It’s the reboot of What’s So Funny! and there’s a new spin on things! Our host, Dave Schwensen, returns and this time he’s brought three of his friends: Kelly, Tom, and Logan. Join in as we listen to comedy albums from the 1950s, ‘60s, or ‘70s. We’ll take a look at the life of the comedian as well as the cultural relevance of the album then and now. So sit back, relax, and get ready to laugh!

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The Original One Hit Wonder, Vaughn Meader

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In this episode of What’s So Funny! Dave Schwensen and Tom Megalis listen to original one hit wonder Vaughn Meader. His comedy album broke records when it was released in 1962 skyrocketing to the top of the charts, but his career took a turn for the worse when national tragedy hit. As the original presidential impersonator he changed the face of the nation as John F. Kennedy. Let’s go back in time to Camelot with Vaughn Meader’s “The First Family.”

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Speaker 1:
Welcome to What's So Funny?, A comedy podcast where we talk about some of the most influential and controversial comedy albums from the 1950s, '60s, and '70s. Sit back, relax and get ready to laugh. Here's your host, Dave Schwensen.

Dave Schwensen:
Hi, I'm your host, Dave Schwensen. And today I have Tom Megalis back in the studio.

Tom Megalis:
Oh man. It's so good to be back, Dave.

Dave Schwensen:
Well, good to see you. How's everything going?

Tom Megalis:
Well, I've been busy. I painted a mural in Cleveland on a big wall.

Dave Schwensen:
I've seen pictures of it.

Tom Megalis:
Thank-

Dave Schwensen:
It's beautiful. You really did a nice job.

Tom Megalis:
... Thanks, man.

Dave Schwensen:
I'm very impressed.

Tom Megalis:
Also I'm doing my little niche. I paint animals, because I love animals.

Dave Schwensen:
And then what do you do, turn them loose?

Tom Megalis:
Well, no. I don't paint them like real animals and let them loose. I actually do paintings of people's pets, animals.

Dave Schwensen:
Oh, okay. You got to be clear about that.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah, and I've done a ton of commissions.

Dave Schwensen:
That's great.

Tom Megalis:
And you can go on my website, tommegalis.com, or Facebook, find me there. You're on Facebook?

Dave Schwensen:
Yes, I see your stuff-

Tom Megalis:
Tom Megalis.

Dave Schwensen:
... on there all the time. I'm a big fan. I'm a big fan. That's some good stuff.

Tom Megalis:
Thanks, man. It's been keeping me busy. And then this. This is just a grueling hard job.

Dave Schwensen:
I'm going to make it a little bit harder for you today. How's that?

Tom Megalis:
All right. Good.

Dave Schwensen:
I'm going to throw a u-turn at you right here.

Tom Megalis:
Do it.

Dave Schwensen:
Okay. Instead of talking about the comedian that we're going to be focusing on today, what I'm going to do right now is I'm going to play a track. We're going to play a track here and I want you to listen to it. Then you tell us who you think this comic is.

Tom Megalis:
All right. I'm ready.

Speaker 4:
(Comedy Clip) Now down onto the floor for this week's press conference.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Yes. Well there is no opening statement and I think I will just take the first question.

Speaker 6:
(Comedy Clip) Washington Daily Harold. Sir, would you comment on the African situation please?

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) No, I'm not up to date on that. I sent a personal representative to Africa some monthes ago. So far she hasn't even dropped me a card.

Arnold Secrets:
(Comedy Clip) Arnold Secrets, National International Post.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Let me say this about that now because-

Arnold Secrets:
(Comedy Clip) just answer the question, yeah? The question is, any comment on the charges that your family is a dynasty?

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Well, they're false. No, I don't believe in those charges and neither does my brother Bobby nor my brother Teddy... Yes.

Speaker 8:
(Comedy Clip) Sir. We understand that on the spot nuclear inspection might not been necessary. Do you have a new way that we can tell what the Russians are doing without actual on the spot inspection in the Soviet Union?

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Yes, we are asking everyone to be very quiet... You in the flowered hat.

Speaker 9:
(Comedy Clip) Yes, I'd like to-

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Not you sir, the lady behind you.

Speaker 10:
(Comedy Clip) Sir?

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Yes?

Speaker 10:
(Comedy Clip) When will we send a man to the moon?

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Whenever you want to go want to watch you go.

Speaker 9:
(Comedy Clip) Would you like your son to be president?

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Definitely not. I think he should finish school first. Yes?

Speaker 11:
(Comedy Clip) What are you guys going to do about the medical care for the agent?

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Try to stay young. I think we have time for one final question. Yes?

Speaker 12:
(Comedy Clip) No that you're in office, what do you think the chances are for a Jewish president?

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Well, I think they're pretty good, now let me say, I don't see why a person of the Jewish faith can't be president of the United States. I know as a Catholic I could never vote for him, but other than that.

Dave Schwensen:
All right, Tom, any idea?

Tom Megalis:
Well, it sounds like a president, John F. Kennedy.

Dave Schwensen:
It sounds like it, but you know it's Vaughn Meader.

Tom Megalis:
Vaughn Meader.

Dave Schwensen:
Vaughn Meader. You know, a lot of our listeners, I'm not sure if they would remember or know who Vaughn Meader was, but this guy was just the most popular entertainer, pretty much walking the earth in 1963.

Tom Megalis:
He was a meteor man.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah.

Dave Schwensen:
Oh yeah.

Tom Megalis:
He was huge.

Dave Schwensen:
We were talking before, and I said he started like the Elvis of the comedy world that year.

Tom Megalis:
And it was just one year, wasn't it?

Dave Schwensen:
Yes.

Tom Megalis:
Which is freaky because right before that he was just a regular kind of comic.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah. Just so our listeners know, Vaughn Meader made his Mark on the comedy scene as an impersonator of John F. Kennedy, President Kennedy. And they released an album in 1962 called the first family, which became the top selling album of all time, at that time before the Beatles.

Tom Megalis:
That's amazing because I mean, we're comedy artists big at that time?

Dave Schwensen:
Not like this.

Tom Megalis:
Not like that.

Dave Schwensen:
Not like this, and this includes even music albums, pop music, rock and roll, whatever. This outsold everything. It was in the Guinness book of world records as the fastest selling album for two weeks or something. It was crazy.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah, 1.2 million copies.

Dave Schwensen:
In two weeks.

Tom Megalis:
Two weeks.

Dave Schwensen:
Nobody had ever done that.

Tom Megalis:
No. This guy was making some cash. Right? That's what I think about it. Because I'm Greek.

Dave Schwensen:
I guess you could say that. Yes. He got a dime per album and it's one of selling seven million copies. So I don't have a calculator on me. And you're Greek, so we don't have any idea how much that's going to be.

Tom Megalis:
No we're done. It's a funny album. I mean, presidential impersonators, we think, SNL, we've heard-

Dave Schwensen:
Rich Little.

Tom Megalis:
Rich Little.

Dave Schwensen:
Some of these ones that come up, and they really get... They can get scandalous now.

Tom Megalis:
Right.

Dave Schwensen:
But back then, this was such innocent humor, really.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah.

Dave Schwensen:
It really took off because of the popularity of President Kennedy. I mean, here you had this young man, this young family in the white house. JFK and his wife Jackie Kennedy, and they had two little kids, Caroline and John Jr.

Tom Megalis:
John John. So you couldn't attack them, right?

Dave Schwensen:
No.

Tom Megalis:
Because I mean, America would have been like, oh my gosh, wait a minute. It couldn't have been biting. So it was like you said, good natured. Yeah, except I'm going to say what made me laugh, I think the most was Jackie Kennedy. You know the actors, Naomi Brassard who impersonated her. And it was, it's a funny...

Dave Schwensen:
It really is.

Tom Megalis:
It's just kind of breathy and you know Marilyn-ie.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah, well if you go on, and I like to watch old videos. I do go on YouTube and whatever and I watch the old comedians. I love going back and watching this, but you can go on and look at the Kennedy when he was in office, the President and Jackie Kennedy did a television special where she took the TV cameras through the white house for the first time. You got to see what the inside of the white house looked like. But she was very soft spoken. She had that voice almost like a whisper. She could speak French, she was like someone you never had in the white house before. Well, let's continue with this. I want to play another clip from this album first family by Vaughn Meader and we're going to talk some more about him too. Because this guy's story is just, you can't write this stuff.

Tom Megalis:
One of a kind.

Dave Schwensen:
Anyway, this clip is called the decision and again it's from the first family by Vaughn Meader.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Well what do you say? Dexon will you make up your mind?

Dexon:
(Comedy Clip) Well sir, I think that Two million is much too much however sir, I do think that the residual benefits to be derived from this project would more than compensates are full. The original outlay of funds.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) I see. Yeah. Mr. Roscoe, what do you think?

Roscoe:
(Comedy Clip) Well sir, I do not go along with Mr. Dexon. The residual benefits are beside the point. It's a dangerous move.

Lindon:
(Comedy Clip) I'd like to say something if I mind.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Must you Lyndon?

Dexon:
(Comedy Clip) Well sir, I don't think that either Mr. Rusk or Mr. Johnson here, have the right, sir, to advise in this particular matter. I do believe, sir, that the decision is up to you, and if I may say so, you are holding things up. I think this truly calls for an immediate decision on your part sir.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Evra, you drive a hard bargain, but okay. Here's what I'll do. I'll show you a boardwalk and park place.

Dave Schwensen:
You know, Vaughn Meader's a very interesting guy. Yeah, he started his career playing music. He had a tough upbringing too. I mean he was in these orphanages and child homes, and shifted around and moved around.

Tom Megalis:
Tragic background.

Dave Schwensen:
I mean like typical comedy, but he wound up, I think in New York down in the village, Greenwich village, and he was more of a musician. He was playing piano and in between he started telling jokes at the end of his set one night he, because he's from new England, he grew up in Maine.

Tom Megalis:
So he had that accent down.

Dave Schwensen:
He had the accent. So he could just change the R's at the end or did something like Kennedy. He sounded just like him and the audience went nuts.

Tom Megalis:
He hit on it.

Dave Schwensen:
He hit on it. Vaughn Meader was doing the Kennedy impersonations at the end of his act in The Village. It was just like five minutes of his show. And he wound up going on a television show called Celebrity Talent Scouts.

Tom Megalis:
Wow, like America's got talent kind of thing.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah, like a million years ago. Yeah, but they had like celebrities come on and they would support or they would bring on unknown talent for the viewing audience, I guess it was on national television. Anyway, Vaughn Meader went on and he did JFK.

Tom Megalis:
Oh man.

Dave Schwensen:
And two comedy writers, Earl Dowd and Bob Booker saw him.

Tom Megalis:
They just happened to be watching.

Dave Schwensen:
They just happened to be watching. This is the only, it's in the summer of 1962 okay. You got to realize Vaughn Meader was nowhere. He was making like $7.50. I think I read that, for a set at The Village. He did this on TV in July. They saw him. They contacted him. They wrote this album for him, the first family for him to impersonate Kennedy.

Tom Megalis:
I mean, think how crazy that is.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah.

Tom Megalis:
I mean, it's like, well, you know what? It's not that nuts because they saw this gold and said, "Oh my God, now let's exploit this gold."

Dave Schwensen:
Nobody really was impersonating a president. I can't think of any Eisenhower impersonators, or Truman or any of those... George Washington impersonators. They didn't have at that time. Here's was this guy doing Kennedy and so they wrote this album, they released it in November, 1962 and man, people were lined up at record stores to buy this.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah. Well it just struck a note across the country and this guy thought he had something and did it on a show and said, I've got to show the world because I'm dying audience. Seven bucks a set.

Dave Schwensen:
And the thing is too, Kennedy himself loved this album.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah man. He bought a bunch of...

Dave Schwensen:
He bought a hundred copies.

Tom Megalis:
Dude, that's just crazy.

Dave Schwensen:
He handed them out for Christmas one year.

Tom Megalis:
But Jackie not so much.

Dave Schwensen:
No.

Tom Megalis:
She didn't like it. No.

Dave Schwensen:
We'll have to get to some tracks where Jackie comes on and you can hear her. She did not appreciate how she was portrayed. On the album.

Tom Megalis:
Well I could see that, but it was funny. All right we got a couple other clips here.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah, let's hear it.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah, we got the Experiment and Relatively Speaking. So let's take a listen to these.

Dave Schwensen:
I'm listening. Let's go.

Tom Megalis:
Put your little listening hat on.

Speaker 4:
(Comedy Clip) Ladies and gentlemen, I'm speaking to you from a typical American home in Hyannisport, Massachusetts. Since January of 1960, this family of smiling and happy people have undergone a change. You might say they've been engaged in a new and different type of experiment, sir, as head of this average family, what was this new experience undergone by you and the members of your household.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Well after over two years, you're brushing with the Crest toothpaste, our group had 21% fewer cavities with Crest.

Naomi Brassard:
(Comedy Clip) Family, family, family. Jack, there's just too much family. Can we ever get away alone?

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Tomorrow. I promise tomorrow we'll go away together, tomorrow. No more family for awhile now. I promise. Now turn off the light. Good night, Jackie.

Naomi Brassard:
(Comedy Clip) Good night, Jack.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Night, Bobby. Night, Ethel.

Speaker 10:
(Comedy Clip) Goodnight, Jack. Goodnight, Teddy. Goodnight

Speaker 8:
(Comedy Clip) Goodnight...

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah, you see that as good natured fun.

Tom Megalis:
And you know what? They're quick to man. This is what I love about that whole album. These are short bits.

Dave Schwensen:
Yes.

Tom Megalis:
Which surprised me, Dave, I got to tell you, because I thought they'd be longer. Because things were a little bit, audience listened, had patience.

Dave Schwensen:
And that's good that they did this, bebecause again it takes in Kennedy's personality. I mean there he about teeth whitening or whatever because he looked like a Hollywood star in the white house. People were not used to that.

Tom Megalis:
He was all teeth.

Dave Schwensen:
No. In 1962, they didn't know that. And also the size of that family, Kennedy... It was a big family. They're getting bigger and bigger too. I mean there was still Kennedy's all over the place.

Tom Megalis:
They're just sprouting up constantly.

Dave Schwensen:
But all the problems...

Tom Megalis:
I'm a Kennedy.

Dave Schwensen:
That's like fair you look like one from here. But yeah, and then when he came on, of course he brought in his brothers, Bobby Kennedy, and Teddy Kennedy into the administration. So, but we got to hear our actress playing the role of Jackie Kennedy down there. Naomi Brassard. What's very interesting, I watched this guy went on, I saw this clip, she was a guest on What's My Line, the old TV show. And they had three women come out and they all said they were her, and you had to guess which one it was. Then Vaughn Meader came out, they brought him out. That's how big of a star, they brought him out to big applause. And he walked over and he goofed around with each one until he finally picked the one who did the show with him.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah. And well, but again, she was an unknown. Correct. I mean...

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah, it was interesting. She was... Now, I think she did. They called her a Copa girl. So she must have been like a dancer, showgirl server, some at the Copacabana, the big club in New York. And she went on to have this career with Vaughn Meader this next year because they went on tour. They went on the road.

Tom Megalis:
What about after that though? Do we hear from her again? Things dropped off.

Dave Schwensen:
Things dropped off. I suppose we're going to talk about that, let's play another clip first. Like you said, these are short clips. So maybe we'll do two clips here. All right, from The First Family. Let's play, well, this one's called Play the Motorcade, and the other one is Bedtime Story. Vaughn Meader. The First Family.

Speaker 8:
(Comedy Clip) Yes sir?

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Fill her up please.

Speaker 8:
(Comedy Clip) Just this car?

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) No, all 70 of them and the... The motorcycles.

Speaker 8:
(Comedy Clip) Yes sir.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) By the way, do you give green stamps?

Speaker 8:
(Comedy Clip) No sir, we don't.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Forget it... Yeah, go to sleep now Caroline, daddy tucked you in and you've had the three glasses of water. Now good night.

Caroline:
(Comedy Clip) Tell me a story, daddy.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Oh, come on sweetheart. It's late.

Caroline:
(Comedy Clip) Just one short story, daddy.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Oh, all right to just one.

Caroline:
(Comedy Clip) Tell me my favorite story.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) About the tall man?

Caroline:
(Comedy Clip) Yes. With all the hair.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Well, there was this tall man with a lot of hair, and he was Prince and a great warrior and the people of his country picked him to be their leader, because he could protect them and lead them on to the new frontiers.

Caroline:
(Comedy Clip) Tell me about when he had the trouble.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Well, Caroline first he had a trouble with a steel Duke, and then all the money lodge... Then all the money Lords gave him trouble and then all the other Lords wanted to take his job away. But when he talked, everyone believed him, and he remained as a leader. Now one day the evil Prince with the Blackbeard from the Island in the South and... The terrible fat bear from the cold North came and they tried to hurt the Prince, but the Prince was too smart and he chased them away. So, the handsome Prince and all the people of his country lived happily ever after.

Caroline:
(Comedy Clip) Oh, I was scared. But horray for the Prince. Thank you daddy. Good night.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Goodnight, Caroline. Goodnight.

Caroline:
(Comedy Clip) These sessions do him so much good.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah, that's Vaughn Meader from The First Family and it really is like a history lesson. But when he talks about that a bearded Island to the South, I mean that's Castro. And then Khrushchev was from Russia, the big bear. And it was so true because Kennedy, again, there was a young man and these were some older guys with experience. They're tough guys. Like, Castro, Khrushchev, they really tested him, and the Cuban missile crisis and even the old guard in Washington, things have never changed is that the old guard and the young ones coming up to take their place eventually. They gave Kennedy a hard time and it was portrayed in this album.

Tom Megalis:
I mean like you said, it's like a little comedic history lesson.

Dave Schwensen:
Yes.

Tom Megalis:
I mean we kind of, it's not coming out of nowhere. I mean this is stuff that he's, well you see it's satire.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah.

Tom Megalis:
In a nice kind of way. I mean it's not biting.

Dave Schwensen:
They're not saying anything bad about him, and he's just repeating in a story time to his young daughter of about really what he's done.

Tom Megalis:
It's right for the times, man.

Dave Schwensen:
Yes.

Tom Megalis:
Again, it was the time that... Had it been just a little meaner and more biting, it might not have worked like it did. They mentioned green stamps in there. You know what green stamps are, right?

Dave Schwensen:
Why don't you fill me in on that Tom?

Tom Megalis:
Well, you would collect them. You know when you went to places like, well he's at the gas station, but I think you could get them other places and you lick them, they won't peel and you put them in a book. I actually have a relationship with green stamps currently.

Dave Schwensen:
They're still around?

Tom Megalis:
Yeah, well I found some in an old antique place and I put them into art a lot of times.

Dave Schwensen:
Really?

Tom Megalis:
They're in like the last five, six paintings of mine.

Dave Schwensen:
That's amazing that you do that.

Tom Megalis:
They're like pasted in, because I love the color, and they're in a book. They're usually in an old book.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah. That's like having a coupon or something at that time wasn't you collect enough green stamps, put them in a book and you can...

Tom Megalis:
Then you've got a jacket or something.

Dave Schwensen:
Didn't you get something?

Tom Megalis:
I don't know what you got.

Dave Schwensen:
I don't know if you could trade it in for a discount for food or maybe you get a jacket. Maybe you get a hat, I don't know.

Tom Megalis:
A heart transplant.

Dave Schwensen:
Get a painting.

Tom Megalis:
A painting for the artists. But anyway, yeah. So green stamps. If you're ever looking around, whoever's listening to this, if they're looking around, they find them. Send them to Dave.

Dave Schwensen:
Well, thank you very much.

Tom Megalis:
Then I'll get them.

Dave Schwensen:
I got to get your address at the end of this show. Let's continue here. I want to play one of the longer clips from this album, The First Family by Vaughn Meader. This one is, and then I want to talk a little bit about his career. I mean what happened? I mean it's just a really something you can't make up. Anyway, this clip is called Economy Lunch. It's Vaughn Meader from The First Family.

Speaker 8:
(Comedy Clip) Do you really think you can get away with this?

Dave Schwensen:
(Comedy Clip) Pierre, I've been criticized in the newspapers for the big parties and the state dinners. Now we've got to cut down in the economy starch at home.

Speaker 8:
(Comedy Clip) All right, if you'll say so. Oh, here they are.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) All right gentlemen, let us be seated. Mr. Adenauer, if you will sit there next to your friend Mr. de Gaulle. And Mr. Castro? If you will sit here next to your friend Mr. Khrushchev. Mr. Ignatieff, you will sit here next to Mr. Ben-Gurion. I'm sorry, Mr. en Krumer, if you will sit in between Mr. Ben-Gurion and Mr. [inaudible 00:20:25] then you can turn either way. Now Mr. Chiang Kai-Shek. Would you please just sit there beside Mr. Khrushchev. Oh good. Now, before we get down to the business at hand, I think lunch would be in order. Now I thought that instead of the a formal food we usually serve here that we would have a typical American businessman's lunch, so I'm going to send down to the delicatessen store for some sandwiches. Well, how does that strike you gentlemen? Mr. Khrushchev, I appreciate your enthusiasm, but would you mind to just taking your shoe off the table? I think I'll have a peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat with a side order of coleslaw and a hot fudge sundae. Mr. de Gaulle?

Speaker 8:
(Comedy Clip) Yuck. I would like to have dove under glass.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Well, I'm sorry general, but we're only having sandwiches today.

Speaker 8:
(Comedy Clip) Then could I have a dove on the glasses sandwich?

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) All right, Pierre a chicken salad on white for the general. Mr. Chiang Kai-Shek?

Speaker 9:
(Comedy Clip) Club sandwich would be fine. Thank you so much.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Would you like it with a little Mayo.

Speaker 9:
(Comedy Clip) Please, not to mention that name.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) I'm sorry. Mr Nasser?

Speaker 11:
(Comedy Clip) I'll have a hot pastrami sandwich. I can never get it at home.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) What kind of bread?

Speaker 11:
(Comedy Clip) White toast with lettuce and mayonnaise.

Speaker 12:
(Comedy Clip) Mr. Nasser?

Speaker 11:
(Comedy Clip) What do you want Ben-Gurion?

Speaker 12:
(Comedy Clip) Look, I know we don't get along. You never listen to me. Now you're fooling around with rockets, but this time please listen. Pastrami don't go with white bread and lettuce and mayonnaise. Have it on rye bread with mustard, and a glass tea. You'll enjoy it.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) I think that, I think that Mr. Ben-Gurion has your point there.

Speaker 11:
(Comedy Clip) All right, I'll take a chance.

Speaker 12:
(Comedy Clip) Good boy. And if you like pastrami next time you're in my neighborhood, drop into the house. My wife makes a fish. It melts in your mouth.

Speaker 11:
(Comedy Clip) We'll have to get together, Mr. Ben-Gurion.

Speaker 12:
(Comedy Clip) My name is Ben-Gurion. You can call me Ben.

Speaker 11:
(Comedy Clip) My name is Abdel Nasser. You can call me Abe.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Good. Now, Mr. Khrushchev.

Speaker 18:
(Comedy Clip) Oh, you don't have to order a special for me. I'll have a bite of everybody else's.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) All right, dear Mr. Adenauer.

Speaker 19:
(Comedy Clip) You have one sandwich here in America I love. I'll have a Western sandwich.

Speaker 18:
(Comedy Clip) If Adenaur has a Western sandwich, then I'll have an Eastern sandwich.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) There is no Eastern sandwich.

Speaker 18:
(Comedy Clip) Then I want the Eastern portion of his Western sandwich.

Vaughn Meader:
I(Comedy Clip) 'm sure we can negotiate on that subject. Mr. Castro?

Speaker 20:
(Comedy Clip) No pregunte [foreign language]. I'll have a chicken sandwich with a live but chicken.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Well, that leaves you Mr. en Chroma. What will you have sir?

Speaker 21:
(Comedy Clip) I'll have some watermelon.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Don't put me on Mr. en Chroma.

Speaker 21:
(Comedy Clip) All right. A ham and egg sandwich and a Coke. And I guess a bowl of borscht.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Okay. Yeah. Pierre, put the rush on it. Well gentlemen, that was a pleasant lunch. Now under discussion today will be in nuclear disarmament followed by the UN bond issue in a matter of the trade agreement. Now first, there is a most important matter to settle. Mr. de Gaulle. Yours was the chicken salad and coffee. That's a $1.40.

Dave Schwensen:
That was like a roll call of world leaders, back in 1962. You know all the big countries, same ones we're dealing with today, and it was scripted and it was done in front of a live audience.

Tom Megalis:
Which I think helps.

Dave Schwensen:
Yes.

Tom Megalis:
You know, to get that laughter, to get that kind of back and forth. I think it was a smart move.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah, comics feed off of live audiences, and that laughter and they can really have fun with it. While Vaughn Meader had fun for about a year.

Tom Megalis:
Oh yeah.

Dave Schwensen:
When this album came out in November 1962, again, it was a major hit. Set the world record for how fast it sold and how many, and it came out with a second one, a followup, volume two. The First Family came out, I'm not sure, I think it was in the summertime, 1963 but then on November 22nd, 1963 it all changed.

Tom Megalis:
Oh boy, something terrible happened.

Dave Schwensen:
Yes. Vaughn Meaders story himself. He said he got into a car, I think it was in Milwaukee, and he was doing a benefit show or something for the democratic party, and he got in the cab and the cab driver said, did you hear about Kennedy in Dallas? And Vaughn Meaders reply was, because people would always try to give me jokes. He goes, no, I haven't heard that one. Tell me. And then he overheard on the radio that President Kennedy had been assassinated, in Dallas that day.

Tom Megalis:
I saw an interview later. He said he went back to the hotel and just drank and he goes, and I've been drinking ever since.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah. You know, he did hold out some hope that his career could continue because it really his live show now. He had been touring as the first family. Whole cast on the album had been touring, but before that he was playing in The Village, his music and just doing a little bits of Kennedy at the end. But it never happened to him. It just, that was the end of his career. Everything just canceled.

Tom Megalis:
You know who knew it? Who was doing a Carnegie hall show that night, one of the great comics of all time.

Dave Schwensen:
Yes. I know who you're going to talk about.

Tom Megalis:
Mr Lenny Bruce, I guess came out on the stage, didn't say anything silent and said, "Man, poor Vaughn Meader."

Dave Schwensen:
Yes.

Tom Megalis:
And I think it was like God, he's, he knew it was over.

Dave Schwensen:
Well in interviews many years later, decades later. Vaughn Meader talked about that's the day he also died.

Tom Megalis:
Oh man.

Dave Schwensen:
His career was just... The thing is everything he'd had on the books, we're talking of late night TV shows, concerts, everything. He had been, he had been selling out in Las Vegas. He was playing the big hotel rooms, showrooms in Vegas. He was making like $22,000 a week.

Tom Megalis:
That's crazy.

Dave Schwensen:
Frank Sinatra asked him to be in the rat pack, but he turned it down. On November 22nd, 1963 it all completely just stopped and the thing was, even though he tried to change his act, he even eventually changed his name, went back to his real name, which is Abbott. He was Abbott Vaughn Meader, dropped the volume Meader, went back to the Abbott Meader. Nobody would book him for anything because he reminded them too much of this national tragedy.

Tom Megalis:
Even when he wasn't doing that. Even When he was trying to do this music, they're looking at this guy going... You know why? Because he didn't put on makeup or anything. He just looked like, he had the hair.

Dave Schwensen:
They did the hair comb thing. He was just too associated with him. I mean Vaughn Meader, just the name. It was like, well that's Kennedy and then this national tragedy and everything that happened. No, he couldn't get any work at all.

Tom Megalis:
Well, I mean, if you think about the time Kennedy dies, the hope for America, the youth, everything. The country was in a dark hole.

Dave Schwensen:
They were in mourning.

Tom Megalis:
You're never going to laugh about this. It's over. So in some ways, yeah, the guy, what could he have done? It is one of the biggest, most glaring bizarre tragedies in show business.

Dave Schwensen:
Yes.

Tom Megalis:
The guy could never work again.

Dave Schwensen:
Right, he had one year of being the most popular entertainer in the country. Okay. I mean, everybody knew Vaughn Meader. He was on every show. Even that album won a Grammy for best album of the year in 1963, The First Family. And he was supposed to be on the Grammy awards right after that, I think at the end of '63 early '64 and they pulled him, he couldn't go on the show because it reminded everyone too much of the assassination.

Tom Megalis:
And he lived for like another 41 years.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah.

Tom Megalis:
People described it as a walk of death. It was like he just died for 41 years. Which is, I don't know, again, I think part of me is like, come on man, you couldn't have done something else?

Dave Schwensen:
Reinvent yourself.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah.

Dave Schwensen:
I don't know. I think alcohol, it's a very sad story. I know that the story of Vaughn Meader to me is a very sad story. Alcohol, drugs. He was divorced. I don't know, three, four times. So all the money, he made money off that album, and the Las Vegas shows and everything else, but he blew it all. It was all...

Tom Megalis:
Well it was all coming in. So he probably just kind of thought, well, I probably at that time thought, oh, I'm going to keep making money. I'm rich and you spending it and you know, living high on the hog.

Dave Schwensen:
Well that's what he said in interviews later, he lived like a rock star. He thought this is going to last forever, Kennedy's going to get elected for another four years and it's going to go on after November 22nd, 1963 he never did it again. No matter what.

Tom Megalis:
You don't know how long your career is going to be.

Dave Schwensen:
Exactly.

Tom Megalis:
Could be very long. Could be very short. So don't go through all your cash kids. You kids that are listening in show business or getting into showbiz, listen, learn from this...

Dave Schwensen:
Look what happened to us.

Tom Megalis:
Look what happened to us. We're sitting here behind microphones. Getting free water.

Dave Schwensen:
You know what? I think we better end on a high note.

Tom Megalis:
Yes. How do we do that?

Dave Schwensen:
Okay. I don't... We're going to go back to Vaughn Meader, when he was at the top of the world imitating JFK on The First Family, this was the fastest selling album before the Beatles. Until the Beatles came along. This outsold Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, everybody. This was it. Anyway, now that I've got this big build up, we're back on a high note.

Tom Megalis:
Yes, we're back up.

Dave Schwensen:
Let's go with final clip we're going to listen to today and it's Vaughn Meader. All right. This clip is called the Malayan Ambassador.

Speaker 4:
(Comedy Clip) Yes sir?

Speaker 8:
(Comedy Clip) Yes. The Malayan ambassador for dinner.

Speaker 4:
(Comedy Clip) When moment sir. The Malayan ambassador for dinner.

Speaker 9:
(Comedy Clip) The Malayan ambassador for dinner.

Speaker 11:
(Comedy Clip) The melee and ambassador for dinner.

Caroline:
(Comedy Clip) Daddy, it's the Malayan ambassador for dinner.

Vaughn Meader:
(Comedy Clip) Tell him it's tomorrow night.

Dave Schwensen:
Well, this was like taking a trip on a time machine.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah, that was a high note. I'm glad you brought it back up Dave.

Dave Schwensen:
Well, it was a whole different time. And when they recorded this they didn't know what was going to happen in the future. It was all something new. It was funny and wow, you go back and think about it.

Tom Megalis:
People should listen to it. Go listen to this album.

Dave Schwensen:
That's right.

Tom Megalis:
I mean, I would, and I enjoyed it. So you might enjoy it. Piece of history.

Dave Schwensen:
All right, there you go. Recommendation there. I'll tell you what, we're going to wrap it up here right now, Tom.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah, let's do it.

Dave Schwensen:
Another episode of What's So Funny. It was great having you back here.

Tom Megalis:
Oh, so good being back, man. It's like old times, like an old shoe. Worn out. The heels falling off.

Dave Schwensen:
Thank you for the description. Now with that being said, I'm Dave Schwensen and...

Tom Megalis:
I'm Tom Megalis and can I say thanks for listening?

Dave Schwensen:
Thanks for listening. I'm going to tell him when to just keep laughing.

Tom Megalis:
Oh, fantastic. And thanks for listening to this little podcast called, What's So Funny?

Dave Schwensen:
See you next time.

Speaker 1:
You've been listening to, what's So Funny? Catch us next week with Kelly Thewless. When we listen to one of the original Queens of comedy, Moms Mabley. Special thanks to executive producers, Joan Andrews and Michael DeAloia, producer Sarah Willgrube and audio engineer Eric Koltnow.

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