101 of 107 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2001
Comedy dates. Comedy records date very quickly.
The Charlie Chaplin movies which had your great-grandparents in guffaws barely rouse a smirk on you. The wacky comedies of the fifties and early 60's now seem naive, innocent, and terribly dull. By rights, 40-year old comedy albums, particularly those with nary a nasty word on them, should be about as entertaining as a rainy afternoon with Aunt Clara showing you her collection of porcelain cats.
Somehow, perhaps because of the very simplicity of his act, Bob Newhart's recordings escape that fate. They are as funny now as they were when they first came out. And that is VERY funny.
It's a simple idea in most of Newhart's monologues. Make your audience do at least half the work. Give only one side of a telephone conversion, strategically provide just enough infomation for the audience to work out what the other person is saying. Play the driving instructor, but let the audience do the driving. Put the ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances, like the Empire State Building security guard asking his boss if there's anything in the manual to cover giant apes. Or put the extraordinary man in a commonplace situation, like Abe Lincoln talking to history's first spin doctor.
Bob Newhart won the very first Grammy for Best New Artist. He's the only comedian to ever win it. He has starred or co-starred in 5 TV series, with a 6th, co-starring rapper Sisqo (?!?), slated for September 2001. His 2nd series, The Bob Newhart Show, where he played a psychiatrist, and 3rd, Newhart, as a Vermont innkeeper, were the biggest successes. In both those series, he remained the stoic solid center, surrounded by people far odder than he. In effect, he played us, and his reactions more than his actions were the source of his humor.
As funny as his co-stars were, Newhart was funnier still. Often with saying a word, his silence drew laughs. That same timing, those same funny silences, remarkably are just as effective on record (or CD) as they are on video.
Buy this CD for yourself and enjoy it. Or buy it for your kids, so they know who that old guy with Sisqo is. Or buy it for your great-great-grandchildren.
Because, very likely, they too will find it funny.
49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2002
This is the first classic comedy I've listened to in several years, so a few things struck me immediately. First, some of the conventions of stand-up have changed. In the earlier days of stand-up, the comedy was based on sketch material (almost everything here is a monologue) and the characters were as funny as the lines they were given to say. Second, the audience members withheld their applause until the end of the sketch and then applauded every bit. The third thing I noticed was that this comedy still works.
It comes as a bit of a surprise to me that satire and dark humor were not invented by Saturday Night Live. Though his first album (Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart) came out in 1960, Newhart's material and delivery are still every bit as contemporary today as they were then. Ledge Psychology, for example, is a sketch about a cop casually trying to talk a jumper down...and failing.
It helps that Newhart's material is based on historical events and industry, neither of which has changed very dramatically in the last 40 years. Budget airlines still scare the heck out of us; there's still a high turnover in driving instructors; and the more imaginitive bits (like "King Kong") still play because the reference material is still in our culture.
Newhart is the perfect understated stand-up comedian and this album really demonstrates what Ray Romano and Steven Wright owe to the older guys. I laughed. A lot.
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2004
I've had this double disc set on my iPod for five days now, and I've found myself just listening to it over and over again. I'd heard much of this material before, but had forgotten just how funny it really was. It is sad that our culture has devolved to the point where most Americans would not find Bob Newhart's routines funny. To truly appreciate his humor from the '60's requires a good education, intelligence, and a disdain for the present state of "comedy" (i.e. comedy channel vulgarity, def comedy jam ignorance, etc...).
I question some of the material included on the disc, especially disc 2, which has less of the abstract "man on the phone" type comedy. I would have included routines such as "an infinite number of monkeys" and "automation and a private in Washington's army" instead of real world routines like "siamese cat" and "buying a house". Newhart's material really hits the mark when it is utterly abstract and ridiculous.
Classic "don't-miss" routines included here are:
1. Abe Lincoln versus Madison Avenue - "Abe, do the speech the way Charlie wrote it, would you?"...classic.
2. The Cruise of the U.S.S. Codfish - "Looking back on the mutiny"
3. Retirement Party - "Of course, Mrs. Wilson is down in Mexico with her hundred thou...and i'm still up here..with this crummy watch"
4. Introducing Tobacco to Civilization - "Don't tell me Walt, don't tell me..." "You see Walt, we've been a little worried about you lately..."
5. Defusing a bomb - "I'm gonna give it to you straight, Willard, you've got yourself a live one there..."
6. King Kong - "Well, sir, when people come to work in the morning, they're gonna see the ape in the street, notice the broken windows, and I think they're gonna put two and two together..."
I've never laughed so hard in my life. Buy this. It's worth every penny.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2004
To give you a bit of perspective on my review of this CD, I'm twenty-seven years old at the time of this writing - meaning that I wasn't even alive when Bob Newhart recorded these bits. I was never old enough to appreciate the TV series 'Newhart', either, mainly because at the age I'd have been I'd have found it incessantly boring. But fortunately, time has helped shape my tastes in entertainment, and from the moment I heard 'The Driving Instructor' on 'The Dr. Demento Show' (which I miss to this day since our local affiliate pulled it), I was hooked.
Having been granted the opportunity now to enjoy even this smattering of Newhart's stand-up work, I can safely say that it's money well spent. From the first track - "You typed it...uh, Abe, how many times do we have to tell you? On the backs of envelopes!" - Newhart can get anyone still capable of conscious thought to snicker without the need for a Parental Advisory label on the case. Each track is a brilliant snowball of a gem that just keeps building toward a gleefully unrepentant punchline, as in the bit about how police handle jumpers.
Furthermore, in the area of satirizing even the most utterly inane of human proceedings, Bob Newhart is still one of the greats. 'The Driving Instructor', 'The Retirement Party' and 'The Kiddie Show' take the most sublime elements of Americana and give them a much-needed shot of strychnine laced with sugar-coated cyncism. The beauty of Newhart's comic mannerisms, in my view, is his ability to be totally acerbic and make it seem like it's a purely natural extension of his own sense of curiosity. He's never snide or aloof in his barbs; he's almost like the thinking man's dad.
'Something Like This' is a must for any Newhart afficionado or just anyone who appreciates getting a good laugh out of someone who can do it and make it seem totally effortless. Just like we wish WE could.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2006
Most performers evolve into comic stars. By contrast, Bob Newhart seemed to shoot out of the cannon overnight -- nailing down two consecutive Number One albums his first two times on record. Why his befuddled Everyman routines were popular throughout the early and mid 60s is captured here, the best of his Warner Bros. Records output.
In an era where big industry was being joined by Big Media, Newhart's recorded material reflect the tensions of existence during this age brilliantly.
He's not merely a comedian here, but a satirist...a slick media consultant transported back to the Civil War era ("Abe Lincoln vs. Madison Avenue"), a drunken accountant who's unexpectedly candid at his "Retirement Party," and a kiddie-show host who hates kids ("The Uncle Freddie Show"). One of his best routines, "Defusing a Bomb," on CD Two, has Newhart as a bumbling police supervisor on the phone, barking orders to his lieutenant who's found an explosive shell.
Much like "The Twilight Zone" was a morality play in the guise of science fiction, Newhart's style is to use comedy to reflect the frustrations (or amusement) of average people in a world that seems mad. He pulls it off brilliantly.
On this double album, he rings especially true sending up his real-life fear of flying, which he would also tackle through the Emily character in the first episode of the CBS "Bob Newhart Show" in 1972. And of course, throughout the CD is Newhart's brilliant use of the one-sided phone call (to which the CBS show would pay tribute with its Bob Hartley "Hello?" intro during most of its run).
The material is strongest on the first CD, with the Lincoln and Uncle Freddie routines and the classic Newhart "Driving Instructor" bit. It bogs down a little on CD Two, not because it's substandard but it's a hair less disciplined (the Expectant Father and King Kong bits are a little too long).
But for the most part. "Something Like This..." is something special.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2003
Dear Amazon, I never thought it would happen to me, but I actually enjoyed this album...
Newhart is not the kind of guy that strikes you as being extremely funny, but darned if he aint! I am a huge Monty Python fan, so I never thought I would like Newhart's comedy. But Newhart, like Python, comments on the rediculousness of the world around him in an intelligent and well thought out way. There is intellectual energy behind his humor.
This makes his humor clean and classic, funny even after repeated listening. It is not zany and madcap, but it is still funny enough to make you almost wreck the car while driving down the interstate. I heartily reccomend it!
And if a State Farm agent calls you, then I lost control of the car trying to avoid a collision with a deer, got it??
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2006
something like this..." With these words Bob Newhart, one of my favorite comedians, launches into one hilarious skit after another. Most of the bits here are every bit as funny as they were when originally performed, though a couple like "The Man Who Looked Like Hitler" or "Rocket Scientist" can seem dated. While I'm not opposed to the odd vulgarity (and I don't think that they either makes things funny or keep them from being funny), I enjoy the fact that Bob works so clean. It makes it possible for me to share something I really enjoy with both my older relatives (who would be offended otherwise) AND my younger relatives (who shouldn't be exposed).
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2003
Newhart is among the best, if not the best, at presenting the most absurd situations in the most down-to-earth ways: non-chalant musings of a very quirky mind. If there were nothing else but the "Introduction of Tobacco to Civilization" on this album it would be worth it. That selection made me laugh until tears were flowing down my face and I was gasping for air. While the rest of the nearly two dozen cuts are not quite that funny, there are wonderful moments as Newhart takes the mundane and makes it bizarre or the bizarre and makes it mundane, both with clever wit. The reactions of the live audiences only heighten the anticipation of the next joke and reveal Newhart's brilliant writing and timing. These are routines we should still listen to and pass on to younger folk. They are timeless. Bravo, Bob!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2006
I bought three cds on line, only to discover when I received them that this one had the first two included on it. The material is vintage Newhart and is terrific.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2002
Bob Newhart's collection of classic, witty remarks is worth owning - if not for yourself, your kids, parents - even grandparents will love it! Incredibly clean and very funny, Newhart catches the essence of each characters he portrays. I have spent many a road trip laughing too much listening to this cd.
On a side note - I was sad to see that "Police Nude Line-Up" was not included.