We got the new CD of Robert Benchley stories from his grandson, Nat Benchley, who recorded it. “Benchley on Benchley Volume 2” has ten stories, all classics. Among them are “Kiddie Kar Travel,” “How to Understand Music,” “Penguin Psychology,” and “The Social Life of the Newt.”
Nat was good enough to answer 5 questions for us about the CD, which you can purchase on his web site.
Nat, how did you choose the pieces on Volume 2?
Mostly, they were among my favorites which fit into the recording time frame and were not universally printed in too many collections.
What is your favorite piece on Volume 2, and why?
Well, I don’t want to prejudice listeners, but there is one particular piece which -after all the readings and recording and listening again- still absolutely cracks me up (because of the writing, of course, not the reading). It is one I reference in my one-man show for a particular line, but there are many other sections of the piece which make me giggle. I think anyone who might ever have been “overserved” will relate to it.
What is the best part about recording your grandfather’s work, and presenting it to the public?
To be perfectly, Frank, [sic] the best part is finally getting it right. There have been recordings before -some by some very talented people- which just missed some of the whimsy and the off-beat nature of his character. I will immodestly say that after all these years of living with the legend, studying his films and recordings and performing my one-man show, I think I have him down pretty well.
Volume 1 has “The Treasurer’s Report”; does Volume 2 have anything like it that stands out?
Well, “The Treasurer’s Report” is his “signature” piece but not necessarily his best (just listen to what he has to say about it in the intro). One of the pieces on Volume 2 is one that has long been underrated. If you listen to (or read) “How To Understand Music” carefully, I think you will realize what a clever piece of satire it is. Close to music criticism, but way askew.
Will we see a Volume 3?
Only if Volume 2 sells really well.
Thanks so much, Nat. We look forward to hearing it.