May 2, 2016
The search for the funniest president continues! Chester Arthur (1881-85) was probably a funny guy ... he was a very effective cog in New York City's Republican political machine, so he knew how to rub elbows with the best of 'em.
But if we've giving him a shot at the title, we need to think outside the box. Christopher Oldstone-Moore is an expert in the history of facial hair, grooming and other projections of masculinity - and he just published a great book, "Of Beards and Men." He's helping us figure out if Arthur was the funniest LOOKING president, thanks to his amazing whiskers.
We get context for the "bearded age," the peculiar 50-year span when America's leaders dared to wear facial hair. Chris explains the origins of Chester's look, and the statement he was trying to make. And ultimately, we figure out if it's cool to use our modern standards when deciding if Arthur was, in fact, funny looking.
It's a hair-raising discussion. HA!
MUSIC: Hail Columbia, "Fine and Dandy" by Teddy Wilson and his Orchestra, "Blind Arthur Breakdown" by Blind Arthur, "He's Pulling His Whiskers" by Hot Lips Page and His Band