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
38 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 Options. It was originally broadcast November 29, 1978, and was released as a monthly premium at in December 2004.


This program features several 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.
  • "A Time On The Beach": life on a beach in Curaçao; a diabetic eats a chocolate gun.
  • "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.
  • "Isn't it true that we continue to strive all our lives in order to find peace and fulfillment ... life is not a game you can win, but a game that has no end, and all you do is die somewhere in the middle of it."
  • "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.


This is an incomplete record of the music in this program. If you can add more information, please do.

Shared material

  • "The Night Watchman" shares some text with Lies.
  • "A Time On The Beach" and "Caldwell" appear in Emergency Room.
  • The striving/fulfillment/futility essay appears at the end of He Hesitated.
  • 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