Laughing Back - A Movie For Radio

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Laughing Back - A Movie For Radio
WBAI And NPR Playhouse
Original Broadcast Date
Joe Frank
26 minutes
Preceded by: Jewish Blues
Followed by: An American Hero Workshop

I work hard at my job.

Laughing Back - A Movie For Radio is a program produced by Joe Frank for NPR Playhouse. It was originally broadcast November 29, 1978, and was released as a monthly premium at in December 2004.


This program features four Joe Frank stories. The announcer begins by comparing hearing Joe's work to watching a movie.

  • "The Night Watchman": the first person account of a night watchman who rises through the ranks of a company by inviting bosses to dinner and burying them in the back yard, only to find himself invited to dinner by the new night watchman.
  • "Caldwell": a fitness nut who dies while climbing stairs in a blackout has an out of body experience. He travels down a long dark tunnel and emerges into a festive dinner party attended by dead family members. They do the carnival dance.
  • "Long Island Memories": Joe's childhood in Long Island. A child is open to experiences: Lady bugs, frogs, turtles, butterflies, campfire, grandmother's hollow chocolate-filled cookies, being in the countryside with a dog, walking to meet his father's car on its return home. It's thirty years later, the adult has dulled senses. Joe runs out of gas in the country, experiences a vivid memory of childhood and imagines that his whole life has been a child's dream.
  • "Beautiful Woman on Elevator": the often repeated experience of an awkward elevator ride beside attractive woman.


Shared material

  • "The Night Watchman" shares some text with Lies.
  • The "Caldwell" story appears in Emergency Room.
  • We hear another reference to Joe walking out to meet his father (Freddy) in Karma Memories.
  • "Beautiful Woman on Elevator" is not the same material as the elevator encounter in Obsessions.


  • The background music to the elevator story ("Hard Work") is used often on Harry Shearer's Le Show.

External links