Series 1 - Long playing (LP) records

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Reference code

US MBE ACC-MSS 004-1

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Series

Title

Long playing (LP) records

Date(s)

  • 1955-1988 (Creation)

Extent

Name of creator

(1933 -)

Biographical history

Warren Debenham was born January 20, 1933 in San Francisco. He studied college at Stanford University and seminary at General Theological Seminary in New York City, and at The Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, CA. One of the foremost collectors in the U.S. with more than 40,000 comedy LPs, 45s, 78s and CDs, Warren Debenham has been collecting comedy albums and humor ephemera for more than 60 years. His LP record collection of comedy and spoken word albums is expansive, and to supplement it he has also collected novelty items, newspaper clippings, toys, and other ephemera. He is considered an authority on comedy recordings, and is often consulted to contribute to catalogs and the indexing of other collections in this field such as the Dr. Demento online playlists, and the Stan Freberg discography. He has worked with Marshall Berle in releasing albums for Laugh.com including Bill Dana’s "Greatest Bits of Jose Jimenez" in 2000. A member of the clergy, collecting has been a pastime and fervent hobby of the Reverend. He was the first rector of the Thomas Episcopal Church of Sunnyvale, CA serving from 1960 as Vicar, and from 1965 - 1973 as Rector. He was Rector of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Albany, CA, did a neighborhood ministry in West Oakland, CA and is now retired and assists part time at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in downtown Oakland. He lives in Berkeley, CA with his wife, Sally. The San Francisco Public Library has received half of his extensive comedy LP, 45 RPM, 78 RPM, and CD records with the other half to be received after his death. Rev. Debenham, who was seeking a home for his collection, sent the materials to Boston in December 2007.

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Scope and content

This series documents stand-up and improvisational comedy, and humorous music from 1955-1988. In addition to the recordings of individual comics such as Morey Amsterdam, Nan Blackstone, Belle Barth, Shelley Berman, Buddy Hackett, the Smothers Brothers, and Jackie Vernon, the series contains compilations featuring the work of Billy DeWolf, and Jane Foray, and Marty Brill. The voices of John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Eugene McCarthy are among the recordings that comprise the political humor genre. Highlights of the series are recordings by Robert Benchley, who was a regular contributor to The New Yorker and Vanity Fair;” Florence Foster Jenkins, whose talent was in her inability to sing; “The Golden Age of Comedy” features a five disc compilation of American comedy From the 1930s to the 1960s; and John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd’s recording of Thomas Berger’s novel The Neighbors. Also included in the series are novelty recordings, some of which are in the shape of footballs and stars. There is duplication of material contained in this series and in Series 2.

System of arrangement

The series is arranged in 8 subseries according to show. Comedy albums not in a subseries are arranged alphabetically by artist.

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