Video Vault: The Dorothy Club on 1979's Cleveland Comedy Company

CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Comedy Company was the WEWS entry into locally-produced sketch comedy.

The sketch in our video player is called the Dorothy Club, a spoof on the Mickey Mouse Club and a tribute to our Dorothy Fuldheim.

The Comedy Company produced a few shows in 1979 and 1980 with a comedy troupe led by Bob James.

The “Real” Bob James was a contributor to our Afternoon Exchange and a popular radio jock on 1220/WGAR.

James, whose real name is Bob Pondillo, today is a professor at Middle Tennessee State University.

Other members of the comedy cast included Paul Tapie, also a WEWS contributor and morning radio host, Jane Van Bergen, Denise Putsch, John Stang, Leslie Bryant, Bob Ebersol and station videotape editor Alfonzo Smith.

The premise was a very local comedy show which spoofed Cleveland, its politicians and local TV. Each show had a guest host; Larry Robinson and Liz Richards were two of those hosts.

Paul Tapie, a gifted impersonator, did a spot-on Larry Robinson impression.

As for the Dorothy Club, Pondillo told me recently about pitching the idea to Dorothy.

“She looked up from her reading and said to me, ‘Young man, I will not be party to a burlesque’.”

Pondillo assured her it was not and all she needed to do was to come out and take a bow.

As you can see in the video, Dorothy does the sketch and much more, she steals the scene.

While Dorothy Fuldheim was a respected journalist, she had shown she could have some fun on air, as in the motorcycle riding segment she did for the Afternoon Exchange. Tapie is featured in that segment as Howard Cosell.

As a bonus, I’ve added a promo for the show which contains: Doctor Ted Castele, Tapie as Rod Serling, Cleveland Press TV critic Bill Barrett, Fred Griffith, Larry Robinson and finally Tapie again as Steve Martin having fun with our promotional Catch 5 spots.

Enjoy a look back at the Cleveland Company Company and Cleveland’s first lady of television in 1979.

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