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View Full Version : What was the first instance of using a record scratch as comic punctuation?


jefusan
02-27-2009, 02:55 PM
You know the deal... someone in a movie says something at a party, or enters the wrong bar, and everyone stops talking as the music stops and the needle scratches across the record.

In what movie or TV show did that first happen?

Extra credit for finding the first instance of it being used as comic punctuation outside of that context (i.e.: as a way of setting up a punchline or plot twist in a trailer.)

Zeldar
02-27-2009, 03:07 PM
Probably nothing to do with your question but Victor Borge had an entire bit involving sound effects for punctuation.

jefusan
03-02-2009, 04:46 PM
Heh... not exactly what I was thinking about, but I always loved the weirdness of Borge.

Really? No takers?

Cagey Drifter
03-02-2009, 05:25 PM
I'm not sure, but these Hollywood hacks have run this shit into the fucking ground, and they need to stop using it, like, yesterday.

YamatoTwinkie
03-02-2009, 07:01 PM
Doesn't really answer the question, but NPR had a segment (http://www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/2005/01/21/08) devoted to the useage of the record scratch effect

jefusan
03-03-2009, 10:02 AM
Doesn't really answer the question, but NPR had a segment (http://www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/2005/01/21/08) devoted to the useage of the record scratch effect That is hilarious and sad.

Arnold Winkelried
03-03-2009, 02:40 PM
Really? No takers?I would suggest that one way to arrive at an answer is for you to say "I saw it in Movie XXX that came out in 1982" and wait for someone to come up with an earlier example. For example, wasn't there such a sound gag in Animal House (1978) when the college students walk into the bar where Otis Day is playing? Though maybe not since the scratching sound wouldn't make much sense for a live band.

jefusan
03-04-2009, 09:34 AM
I would suggest that one way to arrive at an answer is for you to say "I saw it in Movie XXX that came out in 1982" and wait for someone to come up with an earlier example. For example, wasn't there such a sound gag in Animal House (1978) when the college students walk into the bar where Otis Day is playing? Though maybe not since the scratching sound wouldn't make much sense for a live band. It's funny, because I was going to use that exact same example, but was unable to verify it... I doubted my memory for the same exact reason.

Elendil's Heir
03-04-2009, 01:22 PM
It's used in movie previews far too much nowadays, usually either when a teenager does or says something stupid that gets everyone's attention, or when a hapless guy in love does or says something stupid that has a real chance of losing his sweetheart's affection.

Lemur866
03-04-2009, 02:05 PM
And it's doubly weird because it's so ubiquitous yet nobody has heard the actual sound of an actual record scratching in 30 years.

Gfactor
03-04-2009, 02:50 PM
Moved from General Questions to Cafe Society.

Gfactor
General Questions Moderator

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
03-04-2009, 03:04 PM
It was used last night on an ep of "The Girls Next Door," after Kendra tells her mom and g-mom that she's planning to move out.

Find one earlier than that. Yeah, I know they're out there

randwill
03-04-2009, 03:08 PM
As far as television goes, was it first used in an episode of "Ally McBeal"?

Todd Rundgren used it on his "Something/Anything" album in 1972.

Hampshire
03-04-2009, 04:06 PM
I could almost picture it being used in a John Hughes film. Something with Anthony Michael Hall in it like Sixteen Candles or Weird Science.

PaperBlob
03-04-2009, 04:14 PM
Another vote for what randwill said: I first remember noticing it on Ally McBeal.

GargoyleWB
03-04-2009, 05:11 PM
As far as television goes, was it first used in an episode of "Ally McBeal"?

Todd Rundgren used it on his "Something/Anything" album in 1972.

A tie for 1972, used on "Monty Python's Previous Record".

randwill
03-04-2009, 06:17 PM
Since, as someone mentions above, the sound of the needle skating across a vinyl record is largely unknown to younger people, I wonder if many even know what it is? I reckon some may not make the association to a physical thing happening, but believe it to be an abstract sound (like the 'chung chung' on "Law and Order") that indicates everything coming to a halt.

Jayn_Newell
03-04-2009, 06:27 PM
Since, as someone mentions above, the sound of the needle skating across a vinyl record is largely unknown to younger people, I wonder if many even know what it is? I reckon some may not make the association to a physical thing happening, but believe it to be an abstract sound (like the 'chung chung' on "Law and Order") that indicates everything coming to a halt.There isn't really a modern-day equivalent either. CDs and MP3s can skip, but that's about it. I can't even remember what a cassette sounded like when it went haywire (although I do recall having to deal with the fallout >< Fun times) and I'm (barely) old enough to have grown up with them.

I'm curious what younger generations who're used to iPods and the like will think of the old vinyl. "You could only fit 10 songs on there? And it actually had to spin?"

E-Sabbath
03-04-2009, 06:57 PM
I want to say Spike Jones used the effect, but I can't prove it.

Biffy the Elephant Shrew
03-04-2009, 07:46 PM
A tie for 1972, used on "Monty Python's Previous Record".

Mothers of Invention, We're Only In It For The Money, 1968.

As for young people are being unaware of what needle scratching sounds like, don't forget the DJ "scratching" in modern R&B/hip hop bands.

GuanoLad
03-04-2009, 07:53 PM
The Goon Show. Here's an example (http://www.thegoonshow.net/scripts_show.asp?title=s08e22_world_war_one) from 1958.

Grams:
[Tea dance music followed by needle scratch across record followed by small applause/cheers]

Admittedly this is radio, rather than TV or movies, but undoubtedly radio is where it originated from.

Acsenray
03-04-2009, 08:07 PM
Why wouldn't kids today be aware of this sound? Needle scratch sounds are a very common feature of hip-hop music.

randwill
03-04-2009, 08:18 PM
Why wouldn't kids today be aware of this sound? Needle scratch sounds are a very common feature of hip-hop music.

I think what we are talking about here is the sound of the needle skating across the record. I would differentiate that from the sounds DJs make by moving the record back and forth while the needle remains in the groove.

Spoons
03-04-2009, 08:29 PM
Johnny Fever used it intentionally on the first episode of WKRP in Cincinnati, when the station format changed from elevator music to rock. Not sure if it's exactly what the OP was looking for, but it aired in 1978.

Biffy the Elephant Shrew
03-04-2009, 09:16 PM
I think what we are talking about here is the sound of the needle skating across the record. I would differentiate that from the sounds DJs make by moving the record back and forth while the needle remains in the groove.

But don't DJs also sometimes rake the needle across the grooves? I'm sure I've seen/heard that done.

Hampshire
03-05-2009, 10:11 AM
But don't DJs also sometimes rake the needle across the grooves? I'm sure I've seen/heard that done.

I wouldn't think so. It does a lot of damage to both the vinyl and the stylus tip to do that. DJs "scratching" actaully keeps the needle in the groove.

Fenris
03-05-2009, 10:13 AM
Monkees--um..I think "The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees"--the song is "Magnolia Simms" which was intended to sound like a 1920's record, complete with tinny sound, pops, skips and scratches. Circa 1967

Bumbershoot
03-05-2009, 11:24 AM
Earlier ones have been mentioned, but I thought I'd add Earache My Eye by Cheech & Chong, from 1974. Chong, as a teenager, is listening to an Alice Bowie record when his father (Cheech) comes in and drags the needle off the record, making a severe scratching sound, followed by the line "Heeey! You scratched my record, man!" and the rest of the routine. It was released as a single and got a lot of airplay.

YamatoTwinkie
03-05-2009, 12:38 PM
Monkees--um..I think "The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees"--the song is "Magnolia Simms" which was intended to sound like a 1920's record, complete with tinny sound, pops, skips and scratches. Circa 1967

I don't think that quite counts (at least per your description). The OP is looking for the dramatic "record scratch" sound usually used as a comedic, transitional effect. Minor pops and scratches to make something sound "old-timey" doesn't really fit the criteria, as it's neither comedic, dramatic, or transitional.

Fenris
03-05-2009, 01:06 PM
I don't think that quite counts (at least per your description). The OP is looking for the dramatic "record scratch" sound usually used as a comedic, transitional effect. Minor pops and scratches to make something sound "old-timey" doesn't really fit the criteria, as it's neither comedic, dramatic, or transitional.
No--there's a skip-back where the song repeats (the needle is bumped back along the track). Then there's a dramatic scratch, as the needle is "picked up", and finally, the needle's placed down after the scratch/skip and the song concludes.

RealityChuck
03-05-2009, 01:46 PM
US version: Fink Along with Mad, on the song "Mad Extra" in 1963. The song goes into the song "I Want a Nose Job," which is interrupted and ended by a loud scratch.

TooSchoolforCool
03-05-2009, 02:13 PM
From the NPR article:

It wasn't uncommon at the turn of the century for a, a, a, pair of lovers to be dancing to a phonograph in their parlor, when the jilted suitor would burst into the room and, you know, rip the needle off the phonograph, and the lovers' reverie would be interrupted by this, you know, brutish thug, and that was a classic symbol that carried on into many of our cartoons, many of our commercials. It's part of our collective unconscious.

Bootis
03-05-2009, 02:25 PM
Everyone seems to be going to music for examples, but I'm not sure that's what the OP is looking for. I'm going to beat Ally McBeal by a few years and offer The Fresh Prince . Can't give a cite, but I'm confident it was used many times.

Shoeless
03-05-2009, 03:30 PM
I would suggest that one way to arrive at an answer is for you to say "I saw it in Movie XXX that came out in 1982" and wait for someone to come up with an earlier example. For example, wasn't there such a sound gag in Animal House (1978) when the college students walk into the bar where Otis Day is playing? Though maybe not since the scratching sound wouldn't make much sense for a live band.

Funny you should say that, because when I first read this thread I actually almost posted about that exact scene in Animal House, but then realized "it couldn't have been a record scratch -- Otis Day and the Nights were playing!" (However, IIRC there is a slight pause in the music and everyone turns to look when Boone yells "Otis! My man!", so maybe that's what I'm thinking of.)

zamboniracer
03-05-2009, 03:35 PM
Johnny Fever used it intentionally on the first episode of WKRP in Cincinnati, when the station format changed from elevator music to rock. Not sure if it's exactly what the OP was looking for, but it aired in 1978.

That's DOCTOR Johnny Fever:D:D:D

'All right, Cincinnati, it's time for this town to get down! You've got Johnny - Doctor Johnny Fever, and I am burnin' up in here - Whoah! We all in critical condition, babies, but you can tell me where it hurts, cuz I got the healing prescription here from the big KRP musical medicine cabinet. Now I am talking about your 50,000 watts intensive care unit, babies! So just sit right back now, relax! Open your ears real wide and say, 'Give it to me straight, Doctor, I can take it!' Oh, I almost forgot, fellow babies... BOOGER!!!"

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
05-10-2011, 09:04 PM
OK, I have a possible TV citation from 1999 of the record scratch being used in the sense of "Hold on, there!" It's the documentary "Sideshow" which occasionaly airs on cable, and Jason Alexander narrates. I'll have to relisten to it to find the exact spot and context though. ETA: Criminy! This was two years ago! I thought maybe six months!

Promethea
05-12-2011, 03:35 AM
I can bring it back to 1987 and the season finale of Blackadder series three.

The record scratch is definitely used for the moment when the title character, giving his dramatic dying speech, realises that the miniature cannon ball 'killing' him has actually been absorbed by a cigarillo case. The sad soundtrack music, Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor, is roughly scratched away at the realisation. Rare bonus, when it transpires something sad has really happened to another character later on, the track is dropped back into the soundtrack, as if the needle has been dropped carelessly onto the disc.

YouTube Clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rg4qLQeq808). The scratch is at 06.19. Warning, spoilers for the ending if that is a concern.

BMalion
05-12-2011, 09:53 AM
I can bring it back to 1987 and the season finale of Blackadder series three.

The record scratch is definitely used for the moment when the title character, giving his dramatic dying speech, realises that the miniature cannon ball 'killing' him has actually been absorbed by a cigarillo case. The sad soundtrack music, Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor, is roughly scratched away at the realisation. Rare bonus, when it transpires something sad has really happened to another character later on, the track is dropped back into the soundtrack, as if the needle has been dropped carelessly onto the disc.

YouTube Clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rg4qLQeq808). The scratch is at 06.19. Warning, spoilers for the ending if that is a concern.


Pengvin.

panache45
05-12-2011, 11:09 AM
I want to say Spike Jones used the effect, but I can't prove it.

That's what I'm thinking. I'll try to find it.

Peremensoe
05-12-2011, 11:20 AM
So two questions here, looking for distinct first instances of comedic use. One is the sound understood as the sound of a needle scratching a record that was playing in the scene.

You know the deal... someone in a movie says something at a party, or enters the wrong bar, and everyone stops talking as the music stops and the needle scratches across the record.

The "turn of the century" bit in the NPR piece suggests that the sound was known as dramatic punctuation in very early films--it probably didn't take too many years before this was satirized for comedic effect.

The other is the same sound, but unconnected to a record. It's just the scratch, abstractly.

Extra credit for finding the first instance of it being used as comic punctuation outside of that context (i.e.: as a way of setting up a punchline or plot twist in a trailer.)

Right?

I want to say that the latter was first done by Treg Brown in a Looney Tunes short sometime in the '40s or '50s. It seems like exactly the kind of innovation that would be his. But I have no example to point to.

Kim o the Concrete Jungle
05-13-2011, 12:20 AM
So far the answer seems to be Goon Show.

Which just goes to show, the answer to everything is always Spike Milligan.

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
10-10-2011, 10:57 AM
A more recent contender than the Goon Show, although it's not for comedic effect, but does serve as punctuation of sorts:

In "Dirty Dancing (1987)," Patrick Swayze drags the needle just before Neal (Neil?) tells him that he wants him to do. . . The Pechanga!.

Martini Enfield
10-15-2011, 07:57 AM
Living Doll with Cliff Richard & The Young Ones (1986) ends with one of these, cutting Rick off before he can utter an expletive.

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
07-18-2015, 06:49 PM
I could almost picture it being used in a John Hughes film. Something with Anthony Michael Hall in it like Sixteen Candles or Weird Science.It was indeed used in "Weird Science," when Lisa and the boys first walk into the Kandy Bar.

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