Friday, October 26, 2012

Yes Sir That's My Baby

"Yes Sir, That's My Baby" is an American song written in 1925 by Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn.  Recorded by more than 100 artists, it was a hit for Eddie Cantor, Rick Nelson and Ol' Blue Eyes.

My favorite version is here, performed by Jason Robards (and Barry Gordon) in the movie-based-on-Herb Gardner's-play A Thousand Clowns.  It's a little messed up - snipped together from parts in the film where Robards stops singing and we cut away to talking scenes.  So it's not like a flow-y, play-at-a party song, but it has something going for it - "a genuine sort of meaningful bustedness" - that is mostly impossible to find in a neat, slick album recording.

A Thousand Clowns is about a nonconforming crazy guy played by Robards who's been out of work for awhile and takes pleasure in all sorts of eccentric fun.  He can be pretty annoying but he's definitely my kind of guy.  The catch is that he takes care of his 11-year-old nephew and social services is on their ass to step up their living conditions and start acting like normal citizens.  Robards needs a job.

The nephew is played by Barry Gordon, who not only goes on to become the president of SAG but is also
the voice of many beloved cartoons, the most insane of which is Jabberjaw - the shark from
Hanna Barbera who has a band and sounds like Curly from the 3 Stooges.

In the end, we find out that Robards used to be a TV writer, and his main gig has been working for
Chuckles The Chipmunk, a kids show host that hawks potato chips.  With the help of the social worker,
who he falls in love with, Robards decides to go back to work, even though it sucks.  
I read somewhere that Herb Gardner, the writer, based the Robards character on Jean Shepherd, the
famous radio host who is most known for narrating A Christmas Story.  I also heard that Shepherd
was not into Clowns at all, and never talked to Gardner again after he saw the play.