Comic Fred Allen's self-written weekly scripts are regularly combed for libel, slander, offense to tender sensibilities. But now & then, despite radio's stout guarding, Allen manages to sink a punch line into some touchy solar plexus. He has never been sued for anything he has said on the air, but this season he has set a-storming: 1) Philadelphia's hotelkeepers, because of a crack about the size and appointments of Philadelphia hotel rooms; 2) the drug-store trade, over a yarn about a would-be pharmacist who "flunked in chow mein."
Last fortnight, for the amusement of his radio audience of some 15,000,000, Fred got to jawing with Guest Lawrence Duffy, doorman at Manhattan's Hotel Astor in high times & low. The talk got around to tips. Doorman Duffy sighingly recalled a boom-time gratuity of $100. "Yes," sighed Fred, "back in '28, some of those Wall Street men used to think nothing of buying the restaurant and throwing it to the waiter as a tip. I guess some of those boys still chuckle about their financial pranks as they're sitting around up in Sing Sing today."
Presently protests began to come in from Wall Street men not in Sing Sing. So one day last week Fred Allen sat down and, in his no-capitals typing style, pecked out an apology to "mr. william mcchesney martin jr.," president of the New York Stock Exchange. Mr. Martin thought the apology handsome enough to post on the Exchange floor.
Wrote Fred: "no malice was intended and i am sorry to have incurred the disfavor of the gentlemen. . . . i have considered committing harikari on the two points recently gained by bethlehem steel. i have also thought about calling a conference, since a conference is a gathering of important people who, singly, can do nothing but together can decide that nothing can be done, both ideas were abandoned in favor of this letter to you."