When Ed McMahon died a couple of months back I recommended my Facebook friends seek out "Where's Johnny?" the terrific, on-target Tonight Show parody that was done in the early '70s by The Credibility Gap (Harry Shearer, David L. Lander, Richard Beebe, Michael McKean) on their LP A Great Gift Idea. Now that Senator Edward Kennedy has passed away and director Ang Lee wants us to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Woodstock by going to the multiplex to see his latest movie, it's a perfect time to dig up the Gap's highly imaginative and frequently hilarious 1971 album Woodschtick and More, side one of which manages to do a job on both the legendary music festival and the late senator.
"Woodschtick" is ostensibly a parody of Woodstock, with the world's greatest Borscht Belt comedians -- referred to as "schtickticians" -- gathering in a hotel room in the Catskills for a day-long celebration of comic schtick. Because schtick is the Yiddish word for "piece," it's all a play on Woodstock's promise of "3 days of peace and music," but something strange happens about eighteen minutes into the album side: "Woodschtick" suddenly transforms into a parody of old-time radio dramas, One Night at Dike Bridge, "as told by Senator Edward M. Kennedy to a battalion of highly paid and obedient scriptwriters.” With Shearer playing Buster Crabbe in the role of Kennedy (!), this "William Zapruder production, in association with the Massachusetts Automobile Club" is set on Chappaquiddick Island one July evening in 1969, with only one of the names changed to protect the innocent (Mary Jo Kopechne is referred to as "Mary Lou"). As "schtick," it's a nasty piece of work.
RADIO ANNOUNCER [Beebe]: “Hemingway once defined courage as ‘Grace under pressure,’ but this wasn’t grace under pressure -- it was Mary Lou under water! Without thinking for a moment of his own personal safety, Senator Kennedy panicked. Suddenly, he remembered what his father once said years ago…"
JOSEPH P. KENNEDY [Lander in an echo chamber]: “Teddy! Bring me my pills! And while you’re at it, always remember: If you’re ever trapped under water in a car with a girl, make sure both of you get out alive, or else some politically ambitious judge could write an inquest report that could make you look baaaaad!”
RADIO ANNOUNCER: “Those words ringing in his ears, the senator filled those massive Kennedy lungs with air and dove repeatedly into the murky waters!”
And it just gets more venomous from there. Never released on CD, Woodschtick and More has been out of print for decades (probably because the material is considered too dated) and there's no trace of it on Amazon.com, but it's well worth seeking out if you enjoy comedy albums in general and the work of Shearer, Lander and McKean in particular.