Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Edge Pilot Episode

If The Edge is remembered at all it’s probably remembered as the sketch comedy show Jennifer Anniston appeared on before Friends made her a mega-star. But there’s a little more to The Edge than that. To start with it launched the careers of Wayne Knight, Tom Kenney, Jill Talley and, incredibly, Charlie Kaufman. Yet in spite of this pedigree, The Edge wasn’t that good. A lot of the sketches are cheap and easy (probably due to Julie Brown’s heavy involvement with the series) and, like the current version of Saturday Night Live, it wasn’t afraid to force reoccurring characters down the throats of its audience (like The Armed Family which, luckily doesn’t appear in the episode below). Still this show isn’t unwatchable, plus it deserves bonus points for exposing Bill Plympton’s animation to a wider audience.

Two nerdy sidenotes: The Ben Stiller Show premiered around the same time as this. Also, Carol Rosenthal went on to appear in the final pathetic season of In Living Color.

The Benny Hill Street Blues

This is easily one of my all-time favorite SCTV sketches. There’s been a lot of Benny Hill parodies but this is one of the very few that have been able to capture the feel of the original show. I love Dave Thomas’ grotesque, slightly crazed take on Britain’s habitual head-slapper.

A Courtroom Sketch Sketch

I don’t want to ruin this sketch by discussing it but I will say that it aired on an episode of Alexei Sayle’s Stuff and has a damn near brilliant payoff. The British truly are masters at comic absurdity.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dave Foley's The True Meaning of Christmas Specials

I’ve wanted to see The True Meaning of Christmas Specials ever since I heard about it in 2003 and like a lot of things I’ve been dying to watch for a long time it’s kind of a disappointment. The cameos (Mike Myers, Dave Thomas as Bob Hope, Dick Dale, Joe Flaherty as Bing Crosby, Andy Richter, Tom Green, Kevin McDonald, El Vez) are interesting but everything else about it is off. It’s oddly paced, horribly low key and surprisingly unfunny. Still, for all of you Kids in the Hall fans out there The True Meaning of Christmas Specials is definitely worth watching at least once.

Oh, and I love the fact that this was followed by an Ann Murray Special. Glad to see Canadian television reinforcing its most boring stereotypes.

Monday, December 14, 2009

How Many of You Men Have Always Wanted to Try Oriental Dancing?

SCTV’S final, waning year on Cinemax isn’t nearly as disappointing as most SCTV fans would lead you to believe. Take for example this sketch for an escort service that has such a funny/depressing quality that it could easily run on an episode of Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show.

In an unrelated side note, a couple years back a there was a strip club not far from my house that was actually called “Leave it To Beaver’s”. I’m really not making that up.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The TV Wheel

Airing only once after the final Comedy Central episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, The TV Wheel is generally remembered only by MST3K fans and the nerdiest of comedy nerds (I’m sorry if that was redundant). Typical of most Joel Hodgson projects, The TV Wheel was insanely ambitious. It was a sketch comedy show that was performed live - in one take- in front of a single stationary camera that was placed in the middle of a revolving stage.

Contrary to popular opinion, not all of the sketches on The TV Wheel fall flat although a good chunk of them do (too much of the humor relies on forced perspectives and in camera special effects). Nonetheless, the skewering of Scientology is fairly sharp as is the sketch about the Novelty catalog and the Thunderbirds spoof. Yet even if you hate this unsold HBO pilot you still have to admit that the cast was pretty amazing. David Cross, Paul Feig, Doug Benson, Andy Kindler, Fred Stoller, Nick Bakay and Morwenna Banks (who was also involved in Hodgson’s unfinished movie Statical Planets) all appeared in this. And if that wasn’t enough, Judd Apatow was one of the writers. Granted, The TV Wheel doesn’t live-up to its potential but given time it eventually would.

As a side note, The actual TV Wheel pilot starts at chapter 3. Chapters 1 and 2 were added to the Comedy Central broadcast in order to (over)explain the show's premise. They're kind of interminable and unfunny so you can simply skip ahead to the third chapter without really missing anything.

Monday, December 7, 2009

El Epicco Movie-O

The only thing I love more than a parody movie is a foreign parody movie. The reasons why are myriad but it’s mostly because I get to hear what farts sound like in a different country (they’re remarkably similar!) So I’m really looking forward to Spanish Movie. Like Der Wixxer (a German parody film), Spanish Movie has slight high-brow tendencies (Almodovar is mocked) so I doubt this will ever appear on our shores. And yes, that is Leslie Nielsen. I guess he couldn't find work in this country after appearing in An American Carol.

That's All I Need, A Goddamned Cake

Like most of the cast of The Young Ones, I’m not exactly sure what to think about Alexei Sayle. On the one hand his comedic persona combines the worst traits of Robin Williams and Lewis Black only louder and shriekier. But on the other hand, he has been involved in some legitimately good projects, such as the sketch comedy series Alexei Sayle’s Stuff.

As a side note, the sketch with the Banditos is actually a parody of a long-running British television series called Juke Box Jury. And just a few years after Alexei Sayle’s Stuff was cancelled The Fast Show went on to open one of their episodes with a collection of fake trailers (complete with someone off-screen pushing a fast forward button).

Here’s probably the only Ken Loach parody ever made.

This title sequence is actually an edited down version of a longer sketch. In the original sketch it’s revealed that Sayle was a cartoon character created by Walt Disney. I wish the full version was on Youtube.

Here’s a longer clip of Steamboat Fatty….

Hate Mr. Bean? Well, you’ll probably love this vicious pisstake.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Blah,Blah,Blah, Unfunny Judd Apatow Parody, Blah, Blah, Blah

Yeeps. I love parody movies as much as the next retarded 14 year old but this even tries my patience. Judd Apatow can and should be mocked at this point but did we really have to do it this way? With scenes of old people humping on lawns and fake Christopher Mintz-Plasses falling into pits of diarrhea? I love the fact that they reference To Catch A Predator two or three years after it was canceled. Very timely.

Nonetheless, I will be seeing this on opening day (or whenever it’s released directly to DVD).

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Adam West: Lawman

The recent reality series Steven Seagal: Lawman (I realize that “Lawman” is a real word but when you combine it with the name Steven Seagal it starts to take on ridiculous connotations until it eventually sounds as stupid as Justice Pal or Man Cop or Crime Puncher) has reminded me of another show about a doughy washed up idiot with delusions of grandeur: Conan O’Brien and Robert Smigel’s brilliant unsold pilot Lookwell.

Oh, and here’s a fun fact: NBC chose the Friends pilot over Lookwell. This is one of the many reasons why I fucking hate Friends.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gregory: Diary of a Nutcase

Since the moment it was released in 1991, The Silence of the Lambs has been mocked on a consistent basis in TV shows, movies and practically anything else that’s media-based (up to and including View-Masters). Yet, in-spite of the nearly endless series of nods, references and blatant knock-offs, Gregory: Diary of a Nutcase marks the only parody of Silence of the Lambs that legitimately works. Airing as an episode of the cult British comedy series The Comic Strip, Gregory: Diary of a Nutcase is a surprisingly savage attack on the Jonathan Demme classic. It’s such a sharp satire that it actually makes its source material look hackneyed. The only complaint I have about it lies in the camcorder segments with Adrian Edmondson which seem kind of unnecessary and redundant (we already get it. The film is unrealistic. We don’t need Gregory to further hammer this point home). British comedy nerds might recognize Nigel Planer, The Day Today’s Doon Mackichan and Keith Allen (father of Lily Allen) as Hannibal Lecter.

For some reason or another you can’t embed the full episode so here’s a preview with links for the full episode below.

Part 1:


Part 2:


Part 3:


Part 4:


Monday, November 30, 2009

Parodying a Parody

In the words of an old National Lampoon cover, “you can parody anything” even parody itself (Harvey Kurtzman proved that in Mad #18). But parodying a parody is never easy. For further proof check out this spoof of the old Batman series that ran on an episode of Fast Forward. Too much of the comedy relies on Batman and Robin’s ambiguous relationship (and, please let’s officially retire this joke along with any gag about Peppermint Patty and Marcy’s sapphic tendencies or Scooby and Shaggy’s unspoken love of pot. It’s so hacky) but there are some interesting moments. Adam West’s acting style is amusingly mocked as is the show’s over-reliance on alliteration (which seems kind of dumb being that Batman’s use of alliteration was intentionally over-the-top). It’s not really funny but if you like Batman you’ll tolerate this.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Making of The Beast Must Die

I wrote this quasi-review of The Beast Must Die for Screem magazine several years ago. It was rejected. Typically, whenever something of mine is rejected it's rejected for a very good reason: it's terrible. But for some reason or another, I still really like this review and for that reason alone I'm now going to inflict it upon both of my readers. I'm sorry gents.

The time is the early 1970s, director Paul Annett is discussing his latest project with producer Milton Subotsky in the offices of Amicus Studios...

Milton Subotsky: I understand you have a new script for me.

Paul Annett: I sure do(he tosses the script onto Subotsky's desk). What do you think?

MS: Well, first of all this isn't actually a script it's just a tattered copy of Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians...

PA: Uh huh.

MS: ...and it appears that someone crossed out the word "Indians" and replaced it with "Werewolves"

PA: Right, right. Do you have a problem with that?

MS: Well, yes a number of problems actually.

PA: Woah! Wait a second! Before you jump the gun let me describe the premise.

MS: (Sighs) Fine.

PA: Great. OK. Picture this. There's this great white hunter type, OK? And he's sick of hunting down elephants and jaguars, right? So he decides to go after something a little different: werewolves!

MS: (Holding his head in his hands) Go on.

PA: OK. So this hunter invites suspected werewolves to his sprawling estate so he can track them and kill them. But the only way he can find out which one of his guests is a werewolf is by forcing them to suck on
a silver bullet while they touch a candlestick.

MS: (glaring at Annett) Pass.

PA: What if I told you that the hunter was a fearless black superhero like John Shaft?

MS: Hmmm. Blaxploitation films are pretty big at the moment. Who exactly did you have in mind for the role?

PA: Robert Quarry.

MS: He's white.

PA: Oliver Reed.

MS: Again. White.

PA: Who's that one guy? Richard...Something?

MS: Roundtree? From Shaft?

PA: No...Little. We can get him to do his crazy impressions. Have you ever seen his "Duke" Wayne? (impersonates Rich Little doing "Duke" Wayne) Oh, man he is so hi-goddamn-larious.

MS: (Sighs) Look I just don't think-

PA: I can get Peter Cushing to play a Danish Professor of Werewolf-ology!

MS: What the hell does that have to do with anything?

PA: Look, do you want to make this picture or not?

MS: Not really, no.

PA: Well, what if I told you we can make it next to nothing?

MS: I'm listening.

PA: What if our "werewolf" was actually just a dog covered in the remnants of an old shag rug I found in the dumpster near the Burger King my uncle manages?

MS: That could work I suppose. But it's still missing something.

PA: What do you mean? Like a gimmick?

MS: Exactly. Towards the film's climax we could grind the film to a complete halt with a "Werewolf Break" or something. For an entire minute we can ask the audience to figure out the identity of the werewolf or we can just have an usher dress up as a werewolf and smack a couple of the audience members around.

PA: Oh, I like that last idea. Maybe we can give him a shotgun that shoots delicious gummi worms?

MS: Now you're talking! Here's a check for 500 dollars. I want Ten Little Werewolves in the can by next Thursday.

In 1973 Ten Little Werewolves was made and released (minus Rich Little, the werewolf usher and the gummi shotgun gimmick) as The Beast Must Die. The film, which mixed UK Horror, Blaxploitation, The Most Dangerous Game and country house Who-dunits, went onto become one of the greatest minor footnotes in horror movie history and its star the late Calvin Lockhart will forever be remembered as "That black guy who played the asshole hunter in that shitty movie my friend made me watch last week".

To commemorate this non-enduring anti-classic Dark Sky films has released a special edition of The Beast Must Die on DVD. This disc includes trailers, commentary from Annett and a featurette in which he threatens us with the possibility of a remake.

Although boasting an interesting cast that includes Anton Diffring, Michael Gambon, Charles Gray and Marlene Clark ,The Beast Must Die never fully realizes its potential and gladly becomes just another bland horror
film. If anything it's a solid indication of how clueless and desperate the British horror industry became in the 70s.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jack Benny Mocks the Fall 1965 Television Line-Up

Pretty self-explanatory. I'm also surprised by not only how well it holds up but by how timely the Medicare reference still is.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This Is The Chorus

Although unknown in the US, Morris Minor and The Majors seemed at one time to be the British answer to Weird Al when their novelty song The Stutter Rap became an unexpected hit in the UK and Australia. Their follow-up, This is the Chorus, an unrelenting pisstake on Rick Astley, Kylie Minogue and other members of the Stock, Aitken, Waterman hit factory, was a failure. Why it was remains a mystery. The song was extremely catchy and actually had a valid satirical point to make unlike The Stutter Rap which made the lame, out of touch observation that 'those rapper guys sure sound like they got a speech impediment'.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


There’s a common misconception that you can’t make fun of comedy. The fact of the matter is that you can it’s just not that easy and even if you can pull it off there’s only going to be a small amount of comedy nerds that will appreciate it. Case in point, this short parody of the obnoxious yet alarmingly popular Britcom On The Buses doesn’t just nail the creative bankruptcy of its target but of all leering 70s Britcoms. Yet I can’t see many people really liking this apart from a handful of Anglophiles and geeky Britts.

A Modest Collection of Drunk, Stoned and Largely Unknown Celebrities

If you’re like me then you probably enjoy when a celebrity appears drunk or stoned on television. However, if you enjoy watching a drunk or stoned celebrity you’ve never heard of then you’re probably just me. So I invite myself to enjoy the following clips of mostly unknown (apart from Iggy Pop, Robin Gibb and Oliver Reed) foreign celebrities embarrassing themselves on TV shows you’ve never heard of or care about.

Here’s the full Iggy Pop interview

Monday, November 2, 2009

Another Goddamn Sketch From Fridays

Admittedly, I’ve gone a little overboard with the Fridays clips but here’s a sketch that kind of succeeds. The long, protracted pace actually works in its favor and the twist at the halfway point is a surprise. Plus Father Guido Sarducci actually manages to be funny for once! But after awhile the idea simply runs out of steam. Why none of the writers attempted to further escalate the craziness is a mystery. Consider this sketch Exhibit W in why Fridays will never be released legitimately on DVD.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Ronnie Horror Picture Show (Happy Halloween!)

I’m sure there are at least a thousand more youtube videos that are more appropriately Halloweenie than this one but I’d really rather not do the legwork. At any rate here’s The Ronnie Horror Picture Show a nearly 20 minute sketch (Fuck! 20 minutes? SCTV sketches didn’t even run that long!) that awkwardly uses The Rocky Horror Picture Show as a springboard to mock the Reagan administration. Some people have said that this sketch served as turning point for Fridays and proved that it could do smart humor. Those people are wrong. This isn’t comedy; at best it’s a heavy handed parable. In fact, the drug joke in the beginning is the funniest thing about this and it isn’t so much funny as it is factual.

As a side note, this sketch only aired once. Apparently, the producers of The Rocky Horror Picture show didn’t like the fact that their film was parodied without their permission. They have a point. All parodies must have express written consent from their satirical targets before they can proceed. That is just how comedy works.

Also, since I'm already on the subject: I hate The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Sorry, I mean I fucking hate The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

You Make Me Puke!

Although there hasn't been many skewerings of Steve and Eydie Gorme over the years, I'd still like to think that this SCTV sketch is the definitive one. What I love about the sketch isn't so much the angry, venomous song they sing about their loveless marriage but the fact that they sing it so cheerily and without malice. If anyone wanted proof of the comic abilities of Dave Thomas and Catherine O'Hara all you would have to was show them this clip before you kick them in the goddamn balls (because the comic abilities of Thomas and O'Hara should never be questioned).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why Would you Watch Something That Will Make You Hate When You Can Watch Something That Will Make You Love?

Yeah, yeah, I know. Comedically speaking this is kind of a dead horse. But it's the kind of dead horse that could stand to be beaten once more. Ladies and gentlemen, here's a promo for the punk rock episode of Quincy (aka Next Stop Nowhere)

On a related note, if anyone could unearth the SCTV sketch Quincy the Cartoon Coroner it would be greatly appreciated.

Lost Wonder Showzen Sketches

For the time being, someone from Augenblick Studios has posted unedited rough footage of the cartoons they made for Wonder Showzen on Youtube.

Here’s all the animated gags from the infamous Horse Apples episode. There’s actually a fair amount of these that didn’t make it on the show (most notably the one where the pig wipes his ass with a turban).

This never actually made it on the air. I’m assuming it was cut for time.

Popeye on Fridays

Much like the Addams Family, Popeye is just one of those things that is impossible to make fun of. I think it’s because he’s already so exaggerated and grotesque that parody is ultimately rendered irrelevant. Still, many have tried and, as of this blog post, nobody has succeeded (although Harvey Kurtzman’s Poopeye did come close). This sketch from Fridays isn’t necessarily the worst Popeye spoof but it’s definitely one of the worst. Like a number of sketches on Fridays it’s so busy being pointedly political that it simply forgets to be funny. Plus, could somebody please explain why this had to run longer than 10 minutes? The average Popeye cartoon lasts from 5 to 6 minutes. Still, for those who might want to stick this out, you’ll be rewarded with the sight of Michael Richards as Olive Oyl. Rewarded means the same thing as punished, right?

Funky Squad

Created and written by The Late Show’s Jane Kennedy, Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner and Rob Sitch, Funky Squad was an Australian parody of The Mod Squad. Although the show has amassed a relatively large cult following in the past few years, Funky Squad was a failure when it premiered on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) in 1995. It’s kind of easy to see why. Like a number of comedies set in the 70s, too much of the humor is derived from dated slang and eye-searing fashions. Even still Funky Squad wasn’t a complete failure. For example, its opening credits sequence is easily one of the greatest opening credits sequences I’ve ever seen. I dare you not to like this show after watching this…

Incidentally, Joey Alvarez, Blair Steele, Harvey Zdalka Jr. (whose character was mute because a bullet had hit his tongue), Verity Svenson-Hart and Baldwin Scott were actually played by Santo Cilauro, Tim Ferguson, Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy and Barry Friedlander.

Vintage television ads were shown during the commercial breaks. Scattered amongst the real ads were these parodies. The drunk driving PSA is easily the funniest. For some reason these ads were not included on the no-frills DVD release.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Preventers

Five months before the first Austin Powers movie appeared in theaters, The Preventers pilot premiered on British television and was quickly forgotten. The Preventers obscurity is unfortunate because in many ways it was smarter, subtler and far more accurate than its big budget cousin. I’m guessing budgetary constraints kept this from going to series because I can’t think of any other reason why anyone would want to keep this off the air.

Hardcore fans of Saturday Night Live might recognize Morwenna Banks from her very brief stint (4 episodes) on the show during its notoriously bad 1995 season. She also appeared in Joel Hodgeson’s TV Wheel pilot and the fake trailer for Hodgeson’s sadly unrealized movie Statical Planets.

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Larry David on Fridays

It’s easy to overrate Fridays considering that it launched the careers of Larry David, Larry Charles (and to a lesser extent) Michael Richards and Rich Hall. But make no mistake about it, Fridays was and will always be a pale, off-brand knock-off of Saturday Night Live. Don’t believe me? Try to get through the sketch below without hitting the pause button. It’s short but far from sweet (or funny).

Still, some good did come out of the show. For example, David’s sketches were always strong even when they tackled mildly surreal subject matter. I like the fact that even though his character isn’t the focus of this sketch, his character is still the focus of this sketch.

Strangely, the Mr. Doody thing became a running gag on the show. Here’s three extremely short sketches of Larry David shamelessly fawning over the Eisenhower-era marionette.

This sketch has a bittersweet quality to it. But that's probably because it aired just a couple months before John Lennon was murdered by horror author Steven King. I like the questions that David asks the Beatles particularly, “What do you think of fat people” and “Do you enjoy foreplay”?

Here’s a concept that could easily be transformed into an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Although David appears as Erno Rubik, I have no idea who wrote this sketch (that was clearly inspired by SNL’s game show parody Hollywood Bingo) but I’ve always liked it. However, that probably has something to do with the weird parade of has-beens that opens the sketch and the Rich Little gag. Everything else is kind of drawn out and weak.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Before They Were Assholes: Russell Crowe

Long before he became known as that self-serious shithead who throws phones at people, Russell Crowe actually had a sense of humor. As hard as that is to believe, here’s footage of him on the Australian sketch comedy series The Late Show in 1992.

Shirty the Slightly Aggressive Bear was one of the more popular reoccurring characters on The Late Show. Here’s another sketch that always makes me laugh even though it combines two of the most well-worn comedy conceits of the last 20 years (angry, drunk kid show hosts and gratuitous references to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest).

Monday, October 19, 2009


Redubbing an old movie or TV show with new zany dialogue (and farts) is extremely easy to do which is probably why most redubbed movies or TV shows are so painfully unfunny. Bargearse (along with Woody Allen’s What’s Up Tiger Lily and, technically, MST3K) is one of the few exceptions. Originally airing as a part of the Australian sketch comedy series The Late Show, Bargearse was cheap and easy but also surprisingly inventive (check out the gag that opens episode 2) and smart. Incredibly, Bargearse was written and performed by some of the same people who gave us such unbearable quirk-edies as The Castle and The Dish.

For some reason the above episodes lack an opening credits sequence. You can watch it below…

Apart from Sonny Bono, Lenin, Toulouse Lautrec and the great Super Mario gag, you’d probably have to be Australian to really get all of the guest star jokes (although Uncle Arthur was a character on another Australian sketch show called The Comedy Company).

Oh, and for those who might be wondering, Bargearse was taken from a 1977 series called Bluey (the titles of which can be scene at 1:27 minute mark). Ironically, Lucky Grills is a far funnier name than Tubbs Farquhar.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Gremlins: The Ride!

For some reason or another (most likely xenophobia), I was surprised to learn that there are theme parks in Germany. One of the biggest of these parks was* Warner Bros. Movie World. It’s very similar to Great Adventure and Universal Studios but like most foreign reflections of American pop culture it’s just a little bit off. Let’s see if you can figure out what’s wrong with this Gremlins ride below….

*A couple years ago the park lost the right to use the Warner Bros name and is now simply known as Movie Park. How this affected the rides I have no clue but I assume they’re all based on Fassbinder films now and I can’t wait to take a trip on The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant Waterslide.

In the comments section for the Gremlins video above, somebody mentioned there was a Beetlejuice ride at the Australian version of Warner Bros Movie World. I couldn’t find footage of it but this fan-made concept video for a Beetlejuice darkride is a fitting replacement.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Australians Love Blackface

What is it with Australians and blackface? More specifically what is it with Australians and blackface and The Jackson 5? At any rate, here’s a clip from the 2004 series The Chaser Decides which was sort of an Australian version of The Daily Show (that started life as an Australian version of The Onion). Incidentally, I have no clue what they're singing about.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Homo No Mo'

Like a number of things that carry the National Lampoon name, the 1978 HBO special Disco Beaver From Outer Space was pretty atrocious. But, to be fair, not everything about the special was atrocious. Parts of it were merely bad or OK-ish. And the sketch below marks Disco Beaver From Outer Space at its most passable. As satire it’s muddled and strident but there are absurdist elements that do work such as the fact that gay men can be identified by the funny way they wear their wristwatches, the gratuitous Beatnik-bashing and the final gag which is more haunting than funny. A post-Animal House/ pre-Charles in Charge James Widdoes appears in this for some reason or another.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Shitty Movie, Great Credits

With some notable exceptions, any movie with an animated opening credits sequence should be avoided at all costs. An animated credits sequence only serves to make a promise that the filmmakers can’t help but betray. If any of the films below were even half as entertaining as their credits sequences they would be downright classics.

Here's a fun fact about Brain Donors: The film was originally entitled Lame Ducks. This is why there is such a strong duck motif during the opening credits.

Big Dong

There are far too many short films on Youtube that feature people in unconvincing wigs violently hitting each other as bad cartoon sound effects blare loudly in the background. Big Dong is yet another one of those kinds of short films but with one big difference: it’s actually funny. It’s like Benny Hill and Laugh-In but retarded up about 80%. The most notable thing about Big Dong is that it marks the only time I’ve ever laughed at someone getting a pie in the face.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Hustler of Money

I like Ben Stiller and I can enjoy just about anything he appears in (even stuff like that Heartbreak Kid remake) but even as the world’s biggest Ben Stiller apologist, I still had problems with his first film The Hustler of Money. It’s obvious, dumb and Stiller’s Tom Cruise impression is surprisingly bad (but it would improve over time). Still, the cameos are interesting and there’s a gag towards the end that still makes me laugh. Oh, and I love the title. It’s not unwatchable, I guess.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Morton & Hayes

Why the hell is Morton & Hayes so obscure? You would think a series that was created and occasionally written by Christopher Guest would have snuck out on DVD by now (legitimate or otherwise)? At any rate, I love this tribute to/parody of Abbott and Costello even if apparently nobody else does (the same goes for Adam Resnick’s HBO series The High Life). Who do I have to kill/fondle to see a full length episode of Morton & Hayes Meet Mummula?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why I Like MadTV: Part 2

At times this sketch ventures dangerously close into Mind of Mencia territory, but there’s a lot to like about this parody of Curb Your Enthusiasm. For one thing it really nails certain aspects of the show like the repetition, those moments where Larry David just seems to phase out during a conversation and the deadpan lifelessness of Cheryl Hines. I also like the fact that one of the most critically loathed shows on television had the audacity to take on one of the most critically beloved. As a side note, Bobby Lee (who plays the delivery boy) has appeared on the real Curb Your Enthusiasm.

As a bonus, here’s Larry David appearing, inexplicably, on Hannah Montana with his real life daughters.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Spy Hit List

I really miss Spy magazine. It was cruel yet classy and still remains one of the smartest, most cutting humor magazines this country has ever seen (sorry Cracked).

Spy’s almost overwhelming popularity throughout the late 80s and early 90s led to a pair of TV specials on NBC. I’ve never actually seen Spy’s How to Be Famous but I’d kill to see a full version of The Spy Hit List again. For now I guess I’ll have to settle for the clips below.

OK, this is a really cheap knock at Pat Buchanan but it doesn’t make it any less funny. The hand gestures really sell it.

This is actually from the How to Be Famous special and it’s weird how much it resembles a TV Funhouse cartoon.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Trash Humpers

I’m not sure if liking this trailer makes me pretentious or merely retarded, so for the time being I’ll settle for being pretarded.

“This crap makes all other crap masterpieces of shit.”

- J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

Who wants a sip of Shock Cinema #37?

According to the Shock Cinema web-page, issue #37 will be available at the end of the month. For those who can't wait nearly that long to skip over my reviews here's one you can ignore right now!

That’s Adequate (1989; Just For The Hell Of It) Satirical targets don’t come any more ambitious or obscure than MGM’s That’s Entertainment series and for that reason alone Harry Hurwitz’s That’s Adequate deserves credit even if it isn’t entirely successful.

Made in the days when the mockumentary had yet to become synonymous with bad, self-indulgent improv, That’s Adequate chronicles the 60 year output of Adequate Pictures a low budget film studio responsible for such forgotten classics as Slut of the South (a pornographic rip-off of D.W. Griffith’s Birth of the Nation) and the Third Reich financed bio-flick Young Adolf. Sketch comedy movies by their very nature are uneven but That’s Adequate is uneven in a way that’s almost schizophrenic. It’s a film that is at once clever and insultingly stupid. When the film works you get bits like Brother Theodore hosting a kids show, an Itchy and Scratchy-esque take on the Three Stooges, a skewering of the rah, rah jingoism of war movies, a deconstruction of Hitchcock’s signature cameos and a News on the March type newsreel where correspondent Chuck McCann badly fakes current events (McCann on the Hindenburg disaster, “Oh my gosh and golly! Look at go!”). But when it fails it fails on the laziest most obvious level possible. For every smart parody there’s at least three or four that simply take up space such as the sci-fi movie where people are attacked by a backed up toilet and the musical in which a guy in latex penis costume tap dances to banjo music. Obviously scatological humor isn’t necessarily a bad thing I’m just saying that we need to put a little creativity behind it. What’s wrong with giving the audience a fart joke that makes them think?

I also hated the fact that a majority of the film is made up of clips from old public domain movies that are dubbed over with shouting voices and cartoon sound effects. If that wasn’t creatively bankrupt enough, the premise for their Jazz Singer parody - Singing in the Synagogue- is blatantly stolen from an old episode of SCTV.

Luckily, however the film’s all star cast occasionally distracts attention away from its more annoying flaws. In his final role, James Coco is hilarious as the sleazy CEO of Adequate Pictures who at one point wistfully reminisces with Joe Franklin over the first time he “saw an elephant shit”. Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara practically steal the show as a pair vapid garment manufacturers who merge with Adequate and produce product placement heavy sci-fi films. Rounding out the cast are cameo appearances from Robert Downey Jr. as a sort of pirate version of Einstein, Susan Dey blowing a guy, a young Ben Stiller, Bruce Willis when he still struggled under the misconception that people found him funny, Maureen McCormick, that kid who played Fred Savage’s best friend on The Wonder Years (I could look up his name but why bother), fucking Sinbad, most of the original cast from HBO’s Not Necessarily the News and Robert Townsend playing the type of demeaning stereotype he railed against in Hollywood Shuffle.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

An Actual Trailer for a Legitimate Movie

When I first saw this trailer, I assumed it was supposed to be one of the fake trailers that were seen at the beginning of Tropic Thunder but was deleted from the final cut. Not so. This is a real film that was actually released and is available to buy on DVD. Oh, and fans of The Forbidden Zone might be interested in knowing that this unconscious parody movie was directed by Matthew Bright.

Would You Like to Buy a Monkey?

Was Letterman really one of the worst people to host the Oscars? I never thought so. After all, you wouldn’t see a sketch like this if it was hosted by Billy Crystal or Whoopi Goldberg or even Ellen DeGeneres.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Yes, Housecoats Tire Me Too

Not liking Chris Elliott is a deal-breaker for me. So please enjoy the following clips for my sake. Actually, I’ll like you even if you hate these clips. Dear God I’m so lonely.

This isn’t as funny as it should be but I love the part where he drunkenly shouts out, “sweet potato pie” in the most effeminate, Charles Nelson Reilliest way possible.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

What's the Armenian Word for D'oh?

Please don't be scared by these foreign takes on The Simpsons. (Sorry if both of these clips are old news).

I'd Buy That For a Dollar (Sorry...)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Big Bird is a Racist

Pretty self-explanatory. Watch and laugh.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mulligan and O'hare

When it comes to surreal, almost frightening comedy, nobody beats Reeves and Mortimer (although Tim and Eric do come pretty close). Here’s a clip of one of their more popular characters, folk duo Mulligan and O’Hare.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mash & Peas

Long before the success of Little Britain turned them into lazy, one trick hacks, Matt Lucas and David Walliams were, believe or not, actually funny. As proof, here’s a complete episode from their first sketch comedy series Mash and Peas.

The Old Hoit a Hoit

This sketch from the Australian sketch comedy series Fast Forward raises a lot of questions. First of all, what the hell is this? Is it a parody of The Cosby Show or a parody of a parody of The Cosby Show? Was the black face really necessary? Why is Claire Huxtable speaking like Hattie McDaniel? Why the Klansman? Why is the audience reaction so psychotically jubilant? Why does fake Cliff call fat Theo a “virgin boy?” And most importantly, why do Australians hate black people?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Everything's Bow-Wowy!

Here’s Charles Nelson Reilly at his Charles Nelson Reilliest. If you don’t enjoy this then I hope your stomach enjoys being punched. I’m sorry I didn’t mean that.

Attack of the Giant Ladybug

Parodies of atomic age monster movies tend to be obvious or filled with gratuitously nerdy in-jokes (which is why I loathe Larry Blamire’s smug epics) but this sketch from Exit 57 seems to be the exception to the rule. It’s absurd in a subtle way and doesn’t include any cameos from Conrad Brooks or Beverly Garland or some other walking goddamned corpse. As a side note, whatever happened to Jodi Lennon (she plays Stephen Colbert’s daughter in this)? Everybody else from Exit 57 went on to successful or relatively successful careers. Lennon didn’t even put in a cameo appearance on Strangers With Candy. Is she still alive? Please let me know. I’m very worried.

That Kooky Black Death and Bubonic Plague

Kevin Meaney is considered a hack amongst comedy nerds but I really like this glib Sinatra-esque tribute to London he performed on the long-forgotten Comedy Central series London Underground. Although the bit at the end with the old lady nearly ruins it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sick Jokes From The Future

Contrary to Matty Simmons’ opinion, late period National Lampoon was not boring. In fact, that short-lived period of the magazine was really underrated. Take for example this piece written by Robert Leighton that ran in the December issue of 1991. It’s weird, conceptual and feels like a bit you would see during the early years of Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

Sick Jokes From the Future

(Don’t ask us how we came by these – that’s our business. But if you really want to stay ahead of the pack, here are three sick jokes you will hear, and presumably understand, ten years from now.)

Did you hear Ralph Lauren’s defense strategy?

He’s arguing that the problem stems from his genes!

What’s the difference between Dennis L. Ruttinger and a fireplace attendant?

One stokes chimneys the other chokes Stimneys!

What’s the name of Shari Lewis’s new puppet?


Saturday, September 12, 2009

On the Television

As clich├ęd as it may sound, I’m still surprised by what you can find on Youtube and one of the most surprising things I ever found was this huge cache of clips from the long forgotten sketch comedy series On the Television.

Notable for being Nick at Nite’s first attempt at an original series, On the Television essentially played like a very limp parody of Siskel and Ebert’s At the Movies. Every week two critics (played by Tim Conway Jr. and George McGrath who’s better known as one of the token Americans on the British version of Whose Line is it Anyway) would “review” fake television shows with Cracked magazine-ish titles like Thirty Dumbthing, Wheel of Misfortune and Googie Chowder D.D.S. (Christ, that’s bad).

On paper the idea was interesting but in practice it was excruciating. The framing device with the critics was unnecessary and, being that McGrath and Conway Jr.’s characters were such personality challenged non-entities, it only managed to slow things down to an unfunny crawl. As for the sketches, well, even as a stupid, TV obsessed child I could sense that something was off about the sketches.

Case in point:

The sketches were inevitably one-note and excruciatingly long such as their spoofs (spooves?) of Super Password (duh-hah! The password is always the same!), Macgyver (What if we called him Mcrhymer and he only spoke in rhyme?) and Mikhail’s Navy (what if Mikhail Baryshnikov starred in fucking McHale’s Navy for some fucking fucked up reason. Fuck). As a side note, a pre-SNL Julia Sweeney pops up as Betty Off-White in Super Bassword.

Here’s the kind of hacky concept that could only exist in the early ‘90s. In some ways it’s similar to that tired thing impressionists would do when they would take someone like Christopher Walken and put him in a mundane situation. The only exception is that this is more limiting and less funny.

Surprisingly, the show lasted for 40 episodes (that’s ten more than Mr. Show) and is responsible for giving the world Lisa Kudrow, Kathy Griffin and several more celebrities that can be seen in this really weird, in-memorium-esque video below.

Still I will give them credit for this accurate parody of the late, lamented Dr. Gene Scott. But then, making fun of Gene Scott is like shooting a fish in barrel. Actually, that’s not true because shooting a fish in a barrel requires a little bit of skill. This is more like tipping over a barrel; waiting for the fish to die on the sidewalk and with your gun trained an inch away from its head, finally shooting it.

And to further muddy my point here’s an amusing Davey and Goliath pastiche…

…as well as a pretty savage skewering of Designing Women (and yes that is Tress MacNeille as Dixie Carter)

According to Wikipedia, after the show was cancelled “the production company declared bankruptcy after having spent the residuals developing pilots that didn't fly. Nick-At-Nite’s parent company, Viacom, became owner of the show, but had to pay those back residuals before it could air the series again. Supposedly this is why the series has never gone into syndication. Apparently the cost involved with repaying the writers, actors, and others involved the re-airing of the series cost-prohibitive”. So don’t expect a DVD box set any time soon.

Oh, and here’s one more shitty sketch!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Johnny Ding-Dong

In spite of the fact that Jon Glaser seems to be starring in one of Adult Swim’s funnier and critically beloved live action programs, footage of him is surprisingly difficult to find on the internet. Nonetheless, here’s a rare clip of him as the worst insult comedian the world has ever known.

Sorry, second worst.

Mr. Benn-y Hill

I'm still in the mood for Benny Hill parodies so here's a mash-up of The Benny Hill Show and the British children's program Mr. Benn.

And for all of you non-British people out there, here’s an original episode of Mr. Benn (you don’t have to watch all of it).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What Hath Pallies Wrought?

I wanted to think that this was a blatant rip-off of Mr. Show’s classic Pallies sketch but I have no idea when it was actually made.

Besides, it seems that the idea behind Pallies isn’t exactly new. Here’s yet another sketch (from Hale and Pace) with the exact same premise and this one is from the mid ‘80s.

Benny Elton

Benny Hill parodies have become surprisingly prevalent in the last couple of years but here is one of the better ones. For those who don’t follow British comedy, Ben Elton was something of a “PC comic” (at least during the time when this sketch was written) who, from time to time, would appear on talk shows and whine incessantly about the sexist elements found in The Benny Hill Show (he’s also best remembered for co-writing The Young Ones and Blackadder). It’s surprising that he agreed to appear in this parody being that he’s portrayed as such a joyless, incoherent scold.

Oh, and as an added bonus, here’s Benny Five-O from The Paul Hogan Show. It’s not so much of a parody as much as it is a tribute/rip-off.

Inspector Force is on the Case

I’m not too familiar with comedians Armstrong and Miller or their short-lived sketch comedy series but this parody of the popular British detective program Inspector Morse has almost made me an instant fan. They not only nail the tone and atmosphere of the show (and all British detective shows for that matter) but the characters are so interesting and well-rounded that it’s the only reoccurring sketch I’ve ever seen that could easily be spun off into it’s own series. Oh, and please ignore the repetitive openings. That’s only thing I find annoying about these clips.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Random Closing Credits Sequences from Sentai Programs

Lately my self-loathing has become nearly overwhelming so I’ve been drowning most of my self-inflicted sorrows by watching the closing credits sequences of various Japanese Sentai programs (like most depressed people, I’m sure).

So, if you hate yourself but love bright colors might I interest you in watching the trio of videos below?

Ninja Captor

Zyu Rangers (aka. The original version of The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)

Sun Vulcan