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THE NEW! IMPROVED! BOB & RAY BOOK by Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding (Putnam's: $14.95, illustrated).

February 16, 1986|SHELLY LOWENKOPF

Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding have been tickling the American fancy since 1946; their bailiwick was radio, but that quickly and irrevocably expanded to include our hearts. This latest book, their third, is a collection of set pieces and skits featuring such antic facets of their alter egos as Wally Ballou, the intrepid reporter; Lloyd the gardener; Tippy, the Wonder Dog ("Here, Tippy, Tippy, Tippy."); Hoyt Netley of Syracuse University, and Officer Wishmiller of the Alaska State Highway Patrol.

All 44 pieces work; there is no question about that: All are funny; there is no question about that, either. Elliott and Goulding produce a combustive humor that has its way with such diverse targets as national institutions, glib formulas, pretentiousness and our insatiable desire for gossip about the truly inane. They have no commerce in those comic markets where the cheap-shot insult or the topical quip are used for currency. As a consequence, they endure.

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