YOU TOP THIS?
Can You Top This? was an unusual audience-participation
show, created by veteran vaudeville comedian "Senator"
Edward Ford. During a joke-swapping session at a New York theatrical
club, Ford conceived of a radio show where comedians would try to
top each other. Can You Top This? debuted on WOR/New York
Each week, listeners were invited to send in jokes. Veteran radio
actor Peter Donald acted out these jokes on the air, while a "laugh
meter" gauged the audiences reaction. The shows
"Knights of the Clown Table"Ford, Harry Hershfield
and Joe Laurie, Jr.would try to top Donalds laughs with
related jokes of their own. It was estimated that the shows
three panelists knew 15,000 jokes between them, most of which could
be adapted to fit any situation. Contestants received 10 dollars
if their joke was used on the air and an additional two dollars
every time one of the three panelists failed to outscore them on
the laugh meter.
Can You Top This? began to attract a following and NBC picked
up the show in 1942. At its zenith, the show received 3,000 jokes
a week from listeners. The show ran on radio until 1954.
Harry Hershfield died on December 15, 1974. Joe Laurie, Jr. died on April 29, 1954.
Can You Top This? was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame
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