2007   NOVEMBER 30   #334

Roger Price - Roger and Over

The Amazing Theory of Names Demonstrated at the Village Vanguard (18:17)
The True and Authentic History of Vermont Jazz (13:57)
An Expose of Hi-Fidelity (4:50)
Sound Droodles (3:02)

Roger Price is my favorite forgotten comic, though this album may only give you the slightest idea why. Mr. Price is the self-same Price who co-created Mad Libs with Leonard Stern, and is therefore the Price in Price/Stern/Sloan (or pss!) – but that's not why, either. He also wrote for Bob Hope, Harvey Kurtzman's Mad and Steve Allen's Tonight Show, but that's also not why.

In the early 1950s, Roger Price invented the Droodle. That's why.

More specifically, Roger Price is aces with me because of the two collections of Droodles published by pss! – a little red book called "Droodles" and a little green book called "Oodles of Droodles" (formerly "Droodles #2"). I've had them since I was very young, and they were a major force in shaping my sense of humor. It's not the Droodles themselves so much, though they were certainly amusing and clever, as the commentary beneath them, which would often be ambling monologues only tangentially related to the picture above. Check out the "Crookshank" essay on the back of the "Roger and Over" record jacket for a sample of what I'm talking about.

Droodles were so popular for a brief period in the mid-1950s that Price hosted a game show for a while based on the concept. One Droodle, "Boat Arriving Too Late To Save a Drowning Witch," was used by Frank Zappa as an album cover in 1982. Tallfellow Press (founded by Stern and Sloan after selling pss! to Penguin in the early 1990s, shortly after Mr. Price passed away) keeps Droodles in print, though I don't know if the book they publish is a complete collection of the two books I grew up with, or just a "greatest of." Regardless, you should go right out and purchase whatever Droodle stuff you can get a hold of (the covers of my battered 1970s copies are scanned below to help you locate 'em in used bookstores and such, if you wanna go for the originals rather than the "new" collection).

The first side of the album starts out with an annoying series of pops and a skip right over the first punchline, but don't worry, it clears up right after that.

Incidentally, upon discovering this album, I was surprised to find that Mr. Price sounds somewhat like Hanna-Barbera's Mr. Jinks, right down to the constant use of 1950s "hipster" lingo... albeit with a not-as-exaggerated accent. Compare the stuff on the album with the recording on this page of Daws Butler doing the Jinks voice to tell a hilarious version of "Mary Had a Li'l Lamb." Could Price have been Butler's inspiration when creating the voice... ?

- Contributed by: Corey K.

Images: Jacket Cover, Jacket Back, Label (front), Label (back), Droodles book covers

Media: 33rpm vinyl album
Album: Roger and Over
Label: A.A. Records
Catalog: AR-1
Credits: Roger Price (featuring Sascha Burland, Don Elliott and the Vermont Jazz All-Stars with Meatloaf Pope, Pig-Meat Oaks, Fats Mush, One-Eye Muffin, Nutsy Gasaway, Bombo (at the piano) and Ma Kennedy!
Date: 1960