Thursday, June 07, 2007

Who Are Haver and Lee???

Haver and Lee may be the single most obscure comedy team we've ever featured on The Third Banana. As Geoff has pointed out in the past, we don't even know their first names.. and not even "Haver" may be Haver's real surname (he reportedly hosted a radio series entitled The Old Town Hall under the name "Clay Keyes"). Lee, the little guy with the mustache, vibrates with what seems to be decades worth of music hall experience; check out his accomplished tap dancing in clip 2! Bespectacled Haver sounds like an American, but could be a Canadian, and something in his delivery (and the act in general) tells me that he caught Ted Healy's act once or twice. All I can really say about them is that they were one-of-a-kind in pre-War British comedy; aggressive, sharp, and wonderfully surreal. What's remarkable to me about their act is how beautifully it synthesizes American and British comedy influences. Haver is every bit the cynical and acerbic American wiseguy and Lee is a perfect music hall clown, brimming over with physical gags, unexpected reactions, and bad puns. Haver and Lee's scenes in Radio Parade of 1935 are easily the highlights of that picture, which features plenty of better-known, better-regarded performers, Will Hay chief among them. They were still at it by 1940, performing two routines for the Pathe Pictorial that must have been standards for them. Where did they go? Where did they come from?? Who are Haver and Lee???

Clip One: Radio Parade of 1935

Clip Two: Radio Parade of 1935

Clip Three: Pathe Pictorial, 8/8/40

Clip Four: Pathe Pictorial, 9/12/40

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5 Comments:

Blogger East Side said...

That "fairy godmother" gag in the first clip is almost identical to the one in an earlier post featuring Ted Healy and Bonnie. Coincidence? Theft? Or just an obvious joke?

4:44 AM  
Blogger Aaron Neathery said...

Like I said, I'm positive he caught Ted's act, even if only in the MGM shorts. But apart from that gag, which I'm sure Ted didn't originate, Haver must be the least directly imitative of all the people who were "inspired" by Healy.

8:54 PM  
Blogger homesteader said...

The plumber is Lee Moran.

7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clay Keyes is listed in the RadionbWho's Who of 1947, pp. 189-90 as Liverpool born, husband of Gladys, and writer of 'many successful radio shows' such as Charing Cross road (also filmed), Rogues and Rhythm, and Old Town Hall - for which fan mail reached 8,000 letters a week during its six year run. He also listed as writing music and lyrics and a number of songs.

8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They were resident comedians of Henry Hall whilst he was with the BBC and came up with his catchphraes 'Play, Henry!'.

9:13 AM  

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