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The Banana Man

Posted: February 5th, 2007, 1:01 pm
by Guest
I had thought "the Banana Man" had been discussed on the Forum in the past, but I didn't find it. Maybe I'm remembering the article that Rhett Bryson wrote in one of magazines (Genii or Magic -- can't remember).

Anyway, Mark Evanier has posted a couple of clips of him (or them -- one is A. Robins, the other Sam Levine), with a little background.
Robins
Levine

Re: The Banana Man

Posted: February 5th, 2007, 2:57 pm
by Bill McFadden
Bill, you must have been thinking of a thread started on The Learned Pig forum several years ago. That discussion contained a link to an A. Robins web page, which told all there is known concerning "The Banana Man" and his act. A rather appropriately spooky story about one of my creepiest childhood memories. :eek:

Re: The Banana Man

Posted: February 5th, 2007, 6:34 pm
by Guest
And Rhett's multiple webpages are HERE.

Thanks for the video links. I remember that I saw him on the Capt. Kangaroo show but no details. These clips are amazing! The Banana Man makes modern prop comics look pretty tame.

Re: The Banana Man

Posted: March 8th, 2007, 5:54 pm
by Guest
Mark Evanier has turned up more Banana Man footage HERE .

Re: The Banana Man

Posted: March 9th, 2007, 10:19 am
by Guest
I don't understand why someone isn't doing the act today. I guess no one wants to go to the trouble, which, of course, is one way to remain unique.

Re: The Banana Man

Posted: March 9th, 2007, 12:01 pm
by NCMarsh
I don't get the act...magic? prop comedy? What's with the house?

Re: The Banana Man

Posted: March 9th, 2007, 12:27 pm
by Guest
Television didn't kill vaudeville, it committed suicide.

Re: The Banana Man

Posted: March 9th, 2007, 12:55 pm
by Guest
Unfortunately, vaudeville and variety entertainment was dying long before television appeared on the national scene. The talkies and the Great Depression helped kill vaudeville as mass entertainment, with radio (free for the price of a set) contributing to the demise.

It must be remembered that television sets did not outsell radios until the late 1950s and much of what was on television in the early days was old vaudeville/variety performers who had honed their skills in front of live audiences for decades before they were ever seen on television. Milton Berle (Mr. Television), Burns and Allen, Jack Benny, and Red Skelton were all vaude stars who migrated to radio and then television.

The Ed Sullivan Show was primarily a vaudeville performance for years as was the Hollywood Palace until the format was changed and the audience went away. Since producers can never be wrong, it was the audience who'd lost their interest in variety, not the hack way it had been presented by people who didn't know that much about entertainment.

The Banana Man is representative of a successful novelty act that one rarely sees today, his act being the end result of years of refining by performance, his timing honed to perfection. Few today want to take the time (or have the opportunity) to learn by this method. They want the quick fix...the "fast food" approach to performing.

Perhaps the greatest example of the novelty/timing act was Senor Wences. At one point, thanks to endless appearances on Sullivan, Steve Allen, Jack Paar, etc., everyone in the country who had access to television had to have seen Wences at least once. He did the same act for decades.

It was a privilege to sit in a theater and watch him work in front of several hundred people who'd seen him many times. He told no jokes, yet garnered great laughs because of the situations he set up with Johnny and Pedro. His act was like looking at a beautiful painting or reading a well-written novel - just enough paint to convey what the painter wanted and not a single unnecessary brush stroke anywhere or not a single unnecessary word in the narrative.

Re: The Banana Man

Posted: March 9th, 2007, 5:26 pm
by Guest
A few years ago, I walked into what looked like a junk store in my Brooklyn neighborhood. There was no sign out front and no one was around. After a while, a guy came out and I asked him if he had any magic items (I saw a few circus props laying around). He said no, but then he asked me if I knew who the Bannana Man was. I said I didn't and so he pointed up to a corner of the ceiling where a giant raggedy old suit was hanging. He said, "That was the Bannana Man's suit." He told me had just got in a bunch of the performer's stuff and he didn't know what to do with it. He didn't want to sell any of it. He said he was thinking of contacting someone who might know more about it.

A few weeks later the store was gone.

Re: The Banana Man

Posted: September 19th, 2008, 12:01 pm
by Bill Mullins
More from Mark Evanier on the Banana Man.

Re: The Banana Man

Posted: September 19th, 2008, 2:20 pm
by amp
Call me crazy but it looks like Mr.Greenjeans ?

Re: The Banana Man

Posted: September 19th, 2008, 5:08 pm
by Mark Paulson
You're crazy. Mr. Green Jeans (Hugh Brannum) wore green jeans.

Re: The Banana Man

Posted: September 23rd, 2008, 6:59 pm
by trickstar
The Banana Man act is being rejuvenated, and one of the people who was contacted about the book's details was Earl "Mr. Clown" Chaney. He used to own Planet Mirth Magic Shop in Vegas, but, if I'm not mistaken, it went under.

Earl and I talked for hours about this intricate, fascinating act, and some stories about just how dirty and smelly that an act of this kind can get.

Earl was performing throughout Korea for awhile, and I believe that he's back now.

Re: The Banana Man

Posted: July 6th, 2011, 11:16 am
by Bill Mullins
Evanier has another POST on the Banana Man.

Re: The Banana Man

Posted: July 6th, 2011, 6:14 pm
by J-Mac
Whenever I saw The Banana Man on TV as a child - whether on Captain Kangaroo or some variety show - I found him way too creepy! A guy dressed somewhat like a down-and-out clown pulling long strings of bananas out of his pants while he made some horrid, ghostly sounds (that were apparently attempts at comical song). I could watch any horror movie made but nothing creeped me out like The Banana Man!

Jim

Re: The Banana Man

Posted: December 4th, 2016, 12:49 am
by Bill Mullins
Early Monday morning, TCM will run "Seeing Red", a 1939 short featuring Red Skelton and the Banana Man.

If you don't want to get up that early or set the recorder, give this a shot.

Re: The Banana Man

Posted: December 4th, 2016, 9:29 am
by Jack Shalom
Except for Bill's link above, all the other links of footage are dead.

Here's a currently accessible one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfJqLKM3dtw

It's fun to compare the two performers. I have to say I think Robins is much more amusing. As Mark Lewis likes to say, it looks like the details have been lost along the way.

Re: The Banana Man

Posted: December 4th, 2016, 12:29 pm
by Bill Mullins
Evanier has reworked his archives and the old links are no longer accurate. For those
who care, here are updated links to his old posts. They include links to videos
which may no longer work.

From the 7/6/2011 post:
http://www.newsfromme.com/2011/07/06/todays-video-link-471/

9/19/2008:
http://www.newsfromme.com/2008/09/16/todays-bonus-video-link-34/

3/8/2007:
http://www.newsfromme.com/2007/03/08/todays-video-link-683-2/

2/5/2007:
http://www.newsfromme.com/2007/02/04/todays-video-link-655-2/
http://www.newsfromme.com/2007/02/05/todays-video-link-656-2/

Another post from Evanier, which isn't linked otherwise:
http://www.newsfromme.com/2002/08/01/a-performer-with-a-peel/

Rhett Bryson's page:
http://rhettmagic.furman.edu/BananaMan/index.html

Re: The Banana Man

Posted: December 4th, 2016, 4:08 pm
by observer
Interesting. Basically "Devil of a Hat" but with coat pockets instead of a hat, I guess.

Re: The Banana Man

Posted: December 4th, 2016, 6:14 pm
by Jack Shalom
Am I allowed to ask how the magnet gag is done?

Re: The Banana Man

Posted: December 4th, 2016, 9:40 pm
by Jack Shalom
Uhh...never mind. One of the links mentions the method. I had considered that, but couldn't figure out how not to get tangled...

Re: The Banana Man

Posted: December 6th, 2016, 4:02 pm
by Bill Mullins
The original Banana Man's obituary.

Re: The Banana Man

Posted: December 6th, 2016, 6:39 pm
by performer
He must have made a lot of money in his time according to that obituary. I have heard of him since I have seen it mentioned he did a very unsuitable act for trade shows as it took him so long to set up. He spent more time setting up than he did actually doing the show!