You will find information on Gracie Allen in Volume One page 44, and Volume Two pages 13-14, 216, and 410. You will find additional information on George Burns in Volume One page 45. There is a portrait of George Burns on page 46 of Volume One.
You will find information on Jack Benny in Volume One pages 165, 166, 174,176, 179, and181. There is additional information on him in Volume Two pages 14, 20, 35, 262, 315, 355, and 369. You will find a portrait of Jack Benny on page 180 of Volume One.
Our local cable company has started carrying a channel called Antenna TV which runs old television series. They have been airing an hour of the "Burns and Allen Show" and an hour of the "Jack Benny Program" late at night. These are excellent programs to view and study. They both had outstanding writing staffs and some of the finest entertainers as guest stars. Recently they ran a Jack Benny episode with half the program devoted to the act of juggler Francis Brunn, considered one of the best jugglers in history. I had seen photos of his act, but this was the first time that I saw footage of him in action. Any entertainer can learn by observing these two programs.
I especially like the later episodes of the "Burns and Allen Show." Around 1957 they concluded each situation comedy episode by appearing on a stage with a vaudeville style routine where Gracie discussed members of her family. In addition George would interrupt the proceedings several times in each episode to perform a comedy monologue. Often he talked about the comedy profession. For example in one episode he explained comedy words in a monologue which are words comedians discovered people tend to laugh at. He used kumquat and pumpernickel as examples of comedy words. Through trial and error comedians had learned audiences found those words funny. I had heard that before, but had forgotten about it. Now I am looking for an opportunity to use them in a comedy line.
By watching these episodes from later in the run of the "Burns and Allen Show" you can study many comedy techniques including Mistaken Identity, Impersonation, Running Gags, Breaking the Fourth Wall, and Comedy Logic.
Our local cable company also has been carrying a channel called MeTV that also has old time television including many comedies.
Both channels change their line up frequently so if your cable company carries them, keep checking to see what is currently being aired. Just recently they added "Circus Boy" to their weekend early morning schedule. I have seen a few episodes which I enjoyed. The young actor playing Corky, the lead character, would eventually change his name to Mickey Dolenz when he appeared on The Monkees.
Old time television programs are also becoming available in streaming versions over the internet.
Our local public library has a section of DVDs of old television shows. One that I found very interesting was titled "Hiya, Kids! A '50s Saturday Morning." Among other shows it included the fifteen-minute program called "The Magic Clown" which became the first weekend morning network TV program for kids. It was broadcast by NBC at 11:30Sunday morning starting in 1949. In the beginning it was half of the networks only thirty minutes of daytime programming. The network was off the air the rest of Sunday until it returned in the evening with its prime time shows.
What other resources do you have for watching old time television? How can you use that to learn more about comedy? How can you use them to inspire material for performance today?