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From Public Radio International's Bullseye with Jesse Thorn:
Bob Newhart is an actor, stand-up and legend of American comedy. A pioneer comedian in every sense, Bob began his comedy career when he and a friend improvised over-the-phone comedy routines to kill boredom at work, and subsequently sold the bits to radio stations. The "phone sketch" would be a schtick that would last throughout Newhart's career, and featured quite prominently in the release of his 1960 EP The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart. The Button-Down Mind was an unprecedented hit as a comedy recording, outselling Elvis Presley and winning the Grammy for Album of the Year. It's success eventually led Newhart to television, first with a variety sketch show in the early '60s, and then a pair of sitcoms: The Bob Newhart Show in the 1970s, and Newhart in the early '80s.
Bob joins Jesse to reflect on his comedy career, from how he honed his craft as a solo straightman, leaving the wild responses on the other end of his phone conversations entirely in the minds of the audience, to what keeps him going today when he's accomplished so much as a performer. Newhart still performs dozens of nights a year as a stand-up, while acting in both film and television. You can follow him on Twitter @BobNewhart.
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