I consider myself very lucky.  For a lot of reasons, actually, but not the least of which is I came to comedy, and to advertising, at a time when the only rule seemed to be that there weren’t any rules.

Stan Freberg in 1988. (Lucian Perkins/The Washington Post)

Stan Freberg in 1988. (Lucian Perkins/The Washington Post)

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I soon came to learn, that we owed a lot of that to one man:  Stan Freberg.  

I wasn’t all that old, and I certainly wasn’t anything approaching aware, when I started seeing the Chun King spots on television.  I didn’t know they were iconoclastic.  I didn’t know that they didn’t do any of the things that Madison Avenue (and I had no idea where or what that was!) said you were supposed to do in a commercial.

I just knew that they were funny.  That my nascent sense of humor, shaped by my dry, witty dad who took me to every Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis movie possible, and who sat with me avidly every week watching Bugs Bunny in prime time, that budding appreciation of the funny told me this stuff was rich.

I cannot testify if the two were related, but I do remember watching the Freberg spots and eating a lot of  Chun King growing up.  The food, alas, was tasteless and bland.  The ads anything but. 

Later, I had the great good fortune to come under the tutelage of some of  Stan Freberg’s creative offspring – Dick Orkin, Chuck Blore, Alan Barzman –  I only know how to do radio the way I learned from those guys, and it has served me and my clients well.  My finishing school was old Freberg recordings, as well as Bob & Ray and  Nichols & May, and improv training in the classic style of  Second City.

I had found a whacked out, in-from-left-field view of the world that matched my own. It was only much later that I actually learned those dreaded rules.  What you can and cannot do, supposedly. Learned it was much more fun to continue to ignore them.

Lucky, lucky me. Lucky all of us, to have had you, Mr. Freberg.  We owe you.    

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