Jack Benny!

La MaMa Galleria

Those who are unfamiliar with the original Jack Benny television program of the late ’50s and early ’60s may be pardoned for thinking that composer John Moran and the Ridge Theater Company have performed a distorting deconstructivist exercise on a hapless cultural cliché. The Jack Benny Show, however, was itself skewed to an amazing degree. The theme of most segments was the effort by the host, Benny, to “put on a show”—which his regular cast and guest stars often deliberately prevented him from doing. Endless and repetitive interruptions, ad -libs, and digressive chatter about personal problems took up most of the on-air time. A great deal of the program’s humor came not from its stale vaudeville jokes, but from Benny’s continually frustrated efforts.

For Jack Benny!, Moran has taken this aspect of the original show and run with it. His one-act, three-scene chamber opera is performed to

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the December 1989 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.