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Percy Dovetonsils began with a pair of novelty glasses from a novelty store in Philadelphia, purchased by Andy McKay.  McKay was Ernie's production assistant, ensemble player, prop man, etc etc etc.  Ernie drew the lines on the fake eyeballs in the glasses to give him that half-awake look, and fashioned Percy's persona after Ted Malone, who read poetry on a program called Between the Bookends.  Thus, Percy's lilting, lisping sign-off was always "I'll see you just outside the bookends".

Percy was part of the stable of Kovacs characters from the early days in Philadelphia in 1951 all the way to the end.  In the fall of 1961 Kovacs recorded an album for Vanguard called "Perthy Dovetonthils Thpeakth", which was never released.  A few poems from it are on the Columbia LP "The Ernie Kovacs Record", which was released in the late 1970s.  The original master tapes for the album, consisting of 16 tracks, survives.  So do the original Percy Dovetonsils glasses that Andy McKay bought during the run of Three To Get Ready on WPTZ.

 
(presented here with permission from Ediad Productions, Inc. all rights reserved)


ODE TO A HOUSEFLY

Philosophical Ruminations on a Beastie in the Booze

Oh, hail to thee, tiny insect so small,
Swimming around in my bourbon highball.
Back-stroking, breast-stroking, movement of wing,
Now up on the ice cube, poor cold little thing.

If you stay there too long, you'll find with remorse,
Your ankles will numb and your buzz will get hoarse.
Catching cold is unpleasant for all little flies,
Bloodshot is gruesome for multiprism eyes.

Some people hate flies, take my old Cousin Sam,
He gets in a snit when you sit in his jam.
I've seen sister Sally turn red as a beet
When you walk on her nose with your six sticky feet.

When you walk on the ceiling, your brow seems to frown,
Does blood go to your head, when you stand upside down?
My optometrist friend, a dear boy named Rex,
Makes bifocals for flies - he calls them fly specs.

Now you're coughing because you are so full of trouble,
Or is it the bourbon that's making you bubble?
You should get off the ice, the temperature's minus,
You'll get frost in your navel and a wee touch of sinus.


I'M SO SICK OF DIETING

I'm so sick of dieting
I really feel bombastic.
There's candy without sugar,
Rolls without butter,
and lard that's made of plastic.

It's the lowering of calories I've really grown to hate
they're so low now they're shoved in under the plate.
Oh Suzette's were made for crepe-ing
and ice cream is to be caked.
Hawaii is great for vacation,
but Alaska was made to be baked.


AUTUMN

Oh Adam and Eve wore fig leaves,
In the earliest of earth's known years
They wore them through Spring and through Summer,
Labeling them his and hers.
They caught dreadful colds though, soon after,
At least historians so recall.
The fig leaves were swell in the summer,
But what happened to those leaves in the fall ?


MONA LISA

Mona Lisa you always smile
Like Heather up on the heath.
How come you never laugh out loud,
Could be you have bad teeth?


THE MOON

The moon is full of craters
It has some mountains too,
But because there are no people,
No one goes to the Zoo.


COWBOY

O cowboy so lean, O cowboy so tall,
You sit there straight as an arrow.
But side-saddle you ride, instead of astride.
Are you perhaps a gay ranchero?


O' SOMETIMES I WISH I WERE A DOG

O' sometimes I wish I were a dog,
A Boxer or Cocker Spaniel
Or perhaps a German Spitz,
Or maybe a Chihuahua named Manuel.
I met a girl named Doberman
An without a doubt it's cinch, her
Figure's the greatest I've ever seen
Now I wish I were a Doberman Pinch-her.


ODE FROM A GERM'S-EYE VIEWPOINT

As a germ I'm smaller than the flea.
For I can see you,
But you can't see me.
My mother is in pictures,
You've seen her on the screen.
She gave chicken pox to Allan Ladd
And mumps to Bobby Breen.
But my sister is at Vassar,
At sports she's really a dream.
Last week they made her captain
Of the Streptococci-team.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO A BOOKWORM

Oh hail to thee thou streamlined fellow,
You go through my books like
A fork goes through Jell-O.
When I open a book and
Look back at the binding,
Little crumbs from your lunch
Always I'm finding.

I saw you first, so trim and so spruce,
As you gummed a few pages out of my mother goose.
You browsed though my shelves, In your eye was a twinkle,
As you ate the first chapter of old Rip Van Winkle.
The next time I saw you I was so miffed.
You ate off the ending of inventor Tom Swift
You made little bites so round and so tidy,
All over the back of my copy of Heidi.

And then you reached manhood, I recall with some pain
When you first bit your way into Mickey Spillane.
You ate chapter 1 and then began rushing,
On chapter 13 I noticed you blushing.
As the years pass on by you continue to munch,
You were big enough then to eat Ivanhoe for lunch.
Then you ate Lawrence of Arabia, I heard your loud sigh,
As you lay gasping for water - the book was so dry.

Today is your birthday, may you live good and long,
So the night will be filled with your nibbling song.
Now you can eat my presents from the back to the front
For today I've enrolled you in the "Book of the Month."


LESLIE THE MEAN ANIMAL TRAINER

Leslie worked in a circus
he worked in a great big cage.
He smacked the lions
and beat the bears
and put them all in a rage.
He kicked the lions with iron sneakers
and rolled up army cots.
He put cleaning fluid on all the leopards
and sneered when they lost their spots.
But a chimpanzee got even with him...
Leslie got killed by some smells,
when he stuck his head the lion's mouth




Ted Malone read poetry on radio for many years, starting in the early 1930s, on a program called "Between the Bookends". Supposedly Malone was an inspiration for Percy, although aside from the reading of poetry and Ernie's paraphrasing of Malone's program name in Percy's sign-off ("I'll see you just outside the bookends"), there is little else resembling Ted Malone.  Listen to Ted recite "Why the Chimes Rang" and see for yourself.  The Percy persona and silliness most probably can be traced to Ernie's sense of humor...and those glasses Andy McKay found at a 5 and 10 in Philly.








* * * Last updated  January 10, 2010 * * *