May 31, 2009

Recordings highlight comedic history

A New York memorabilia dealer says a cache of rare audio recordings he discovered offers insights into the history of U.S. comedy.

Music memorabilia dealer Howard Fischer said among the famed comedians featured on the 230 vinyl discs he discovered discarded on the street are Groucho Marx, Bob Hope and Milton Berle, the New York Post reported Sunday.

People can see a whole different era of comedy through these recordings, Fischer said. You can learn so much about the history of American comedy.

The recordings, kept in plain brown sleeves with hand-written labels, are of 1940s skits aired on the radio and feature comedians performing in the style of vaudeville. Fischer said he thinks a neighbor recorded the performances on equipment of his own making.

While Fischer has already received a $7,500 offer for the collection from a Library of Congress archivist, he told the Post he wants at least $10,000.

It's a bygone era, but it's something that should be preserved, he told the newspaper of the recordings, which he is selling on Craigslist and his Web site,