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.