• U.S.

Radio: The Aces Move

2 minute read

Laughcasters Goodman and Jane Ace picked up a copy of Variety last month and got a surprise. They learned that their sponsor (Anacin Tablets) would move them this week from the Blue Network to CBS. To any other radio headliners such a surprise would have been unbelievable, but not for them. For the casual Aces, who, for twelve years, have led merry, muddled fictional lives as The Easy Aces, it was quite natural.

They took it lightly as they take their whole program—even its scripting, which Ace does himself. Unlike Fred Allen (who overmodestly says Goodman Ace is America’s greatest wit), Goodman Ace burns no midnight oil, drips no sweat. He usually tosses off a script in an hour and a half. His cigars give him a convenient yardstick: a one-cigar script is apt to be terrific, a two-or three-cigar script fair, a four-cigar script a stinkaroo. Rehearsals are similarly carefree. A light once-over usually suffices. Anything more than that, Goodman Ace insists, kills the spark of spontaneity.

Easy Aces, has always broadcast at the same hour as Amos ‘n’ Andy, has never achieved a listener rating worth crowing about. But instead of being sensitive, the Aces consider it an uproarious joke on themselves.

On the air, most of the comedy radiates from Jane, hopelessly dimwitted, who every time she opens her mouth puts her foot in the microphone. Her nitwitticisms are mostly malaprops: “He’s a ragged individualist.” . . . “Time wounds all heels.” . . . “We’re insufferable friends.” . . . “Familiarity breeds attempt.”

Bespectacled, sandy-haired Goodman Ace was a drama critic on a Kansas City newspaper in 1930, eking out his small salary with some local weekly broadcasts. (One was called Where’s a Good Show?, another consisted of reading the funnies.) One day, as he was ending a broadcast, a studio director shoved a hastily scribbled note under his nose: he would have to fill in for the next 15 minutes. Ace signaled his wife, who was in the studio, spent the next quarter-hour in goofy, unrehearsed chatter with Jane, about a bridge game the night before. It was a hit. By the following year, Easy Aces had gone to Chicago and the big time. Now the Aces live in style at Manhattan’s Ritz Tower, get a reported $3,500 a week.

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