Bob Newhart is from Chicago (like I am) and graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration from Loyola University (like I did, but his degree is in accounting and he graduated many years before I did). He says that when he found himself working at the Illinois Department of Unemployment, making $55 a week for giving construction workers $45 a week in unemployment compensation, he knew he was in the wrong business. He then worked as an advertising copywriter for a film and television producer, and he and a friend of his would entertain one another with “long phone calls about absurd scenarios,” as Wikipedia says. They would then tape them and send them out to radio stations, where they were a big hit. His friend got out of the business, and Bob continued on his own. He got a recording contract from Warner Brothers records in 1959 based on the recommendation of Dan Sorkin, one of the radio people, and recorded The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart in 1960. The record did so well that it knocked Elvis and the cast album for The Sound of Music out of the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. And he’s still at it, and still wildly successful.
Here are two of my favorite sketches: “Introducing Tobacco to Civilization,” in which he’s Sir Walter Raleigh’s boss at the East India Company questioning “Nutty Walt’s” shipment of tons of leaves; and “Stop It,” which was a skit on the MAD TV late-night comedy show, featuring Mo Collins as a new patient to Bob’s psychiatrist.
Bob Newhart: Your Two for Tuesday, June 18, 2013. (Happy 71st birthday, Paul McCartney!)