stage one could enjoy singers, dancers, and comedians along with jugglers, magicians, acrobats, or whatever talent had been employed for that show.  It was an extravaganza intended for the delight of audiences who didn't get to see such things on a daily basis.

        While radio might have helped vaudeville in several ways, the advent of television was the death knell for vaudeville.  If movies had already taken a toll on the vaudeville show, television essentially sealed the deal.  The live stage variety show became a rare event in theaters while these shows became the mainstay of television.  Families in the fifties and sixties regularly gathered around their television sets to watch variety shows throughout the week.  For over two decades The Ed Sullivan Show was the most popular of them all.

          For performing acts like my family--The Juggling Jacksons-- an appearance on The Ed Sullivan show was synonymous with "hitting the big time."    A big break came in the spring of 1970 when the show's talent coordinator contacted our agent to have us come to Philadelphia to audition for the show.  It was uncommon for my father to accept an audition offer, but it was worth making the exception for a chance at Ed Sullivan.  


           Since we were living in Tennessee at the time, my father decided to take some time off from work and make the trip a vacation.  We visited NYC and DC among other places.  The audition went very well and it looked like we would be set for the upcoming season.  Then the show was cancelled from the CBS line-up.  After over 20 years and our chance to make it on national TV the Ed Sullivan dream vanished.  

          There are still variety revues being presented throughout the United States and other parts of the world--there likely always will be as long as there are entertainers with skills to present to audiences. There is not the organization in routing or organized tours like there were in the heyday of vaudeville, but there is certainly the potential to do so.  After all, with the resources available today a very organized tour could be put together--and some have been.












          Today's audiences are more sophisticated than a hundred or even fifty years ago. It's like they've seen everything and have access to anything they'd want to see by looking no further than their computer screens and television sets.  Still, people enjoy being entertained.  Variety shows have evolved in some cases in order to accommodate modern minds.  Then there are the retro shows that seek to recapture the flavor of the old shows.  Something for everyone is like a mantra for modern times.
          Perhaps there is something worth considering in this thought.  I am considering something.

          When is the last time you saw a live variety show, whether professional or amateur?  Are there any television variety shows that you still watch and enjoy?    Which bands have you seen that have incorporated elements of novelty entertainment?







20 comments:

  1. Bummer you just missed being on the show! But that's cool you were going to be.

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    1. Alex, I felt worse for my father as he had had the Ed Sullivan dream since the early fifties. It didn't matter that much to me although maybe my dad would have paid us extra for the performance. It would probably have been stressful.

      Lee

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  2. Yes, the Ed Sullivan show was appointment television in my home! I'm also reminded of Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour … which, I suppose, ushered in today's version: America's Got Talent.

    BTW, have you seen (or heard) the music from Forever Plaid? That includes a hilarious rendition of the 'entire Ed Sullivan show in 3 minutes and 11 seconds." Here's a link:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=be940okRtII

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    1. Myra, they really do cover the show in 3 minutes! Very clever. My father used to use "Lady of Spain" for part of his juggling routine.

      Lee

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  3. We watched Ed Sullivan every Sunday night, while living in Canada (missed 1965-69 as we were in Europe, then). It was a great show. What a shame it got cancelled right before your scheduled appearance! These days, there's America's Got Talent; an excellent platform for different acts. No live variety shows come to mind, but Alice Cooper has elements of Vaudeville in his concerts and Cher certainly camps it up pretty well. ☺

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    1. Debbie D, I saw Alice Cooper in 1972 and loved it. A very theatrical vaudeville type presentation.

      Lee

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  4. In France there is live variety show Ilike to watch: Taratata. It's good music and I love it!

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    1. Frederique, a lot of great variety comes from France.

      Lee

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  5. There aren't too many variety shows these days. That's a shame your family missed a chance to be on the Ed Sullivan Show.

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    1. L.Diane, even worse is if we had actually been on the show and screwed up. My father would have felt so humiliated.

      Lee

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  6. I miss variety shows. We watched Ed Sullivan faithfully, also Andy Williams' show. The Carol Burnett Show was my favorite.

    Nowadays it seems like the closest thing to a variety show in this country is America's Got Talent, but I don't watch it much. Sometimes I tune in for the quarter finals and beyond, and fast-forward to watch just the performances.

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    1. Trudy, AGT is definitely a variety show. You have to wade through nonsense to see the really good acts, but there have been some outstanding variety acts on that show.

      Lee

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  7. I'd be afraid to be PCed out of business.

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    1. CW, comedy would be tough now although I guess you can evoke laughs by just screaming profanities and anti-Trump jokes. The state of comedy in America is in a sad place.

      Lee

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  8. So close! I feel bad for your dad who probably had a dream of being on Ed Sullivan. I remember faintly, seeing Ed Sullivan but I did watch some shows on ..yes...YouTube. I wish they would bring the variety show back not just the reality shows. I love Carol Burnett.

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    1. Birgit, if you ever saw Bye Bye Birdie and remember the "ED Sullivan" song, that is how my father considered The Ed Sullivan Show. But any big nationwide broadcast would have been in his sights.

      Lee

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  9. There's nothing quite like a variery show Lee. Loved the post.

    Yvonne.

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  10. Too cool you were almost on Ed! He was "The" place to show up when I was a kid.

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  11. Shame for your dad and family being 'so near but so far'. I used to watch variety shows on UK TV. And Britain's Got Talent is as you say re: AGT a variety show of sorts.

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Lee