Psychiatry (Aired November 20, 1947)
Can You Top This was one of those programs that was tailor made for radio. Four people sat around telling jokes, each one trying to outdo the other. Can you imagine the same format on television? In the movies? Broadway? In magazines or newspapers? Only on radio could such a format survive and thrive. And thrive it did, for 14 years. In 1943 an estimated ten million people listened to the weekly program and Time magazine said "There is nothing quite like it on the U.S. air." Can You Top This was the brain child of Senator Edward Hastings Ford. The "Senator", like most of his jokes, was made up. The program itself was simply an outgrowth of a regular meeting at which Ford and the other participants would spend countless hours telling stories at New York's famous Lamb's Club. From the outset of the program in December of 1940, Ford owned the rights to the program and was a regular participant. The lynch pin for the program was actor Peter Donald who would begin each round of jokes by telling a joke submitted by a listener. Donald was born in Bristol, England into a theatrical family. By the time he was nine years old, he had traveled around the world twice. At the age of ten he began acting in radio. Later he played Ajax Cassidy on the Fred Allen Show, and dramatized the voices of Winston Churchill, Field Marshall Montgomery, King George VI and the Duke of Windsor on the March of Time.