Rotten Tomatoes for the Cherry Sisters

The corn-fed Cherry Sisters of Iowa called their vaudeville act Something Good, Something Sad. Audiences and critics called it something atrocious. Addie, Effie, Lizzie, Jessie, and Ella were not only talentless but came off as a bunch of morally superior hall monitors. A strong religious and patriotic vein ran through the sisterly songs, skits, dances, and morality plays, and in one scene Jesse was suspended from a cross. Their performances were greeted with a hail of catcalls and rotten vegetables, and any newspaper reviews that followed leaned heavily on satire and sarcasm.

Still, the Cherrys were no shrinking violets. In 1898 the Des Moines Leader ran a review describing the sisters as “three creatures surpassing the witches in Macbeth in general hideousness … the mouths of their rancid features opened like caverns and [the singing] sounded like the wailing of damned souls …”

True, the stocky sisters were anything but pretty, but this was a bit much. They sued the newspaper for “false and malicious” libel. Both the Polk County Court and the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in the newspaper’s favor, and Cherry v. Des Moines Leader is viewed as a pivotal decision confirming the press’s right to fair comment and critical analysis.

The Cherry sisters stopped performing in 1903 but could die knowing they played Broadway. In 1896, Oscar Hammerstein I put them on the stage in a “so bad it’s good” gamble that paid off handsomely for both the sisters and the impresario.

Page 156, Oh, Say Did You Know? (Reader’s Digest, 2009)

My Band Name’s Weirder Than Your Band Name

By the mid-1990s, bands with names like Smashing Pumpkins, Counting Crows, and Hootie and the Blowfish had opened the door to increasingly creative nomenclature. Some of the groups in the following list made a go of it, while others watched their drums fall silent after a mere handful of gigs.

  • Afghanistan Banana Stand
  • Bertha’s Mule
  • Buddy Whasisname and the Other Fellas
  • The Color Fred
  • The Disappointed Parents
  • The Fainting Generals
  • Ice Cream Headaches
  • Me First and the Gimmee Gimmees
  • The Naugahyde Chihuahuas
  • Personal Hygiene
  • She Stole My Beer
  • Stop Calling Me Frank
  • The Tortillas You Wanted
  • The Well I’m Sure I Left It There Yesterday Band
— Page 145, Oh, Say You Know? (Reader’s Digest, 2009)