Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Incredible 800th Post

Big Deal!

Name That Unlikely Variety Show Team-Up (Part 5)

I put a rush-order on today's unlikely team-up as soon as I stumbled upon it. It contains two celebrities who were quite popular at the time (1969, I think) - but were either completely obscure (or in the one case, dead) within a decade.

This clip also contains a bonus musical performance by Lonnie Donegan - the "King of Skiffle". No points awarded if you guess him, since I just told you he's in it.

When you're ready to be shocked and amazed, click here.

Johnny Horton - "The Battle of New Orleans"

Come with us now, to the trippy days when "historical ballads" were all the rage in popular music - 1959, in this case, where we see Johnny Horton perform his popular recording of "The Battle of New Orleans".

Horton had a handful of good songs - including this one, "North to Alaska" and "Sink the Bismarck". He was also an accomplished rockabilly singer. Sadly, he died in 1960 - at the top of his game - following a head-on collision with a drunk driver. Am not sure if he was still alive to see "New Orleans" win the Grammy for Best Country-Western recording.

Today's video is a bit of a mixed bag for me. It's nice to see Horton perform the song live (albeit lip-synching), but the wacky choreography and bad costumes (It looks like Christmas at Rockefeller Center) kind of make the whole thing laughable.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Brother Theodore

From a 1980-something episode of David Letterman's Late Night - Brother Theodore offers some sound advice regarding the leadership of the nation.

The more clips I see of this guy, the more I miss seeing the likes of him on shows like Letterman's. (They would never devote an entire segment to someone like this now.)

Conan's Concussion

In case you missed the footage of Conan O' Brien's stunt-gone-wrong induced concussion, here it is. Is it my imagination, or is Conan still a little groggy from the incident?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ten Greatest 'Weekend Update' Anchors

A site called has compiled their list of the Ten Greatest 'Weekend Update' Anchors of all-time.

I agree with their Top 3 (possibly Top 4) - although not necessarily in the same order.

The videos accompanying each pick are worth a look - especially the "dress rehearsal" footage of Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler screwing up.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Let It Be

Let It Be is the one Beatles film you almost never see on home video. Why? Something to do with copyright and complicated rights for all those old rock and roll songs the band plays throughout it.

Also, it's not a very popular movie. Watching the Beatles more-or-less breaking up while the cameras roll just doesn't have that "feel good" Help! appeal. So there's not a lot of demand for the film - and I'm not entirely convinced people even remember it was a film.

Not that it doesn't have its moments. If you've ever seen the so-called "rooftop concert" footage, it's from here. Also, you get to see the world's most polite (passive aggressive) argument between Paul and George over how George should play on one of Paul's songs.

I saw Let It Be once, on cable, approximately in 1978 or so. I haven't seen it anywhere since. But of course, the entire thing is on YouTube.

Jenny Slate

How can you make a name for yourself during your very first appearance on Saturday Night Live when you're stuck in a criminally unfunny sketch near the end of a lackluster show?

George Formby

George Formby is relatively unknown in the U.S., but he was a hugely popular star of stage and screen in Britain during the '30s and '40s.

When one of his popular songs, "When I'm Cleaning Windows" was banned by the BBC for its risque lyrics - no less than the British Royal Family asked that the ban be lifted - they were such fans of the song and its singer.

As a measure of his lasting popularity in the U.K., there are a number of imitators on YouTube. This one is my favorite.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

"Gathering Crowds" (aka This Week in Baseball Theme)

Right now I would like you to listen to "Gathering Crowds" - the closing theme from This Week in Baseball.

I downloaded this from a "TV Themes" collection on iTunes a few years ago, and was instantly transported back to my '70s youth. When teams like the Expos (above) not only existed, but were highly respected. Back when I used to watch This Week in Baseball every single week, and looked forward to doing so.

By the way - the equally memorable opening theme can be heard here.

Also, sorry the video for "Gathering Crowds" is so lousy. It appears to have been made by someone with a Dale Murphy fixation. Just minimize your browser, and enjoy the song.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Percy Faith - "The Theme From A Summer Place"

Here's a song you've probably heard a few hundred times, but have you ever seen original footage of it being performed live by an orchestra... conducted by it's original arranger Percy Faith? Well, you have now.

Note - at the time this clip was originally broadcast, Summer Place was at or near its record nine-week run as the Billboard number one song in America (a record that still stands for an instrumental track).

Name That Unlikely Variety Show Celebrity Team-Up (Part 4)

It's that time again. I give you the number of unlikely celebrities (three) and the year (1967) - all you have to do is identify who will appear in the clip.

As with last week, this week's clip is a bit of a cheat. In fact, it's a huge cheat because not only are two of these celebrities forever linked with the same legendary TV series, but they do not actually appear together in the clip. (Well you try coming up with unlikely variety show celebrity team-ups each week!)

I don't usually like to comment on the clips in advance, but I must say that today you will see a TV legend perform the Beatles classic "Norwegian Wood" in a way that you will probably never see again.

As always, the above celebrities do not actually appear in today's clip.

Have your guess ready? Then let's watch.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bad Halloween Costumes

Here's the endlessly hilarious Tassle Twirling Tessie costume. Not based on anything, except the time-tested hilarity of seeing a hairy man in drag.

Well worth mortifying the family and scarring your kids for life to get a cheap laugh on All Hallow's Eve. Good luck getting someone to sit next to you at the party.

Bad Halloween Costumes

You might think this is a lousy Michael Jackson costume, but in fact it is a pretty good Weird Al Yankovic "Eat It" costume.

No, wait - it is a bad Michael Jackson costume.

Randy Quaid

Bad news for Randy Quaid - he and his wife were arrested, after a struggle, on fraud and conspiracy charges.

You may also recall that last year Quaid was banned for life by Actor's Equity from ever again appearing on stage. So - bad luck for Cousin Eddie all 'round.

Speaking of Eddie, let's take a look at his greatest hits from the first Vacation movie. The scene where he asks Clark (Chevy Chase) for money is one of my all-time favorites funny scenes in film. It still gets me every time.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Josh Robert Thompson

Josh Robert Thompson (above) is one of the better impressionists around, although he is usually heard (most notably as "Arnold Schwarzenegger" on the Howard Stern Show) and seldom seen. Didn't know, until now, that he has appeared on Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and has his own YouTube channel.

Here are two funny clips as Schwarzenegger - prank-calling Walter Cronkite, and (from Stern's show) George Takei.

In addition to Schwarzenegger, Thompson also does a pretty good Morgan Freeman.

Bad Halloween Costumes

Hey, what are you supposed to be?
I'm an Oompa-Loompa.

From Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory?
No - from its wildly unpopular re-make - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Oh. Aren't Oompa Loompas supposed to be short?
Ummm... I gotta go now.

Bad Halloween Costumes

An important characteristic of any bad Halloween costume is to make sure it looks absolutely nothing like the character it's based on. For example, once you've botched the hair and tunic - is it really necessary to burden yourself with comically big feet?

P.S... If you watch the clip, the character appears to be making a filthy joke about having two heads.

Bad Halloween Costumes

From the "Who are you supposed to be?" collection. This character was a Saturday morning TV staple from my youth. Never noticed he had a green belt and three horizontal lines across his shirt. Wearing this might just please the "animation cel" crowd at your next Halloween party - although it's likely to alienate and confuse everyone else.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Man Who Walked Around The World

Here's something I found today. It's a short film, telling the story of Johnnie Walker and his legendary Scotch Whiskey. That's Robert Carlyle doing the telling - in one take - while he walks across beautiful Scottish scenery.

They must have timed this just right, because Carlyle never hesitates as he hits each milestone along his walk just perfectly.


Now here's a crackpot idea I can really get behind: Breatharianism - the alleged ability to live without food. It's believers contend that the human body can survive solely from the energy in sunlight.

What I find particularly intriguing about this is Breatharian founder Wiley Brooks (above) and his recommendation that aspiring followers adopt a diet of McDonalds Quarter-Pound cheeseburgers and Diet Coke to prepare for a life of eventual non-eating.

Brooks, according to Wikipedia, "was allegedly observed leaving a Santa Cruz 7-Eleven with a Slurpee, hot dog and Twinkies" in 1983.


Alarming story out of New York - the Yankees baseball club "hazes" its new hires - including several players - by making them dress up like characters from Batman comics.

And yes, that's a player dressed as Catwoman.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mel Gibson

Ever since Jay Leno brought his asinine talk-show to prime-time, we have been subjected to brain-dead segments like this one.

Note how the studio audience fails to see the levity of Gibson's attempts at humor.

Please note that the National Broadcasting Company - which has been a major institution in this country for almost a century - has devoted one third of their prime-time schedule to this nonsense.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fernwood 2-Night

Here's a clip from Fernwood 2-Night, the legendary talk show spoof from 1977. That's Martin Mull, Fred Willard and Bill Kirchenbauer (above) as Tony Rolletti - one of my favorite recurring guests.

The show aired every weeknight and was consistently funny. Amazing. It must have been improvised, although I seem to recall Harry Shearer somehow being involved with the writing staff.

It was short-lived, airing only two consecutive summers: 1977 and 1978. There are probably too many episodes for a complete DVD release, and it has had a spotty track record in repeats. Catch it when you can.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Name That Unlikely Variety Show Celebrity Team-Up (Part 3)

Time again for America's fastest growing internet phenomenon- Name That Unlikely Variety Show Celebrity Team-Up.

The rules are incredibly simple - I give you the number of celebrities (three), and the year the clip is from (1966). You have to guess the celebrities.

No clues, except that the celebrities are extremely unlikely to be performing together on a variety show. However, today's clip has a bit of a wrinkle - two of the celebrities DID work together frequently around the same time (on a sitcom; one as a regular, one as a recurring character). But the third celebrity is the LAST person you would ever expect to show up - and yet, here it is.

As always, the celebrities in the graphic above are NOT actually in today's clip.

Ready to play? Let's go!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mary Travers

Mary Travers (of Peter, Paul and Mary) died yesterday.

Peter, Paul and Mary were enormously popular during the pre-Beatles '60s folk boom, and Travers was a big reason. She had a magnificent, clear voice.

The trio split up in 1970 to pursue solo careers. Was there some kind of legislation back then that popular music groups had to split up by 1970?

Ramones - "I Don't Want To Grow Up"

Here's the Ramones cover of "I Don't Want To Grow Up" from their final album - Adios, Amigos.

I've never seen this before, despite being a fairly huge Ramones fanatic in my day, and a huge supporter of this album - fittingly, one their best.

I think that's cartoonist Daniel Clowes providing the artwork behind the animation.

Henry Gibson

Henry Gibson - Laugh-In poet and graduate from the same high-school as the Golem - passed away at age 73.

Sadly, there aren't many clips of Henry on YouTube - but here's one he's briefly in. It exists mostly to display Goldie Hawn's talents at pretending to be stupid on Laugh-In. (Did she have the cast and crew fooled?)

Forgotten Comics: Brother Theodore

Brother Theodore (Theodore Gottlieb) performed - in his words - "stand-up tragedy". Basically, he ranted like a madman - and didn't appear to be acting the part.

If his Wikipedia bio can be believed - he had a tragic childhood in Nazi Germany, was a chess hustler and acquaintance of Albert Einstein. He was also the voice of Gollum in two animated Hobbit movies.

He started doing monologues in the '50s, and was a frequent guest of Merv Griffin (who gave him the "Brother" nickname), Joey Bishopand the Tonight Show. His appearances on Late Night with David Letterman in the '80s were personal favorites of mine.

He died in early 2001. His headstone reads - in part- "As long as there is death, there is hope."

In today's clip from David Letterman's Late Night - check out Theodore's answer to the question, "Did you have a good Summer?"

Bonus Clip: One of my all-time favorite comebacks by Letterman following a particularly insane rant from Theodore.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Berlin Wall

Did you ever wonder what's left of the Berlin Wall?
Let's visit Deutsche Welle and find out...

Mr. Jinx / Marlon Brando

A few weeks ago, my wife and I watched A Streetcar Named Desire on Netflix, and I noticed something vaguely familiar about Marlon Brando's delivery. It reminded me of one of my favorite cartoon character - Mr. Jinx.

Jinx (above left) was voiced by Daws Butler in a series of Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinx cartoons which originally appeared in prime time during the late '50s on The Adventures of Huckleberry Hound. I never realized it before, but Butler was mimicking Brando. It's pretty obvious when you listen to Brando in this clip, and in other scenes in Streetcar.

The Jinx character was hilarious, and the writing on Pixie and Dixie was pretty smart for a '50s cartoon series. It ran in syndication well into the '80s - and can still be seen on the Boomerang network.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Kanye West

Just wondering - did MTV have any security to prevent ignorant shit like this (and this) from happening?

For our friends up North...

There's always next year.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Magical Mystery Tour: The Booklet

One of the minor injustices of the initial 1987 release of Magical Mystery Tour on CD was the fact that it ignored the 24-page booklet that was bound within the gatefold of the 1967 original LP.

Am pleased to announce the booklet appears in both the stereo and mono re-mastered versions of the CD released last week. (The mono version even exactly replicates the packaging of the original album.)

I was always a fan of the booklet, and often wondered why more contemporary albums didn't include such things. Nowadays, most CDs include booklets with lyrics and pictures - but they were quite rare in the '60s and '70s.

For those of you who would like to see the booklet again, it's re-produced in its entirety here.

Venture Bros.

One of the most memorable episodes of The Venture Bros. was the one with this twisted take on the gang from Scooby Doo (above).

From L-R, that's Valerie Solanas (author of the Scum Manifesto, and the woman who shot Andy Warhol), Patty Hearst, and (serial killer) Ted Bundy. Not shown - "Son of Sam" killer David Berkowitz (the "Shaggy" character) and his sinister talking dog.

Venture Bros. returns for its fourth season on Cartoon Network on October 18.

Letterman interviews "Mike Singletary"

Since it's football season, we'll probably be seeing this sketch on Late Show with David Letterman again.

Here, Dave "interviews" someone who looks exactly like the head coach of the 49ers "via satellite" (he is probably standing just off-camera). The mock-Singletary spouts non-sequiters which are audibly being fed to him from a staff member.

Like a lot of Letterman's sillier bits - this is mostly funny only because he insists on repeatedly doing it.

Topps - Custom Trading Cards

Topps has a service where you can create "custom" baseball cards using your own photographs and statistics.

You can use this legitimately, or - if you're like me -you can have fun creating cards using pictures of dictators ('74 Hitler, above), super-villains, and/or other individuals Topps would never want associated with their product.

Beatles - "I Feel Fine"

Here's two oddball performances of "I Feel Fine" from the Beatles.

Am not sure where these clips originated, but they appear to have been taped at the same time. Someone had the bright idea for the boys to sing their latest hit surrounded by gym equipment. So we have George singing into a punch-bag, and Ringo (who shows up late) - on an stationary bike instead of a drum kit.

In the second take, the band is eating fish and chips throughout the performance - barely trying to lip-synch properly with the record.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Jay Leno Show

Some folks from snuck into a taping of The Jay Leno Show. Here is their report.

Personally, I think Jay's prime time show is going to be about as successful as Rosie O'Donnell's Thanksgiving special.

Name That Unlikely Variety Show Celebrity Team-Up (Part 2)

It's time once again to put on your thinking caps and try to guess what unlikely celebrities are teaming-up to perform for your amusement on an old (the only kind there is) TV variety show.

The rules are simple - I give you the number of celebrities involved (in this case, three) - and the year (1969). All you have to do is guess who the celebrities are.

As usual, no clues - just take a guess. Also, the above graphic of oddball celebrities is included for imagination-stoking purposes only. I can assure you that none of today's celebrities are included in the picture.

When you are ready - click here.

Forgotten Comics: David Steinberg

David Steinberg was ubiquitous on television in the '70s - appearing as frequent guest and fill-in host on the Tonight Show, and performing stand-up routines on any show that would have him.

Am told (by, no less) that his "religious" monologues are one of the reasons CBS canceled The Smothers Brothers. I find this hard to believe, because Steinberg never seemed the least bit controversial back then. His biggest "bit" was screaming "Bugga-Bugga!" during a psychiatrist sketch.

Steinberg dropped off the face of the Earth at some point during the '80s. I always assumed he was working in his native Canada (where he hosted a terrible variety show in 1976 with the cast of SCTV as his co-stars).

David Steinberg - the comedian - may be forgotten, but he's far from gone; he's one of the directors on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and has worked as a director steadily for over 25 years.

This clip has a small audio glitch in the middle, but it set-up and punchline are intact.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Forgotten Comics: Ace Trucking Company

Today we look at an era (the early '70s) when comedy "troupes" were plentiful. When acts like Credibility Gap and Firesign Theater were known for being funny despite rarely appearing on television.

Here we have Ace Trucking Company - a team that appeared frequently on TV talk and variety shows at the time. This type of act would almost never get booked on the Tonight Show today, but Heeeeere's Johnny giving them nine whole minutes in '74.

That's Fred Willard as Professor Koffka. He's been consistently funny in many things ever since.

The stutterer is Bill Saluga aka Raymond J. Johnson, Jr. (In fact, I think he performed that character with this team).

The other two guys are Michael Mislove and George Memmoli. Memmoli (the heavier of the two) later appeared on Hello, Larry and a few other "lesser" sitcoms. The highlight of the clip might well be when he forgets his lines at around 5:50.

Patti Deutsch - famous for giving screwball answers on Match Game - also performed with Ace Trucking Company, although sadly not in this clip.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Forgotten Comics: Richard M. Dixon

Richard M. Dixon became successful due to his extraordinary resemblance to our 37th President. Well, I say successful - in fact he's more of an obscure trivia question, but I did read somewhere that he ran a comedy club in Connecticut for a number of years.

The highlight of his career was probably appearing in hoaxter Alan Abel's The Faking of The President in 1974 (wherein "fake Nixon" confesses to Watergate crimes and steals flowers off the grave of FDR's dog).

We have a clip - of course - of Dixon at work in 1980's equally obscure Bill Murray vehicle Where The Buffalo Roam.

Beatles - "All You Need Is Love"

Today is International Beatles Day - aka the day Beatles Rock Band and The Beatles Remasters go on sale.

This week's Entertainment Weekly takes time out from giving Glee an "A" - to rank the Top 50 Beatles songs, and the "Worst 5". I won't bother linking to it - because they picked "All You Need Is Love" as the worst song.

Yes, worse than "Revolution 9", "Mr. Moonlight", "What's the New Mary Jane?" and a few others that actually deserve the title. This, of course, is Entertainment Weekly in "dying for publicity" mode, hoping the mainstream media outlets will pick up on the resultant outrage.

"All You Need Is Love" is actually one of their better songs from a year (1967) when they couldn't do much wrong musically. It is one of the few songs to appear on two different "official" (original) albums (it is also on Yellow Submarine), and it was a #1 single.

I'm not sure if the song was actually recorded live during this performance on the Our World TV special, but that was certainly the impression given.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lily Allen

Please forgive me - this has been my favorite song of all-time for the past five minutes, so I feel compelled to link to the video.

I should warn you there's a puppet in it.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

SNL Cast Departures

Just wanted to mention that Saturday Night Live has cut two female cast members - Casey Wilson and Michaela Watkins.

Whereas Wilson was never particularly funny on the show, I'll miss Watkins (above) who was sometimes hilarious - especially doing short pieces on Weekend Update.

Update: Here's Michaela Watkins doing her "Bitch, Please" bit on Update.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Joe E. Ross

From 1973 - we have an obscure Joe E. Ross adult comedy record called Should Lesbians Be Allowed To Play Pro-Football?

Subtitled "The Dirty Memories of an Ex-Cop" - Joe allegedly works blue here (I didn't last far enough with it to hear anything dirty). He's no ex-cop, but he used to play one on TV (on the excellent Car 54, Where are You?)

I once saw this record in the comedy bin at Record Museum at 69th Street in Upper Darby, Pa. It sat there with other "dirty" records from Redd Foxx, Richard Pryor and such. I never expected to see Tooty from Car 54 associated with such an album - but here it is.

Even more interesting about this link is the blog entry that introduces it. It confirms a story Jay Leno tells in his autobiography that Joe was less than discreet in his admiration for prostitutes. It also mentions that co-stars Fred Gwynne and Imogene Coca (It's About Time) couldn't stand him.

Name That Unlikely Variety Show Celebrity Team-Up™

I’d like to introduce a new feature to the site today - Name That Unlikely Variety Show Celebrity Team-Up.

Here’s how we play: I give you the number of celebrities who will be appearing in a video clip from an old (is there any other kind?) variety show, as well as the year it originally aired.

Your job is to use your imagination and think of the most unlikely celebrities that could possibly appear together performing a single song or sketch in a variety show from that particular era.

You may use the celebrity photos above to get your obscure celebrity creative juices flowing... but I must warn you that none of the above pictured celebrities will appear in today’s clip.

Now, today’s clip contains light patter, followed by a musical number from FOUR extremely unlikely celebrities appearing together in a 1969 variety special (hosted by one of the celebrities).

No other clues - just guess.

Now, watch the clip - and see how well reality matches up with your wild guess.

Don Rickles

This clip is from one of Dean Martin's "celebrity roast" shows. It's Don Rickles heckling Dean, Bob Hope and an alarming number of Hollywood Republicans (Governor Ronald Reagan, Billy Graham and Jimmy Stewart to name a few.)

Judging from the guests on the dais, this is from somewhere between 1972 (Mark Spitz's olympic glory) and 1974 (Jack Benny's death.)

Rickles is hilarious as usual, but just try to imagine some of this material playing on network TV today (specifically the Sugar Ray Robinson joke, which probably would result in immediate cancellation and a swift end to Rickles' career.)

These shows were very popular at the time, and are still remembered fondly. When Martin's weekly series went off in 1974 (after a nine season run) - the Roast specials continued until 1984. Mark Evanier wrote an interesting piece about how the roasts were produced - often with celebrities only pretending to actually be there. Quite interesting.

Telethon - Jerry and Dean (...and Frank)

Here's one of the all-time highlights from the Jerry Lewis telethon - from 1976, when guest Frank Sinatra brought out "friend" (and estranged partner of Lewis) Dean Martin. It was the one and only time Dean and Jerry reunited since they broke up in 1956.

Things were still tense between the two. If you listen carefully, there's a lot of good politically incorrect mumbling going on at around the 1:20 mark.