Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Pick and Pat

Black face "comedy " really offends me. But I won't ignore that it existed because that would conceal the problem... sort of like civil war revisionism. The first step is that you have to admit you have a problem. So I try to write about these programs in the normal course of events, even as those elements of the programs may be by modern standards be totally offensive. So on we go.

Pick and Pat was a minstrel style variety program that first aired in 1934 on NBC. Pick Malone and Pat Padgett were vaudeville comics, a quintessential example of the stage to radio transition. Like many other programs, it was short lived, and it last aired in May of 1935. They were sponsored by Dill's Best via U.S Tobacco Company, and the program was produced by Frank McMahon. " Rands Esoteric OTR has an Episode Here.  The 30 minute program first aired 8:30 Saturday nights then moved to Fridays at 10:30. Music was by Josef Bonime and His Orchestra, Benny Kreuger and His Orchestra and The Ray Bloch Orchestra. The intro theme was a harmonica version of the standard "Humoresque. As you might expect, there is little information available about there on them. Here and here.The program was also known as, "Pipe Smoking Time."

Their big break out vaudeville routine before that sweet radio gig was called  Molasses and January. It was a black-face routine. They later performed that routine on the Maxwell House Show Boat, another syndicated NBC program. It ran on Thursday nights, 9 pm. That program ran from 1931 to 1935 so while you might expect the bit to predated their solo run, it was actually concurrent.  Pick Padgett and Pat Malone did other radio programs too.
In 1938  they went back to radio on "Model's Minstrels" sponsored by Models Tobacco. It was carried by CBS for 5 years. In 1942 they lost that slot and began a doing a daily 5 minute spot on the NBC Blue Network at 9:55 PM. In 1949 they performed on a short TV series "American Minstrels of 1949". More here. Esentially it was an old-time vaudeville show performed on television. After 20 years, Pick and Pat were back to their old black-face routine.

OTR Digest ran a story about them in Winter of 2000 that both mocked their stale routine but also some of the myths of their background. They are described as "Irish" in most biographies. Which at first I took as a random error but perhaps not. Calling them Irish implies they are immigrants, or otherwise unassimilated  Americans.  In truth they were both native Georgians. They had both moved to New York seeking work and met at an auto-mat. The black-face veterans were not naive immigrants but in fact cynical, bigoted southerners. Pick died in 1962.  I can't find anything else on Pat. Culture changed, and left them both behind.