Archives On The Air 162: King Of The Gag-Writers—David Freedman Papers

Jun 17, 2019

Script for a Smoko-Lax Radio Sketch written by David Freedman, circa 1930s. Box 3, David Freedman papers.

David Freedman was a Romanian-American comedy writer from the early days of radio. He was known as the king of the gag-writers. Freedman started in the Jewish Vaudeville scene and had shows on Broadway.

When radio replaced vaudeville in the 1930s he began writing up to six shows a week.

One show Freedman wrote for was The Ex-Lax Big Show. It was a sketch comedy show that often dealt with the great depression. It was sponsored by the laxative brand Ex-Lax.

In one sketch Freedman parodied radio sponsorships with the made-up brand Smoko-Lax. A laxative in the form of a cigarette.

The sponsor offers a Smoko-Lax to the writer, who responds, "No thanks, I use bran."

Most of David Freedman's radio shows were never recorded, but scripts can be found in his papers at UW's American Heritage Center.