Friend Dave Cohler sent me a few puns recently and reminded me of one I sent him long before it became a part of my Paul Desmond biography. Desmond and Jim Hall (pictured) concocted what I described in the book as the most elaborate pun I’ve ever encountered. He loved to recite it:
A boy of Italian descent named Carbaggio is born in Germany. With his swarthy looks and dark curly hair, he grows up feeling a bit of a misfit among the blond Teutons. He tries to compensate by being more German than the Germans, but he’s only boring, and is not accepted. When he’s a young man, he escapes to Paris. Shortly after he arrives there, he visits a gift shop and is caught stealing a brass miniature of the Eiffel Tower. The police arrest him and give him the choice of going to jail or immediately leaving the country. He chooses freedom and buys passage on the first ship outbound from Marseilles. It takes him to New York. Thinking he’d like a career as a broadcaster, he goes the RCA Building and walks into the office of General David Sarnoff. Sarnoff says there are no air positions open, but he offers the boy a job as a strikebreaker. Carbaggio takes it. When the strike is over, he finds himself on a union blacklist. He moves out to Long Island and gets a job at the sonar equipment company owned by a man named Harris. He studies English, and after several years has improved to the point where he gets a job as a disc jockey on a radio station, doing a program called Rock Time.
He has realized his dream. He’s a routine Teuton Eiffel-lootin’ Sarnoff goon from Harris Sonar, Rock-Time Carbaggio.
Culturally deprived Rifftides readers mystified by the payoff line should click here and let Jo Stafford bring them up to date.
Here’s another Desmond-Hall collaboration, with Gene Cherico, bass, and Connie Kay, drums. 1963.