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NPR Arts & Life

Radio Comedian Bob Elliott Dies At 92

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Sometimes you can learn about your work from people who make fun of it. Some of us in the news business learned a thing or two from comedian Bob Elliott who died this week at age 92.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

He was half of the classic radio duo Bob and Ray. They liked to mock broadcasters.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RAY GOULDING: Wally Ballou is standing by now for a very interesting interview.

BOB ELLIOTT: ...ly Ballou about to conduct a very interesting interview.

MCEVERS: (Laughter) There's a lesson right there - don't repeat what the anchor is saying.

CORNISH: That was Bob Elliott in character as reporter Wally Ballou with his comedy partner Ray Goulding. The pair drew on decades of experience at CBS and NBC, even NPR for their jokes.

MCEVERS: Here's another lesson from Bob and Ray for interviewers. Listen carefully even if the subject is Komodo dragons.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GOULDING: Dr. Dexter if you'd tell everybody all about the Komodo dragon, please.

ELLIOTT: Yes, the Komodo dragon is the world's largest living lizard. Found on the steep-sloped island of Komodo in the lesser Sunda chain of the Indonesian Archipelago and the nearby islands of Rintja, Padar and Flores.

GOULDING: Where do they come from?

(LAUGHTER)

CORNISH: In 2008, Bob Elliott told NPR he didn't think his longer form sketches would sell with today's audiences.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

ELLIOTT: They're more attuned to one-liners, not the character buildup that we had the time to do when we had a show

MCEVERS: But Elliott influenced many comedians including his son Chris Elliott. Bob and Ray's career spanned radio, television and Broadway. Ray Goulding died in 1990.

CORNISH: Bob Elliott died on Tuesday. He was 92. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.