Stan Freberg R.I.P.

One time years ago, I was at a show at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater, and Matt Besser was on stage, dressed like Pope Benedict XVI.

(This is Matt Besser and James Adomian. Neither of them is Stan Freberg, but just bear with me….)

Besser wanted to riff on some jokes he probably had prepared about celebrities, and for some reason he pointed right at me and asked me to name a celebrity–he probably thought I was going to name a movie actor or tabloid fixture, like Lindsay Lohan.

But I have a problem with proper nouns, especially when I’m put on the spot, and I couldn’t form the name of Eddie Murphy or Selma Hayek or Tom Cruise… I had to reach deep down in my soul, and the only name I could think of that would bubble up to the surface was “Stan Freberg!”

You could see Besser struggling to do something with that. Clearly he knew who Freberg was, but the audience wouldn’t, and I kind of wrecked his whole bit.

Anyway, apparently Stan Freberg died yesterday. And it’s a shame, because he was a pioneer and a funny guy and a rebel during the 50s, something that should have been super easy but which few people outside of the Beats and the rockers manager to do.

And while I love rock ‘n’ roll, Stan Freberg was able to lampoon its own mumbling, monotonous excesses in a way that was ridiculously funny, precisely because he could replicate it so well on his comedy albums, with a gleeful mimicry not even Weird Al was capable of. There are so many good tracks by him, and this one, “Sh Boom,” is my fave. I heard it as an early teen, and even now, even in an obituary, it’s likely to make me giggle like a moron.

“Real monotonous now!”

D. M. Collins

D. M. Collins is a journalist and writer based in Los Angeles.

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