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The Trial of Mrs. Peter Piper
Transcribed 1962

Tape Transcripts

On Christmas Day, 1961, my parents gave me a tape recorder.  Among the things that I taped in the first two years were a telephone conversation by my mother (her side only — all I had was a microphone), a comedy sketch from a TV variety show (audio only — this was almost two decades before home VCRs), a local radio show featuring my father, and the narration of a televised baseball game.  Then I wrote down transcripts of those four recordings.  Here's one of them.  Click on the links above to find the others.

The Garry Moore Show

Garry Moore was the Drew Carey of his generation:  a likable if modestly talented crew-cut comedian with two network TV shows.  On one, he moderated a game featuring a panel of four semi-regulars; the other was named after himself.

In his case, I've Got a Secret was the game show, while The Garry Moore Show was a one-hour variety program.  Both were in black and white on CBS.

The variety show originated, I believe, from the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York.  Click here for a couple of images.  The program either aired live or was recorded "live to tape" with little if any editing.  It featured Durward Kirby, Moore's sidekick; Carol Burnett, who later had a long-running variety show of her own; supporting player Tim Conway, who went on to greater fame on the Burnett show; and sometimes-stuttering character actress Marion Lorne, who went on to play the befuddled Aunt Clara on Bewitched

When this particular episode first aired, I was 15 years old, and a couple of the sketches tickled me.  The series went into summer reruns, and I noticed that this videotaped episode was to be shown again on Tuesday, June 12, 1962.  So that night I recorded the audio, and then later I transcribed "The Trial of Mrs. Peter Piper."  I noted on the transcript that I'd edited out the apparent flubs and ad-libs, to approximate the original script.  What follows is based on that transcript, which I posted on this website in February 2001. 

However, in 2002 I discovered my original 40-year-old tape.  The recording was not very good, with a lot of hum, but I've used it to amend the original website article in three ways:

• I've identified Conway's small role (I didn't know who he was in 1962) and offered a better guess on some of the hard-to-understand words.

• I've restored the flubs and ad-libs, because they're funny and because I now realize the possibility that the "mistakes" may have been intentional, for comic effect.

• And I've included the following sketch from the first half of that night's show, a takeoff on psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers.


MOORE Good evening.  Once again we bring you another in our series "Ask Dr. Sisters," the show that takes your innermost private secrets and broadcasts them to 27 million people.  Here is Dr. Grace Sisters.  (Burnett enters to music and applause)

BURNETT.  Hi there, sickies!

The confidential letter I am going to discuss tonight is from a Mrs. Robert Wright.  She has asked me not to reveal her name, so I'll simply call her Mrs. R.W.

If Mrs. Wright is watching, I'm sure she knows I mean her.

Mrs. R.W. is a woman — she really is — who lets trivial, petty, insignificant things bother her, instead of analyzing them rationally, dispassionately, objectively, as I do.

Mrs. R.W. writes:  "If my husband doesn't stop eating with his knife and dropping cigar butts on my nice rugs, I'm going to put poison in his bourbon."

Here, you see, Mrs. R.W. is getting overemotional.  Her desire to murder her husband shows that she's thinking of herself, not him.

I realize that men can be trying.  Heaven knows, my own dear husband isn't completely without faults.  Luther — that's my own dear husband — Luther has a cute little habit, as it were, of clearing his throat, like this:  huch-hm.

Now it's really nothing.  And it certainly isn't annoying.  (Laughs self-consciously)  It's just that it can be distracting when you're talking to someone who keeps saying hyuuch-hmm all the time.

But I have found that when two well-adjusted people love each other, the serene, rational thing to do is to simply ignore his little hyuuc-hum and hyaack-hmm.  I don't even notice when he does that.  (Grimly)  I refuse to let it "get" me.

I wonder if you, Mrs. R.W., can handle the situation like this.

(Losing her composure)  I'll bet you couldn't!  You'd probably stab him with a carving knife if you were in a house that had all that HYACK-HUM going on!  I've got to put up with HYAAACK-HUUM this and HYUCH-HMMM that!  (Shouting incoherently and clearing her throat obnoxiously, she has to be carried off by Moore while the sketch's ending music plays.)


KIRBY (over show's theme music).  The first half of The Garry Moore Show has been brought to you by Johnson's Wax, creators of Johnson's Shoe Polishes, a whole new way to shine shoes for the whole family.

And now stay tuned for the second half of The Garry Moore Show, immediately following station identification.

ANNOUNCER.  Good evening.  Welcome to "Famous Courtroom Trials."  Tonight, one of the most dramatic and gripping cases in courtroom history:  the trial of Mrs. Peter Piper.

This is the old and regal King's Court in London.  The key figures in this drama are entering the courtroom now.  (Moore enters)  There is Lord Simon Humphreys, for the Crown.  (Kirby enters)  And I see now Sir Guy Williams, the great defense attorney, who represents Mrs. Piper.  The bailiff is ordering the court to be still, and the case will now begin.

BAILIFF.  Hear ye!  Hear ye!  Her majesty's court is now in session.

KIRBY.  My lord, I should like to call Mrs. Peter Piper to the stand.

CONWAY.  Uh, bailiff (motions to him).

BAILIFF.  Mrs. Peter Piper!  (Burnett enters in a widow's veil)  Do you solemnly swear blah-blah-blah, so help you?

BURNETT.  Of course.

KIRBY Now, then.  You are the wife of the deceased?


KIRBY.  And your husband's name was —?

BURNETT.  Peter Piper.

KIRBY.  Mrs. Piper, what was your husband's occupation?

BURNETT.  He was in the pickled pepper business.

KIRBY.  What did he do in the pickled pepper business?

BURNETT He picked a peck of them.

KIRBY.  Thank you.  Your witness.

MOORE.  Mrs. Piper.  Huch-hm.  You say your husband was a pickle pepperer?

BURNETT.  I did not.

MOORE Then what did you say?

BURNETT.  I said he was a pepper pickler.

MOORE.  Oh.  Would you please tell the court, just what is the difference between a pickle pepperer and a pepper pickler?

BURNETT.  A pickle pepperer peppers pickles, and a pepper pickler pickles peppers.

KIRBY.  My lord, I object!  The deceased's occupation has absolutely no bearing on this case whatsoever.  None at all.

MOORE.  On the contrary, my lord.  I am trying to establish that on the night of the crime, the deceased was not peppered, he was pickled!

CONWAY.  Order!  Order!  Uh, overruled.

MOORE.  Thank you.  Your witness.

KIRBY Thank you.  Mrs. Pickle—

BURNETT.  Mrs. Piper.

KIRBY.  I beg your pardon.

BURNETT.  My pleasure.

KIRBY.  Mrs. Pepper—

BURNETT Mrs. Pickle.

KIRBY.  Mrs. Pickle?

BURNETT No, I mean Mrs. Piper.

KIRBY.  I'm sorry.

BURNETT.  So am I.

KIRBY.  Your witness.

MOORE.  Mrs. Piper, on the eve of January third last, exactly what did your husband do?

BURNETT.  He picked a peck of pickled peppers.

MOORE.  And then what?

BURNETT That's all.

MOORE You mean he did nothing after he pecked a pick of pecca peppers?

BURNETT (laughing).  That's right.

MOORE.  Hyuch-hm.

BURNETT.  He did nothing after he picked a peck of pickled peppers.

MOORE.  Why not?

BURNETT He was pooped!

MOORE.  Now would you please tell the court what happened to the peck of pickled peppers that Peter Piper picked?

BURNETT.  He packed them.

MOORE.  He packed them in what?

BURNETT.  Paper plates.

MOORE Why paper plates?

BURNETT.  Peter planned a picnic.

MOORE You mean Peter planned a picnic with just pickles in paper plates?

BURNETT.  Naaow, there were pancakes, pumpkin pie, peppermint patties, pineapple punch, peanut butter popovers, and breaded pork pot pie!

MOORE Poppycock!

BURNETT.  No, pumpernickel!

CONWAY Order!  Order!

MOORE A preposterous prevarication, Mrs. Piper.  The plain truth is that Peter Piper probably saw a picture of you in Piccadilly Park, pecking with Paul Peters, the porter, and promised to plug you, so you popped him on the pate with a poker!

BURNETT.  You're potted!

KIRBY.  I object!  I object!

CONWAY.  Order in the court!  Order in the court!  One more outburst like that, and I'll clear the courtroom.  The case is difficult as it is to follow.  Will the court stenographer read back the proceedings thus far, please?

LORNE (slowly turning in her swivel chair, rising with her transcript, and looking out over her thick glasses).  The defense claims that Peter Piper picked a pick of pickled peppers and then packed them in paper plates for a pumpernickel puhu-puhu-puhu-puhu-picnic.  But the prosecution points out that Peter Piper probably saw a picture of Mrs. Piper in Picca-picca-picca-uh-Piccadilly Park, pecking with Paul Peepers, so she popped him on the plate with a poker.  But she was pooped.  And he was popping.

CONWAY (whistles in amazement).  Uh, proceed, Sir Guy.

KIRBY Thank you, my lord.  Mrs. Piper?


KIRBY.  Do you have any — hobbies?

BURNETT.  Yes, I have two hobbies, actually.

KIRBY And they are?

BURNETT.  Poetry and pottery.  I just kind of potter with poetry, but my pet is really pottery.

KIRBY (sweetly).  What kind of pottery?

BURNETT.  Pewter.

KIRBY Any particular period pewter?

BURNETT (softly).  No, just pretty pewter pottery.

KIRBY (smiling).  I see.

MOORE (loudly).  My lord, I object!  I protest!  I protest that my opponent is just putting in poetry pumping and putrid pewter pottery to pester the prosecution!

CONWAY.  Overruled.

KIRBY (to Moore).  Pooh pooh pa-dooh!

CONWAY Quiet!  Quiet in the courtroom, please.

MOORE (looking up from a note).  My lord!  My lord, I have just received some evidence that throws an entirely new complexion on this case.  May I introduce the new evidence?

CONWAY Very well.

MOORE.  Mrs. Piper, I have just learned your true identity.

BURNETT.  Uuoooh!

MOORE.  It's of no use covering up any longer; tell the court your real name.

BURNETT (sobbing).  No!  No, don't make me say it, for pity's sake don't make me say it!

MOORE The truth!  Your real name!

BURNETT (taking a deep breath, then speaking in a flat, emotionless tone).  Cecily Susan Sussman.

MOORE.  And where are you from, Cecily Susan Sussman?


MOORE.  And what do you do in Sussex?

BURNETT (raising her voice now).  I sell.

MOORE.  Sell what?

BURNETT Sea shells.

MOORE And where do you sell sea shells?

BURNETT (yelling).  At the she sore!  (Breaks up laughing)

MOORE Now tell the whole story.

BURNETT All of it?

MOORE.  All of it.

BURNETT.  Huch-hm.  I am Cecily Susan Sussman from Sussex, who sells sea shells at the (carefully) sea shore.  And one sunny Sunday in Surrey I saw my spouse sipping a spot of Scotch and soda with my sexy sales assistant Cecile.  So in spite, I sent him spinning off the side of the stony cliff into the surging surf.  (Sobbing)  I have sinned;  I am sorry;  so sue me!  (She breaks down)

MOORE.  I didn't quite catch all of that testimony.  Will the court stenographer please read it back for me?

LORNE slowly turns around again, looks at her transcript, looks at the people, and deliberately tears up the transcript and throws it into the air.


Also Noted

For a time, Allen Funt's "Candid Camera" was a segment of The Garry Moore Show, until Funt and Kirby spun it off into a separate program.



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