Entry in progress—B.P.
Wikipedia: Jack Benny
Jack Benny (born Benjamin Kubelsky; February 14, 1894 – December 26, 1974) was an American comedian, vaudevillian, radio, television, and film actor, and violinist. Recognized as a leading American entertainer of the 20th century, Benny portrayed his character as a miser, playing his violin badly. In character, he would be 39 years of age, regardless of his actual age.
Benny was known for comic timing, and the ability to create laughter with a pregnant pause or a single expression, such as his signature exasperated “Well!” His radio and television programs, popular from the 1930s to the 1970s, were a major influence on the sitcom genre.
“Your money or your life”
In an episode broadcast March 28, 1948, Benny borrowed neighbor Ronald Colman’s Oscar, and was returning home when he was accosted by a mugger (voiced by comedian Eddie Marr). After asking for a match to light a cigarette, the mugger demands, “Don’t make a move, this is a stickup. Now, come on. Your money or your life.” Benny paused, and the studio audience—knowing his skinflint character—laughed. The robber then repeated his demand: “Look, bud! I said your money or your life!” Benny snapped back, without a break, “I’m thinking it over!” This time, the audience laughed louder and longer than they had during the pause.
The actual length of the laugh the joke got was five seconds when originally delivered and seven seconds when the gag was reprised on a follow-up show. In fact, the joke is probably not so memorable for the length of the laugh it provoked, but because it became the definitive “Jack Benny joke"—the joke that best illustrated Benny’s “stingy man” persona. The punchline—"I’m thinking it over!"—would not have worked with any other comedian than Benny.
Wikiquote: Jack Benny
Jack Benny (February 14, 1894 – December 26, 1974), born Benjamin Kubelsky, was an American comedian, vaudeville performer, and radio, television, and film actor. He was one of the biggest stars in classic American radio and was also a major television personality.
The Jack Benny Program (1950-1965)
Thug: This is a stickup! Now come on. Your money or your life.
Thug: [repeating] Look, bud, I said ‘Your money or your life.’
Jack Benny: I’m thinking I’m thinking!
3 February 1950, Evening World-Herald (Omaha, NE), “It Happened Last Night” by Earl Wilson, pg. 28, col. 4:
Benny Loves the Big City
Walks New York Streets ‘Like a Rube’”
I lunched with Jack Benny—with him buying me a cocktail first and a cigar afterward, and him paying the check—go ahead, call me a liar.
On another famous occasion on the air, a fellow said to Jack:
“Stick ‘em up, buddy. This is a holdup. Your money or your life.”
There was a long silence. The stickup fellow said, “Come on, your money or your life.” Another long silence and then Jack said four words:
“I’m thinking it over.”
The Laugh Crafters:
Comedy Writing in Radio and TV’s Golden Age
By Jordan R. Young
Beverly Hills, CA: Past Times
. they had come to a point where they had the line, “Your money or your life.” And that stopped them… Milt is pacing up and down, trying to get a follow… And he gets a little peeved at Tack, and he says, “For God’s sakes, Tack, say something.” Tack, maybe he was half asleep—in defense of himself, says, “I’m thinking it over.” And Milt says, “Wait a minute. That’s it.” And that’s the line that went in the script… By the way, that was not the biggest laugh that Jack ever got. It has the reputation of getting the biggest laugh. But that’s not true.
The Jack Benny Program - “Your Money Or Your Life”
Uploaded on Sep 28, 2011
“Great Moments in Sitcom History: A Eulogy” - Kempt’s 5-part series on the moments that shaped sitcom history.
Jack Benny - Your Money or Your Life
Uploaded on Dec 13, 2011
The classic bit from the Jack Benny Program. You can listen to more Jack Benny Program episodes at http://www.VIstaRecords.us.