Friday, October 24, 2008

"My Financial Career" by Stephen Leacock

Source: Mr. Ron's Basement MP3
Length: 7 min
Reader: Ron Evry

The story: If Anne of Green Gables is the Canadian Tom Sawyer, then Stephen Leacock is Canada's Mark Twain. Although Leacock is relatively unknown here south of the Friendly Border, he was once quite popular world-wide, and is still well-loved in Canada. I have only in the past year come across his writing. While I don't find all of Leacock's humor side-splittingly funny, he is worthy of a smile and occasional laugh.

This short piece, detailing his dealings with a bank, seems relevant for the current times, even though it was written in 1910. The humor mostly comes from the narrator's unfamiliarity with banking, but a few absent-minded remarks increase the confusion on the bank's part as well. These foot-in-mouth statements capture perfectly the universal nervousness of trying something new and different, so that even if we're quite comfortable banking, we can see ourselves in the narrator's troubles. The ability to laugh at others while secretly laughing at ourselves heightens the humor and allows the reader to identify with what would otherwise simply be a goofy character.

Rating: 7/10

The reader: Ron Evry has an expressive baritone that aids tremendously in conveying Leacock's humor. Evry stumbles over a few words and occasionally puts a pause or emphasis in the wrong place, but by-and-large, this is a decent amateur reading. The recording is somewhat noisy and has a slight hiss, although I wasn't distracted by it. I only really noticed the hiss because I had my player turned up to high volume for another recording that was much softer, while this recording is fairly loud. Don't do what I did and hurt your eardrums. Turn it down!


Mister Ron said...

Thanks very much for the plug. I was a bit surprised to see such an early episode reviewed (there are just about 1200 Episodes in the Basement now), but it is a terrific story.

While I think my delivery and recording techniques have improved a bit since 2005, I'm sure I'm still stumbling over words and emphasizing the wrong phrases from time to time. Ah well.

There are, at present, twenty-nine Stephen Leacock stories in Mister Ron's Basement, and I have created an index to all of them! My favorite is Episode #322, 'To Nature and Back Again.'

You can get to the index by going to

Listener said...

Thanks, Ron! I chose this early story, knowing that your podcast has improved, because the story is such good material. I've listened to "To Nature & Back Again", but it didn't strike my funny bone quiet as much as this one. If you have any other favorite (non-Leacock) stories, feel free to mention them and I may feature them later.