Lithograph by Ed Ruscha ,1970
It seems to me that there is an intrinsic connection between art and comedy, but I never realized that Ed Ruscha and Mason Williams, the head writer for the Smothers Brothers Show, were collaborators. I never really got the joke of Williams’ “Classical Gas”—they played it on the radio incessantly when I was growing up. Ruscha and Williams cooked up some weird stuff:
In his book CRACKERS, based on a story by Mason Williams, “How to derive the maximum enjoyment from Crackers” and in PREMIUM, the film version of the same story, Ruscha exploited the sensual qualities of food still further. Mason Williams’ story (more of a recipe really) instructs the reader to arrange a date with a beautiful woman, take her ot a doss-house room rented especially for the evening and persuade her to lie in a bed spread with a 4 to 5 inch layer of salad made up of “several pounds of fresh ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, olives, green onions and so forth.” Ruscha’s book CRACKERS follows these instructions explicitly and records the complete tableau in a staggered sequence of photographs. The man pours on the naked woman (and the salad) five gallons of different salad dressings—Roquefort, French, Russian, Thousand Island and Vinegar and Oil. Suddenly, realizing that he has forgotten the essential crackers the protagonist then leaves his date, drives off, procures some crackers, “not too fancy,” returns to a previously booked suite in an expensive hotel, retires to bed, turns off the light and nibbles the crackers one by one.
From Henry Geldzahler’s preface to The Graphic Work of Edward Ruscha, 1978
According to Williams’ site, he and Ruscha were both from Oklahoma City and roommates for a time. There’s something pretty twisted about the Oklahoma sense of humor.