Young Bill Murray Flamed On As The Human Torch in Fantastic Four Radio Show

Attention, all True Believers! Marvel Comics is on the air!
Young Bill Murray Flamed On As The Human Torch in Fantastic Four Radio Show

Like standup comedy where every single thing is funny and doesn't waste your time? Follow Cracked Comedy Club on InstagramYouTube for exactly that. 

Flame on!

Before Bill Murray found his way to Saturday Night Live, he booked what must have been one of his first paying gigs as the voice of the Human Torch, one-quarter of Marvel’s first family, the Fantastic Four. The Human Torch, also known as Johnny Storm and the younger brother of the Invisible Girl, was a hothead with a smartass sense of humor. Based solely on that description, young Murray was an inspired choice to play the teen-aged hero.

In the series’ first episode (there were 13 in all), however, Murray is surprisingly subdued. His trademark “Flame on!” call lacks the enthusiasm the young comic brought to SNL’s Nick the Lounge Singer or the Honker. Did the series director instruct Murray to tone it down? (If so, Stan Lee, who serves as the show’s narrator, didn’t get the memo.) Or maybe Murray phoned it in, slumming in a kids’ show while preparing for his big break that same year on Saturday Night Live With Howard Cosell, the short-lived competitor to Murray’s eventual employer. 

For sheer ridiculousness, the 1975 Fantastic Four radio series is worth a listen. Lee brings his usual bombast as he describes all of the superheroics we can’t see. Come to think of it, the Fantastic Four was a bizarre choice for a radio show -- the whole point is the spectacle of people who can stretch their arms like rubber bands, turn into a pile of orange rocks, or burst into flame. That’s perfect for visual media like comic books, cartoons, and CGI-enhanced movies, but much less so for radio, where all of that weird physicality needs to be explained with clunky dialogue. 

Murray isn’t the last comedian to lend his voice talents to an audio version of the Fantastic Four. On his Ridiculous album, Norm Macdonald also told the origin of the Marvel superhero clan, taking on the role of Mr. Fantastic and exploring the absurdities of how superheroes choose their self-congratulatory names. Comedian and Seinfeld veteran Fred Stoller did the honors as the Human Torch.

As for Murray, he professes not to have many memories of his introduction to the Marvel universe. Jimmy Kimmel played Murray a clip from the radio show a few years back and it seemed to dumbfound the comedian. “All I remember saying is, ‘Flame on!’”


Scroll down for the next article
Forgot Password?