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My Name Is José Jiménez

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Album Review

Bill Dana had a long and successful career as a comedy writer (winning an Emmy Award for his work on the classic sitcom All in the Family), but he'll always be best remembered for his character Jose Jimenez, a slightly tongue-tied man with a thick Hispanic accent who first popped up in "Man on the Street" bits on The Steve Allen Show in the late '50s. By 1960, Dana's work as Jimenez on television and in nightclubs had become popular enough that Kapp Records signed him to a recording contract, and My Name...Jose Jimenez was divided between a collection of sketches originally broadcast on The Steve Allen Show and a 17-minute "press conference" in which Dana spontaneously answers questions posed to Jimenez by a number of comics posing as reporters. A few decades later, Dana's dialect humor might seem racist to some, but part of what made the character funny was despite his name and his accent, Dana invariably toyed with the character's nationality; depending on the bit, Jimenez could be a British arranger accompanying Diana Dors, an Irish theatrical director, a farmer from the Midwest, an Australian bobsled racer, or the Bürgermeister of a village in Germany. And if there wasn't a great deal of depth to Dana's character, his comic timing was excellent, his banter with Steve Allen and Pat Harrington was effective and inspired, and the improvised press conference shows he could get laughs and think on his feet at the same time. Given that Dana actually scored a few minor hit singles for Kapp as Jimenez, it's a shame that Collectors' Choice's reissue doesn't include any bonus material, and the CD appears to have been sourced from an old vinyl copy of the album, but My Name...Jose Jimenez still inspires a healthy portion of laughs, and Dana's comic creation connects on record more effectively than one might expect nearly half a century later.


Genre: Comedy

Years Active: '60s

Despite a successful career under his own name, the true legacy of actor/comedian Bill Dana remains Jose Jimenez, a character introduced on The Steve Allen Show that went on to become one of the most beloved comic creations of the era. Born William Szathmary in Quincy, MA, on October 5, 1924, Dana began his career as a writer after a severe back injury temporarily derailed his performing aspirations. After creating gags for the likes of George Gobel and Don Adams throughout the first half of the...
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