In this clip from 1994, Morton Downey Jr. drops his usual maniacal bluster and manages to get up close and personal with Tiny Tim. The result is a compelling and at times grim interview.
Downey’s seedy bedroom manner lures Tiny into the confessional and the cuckolded singer doesn’t tiptoe through the tulips, he dives head first into the flower bed as he grapples with failed romance and fatherhood. The whole thing is more than just mildly creepy.
Two years after this was filmed, Tiny died of a heart attack at the age of 64. I doubt that he ever came to terms with the one thing that appeared to genuinely bewilder him in life: women.
This is what cultural revolution looked like in the early 1960s: youngsters dancing in a cramped television studio, as smartly dressed men and women mime love songs.
From its opening line: “The weekend starts here!” Ready, Steady, Go! was one of the most revolutionary and influential programs on British TV.
Between 1963 and 1966, Ready, Steady, Go! brought pioneering performances by the biggest pop names to millions of homes across the country. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield, Lulu, The Animals, Cilla Black, Gerry and The Pacemakers, The Searchers, and even Peter Cook & Dudley Moore—who later parodied the show in their film Bedazzled.
The miming eventually stopped in April 1965, after the show moved to a bigger studio and artists were asked to play live—most notably now legendary sets by The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Manfred Mann and The Walker Brothers. It gave the show an immediacy and power its rivals could only dream about, but by 1966, as the beat revolution moved on, Ready, Steady, Go! was canceled.
Ready, Steady, Go! had an unprecedented influence on shaping musical taste, and youth fashion, and in 2011, The Kinks’ Ray Davies paid homage to RSG! with a recreation of the show at the Meltdown Festival.
You could say it all started with Adolf Hitler. That was who John Cleese could impersonate when he was at school. Highly wrought, apoplectic impressions of the deranged Nazi leader. It brought Cleese laughs and popularity, which all made the shy young schoolboy feel less awkward and less self-conscious about himself, and particularly his height.
Being Hitler was also a release for his anger, his frustrations, and it allowed him to develop his natural comic skills. Most importantly, it offered Cleese an alternative career to the one his family expected.
‘When I was 16, everyone told me, “John, the thing to do is to get a good qualification. You go in an accountant’s office now and by the time you’re thirty-seven, you’ll have several letters after your name, you know you’ll be able to get married…” It was that kind of feeling. Fine. It’s one type of life, but it was laid down to me as a sort of golden pathway leading up to the A.C.A.’
A sense of duty saw Cleese study Law at Cambridge University. He soon found it frighteningly dull, and after 3 years, was more proud of a 12-minute sketch he had written and performed for the Cambridge Footlights than his knowledge of libel laws or past trials.
The sketch was the start of his long and successful career as a writer and performer, firstly in Cambridge Circus, then The Frost Report, At Last the 1948 Show, to Monty Python’s Flying Circus and the brilliant Fawlty Towers. Each of these shows, in their own way, allowed Cleese to vent the anger he could never express in his public life.
‘I know something’s manic in me,’ thirty-six-year-old Cleese explained in this BBC profile. ‘Yes, there is something manic somewhere in me, and I think it’s something to do with being trapped in a shell of lower middle class reasonableness, politeness.
‘Sometimes I get very angry and I find it frightfully difficult to be angry, and I think anger in particular—people talk to me at parties, and they really do talk, talk at me. And I have fantasies of picking things up, cheese dips and…[mimes rubbing the dip in someone’s face].
‘But I’ve never had the courage to do it.’
Broadcast in February 1976, after the highly successful first season of Fawlty Towers, this profile of John Cleese includes interviews with the great man himself, his then wife and co-writer, Connie Booth, as well as performers, writers and friends such as Tim Brooke-Taylor, Antony Jay, Alan Coren and David Frost, who said of Cleese:
‘I think it was the element of benevolent-sadism in his work really, in the sense that his humor can be immensely cruel—and the nice thing is that he means it.’
No, this wasn’t Black Sabbath’s attempt to make their own Yellow Submarine, this is actually just a (pretty darned brilliant) parody from the short-lived Comedy Central series, TV Funhouse.
The band goes on vacation in Hawaii to unwind after a tour. Ozzy, naturally, is portrayed as a befuddled idiot, Bill’s drunk as hell and Geezer and Tony are stuck-up, disapproving snobs. Produced by Robert Smiegel, animated by John Schnall and written by Metalocalypse co-creator Tommy Blacha.
Some drug-damaged YouTube commenters—and no doubt Ozzy himself—seem to think they remember this from the 1970s!!!
This mash-up of James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” works freakishly well with the Game of Thrones theme song. I would have never thought of these two songs paired together in a million years, but the proof is in the pudding.
One minor quibble though, anyone who watches Game of Thrones knows “It’s a Woman’s Woman’s Woman’s World.”
Kevin Eldon has one of the most familiar faces on British television today, working on virtually ALL of the A-list comedy programs of the past decade and beyond (I’m Alan Partridge, Jam, Black Books, Spaced, Attention Scum, Brass Eye, Big Train, Nighty Night, Smack the Pony, Green Wing, Look Around You, Nathan Barley, Saxondale, The IT Crowd), but he’s never had his own show until now, titled It’s Kevin, and it’s really fucking good.
Also featuring Matt Berry and Peter Serafinowicz, never mind the modern tecnology, here’s the Amish Sex Pistols:
The infamous clip of the Sex Pistols swearing at TV host Bill Grundy on the Today program in 1976, below, so you can see how note for note perfect this inspired sketch truly is. Bravo!
Thank you kindly Mr. Steven Daly of New York City!
British gonzo journalist Jon Ronson, the author of Them: Adventures with Extremists (which focused on conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones and David Icke) and The Men Who Stare at Goats (turned into the 2009 film with actor Ewan McGregor playing the author) hosted a freewheeling talkshow in the late 1990s for Channel 4 called For The Love of…
Concentrating on religion and odd beliefs, Ronson and his guests discussed topics ranging from Mormonism and UFOs to the moon-landing “hoax,” time travel and Princess Diana conspiracies. You can watch the Scientology episode below, and a show about transmitter towers here.
Monkees songwriters Boyce & Hart in a 1967 I Dream of Jeannie appearance as the leaders of an untalented rock group. Jeannie blinks the band into having a lil’ mojo, before she sits in herself on drums. Groovedelic, but hey, who is this bigwig record executive-type bobbing his head along as he listens? Well, it’s none other than “tycoon of teen” and future cold-blooded murderer, Phil Spector, playing himself (Oddly, in the credits for the episode (titled “Jeannie, the Hip Hippie”) Spector gets called “Steve Davis,” but twice Jeannie refers to him as “Phil Spector” and “Mr. Phil Spector.”)
“Out and About,” the Paul Revere & The Raiders-esque song Boyce & Hart (and “Jeanie”) perform, reached # 39 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967. Seriously, you’re going to wonder where this song has been for your whole life! You are most welcome!
Boyce & Hart also appeared on Bewitched in 1969, singing a tune called “I’m Gonna Blow You a Kiss In The Wind,” which Elizabeth Montgomery, as “Cousin Serena” also performed in her own inimitable style.
If you’re not familiar with the 1973 TV movie pilot, Poor Devil, starring Sammy Davis Jr. as a bungling devil, Jack Klugman as his intended victim and Christopher Lee as Satan, you’re in for a campy, kitschy, somewhat surreal treat. I mean, it’s a cast from Hell, right?
A lighthearted spin on the Faustian bargain, you’d have to assume that this NBC-financed project was inspired by its star’s membership in the Church of Satan—the “Candy Man” showman was inducted as an honorary warlock at the Circle Star Theater in April 1973. (There is a CoS reference in the dialogue when Davis is heard to say “I’ll call the Church of Satan downtown. They’ll know how to contact him.”)
In any case, it’s pretty amusing if you like this kind of thing. TV’s Batman Adam West and familiar-looking character actor Gino Conforti are also featured. This originally aired on Valentine’s Day, 1973.