The Best

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The Best[1]
Work In Progress
Original Broadcast Date
Larry Block, Friederike Frank, Teddy Frank, Joe Frank
Absurd Monologue, Improv Actors, Telephone, 60 minutes
Preceded by: El Cholo (In The Beginning)
Followed by: In The Dark (Part 1)

Rockwell gave visual form to essential American values.

The Best is a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series Work In Progress. It was originally broadcast in 1992.


Joe praises Norman Rockwell's paintings, then Margaret Keane's (the children with the huge, liquid eyes).[1]

5: Joe talks about Christo, the environmental artist.

8: Joe talks about the crash of the Exxon Valdez as environmental art, building on Christo.

11:20: Joe talks about Pol Pot.

16:10: Joe talks about Charles Manson, contrasts him with Pol Pot.

19:40: Joe talks about Wilhelm Reich, says he was suppressed because oil companies feared being put out of business by orgone.[2]

25:50: Joe tells us how important Barry Manilow's lyrics are, that he eclipsed Reich's psychological insights.

32:20: Joe's mother calls to tell us how great Joe is - then makes sure she's said enough.

33:20: Larry Block calls to tell us how great Joe is - then where to send the check.[3]

35: A dog barks, then gets shot.[4]

36:10: Joe's stepfather, Teddy Frank, calls to tell us how great Joe is, then fumbles the 'I got a dog for my wife.' - 'Great trade!' joke.

38:30: Joe asks us what allows us to judge.

43: Joe addresses Alicia (absent) on her behavior.

53:50: Joe talks about Jimmy Swaggart, Jim & Tammy Faye Bakker.

Legacy Synopsis
  • Mock intellectual presentations: Rockwell and Keen as visionaries, comparing Cristo with the Exxon Valdez oil spill, comparing Pol Pot and Charles Manson, Freud and Reich and Barry Manilow.
  • People call Joe, praise him, and then poison the scene. A dog barks and is shot. Joe coaches his parents in making a similar call.
  • Second person address to Alicia: eating meat, a misunderstood attack, adding reverb to a radio voice, an eloquent suicide note
  • Jimmy Swaggart


Additional credits

The original broadcast credits state: "[P]erformed by Joe Frank, and created in collaboration with Larry Massett and David Rapkin. Edited and mixed by Theo Mondle. Special thanks to Phil Proctor, Sheila Bjornlie, and Ariana Morgenstern."


  1. These pictures were originally attributed to her husband Walter. She proved in court that she had drawn them. Walter Keane's Wikipedia page calls him a plagiarist, not an artist. Tim Burton's Big Eyes (2014) tells the story. Her obituary in the New York Times also does.
  2. Reich comes up again in Predator, Summer Hill, and Rent A Family.
  3. The zip code is in the wrong state.
  4. John, in Problems, shoots his wife's dog (re-used in In The Dark (Remix)); a story in Rent A Family (Part 2) includes the shooting of a dog; a story in Karma Crash includes the shooting of a dog; Joe imagines shooting his neighbor's dog in On The Edge. In a pledge drive, Joe asked for pledges to keep a dog from getting shot; the cover of National Lampoon, January 1973, is the "If You Don't Buy This Magazine, We'll Kill This Dog" cover)