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Joe LaFlip
Born:  September 15, 1912
WCOP Hayloft Jamboree
WGAN Portland, ME
WLAW Lawrence, MA

Joe LaFlip, a French dialect comedian was born Theodore E. Gagnon in Goffstown, New Hampshire. As he approached the age to begin attending school, his parents moved to Manchester where he attended both parochial and public schools.

Joe's first job was as a newsboy. He then began to work in restaurants where he worked up his way to the position of chef.

In November of 1940 he married the former Betty Harrington. In the succeeding years, two daugthers, Joyce and Joan were born.

He entered and won several amateur contests. The entertainment bug got to Joe then and he decided to make show business his career.

He worked for Clyde Joy (The Granddaddy of New England Country Music--Ed) and the name Joe La Flip was introduced to audiences.

Joe worked a variety of venues including vaudeville, stage, radio and ranches.

Back in the early era of 'live' country music on the radio, the bands and acts often included a comedic touch to give their audiences a "whole package" of entertainment that went beyond singing their latest tunes. Joe worked with many of the popular New England cowboy and hillbilly acts inluding:

  • Texas Ramblers
  • Jerry & Sky
  • Ken MacKenzie
  • Duke's Swingbillies
  • Gene LaVerne's Lone Star Texans (Lone Star Ranch Band)
  • Bud Bailey and the Down Easters
  • George & Dixie
  • Texas Dollies
  • Pappy Howard
  • Tony & Juanita
  • The Utah Kid & the Prairie Pals
  • Ells & Millie Rand
  • Smilin' Bill Waters
  • The Doc Snow Band

Richard H. Keeler mentioned in his December 1945 column "News From Old New England" in Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder that Joe along with Jean Googins were working at radio station WGAN in Portland, Maine with Tony and Juanita.

Dusty Cal Witham wrote in his "What's New ... In Old New England" column in the April 1946 issue of National Hillbilly News that "Joe Laflip, New England's funniest French comedian..." was working with the Down Easters.

The February-March 1947 issue of Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder, Richard H. Keeler wrote that Joe was working at WLAW in Lawrence, Massachusetts with Gene LaVerne and his Lone Star Ranch Boys, doing a daily 6:00am show. Gene's group back then also included Rocky Carroll on the fiddle, Carl Patrick on steel guitar, Little Julie (Gene's wife) billed as a 'cowgirl singer'.

We get a sense of Joe's comedic touch in a short note attributed to Ted White of WOTW in Nashua, New Hampshire in an old Joe La Flip souvenir booklet from around 1947:

"It has been my privilege to know Joe LaFlip nearly 10 years. During that time I have been impressed by certain qualities. He is one comedian who, once he steps on stage, has his audience roaring with laughter at his sidesplitting antics. One can never anticipate what he will do next, for he doesn't know himself. His comedy is spontaneous and unrehearsed. Anyone who has worked with Joe, can tell you he is not only square in his business dealings, but also considerate of his fellow-workers. They can tell you of many little-known acts of kindness. Such as the times he has given a break to a nervous beginner or gone out of the way to help a "has-been" climb back up the ladder of success.

Gene LaVerne wrote in that same booklet, giving us an idea of the other jobs that Joe worked at besides keeping the audiences laughing:
"I consider it an honor to have known and worked with Joe La Flip on stage and off better than a dozen years. People have asked—"What's Joe really like?" Off stage—a good family man and business man, proud of his family and justly so—a good contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and proud of his work. A thoughtful man—inquisitive man that thirsts for knowledge and learning—and always—that natural humor that bubbles and spills over to touch everyone around him. This world needs more laughter, more "Born Comedians," more Joe La Flips."

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com wishes to express its appreciation to Gordy Brown for providing us with the text from the Joe La Flip souvenir booklet.
  • Hillbilly-Music.com wishes to thank Hank Preston for sending us the photo of Joe La Flip
  • National Hillbilly News; April 1946; Poster Show Print Co.; Huntington, WV
  • Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder; December 1945; Mountain Broadcast Pub. Co., Inc.; New York, NY
  • Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder; February-March 1947; Mountain Broadcast Pub. Co., Inc.; New York, NY

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