Bridge & Humor: 4 Famous Funny Fellows Played Bridge Last Night

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Four of the world’s most famous funny men who are likewise accorded no mean place in the roster of bridge experts convulsed the radio audience with…

By Ana Roth
On 28 November, 2015 At 13:54

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The Evening Independent – 8 Ene 1930

Four of the world’s most famous funny men who are likewise accorded no mean place in the roster of bridge experts convulsed the radio audience with their comments on the exhibition game which they played as the eighth in Milton C. Work’s Radio Bridge series, broadcast last night from Station WDAE.bridge cartoon busines double

The participants in the game —all of them celebrated cartoonists, humorous writers and talkers —included: a T. Webster, who needs no other introduction than mention to his “Bridge” cartoons and “Poker Portraits”; Jefferson Machamer, father of the cartoon series “Petting Patty,” and otherwise known to fame as the hilarious “Judge Junior”; Tony Sarg, cartoonist ‘extraordinary, and creator of the Tony Sarg marionettes which he himself has operated in most of the capitols of the world; and Fred G. Cooper, otherwise “F. G. C.” of “Life,” whose fun making probably is done in more different ways than that of any other professional humorist.

Remarks of the Players

We quote the four humorists verbatim, beginning with Mr. Cooper. “The radio audience might be interested to know that we four played together several times to get in practice for this game, Jeff beat them so often in practice that he finally offered to go grand slam in any suit they wanted. Many a time I have seen him go 15 or 20 tricks over his book, just playing left-handed. He’s wonderful.

“The first time we played, Webby sorted his hand, took out the three worst cards and tossed them face down on the table, saying: Gimme three cards.’ We naturally thought he had absent mindedly lapsed in-to poker, but it developed -that he thought all games were played practically the same as poker, which he had but recently almost learned to play. We all worked on him feverishly to get him in some sort of shape for this party. The strain was particularly hard on Tony.

“You are to be congratulated on not seeing Tony, just before his first lead, trying to recall what his partner bid. It was terribly pathetic. Webby noticed his predicament, pulled out his diamond scarf pin and jabbed Tony in the knee with it. Tony jumped and the Jack of Diamonds accidentally fell from his hand.

“Tony’s lips started to quiver, Webby glared at him, but Mr. Work shook his finger at him very severely and he braced up. “My partner, Jeff, ignoring the rough work of our opponents, naturally made his play exactly right, but the opposition was now so demoralized by their bad start and our self-possession that Webby forgot whether to follow suit or raise the bet.

“Mr. Work came to their rescue just in time. He finally asked me to vacate my chair, so he could sit there and watch Webby’s and Tony’s plays for them. Of course they are not used to big league Bridge, as Jeff and I are, and we really felt sorry for them, but Jeff was wonderful. He was my partner.Tony Sarg

” Mr. Machamer followed his partner, Mr. Cooper, with these comments: , “I hate post -mortems; but this game was a sickening exception, and I’ve got to be upset about it. My discussion relative to the peculiar Bridge systems of Messrs. Webster and Sarg cannot be termed ‘post mortem’—’autopsy’ is a’ better word. “Mr. Webster is so tall that when; he appeared before the game wearing a new hat, Mr. Cooper asked him who was living in the new penthouse. Mr. Sarg is short and constructed along the lines of a non-tippable roly poly ash tray.’ When Mr. Webster sits down he still appears to be standing up. When Mr. Sarg sits down he disappears from sight and it looks like a three-handed Bridge game. You can well imagine how confusing this situation was to Mr. Cooper, my superb partner, and myself. “For instance, — during a rehearsal for this game- — and there had to be a rehearsal to teach Mr. Sarg the names of the various cards — Mr. ‘Webster opened with a Spade bid — I followed with a bid of two Clubs — and then a voice said two Spades.’ The sound came from under the table opposite Mr. Webster. My excellent partner, Mr. Cooper, and I thought for a minute that we were attending a seance but, of course, it was Mr. Sarg sitting out of sight and slightly under the table.

I believe that Mr. Webster’s tallness enables him to get a bird’s-eye view of every hand at the table, and that when he is Dummy, he works a system of signals with his partner. These signals are songs. When Mr. Webster’ bursts into ‘Button Up Your Overcoat,’ he means that Mr. Cooper has the Ace of Trumps and to finesse like everything; When Mr. Webster sings Why Can’t I Find My Lucky Star.’ he means that he’s looked through all the hands and can’t locate the king of Clubs — and then Mr. Sarg looks on the floor to see if he’s dropped it and, bless my soul, he usually has! ”

I know all the men listeners are just thrilled to know what we men are wearing. Mr. Cooper, my stunning partner, is wearing evening dress of the current convention. Mr. Webster is dressed in a take-out discarded suit, which was especially designed for him by Omar the Tentmaker. Mr. Sarg is smirksly attired in a yellow and black checkered outfit which, from a -distance, makes him look like a gyp taxicab or a grand slam. I am ‘wearing a strong looking suit of ‘worsted materials which makes me look very well set, indeed!”Machamer_TowerPisa

Mr. Sarg then ventured these remarks: “I don’t think it’s very good – tactics for a man who waxes his mustache to criticize the appearance of others. You know the old proverb that people who look into looking glasses in their houses shouldn’t throw wise cracks. Outside of that mustache our opponents are just ordinary, medium size, medium build and medium intelligence –except at the Bridge table.

“Mr. Cooper certainly displayed a real sense of humor on one occasion today, though, when he wasn’t trying to be funny. It was when he said Mr. Machamer was a great card player. If you can top that one for comical remarks, I’ll eat the cards. “Mr. Webster and I scored a moral victory — particularly Webby, for the opposition had nearly all of the good cards. Webby really figured out all of his good plays in the way Mr. Work said he did, for he is a truly great card player. He is greater in fact than the man who invented the game, for he is the one who caused the game to be invented. Webby had drawn those wonderful Bridge cartoons of his for two or three hundred years before there ever was such a thing as Bridge.

Card players learned from these cartoons how much fun there would be in such a game, and so somebody just naturally went ahead and invented it. “Webby, of course, knew all about the game before it was ever played. I have heard it said that in the first few years before anybody else was expert, he never lost a trick. Even once when the other side held the Ace of Trumps lie played his hand so skillfully that he fooled the man into revoking with it on the next to last trick, so that when the revoke penalty of two tricks was applied, Webby had a grand slam. Even now he never loses a trick if it can possibly be taken. “Our opponents tonight were lucky. They just happened to make a few right plays by reversing their usual system and trying to play wrong every time. If they had tried to play right, Webby would have made a defensive grand slam against them, as is his custom when the opponents are foolish enough to bid against him.”

Last, but not least, the radio audience heard from Mr. Webster, as follows: “I  appreciate what my partner has said about my game, even if he did lay it on pretty thick. He’s afflicted with a case of false modesty this time, though, or he would have admitted the fact that several times he made correct plays himself. “He really is a most satisfactory kind of partner to have, for he has a way of inspiring his side-kick. Most of you have noticed the re-markable facial expressions he phts on the various characters he draws.rule of thumb

He learned these expressions studying his own before a mirror using the same tactics Jeff does on his mustache. He has developed so many expressions by means of hard practice that he always has one for any occasion. If his partner seems discouraged, he uses a certain kind of smile to cheer him up. If the partner. starts to get rattled, he flashes a special sardonic grin which in effect says `Fie on them!’ If the partner threatens to become careless, or hasty, or Coo studious, or over-confident, or what-have-you, he always selects the proper scowl, grimace, frown, sneer or smirk to put him back on the right track. So no wonder if a man happens to play fair Bridge with him as a partner! “Tony used personalities on our opponents merely as a counter-at-tack because they had used them on him and me. When we are playing Bridge we don’t really pay any attention at all to who is opposed to us, especially if they are people of no consequence except as sup-posedly funny guys. “I don’t believe Tony would object if I gave the real inside dope on this game. He and I had it all fixed up that we would try to be funnier than our opponents tonight, and I believe we have succeeded. Our plan was to cause Jeff Machamer to play the hand — although he really should be the Dummy instead of Fred Cooper — and then to let Jeff make game. We leave it to you radio listeners — can any of you imagine anything funnier than the idea of a terrible club like -Jeff making game?”

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