So, this is a bad caricature, but at least half of you don’t know what Rochester looks like anyway. Like most people born in the (18)70s, I like to relax with a little Old Time Radio before bed. One of the best resources for this is the Old Time Radio Researchers Library, a completely free site that has an extensive collection of series, most of which I haven’t bothered to listen to, since I’m addicted to the Jack Benny show.
If you know anything about Rochester, it’s sort of become a cliche to mention that he was one of the rare black characters of his era to play against the cringe-worthy Stepin Fetchit sterotype. But it’s true, and I think it’s one of many reasons that the Benny program is still so listenable today. It wasn’t political correctness (a far-off concept in those days), but rather a killer dynamic where the star, Jack, was treated as the show’s sole buffoon. Therefore, right off the bat, Rochester had to me more savvy than his boss, and it’s hard to imagine him lasting more than a season if he were just a crass…well, caricature.