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Ernie Kovacs: 'Percy Dovetonsils... Thpeaks'

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Ernie Kovacs didn't care for the Golden Age of recorded comedy that peaked in the early '60s — or so he said in an interview, just before hawking his own Percy Dovetonsils LP. Trouble is, the album didn't seem to actually exist until collector Ben Model unearthed a mislabeled tape reel in an archive of material owned by Edie Adams, Kovacs' widow. The result — spruced up with some light piano tinkling courtesy of Model himself — is the long-lost Percy Dovetonsils…Thpeaks. Dovetonsils was one of Kovacs' most famous creations — a foppish, lisping beatnik dressed in outrageous garb and reciting his own ridiculous poetry. With titles like "Thoughts While Falling Off the Empire State Building" and "Ode to Sam, the Taller of the Two Monkeys," and unexpectedly absurd rhymes, the poems are amusing enough on their own. But what really sells them is Percy's self-impressed introductions, half-hearted giggling at his own jokes, speaking of himself in the third person, and chiding his unseen assistant for not being able to make a proper martini, selling his character as an oddly prescient attack on pretentious hipsters at a time when the breed was new. As Percy himself said, "It's rather ridiculous, but it's charming, isn't it?

★★★★ (out of 5 stars)

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