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Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Jarlsberg Diaries: Why I Was Late For Work

why I was late for work, radio, syndication, comedy, stilton, excuses


Okay, pretty much nobody is actually going to work these days, let alone having to explain why they are late. So let's turn the clock back to 1989...

I've mentioned here before that I am, among many other things, a radio kind of guy. I worked in the business for years, doing writing, production, and voice work - usually with an emphasis on comedy. I love the ability to create "theater of the mind" with audio and, even now, have nearly 8,000 sound effects and 14,000 pieces of production music on my computer. All of which falls somewhere between overkill and obsession.

When I first moved to Texas, I was hired to write syndicated radio scripts for "Hiney Wine" - a purely fictitious product which was perfect for radio-friendly double-entendres: "Founders Harry Hiney and Big Red Hiney remind you that there's no better way to relax after work than with a little Hiney." It was I who introduced the winery's upscale brand "Snifter Hiney," and yes - the jokes wrote themselves.

Which made me think, "why not create a syndicated comedy series of my own and get rich?" And thus was born "Why I Was Late for Work," a daily 60-second skit in which ridiculous characters offer up preposterous excuses for being late. The idea was for radio stations to sell sponsorships and then feature the bit every day during morning drive time (I simultaneously offered up a second series called "Gripe Line" in which fake callers phone in to the radio station to complain about moronic things).

Of course, a demo was needed, so I wrote and produced one (using some of the top radio voice talent in Dallas) to send off to various syndication companies. "Wow!" they all said. "That's really funny! Good luck selling it to someone else! Go away!"

But their (and my) loss is your gain, because some 30 years later, you are about to hear what almost no one else has ever heard. And you can decide whether or not I should have just let this ancient artifact continue to collect electronic dust on my hard drive.

In order to host this on Youtube, I've cobbled together a very rough video to accompany the audio demo, but the intent is really to give you something fun to listen to rather than look at.

I hope you enjoy it!



48 comments:

Pat Cummings said...

I don't know why my spouse objected to my listening to the brilliant compendium of excuses you offered. Maybe because it's half-past bedtime? I'll leave the rest of the video for tomorrow morning!

ezestreets said...

Your humor has not aged well over 30 years. You are much wittier now

M. Mitchell Marmel said...

SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY

Joseph ET said...

@Stilton Wow! Great work, funny and great voices too. Reminds me of a college professor I had that was in radio in his youth. Jay Kirby had an outstanding voice that I could listen to all day. He related the story about his job interview with CBS Radio. They put him in a room with a microphone and tape recorder, there was no window. The assignment was to report on the parade that has stopped. NO DEAD AIR! He did that for about an hour. He got the job.

Rick Nigh said...

My wife and I used to listen to the Hiney Winery commercials when I was stationed at Groton Ct. The ad copy was customized to SE Conn. I remember when the went into a partnership with the Ranke Cheese Company of Noank. 'When America cuts the cheese it's Ranke!" The combined ad said, "When you cut the cheese, wrap both hands around your Hiney!" I also remember the time that they built a 50' can of Hiney and set it on fire. The giant flaming Hiney was visible for miles around. Many years later, we are still chuckling over the memories. Thank you for bringing them back!

Brie Camembert said...

Only in America!

Such fun. Well done old chap!

Kerry Soileau said...

What about Thor Hiney? ;))

Bobo the Hobo said...

Stilt, I am bowing in your general direction! Honey Wine was featured on WQAM 560 on your radio dial in Miami. I loved listening to Hiney Wine: the wine that made Medley Medley! Medley was about two square blocks behind Miami International; it currently boasts a population of 838. Those commercials helped ease the stress of being a single mother while the hubs was stationed in BFE Korea for a remote assignment.

Hiney in the morning,Hiney in the evening
Hiney at suppertime
If you give me some Hiney,
I will give you some of mine!


Thanks, Stilt. I still heart Hiney

Bruce Bleu said...

A friend of mine used to drink a beer that I believe was a collaboration between the brewer and Mattel... Hiney Ken beer. I'm guessing it featured a wrinkly Barbie with a bit of a beer gut and saggy "mams".

roadgeek said...

Oh, I remember the Hiney Winery commercials. I heard them on a radio station in Beaumont, Texas. There was a nearby community called Cheek, so the Hiney Winery was , of course, in Cheek, Texas. Very clever. Well, clever enough for Beaumont, Texas at any rate.

Cridge said...

I seem to recall a Thor and Ophelia Hiney.

Fritzchen said...

Now THAT brings back memories of WMRP in Flint, Michigan. A friend (who was sponsored for a half hour by his uncle's cleaning business) and I did a one time half hour parody of "Young Doctor Kildare" which we called "Young Doctor Butcher"! I never heard any feedback on that, but at least we didn't get a mob with tar and feathers! I always felt I had a face for radio!

Sally said...

Best part of the quarantine: Stilton archives! Thanks for sharing!

QC USA said...

Around here the serial was Chickennnn Man . . . He's everywhere He's everywhere dundeladundun was the jingo. It got flat some days but so it goes and what do you expect when a chicken crosses the road. Seriously yours is very clever - should-a been a contender.

John D. Egbert said...

The Joy Boys (Ed Walker and Willard Scott) ran Hiney Wine "commercials" during their 2-6 p.m. show in New Orleans while I was stationed at CNAVRES - '79-'81. All office work would stop when they came on. They played as part of the daily soap opera "As the Worm turns." Great stuff.

pkdphd said...

I remember Hiney Wine on a San Antonio station, though I couldn't tell you which one. You didn't happen to work with Firesign Theater on Bear Whiz Beer, did you? "It's in the water--that's why it's yellow."

Linda Lee said...

Hilarious ! Love the voices, too - especially the boss.

Rod said...

All this is new to me but funny stuff. And that blonde on the cover? She looks pretty healthy; it's from eating good breakfasts I suppose.

pkdphd said...

Just ran across this while doing some Hiney research: https://brutalhammer.com/the-legend-of-hiney-wine/

Sortahwitte said...

Stilt, I feel you had a winner and a moneymaker on your hands. Too bad sometimes the market doesn't recognize genius when it hears it. I've loved radio from the time I can remember. Radio, like reading, allows me to construct in my mind all the visuals that make a good story come out great. As a youngster, I listened to WLS out of Chicago with Dick Biondi. Also the powerful station out of Del Rio Texas. Lots of entertainment plus they offered to sell you the "Blessed Prayer Cloth" to put on your head or even wash your car. They also sold an actual splinter from the "Original Cross". My favorite was WKY, 930AM from OKC. Later, in West Germany, we had the armed forces network. They presented Bob and Ray, with skits of "Robin Hood of Rock Creek Park". Also heard "The Great Gildersleeves", Jack Benny, the Lone Ranger, and Inner Sanctum. We also listened to Radio Luxembourg that played rock and roll, and some of the new stuff from those 4 guys from Liverpool. Long live radio!

Doc Claussen said...

Thanks for sharing, that is a great story. Stay sane!

Pat Cummings said...

Anyone here remember another set of wildly funny wine commercials that aired on radio (in the LA area, anyway) in the late 70s or early 80s? I can recall only a few of the tag lines, like "Statutory Grape... It's the young stuff that gets you in trouble!" and "We will sell no wine before it's bottled." (Obviously mocking the Orson Welles ad-tag touting Paul Masson wine: "We will sell no wine before its time.")

One of the ads even had a "fair disclosure" line, delivered in appropriately low volume and rapid speed: "Aged six weeks in particle-board barrels."

Apparently it offended someone badly, because it is unfindable via Google, or even DuckDuckGo. Maybe I dreamt it?

@pkdphd: Pretty good! That site has had 16 visits today—curiously, the same number as the individuals commenting here before you posted the URL...

mrgutzmer said...

Wow,please post more, or sell them!
They are Wonderful!!!

Alfonso Bedoya said...

Stilton, as a child, I suffered chronic sinus infections and had to stay home in bed a lot. As a result, I was treated to such radio programs as Don McNeill and the Breakfast Club; Ma Perkins; Just Plain Bill, Pepper Young's Family; Captain Midnight and the Secret Squadron (they had a great decoder ring); Superman; Straight Arrow; Jack Armstrong (the all-American Boy); Super Circus; Let's Pretend; The Buster Brown Gang;
I Love a Mystery---with Jack, Doc and Reggie; Fred Allen; Bob Hope; Superman; Inner Sanctum Mysteries (with the sound of the squeaking door); This is Your FBI; The FBI in Peace and War; Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour; Bobby Benson and the B-Bar-B Riders ("with your old Uncle Smokey"); Judy Canova....

....and (pant, pant), there were others, but I have run out of memory.

Alfonso Bedoya said...

@Sortahwitte: The station you mentioned out of Del Rio, Texas was XERF. I was in the Air Force at the time and could catch AM stations from Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cleveland and a few other cities...but only late at night and if the weather cooperated. All on a simple table radio.

I was a teenager for the most part at that time....in the late 1950s...helping to train bomber crews flying for the Strategic Air Command. We operated an automatic-tracking radar set on Amarillo Air Force Base (now long-gone) at our Radar Bomb Scoring detachment of about 25 young men. We had access to HF, VHF and UHF frequencies via our hyped-up radio system, and when on CQ duty at night, could communicate with aircraft or even ham radio operators as far away as Alaska or even Australia. Heady stuff for a teenager.

John the Econ said...

That was great. Sorry it didn't sell.

"Punched a time clock". Made me laugh.

Something else we have in common: When I was a kid, I was an electronics geek and also loved radio. I remember getting my first shortwave receiver and was mesmerized listening to broadcasts from across the globe late at night. (In an age when the world a lot bigger and far less connected than it is today, and for most people media was largely limited to what was on your local radio and TV) As a teenager, I built my own bandit AM radio station and produced my own programming that the neighborhood could tune into. I did most of the characters and voices. I loved everything about radio.

Although my parents fully encouraged my technical pursuits, they frowned upon the time I was spending on my entertainment-related endevours. (I was supposed to become an engineer and get a "stable" job in the aerospace industry like dad - glad I totally ignored that advice!)

As time went on, I become more involved in writing, as an editor of my high school newspaper, I often teamed up with a great artist friend who could put to pictures ideas I could write. I wish we could have kept that up. Eventually computers and programming captured me. I did again flirt with the idea radio when in college in the '80s when I teamed up with an engineer friend that I clicked with and we'd make ad-hoc impromptu recordings on a pocket recorder I always had on hand on the topics of the day; think of the Rush Limbaugh show done in a morning zoo format. (A few years before Rush; the world probably wasn't ready for that) Friends encouraged us to put together a tape and send it around, but we both already had stable careers and busy lives so that never happened either. (Singular focus has never been my strong suit)

I need to hunt some of those tapes down and digitize them. Or at least see if the content is still listenable and funny. It might not be, and my life was probably better in the direction it took.

Shelly said...

I so remember Hiney Wine. I believe it was on KLIF in Dallas but could have been WBAP. I loved those commercials. The closest thing now to that is on the WBAP morning show with Hal Jay and Brian Estridge. They use a lot of radio humor and it is delightful.

M. Mitchell Marmel said...

I miss The Greaseman. He was the master of "Theater of The Mind", and could depict the most outrageous, X-rated scenarios using only double entendres and skillfully-placed sound effects. To this day, I keep dozens of his bits in my iTunes library!

http://www.greaseman.org/ for bits, news and more!

http://www.greaseman.org/main_bits.html

Waddle doodle doddem, and AMF!

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Pat Cummings- Yeah, the video/demo is on the long side. Also, laughing in the dark can seem creepy.

@ezestreets- The comedy was intentionally very broad and silly, pretty much in tune with other comedy syndication pieces which were popular way back then. Truthfully, I prefer wit to broad laughs.

@M. Mitchell Marmel- Where the hell were you 30 years ago?!

@Joseph ET- I've heard about that kind of audition before, and believe it! I wasn't an "on-air" personality at the radio station where I worked (though my voice was heard on about half the commercials) so I didn't need to go through a trial by fire to make sure I could motor-mouth it with no dead air.

@Rick Nigh- I was only with the Hiney folks for a short while, but it was fun while it lasted. You might say, it's better to get even a little Hiney than none at all. Glad you have pleasant memories of the series!

@Brie Camembert- Yeah, none of this "Made in China" comedy radio!

@Kerry Soileau- Right you are! Thor Hiney was definitely one of the main characters!

@Bobo the Hobo- One of the genius factors in the Hiney Wine business model is that the creators didn't have to record anything. They'd just write scripts and then fax them to the radio stations, leaving the local DJ's to customize the winery's location to make it a "local" bit. Brilliant!

@Bruce Bleu- The problem with drinking Hiney Ken beer is that when you need to pee, you have no equipment with which to do so.

@roadgeek- "Cheek" was a perfect location for the "winery!"

jayjay said...

Pretty Funny -Dyscloxia :>}

udaman said...

I remember having a Hiney Wine hat. It said that I was an official "Hiney Inspector". Some of the girls did not buy it, but it worked on a good number of them. The good ole' days!!

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Cridge- You recall accurately!

@Fritzchen- I'd have liked to hear your radio parody! What a great medium radio is. Every night, I put myself to sleep listening to OTR (Old Time Radio) shows. I'm currently going through years of "Gunsmoke" with William Conrad. Didn't think I'd care about westerns, but this series pulled me right in. Excellent voice acting and foley work!

@Sally- There's plenty more where this came from! I've lived a sillier life than most people...

@QC USA- Oh, I loved and worshipped the Chicken Man shows! I think I've got some on a CD or cassette around here somewhere...

@John D. Egbert- Great stuff, indeed! Maybe radio theater will make a comeback once everyone gets sick of looking at electronic faces...

@pkdphd- Firesign Theater has been a HUGE influence in my life. I never got to work with the boys, but an acquaintance with a recording studio (in Bloomington, Indiana) DID work with them. Or maybe just a couple of them. Still - they're heroes of mine.

@Linda Lee- The boss was played by Dallas voice actor extraordinaire Jerry Houston, who is sadly no longer with us. Two of the other character voices belong to actors I used when recording shows for Chuck E. Cheese Pizza!

@Rod- Yeah, she was really satisfied!

@pkdphd- It's fun to look back on all that!

@Sortahwitte- Wow, you just took me on a lovely, dreamy excursion through the land of radio. I'm glowing. By the way, those radio shows you mention can be heard/downloaded for free! Just visit the Internet Archive and feast on all of the wonderful classics!

@Doc Claussen- Wait, stay sane...? Or just shoot for it from time to time?

@Pat Cummings- I'm not familiar with that other series, but I'd bet they were trying to cash in on Hiney's success.

@mrgutzmer- Glad you liked them! I'm sure I'll post other foolishness in the coming days. As for selling them, that ship has probably sailed. Although podcasters might like some comedy content. Hmm....

@Alfonso Bedoya- What a parade of hits! Check out that link I gave to Sortahwitte (above) if you'd like to revisit some of those great old shows!

@John the Econ- Wonderful memories and I thank you for sharing them. I'd love to hear some of that early work if you find it! I also had a little pirate radio station in my college dorm ("WGOD - The Voice of God") which ran music and stupidly bad (but sometimes funny and always tasteless) comedy bits. I DO have some of those bits digitized, but discretion suggests that I never share them. (grin)

@Shelly- In Dallas, Hiney Wine ran on KPLX...although I don't know that it DIDN'T also run on those other stations. And you're right that WBAP's Hal Jay and Brian Estridge still do a morning radio show "old school." I'm actually friends (kinda, sorta) with Stubey Doak, who does a lot of their comedy bits and song parodies. Super nice guy!

@M. Mitchell Marmel- The Greaseman was incredible! I'll follow your links and see if I can download some goodies. Thanks!

@jayjay- I maintain that it's a real condition, and I want royalties every time someone uses the word!

@udaman- And don't forget, as an official Hiney inspector you were also entitled to inspect the brand's convenient jugs!

Shelly said...

@Stilton, yes, I had forgotten about KPLX. It's been awhile. Hint hint. Do you remember how that morning show got started with Hal Jay and the helicopter traffic reporter? I thought it was Blackie Sherrod but I'm not sure.

Strelnikov said...

I remember hearing the Hiney Wine commercials back in the day. I thought it was a real product.

My favorite was one where they reported on their softball match with the team from Rank Cheese Co. (Motto: "When you cut the cheese, it's Rank!")

PS: I am also a former "Radio Guy", having jocked across the state in the late 70's - early 80's.

Tamminator said...

I recognize your voice, Stilton? What other voice overs did you do? I'd love to hear your reel.

Sortahwitte said...

@Alfonso. Regarding the station from DelRio, they broadcast with so much power that they could cover up about 2 inches on the radio tuner at night. Of course, living in Oklahoma, we got the muzzle blast. Broadcasting from Mexico, their motto was "we don't have any stinken' rules." Later, when was I in the Marines, I met guys from Minnesota that had listened.

Does anyone remember "the joy boys of radio", we chase electrons to and fro?

Pat Cummings said...

@Sortahwitte, @Alfonso Bedoya: I mentioned the DelRio radio and my spouse said "goat glands." I guess Dr. John Brinkley, the guy who started XERA (across the border in Mexico) got his Kansas station stripped of its license for promoting goat glands.

Oh, and broadcasting 1930-style obscenity...

"He is also, almost by accident, credited with being an advertising and radio pioneer who began the era of Mexican border-blaster radio."

���� I’m on a Mexican Radio...

Colby, Jack said...

@Stilton Ah, now the truth comes out: Your photos show you hiding behind your computer screen or a wheel of cheese because you're "radio handsome."

Colby, Jack said...

@pkdphd: you should check with Regnad Kcin, another frequent contributor here, whether he ever saw Stilton hanging around the Firesign Theater stage door.

Gee M said...

some of the deepest wisdom i retained from the '70s...

"we're all Bozos on this bus!"

JustaJeepGuy said...


"Go ahead, squeeze the wheeze! Everybody wants to squeeze Bozo's nose!"

Dan said...

Rick Dees from KISS FM in Los Angeles was doing the Hiney Wine schtick back in the very early 80's.....

Sevenheart said...

YOU! YOU are the one responsible for me crying without a Hiney all these years until I found Hope and Change and then Stilton's Place. My Hiney was irreplacable until then. Knowing that my Hiney was in your hands all this time is such a relief. Is it any wonder I connected automatically to your keen wit and rapier humor?
Thanks for decades of great humor. I have learned never, never, never drink milk when reading Johnny Optimism.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Sevenheart- Thanks for the kind words, and the reminder that people should avoid keyboard-unfriendly liquids while reading my stuff. I'm a pretty lucky guy to have been able to spend so much of my life making people laugh.

JustaJeepGuy said...


Keyboard-unfriendly liquids? The kind that lead to the Pepsi Syndrome? (Old SNL reference there)

Pete (Detroit) said...

Jeep, you talking bout the Okra Cola Feeling? (looked for the Steve Martin SNL skit, no love..)

Stilt, the 'late for work' prolly didn't sell b/c it was funnier than the regular 'talent'

Also, I REMEMBER Heiny Whine!!! I think somewhere, I may have a "I (heart) Heiny Wine!" bumper sticker, w/ the heat inverted... Ah, (post) college days of my youth..
Also, Jeebus, I need to check in more often!!

JustaJeepGuy said...


@Pete,

The skit was on SNL when the movie 'The China Syndrome" came out. It was about how Pepsi (or any cola) can cause real havoc when spilled on a keyboard. Someone asked if 7-Up could cause the problem. "No, that's the UNcola!" Jimmy Carter grew to 50 ft. tall after he went in and cleaned up the nuclear power plant.

Ken in OKC said...

Loved the Hiney Wine bits. Actually had one of the Tshirts(that shrunk dramatically over the years) They would run about 8:15 AM on KXY so I was actually "Late For Work" a few times listening.