I really enjoy watching Daniel watch this show. It’s practically the same thing every week (or, well, about every 4-5 days as we watch) but the oddball humor delights him even in repetition. They’ve only got about 22 minutes to spend each time, and they use about two of them for the filing cabinet gag and he chuckles and laughs all the way through it every time.
For me, the completely unexpected surreal gags trump the familiar one. This time, we see that they have a painting in their office that doubles as a record player, and there’s this completely hilarious throwaway bit where Ali Baba shows up, silently, to punctuate a punch line and exit, stage right. That’s brilliant, and it’s so stupid.
The guest star this week is a guy named Tim Herbert, who we previously overlooked in episodes 11 and 12 of Batman, where he played one of the Riddler’s gang. Born in 1914, Herbert was a second-generation Vaudevillian, and started working in small Hollywood roles in 1958. So it was a bit of cute casting to bring him in as “The Phantom of Vaudeville.” On the other hand, the Phantom is a ventriloquist, and voice-throwing is emphatically not among Herbert’s talents.
In this show’s universe, “phantoms” are not the same as “ghosts,” and so this fellow is immune to the Ghost Dematerializer. He has to actually be unmasked, leading our heroes to put on an old-fashioned soft-shoe to convince the Phantom that they’re actually an old act called Slapsy, Maxey, and Nijinsky. The hats and canes are, of course, from Tracy’s magic bag. Daniel got a few chuckles, and we told him this sort of music was quite popular ninety years ago. I’m not sure that he can conceptualize something as big as ninety years yet.