The Fishboys

Jack osen at the height of his popularity in the early 1970s.Jack Rosen at the height of his popularity in the early 1970s.

By Tom Sinclair

A man enters the offices of the newly-opened detective agency FISHBOY & FISHBOY with a knife in his eye. “I don’t have much time—a red haze is spreading over my eyes,” he croaks.

“Who done this gross deed?” asks detective Lo Fishboy (Sam Rosen).

“It was…Garcia,” the dying man gasps.

So begins the pilot episode of THE FISHBOYS, a typically absurd vehicle for the comedy team of Sam and Jack Rosen (STREET KID, MUGGER), aka Tom Soter and yours truly. Before this freewheeling sixteen-minute farce is done, the audience has gotten to eavesdrop on the supposed murder of Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia; heard Hi & Lo Fishboy pathologically calling each other and most everyone they come in contact with “bastards” (with no apparent ill-will); and listened as Hi Fishboy (Jack Rosen) swiftly and easily cuts off a villain’s iron hands (as he explains, “The flesh that attached them was flesh.”)

Listening to such silliness, one might assume that Soter and I were high as hell when the show was taped. But, verily, I can attest that we were both clean, sober, and innocent of chemical misadventure—even though the episode’s bad guy is ultimately found to have an order for “a shipment of marijuana” in his pocket. (As Lo explains with no apparent irony: “He was dealing in hard drugs!”)

As a handy countdown/announcement at the show’s start bears out, the pilot was taped on August 6, 1971 --which happened to have been my 15th birthday. Looking back, I can vaguely remember cobbling together the plot of the show—and Sam and Jack’s new characters—in my room shortly before heading down to Soter’s apartment for the taping session. I thought the names Hi and Lo Fishboy were quite amusing. (In later years, I remember hearing some comedian put forth the theory that fish was intrinsically funny, where meat was not. I think that’s generally true, unless we’re talking chili dogs.)

In any event, hearing THE FISHBOYS all these years later is a damn good birthday present—even though my b-day is still a good two months away. It’s a beautifully evocative aural portrait of the way we were in summer ’71.

Ain’t it a shame we can’t bottle the essence of what once seemed like an endless, effortless binge of teenage summer fun? At least, thanks to Tom Soter, we have the aural evidence of said fun on tape.

And now it's on the internet.

Hearing is believing.

Listen to:
Who Is Mr. Garcia?
Episode 1. Taped: August 6, 1971.
Sam and Jack Rosen, who were on the wrong side of the law in their two previous series, go straight in this new comic mystery series about two brothers who run a detective agency. Dirst up: when a man dies on their doorstep, the Fishboy brothers have only one clue: his dying words were "It was Garcia..ahhh."

You Never Can Tell