Hot Lunch



	Well here we are folks.  Here's your Sloppy Joe, Kevin, and here's a little green salad on the side, Kevin-- that's good for you, you know?  And I brought something special for you, Jack.  In my restaurant we have a saying about special customers.  And what we say is, lunch is on you!



	Ah!  That's hot!  What in blazes do you think you're doing Sally?  Have you gone mad?


	That's just exactly what I've gone Jack.  Good and mad.

Nothing serves a plot better than an ongoing feud, and that’s just exactly what Sally continues to “serve” to her customer Jack, who well deserves her ire.

Though many actors love coming to work in a radio or audio drama because they don’t have to worry about make-up, hair, or costumes, that doesn’t mean performing in this medium is easy. In some ways, it’s more difficult than working on stage or on camera, because the pauses and gestures that would be meaningful visually become meaningless without an audible component.

When I started Milford-Haven, none of the cast members of my generation had any experience with radio. We all had years of theatre, television or film under our belts, but began to realize we would have to develop a new skill set. Older, more experienced cast members became our mentors. Lloyd Battista, for example, had been a cast member for Hy Brown in his great CBS Mystery Theatre —itself a 1970s throw-back to the classic radio dramas of the 1940s.

We learned that, in place of a facial grimace we could create a vocalized “ugh” or “geesh”, and instead of a pause, we could offer an inhalation or exhalation. Ultimately adding this audio dimension to our actors’ bag-o-tricks enhanced our work in the other media, but also made our performances much richer in the radio drama.

Another interesting element was timing—always a factor in acting, particularly in comedy—and very important for an audio medium. So the talented actors in this “hot lunch” moment (Linda Purl and Lloyd Battista) had to synchronize their lines and the accompanying sounds in order for the scene to work:
When Sally says “Lunch is on you” (double meaning intended) she has to emphasize the words such that we can hear a slight exertion in her voice.
Then when Jack says “Ah! That’s hot!” he has to wait a moment for the hot food to “land” on him, then exclaim explosively when it does.

Here’s another trick of the trade. The actors are always recorded first (unless we’re talking about a live performance.) So once the actors had finished their work, and the engineer had removed any out-takes, it was time to invite the foley artist into the studio to do his part of the work.

David L. Krebs, a gifted actor, writer, and a master foley artist who had trained with Cliff Thorsness, one of the original radio foley greats, was in charge of all the foley for Milford-Haven. He had to find physical objects that would sound like those mentioned in a scene, but were not those actual objects. Meaning . . . he did not bring a hot sloppy joe sandwich into the studio and dump it on the floor! Instead, he experimented until he found a collection of torn wet rags, then practiced throwing them onto a slab of wood . . . or plastic . . . or glass . . . until it sounded right. Once he had the sound generation figured out, he would time his sound-performance as he listened to the actors in his head phones. Dave and Engineer Bill would record it several times until it sounded realistic and recognizable.

Dave’s incredible talent was really put to the test in the next episode, which will be the last of Season 1. Episode 10 received more requests for repeat broadcast than any other, and it was partly because of the foley. Dave was so good that I began challenging myself as a writer to come up with special sounds he could create—one of the many ways collaboration can create work at a higher level.

As you listen to Episode 9 of Milford-Haven—which includes 5 other scenes not related to Sally and Jack—you might enjoy thinking about some of your favorite moments of comedy, and about what made them so funny and memorable. For me, and for everyone who follows the show, this moment is a lasting favorite.

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