Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Variety Show

I flipped on the TV last night and thought, “Oh Boy! It’s Shark Week!”

I had a splitting headache, but man, nothing perks me up like a good feeding frenzy.

I wrung the neck of a Killian’s tall boy, chased a handful of Excedrin with a swig from the bottle, and settled into the recliner. 

The pain in my head made it hard to focus, but it looked like there was already blood in the water. Awesome.


What the hell was that? A squid? A sea cucumber? Some kind of weird aquatic mating dance?

I squinted at the screen.  Either they’d over-chummed the water or something was seriously awry.

Was that some kind of barnacle covered sea mammal?

I pressed the cold frosty bottle over one throbbing eye and tried to focus on the screen with the other.  What in the wide world of sports was Wolf Blitzer doing on Animal Planet? Sure, the hack hasn’t really been a journalist since his salad days in Bagdad during Gulf War, The Prequel, but this seemed a little ridiculous – what’s next? Fruit of the Loom commercials in the banana suit? Had I stumbled into an episode of SpongeBob by accident? And why did the sharks look so tan and unnaturally smooth and have really, really good hairdos? (Well, except for that little grey wrinkly one on the end)

That’s when I realized somebody had left the TV tuned to CSPAN.

Ah, that explained it.  They weren’t sharks – they were Republicans.

It was the sharp toothy smiles that had fooled me.

It was the CNN/Tea Party “debate” and oh there was blood in the water indeed.

Wolf tossed another big bucket of fish heads into the pool and that’s when my head really began to pound.

Frankly, I don’t think it worked as a debate, and in fact from the evidence I’m pretty sure none of the participants even knew what the word “debate” actually meant (That’s ok, with the single exception of Jon Huntsman, none of them seem to know what the word “theory” means either, but then Huntsman isn’t really a Republican is he?).  Any high school egghead knows what a debate is. Hell there are whole organizations dedicated to the art of debate. There are college debating teams.  There are professional debating societies. There are debates over the various styles of debate.  There are debating rules. They teach classes in it. Debate is a long refined art form.

I’m not sure what the hell it was that I watched last night, but it wasn’t a debate

It would probably make a pretty good classic TV comedy variety hour though.

No really, go back and watch it again. Watch it again with the sound turned off, only this time substitute Carol Burnett’s voice for Michele Bachmann’s shrill banshee-like screech.


Even in the best of times, Bachmann’s strident squall makes my gums bleed, last night I’m pretty sure that if I had listened to the caterwauling drone of her pandering mirror universe agitprop for more than a few seconds my aching eyes would have exploded from their swollen sockets and crawled around my head to jam themselves into my bleeding ears like fleshy corks. 

But dub in Carol Burnett’s voice and Bachmann is hysterical.

And she’s already got the crazed rolling-eyes look down pat. 

Think of Ron Paul as Dorf On The Economy.  His garrulous old man routine is beautifully Conwayesque. The way he shuffles around wheezing asthmatically and mumbling aaeehhhhhheeeeez end the fed end the fed aaaaaeeehhhhsss no taxes no taxes! just kills me. Paul does a damned good Artie Johnson impression too – though his act needs a monocle and ersatz German accent to really sell it.  He’s funny as hell by himself, but he really shines as part of a duo, not so much Butch Cassidy’s Newman and Redford, but more like Conway and Knotts in The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again.

And speaking of Don Knotts, I bet a whole lot more folks would tune into these things if they got him to be the moderator instead of Wolf Blitzer. 

Yes, I know Mr. Knotts is deceased. Do you have an actual point?

Tell me Rick Perry isn’t the spitting image of Harvey Korman’s tight ass Heady Lamarr (oops that’s Headley, Headley Lamarr!) from Blazing Saddles.   Lamarr had this cornball western accent and created a glut of shitty jobs on the backs of minorities.  He tried to swipe a bunch of land from his constituents to build a highway. He was huge on the death penalty, hell, he even hung a horse. No no no. Not hung like a horse, hung a horse. From a gallows.  See, the horse was an accomplice in a bank robbery, being the getaway driver so to speak. What? Oh like you haven’t sentenced somebody to death based on flimsy evidence, could happen to anybody. Especially in Texas. Hell, Rick Perry has killed more men than Cecil B. DeMille!  See?  It’s the same character!

Trust me on this, once you realize that Perry is doing a tribute to Korman’s Snidely Whiplash, the debates are a whole lot more interesting.

Mitt Romney?  Dick Van Dyke from the Mary Poppins era, the lovable goof with the heart of gold. I kept expecting him to whip out his umbrella and poke Perry right in the eye, playfully of course, then break into a gangly vaudeville rendition of A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down when asked to explain RomneyCare.  Boy, talk about connecting to your audience, Mary Poppins being the  feel good story of the implosion of Fidelity Fiduciary Bank, the bank that actually supplied the money for the shipment of tea dumped into Boston Harbor by the very first members of the Tea Party. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

I thought Jon Huntsman did a credible Lyle Waggoner.  Who? Lyle. Lyle Waggoner. Good lord, Man, Waggoner was a Carol Burnett Show regular for seven seasons. Lyle. Lyle Waggoner. Tall fella. Handsome. Kinda quiet. You know. Lyle.

And of course, Newt nailed Vicki Lawrence. 


I mean he reminded me of Vicki Lawrence – though obviously the other way works too. 

Seriously though, Vicki Lawrence as Momma from Momma’s Family? Go on, tell me you don’t see it. 


Try picturing Newt in a shawl. See? Ah ha! Told ya!

I figure Herman Cain and Rick Santorum for walk-on guest parts, say Flip Wilson and Soupy Sales – accomplished comedians and funny as hell for a couple of sketches but nobody was offering them a permanent gig on the show. Seriously, every time Herman Cain gets all wild eyed and starts talking about Dominos I expect him to end with “The Devil made me do it, Sugar!” (Right. I’m the only one in the room old enough to get that. Sure).  And Santorum looks like a guy who’s going to spend the next twenty years on The Hollywood Squares.

Now, with a cast like that, you know you’re going to have a good show full of belly laughs.

The song and dance routines were pretty good, especially Perry’s playful “Stimulus Man Don’t Make No Jobs” tap number and Bachmann’s satirical rendition of “Obama Done Stole $500 Billion From My Poor Ole Mama(‘s Social Secur-it-eeee), whoo oh, do wop do wop.”

The Ponzi Scheme Schemers skit was hilarious. Especially the part where Romney started humping Perry’s leg and Perry was dancing around trying to shake Romney off and Bachmann came running up and bit Perry on the ass.  Comic genius.

The jokes were old, but they told them well.

Perry: We need to have a conversation about Social Security

Romney: We are having a conversation.

Perry: When?

Romney: Now!

Perry: When?

Romney: Right now!

Perry: Right now? It’s Ten Two!

Romney: Ten to what?

Perry: Tend to your own damned business!

Huntsman: Business? Why I created more jobs than you’ve ever seen!

Santorum: No no, it’s me that’s a job creatin’ machine!

Perry: Vaccine?

Bachmann: To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection ...

Newt: That’s what vexes us! There ain’t no innocent 12 year old girls in Texas…

Paul: What’s that? Taxes? At my age, taxes is the only thing they can raise!

Huntsman: Look at me everybody, I’m Kurt Cobain!

Cain: Kurt Cobain? Oh if you only had a brain … Shit. Isn’t this the Wizard of Oz sketch? Wait, this is that dream where I went to school in my underwear again, right? Hello? Wake up Herman! Wake up!


Remember, folks, when it comes to surviving a presidential election season debate, it’s all in the delivery.

I'm so glad we had this time together
Just to have a laugh or sing a song
Seems we just get started and before you know it
Comes the time we have to say, 'So long.

Good night, Everybody.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go see what’s on Animal Planet.


  1. Well, I'm old enough to remember Flip Wilson and Herb is going to have to work a little more to get his lines down pat. "Honey, what you see is what you get." And he ain't quite got it!!

    Still, I think you nailed the rest of them and so, maybe, just maybe, I might actually be able to watch some of those characters instead of just turning off the news as I do now. Lordy, Newt as Mama. Does that blow your mind or what??

  2. pandering mirror universe agitprop

    Today I will find some context in which to use this phrase. That is my goal.

  3. I laughed at many of your lines until tears came to my eyes. Then, at the end, I remembered that a portion of our country takes even the craziest of these people seriously as potential candidates to run our government. That's when I really felt like crying.

  4. Yep. There they all are, cracking each other up but still going on with the show.

    Thanks for motivating me to go watch "Went With the Wind" (yep, THAT sketch, with the famous dress on the staircase):

    Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IH6TBEbP77Q
    Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Nt0yi4wbro

  5. And Santorum looks like a guy who’s going to spend the next twenty years on The Hollywood Squares.

    The debates would be much improved if they used the Hollywood Squares format- can we bring Paul Lynde back along with Don Knotts?

  6. Dam, made me feel my age this a.m.

    Yep, got the Carol Burnett dressed in the curtains with the rod sticking out across her shoulders image immediately....

    And Fred Sanford popped up to..

    I see we are all on the same page today.

    Glad you watched, it would have given me a migrane to have made the effort myself.


  7. oh dear merciful Gawd!!
    Jim i had to wipe the tears from my eyes. wonderful. shared on my wall.

  8. No, no, no...

    Newt is the EITHER the Pilsbury Dough Boy or the Sta-Puff Marshmellow Man (a la Ghostbusters fame).

    Your choice. Remember, both look harmless until you poke them with a stick...

  9. I only caught the last 15 minutes or so and my first thought was that CNN sold out to put a production on like that. It really was more like a game show format.

    Thanks to you and Rishartha for sending me back into the old Carol Burnett shows on You Tube.

  10. I just prefer playing it on high speed so they all sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks. They make much more sense that way as well. Remember playing 33 1/3's on 45? Hysterical. Bachmann and Newtie become so high pitched only animals can hear them. And flee. I also like exercise videos on fast forward, I get a better workout from laughing so hard than actually doing the exercises.


  11. Jim
    I laughed so hard I was farting through my silk underwear. Ah when tv was tv, and these clowns don't have a clue. It is sad though, that these clowns want to destroy what is left of the good in this country.

  12. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. The cultural references here, to the absolute peak of American TV comedy, are priceless. So's the Blazing Saddles. Do you realize that couldn't be made today?

    This was linked on Juanita Jean, the World's Most Dangerous Hair Salon. We talk the talk there (like here) and walk the walk everywhere. If you haven't been, check her out at juanitajean.com

  13. juanitajean asked if she could link to the post.

    Not only is she funny as hell, but she's respectful of other bloggers - a rare thing on these internets.

    I've been by her place a couple of times, those are good people over there.

  14. I have been lurking here for a while - never commented. Found you - as many - because of your "America" piece. Well - gots to tell you - linking to a classic Carol Burnett made my night. Keep writing what you write - great stuff. Your post on the helicopter crash should be required reading.

  15. I actually remarked about the exact same thing, debate misnomer, that is.

    That "debate" was dry and uninformative.

  16. Hahahahahahahaha! I don't know how you do it, Jim, even in the throes of a killer headache.

    I had to click to see which one is Jim Wright's favorite.

  17. It's the part where Tim Conway goes "nork!"

  18. Ok, I agree, everywhere. So just when are we all actually going to quit being the whining majority and start calling cards on the table? I totally love your blog and understand that in order to create change we all have to act outside of "pretending to have a vote" about anything greater than local elections. What's your plan? We all are the current silent majortiy and I'm feeling like we are being trounced and we are barely out of the gate.

  19. Oh great, now I'm not going to be able to see Rick Perry without the cheesy pencil-mustache dry-humping Justice. Thanks for that, Jim.

    And, yeah, just thinking about the elephant sketch makes me giggle. And you can tell he's making it up as he goes on. Comedy genius.

  20. Jim, LOVED every bit of it, including the Carol Burnett link... and theending would've been appropriate for some of MB or RP's diatribes... Well,except Santorum... he always seemed to be caught by surprise and maintrained a deer in the headlights look... I can't seem to fix him other than maybe one of Paul Lynde's demented characters...


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