Saturday, March 4, 2023

Radio Bugs

One of the movies I watched off my DVR had enough time left over on the broadcast that there was room for a short, and that short was one of the later Our Gang shorts, Radio Bugs.

The short starts off with Red Skelton (who, like what was left of the Gang by the time this short was made, was working at MGM) on his radio show getting big laughs. Froggy is listening with his family, and in bed that night, Froggy comes up with the idea that he could make a bunch of money in radio, just like Red Skelton. The only thing is, like all radio programs, he needs a sponsor.

He tells the rest of the Gang about it, and they too know you need a sponsor if you're going to have a radio program, so they decide they're going to go looking for one in town. And the best way to get a sponsor is to show audition their material directly in front of the businessmen they want to be their sponsor.

Their first idea is to go to a dentist's office. Unfortunately, their jokes are groaners, and all of the patients are already groaning with pain, or else why would they be at the dentist. Needless to say, when the dentist comes out to the waiting room, he's none too happy with what he sees.

But the Gang gets another idea: at a bookstore, they meet a man woh does an impromptu performance of a Shakespeare soliloquy. Perhaps the gang could try drama instead of comedy! With this in mind, they brush up on their Shakespeare and get an impressive -- at least for kids in the single-digit age range -- array of props before going to the local funeral parlor to audition there. After all, where better to find solemnity? Of course, the Gang is about as adept at drama as they are at comedy, so their earnest performance doesn't have the intended effect.

Radio Bugs is a fairly weak Our Gang short, largely because it feels tired. I haven't looked up how many more shorts were made after this one, but it can't be too many. The idea that these kids get it wrong at both comedy and drama is one that has comedic potential, but the bad comedy doesn't work as well as it might.

I think it's with good reason that Radio Bugs isn't one of the better remembered Our Gang shorts.

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