They looked ridiculous and acted ridiculous. But ridiculousness was the point. O.W. Hasenflue and Harley McNeal, two local lawyers, were putting on a show as part of the Anvil Revue, a satirical City Club of Cleveland sendup of public figures. Since their debut with the City Club’s annual meeting in 1913, the productions morphed into all-out stage productions of skits, singing and merriment, under the banner of its theme song: “It’s the Bull People Want.”
On Dec. 4, Anvil Revue-ers “campaigned” for seats on the City Club board of directors. Waving a cigar as McNeal’s campaign manager, Hasenflue channeled Mississippi Sen. Theodore Bilbo, a pro-segregationist who had just won his last election, and fictional Southern Sen. Beauregard Claghorn from The Fred Allen Show, who habitually insisted all things Southern were superior.
“Move from Bay Village to Euclid,” Hasenflue advised McNeal, most likely in an approximation of molasses-mouthed Mississippi drawl. “South Euclid that is.”
Other farcical platforms were offered, such as a dictionary publisher’s. “Dictionaries deal with words, ad nausea,” he declared. “So does the City Club.”
The live Anvil Revue shows continued for another decade before transitioning to the radio, and barred female performers until 1966. The shows were broadcast into the 1990s and sporadically after. The most recent one was in 2002.