Finally! I offer tangible proof that listening to the Beatles can drive one to evil. Prolonged, repetitious exposure to their music causes madness leading, in rare cases, to human sacrifice!
Actual documentation of one of these events was televised in 1979, a Saturday night at 7:30 pm on Channel 29 (Northern Michigan’s finest spot on the dial). The tune that caused the ruckus was Paul McCartney’s “With a Little Help from Your Friends”, sung by a virginal (?) female puppet tied to the altar slab. (Start at 2m 19s.)
Immediately after the failed sacrifice—the woman escaped from the grasp of the multi-armed Stone God who loudly lamented his lost lunch—we see two witnesses, old men sharing a theater box with two lobsters. One old man asked the other, “Do you think the lobsters will share their popcorn with us?” The other replies, “I don’t think so. They’re two shellfish.”
I love it!
Yes, the Muppet Show, a program which was the last of its kind. (The title actually belongs to Hee Haw; and I’ve heard rumors that live Saturday-night thing still lives.) The variety show. Mixed sketches centered around goofy musical numbers, running gags, the celebrities of the day vying to appear, the lightest of light entertainment.
This was the late 1970s, just when cable was being introduced helping fragment entertainment into what it has become today. The variety show is dead, perhaps never to rise again. This is because the variety show presupposes its audience will be familiar with all it elements—music, personalities, social milieu, and so forth—and that is no longer the case. There are still sketch shows, but without music or guests. There are music shows, but all are one-note contests.
The sacrificial episode linked above featured the massive talents of Lynda Carter, a.k.a. Wonder Woman. Her big number was to sing the tune “Rubber-band Band”—accompanied by actual rubber bands, of course.
All the old timers did the Muppet Show. There was Don Knotts looking nervous and bug eyed. The magician Doug Henning appeared from nowhere, complete with wild hair and enormous moustache to cover his massive overbite. Dizzy Gillespie tootling. Milton Berle getting a powder pie in his face. Rich Little—remember him?—doing his impressions. Peter Sellers sleuthing as Clouseau. Cheryl Ladd singing and dancing (yes, really). Bob Hope shuffling through. Even Roy Rogers, Alice Cooper (trying to buy Kermit’s soul), and Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, for crying out loud!
Any excuse for a musical number, the more absurd the better. A passel of pilgrim penguins on the Mayflower singing “Alabamy Bound”. Kaiser Bill’s troops trooping. More penguins in lederhosen in a German bar signing, what else?, “Swanee River.” Roger Miller in morning suit signing to a patch of banjo-strumming watermelons. Still more penguins (and one walrus) in a tropical jungle grooving to a beat laid down by Dyan Cannon.
The Swedish Chef, Pigs in Space, the running ballroom dancing bit, Dr Bob operating with Nurse Piggy in attendance at the Veterinarian’s Hospital. Random sketches. Such as a pig being arrested by Officer Fozzie Bear, showing the desk sergeant just how he beat somebody up (“First I kicked him in the shins thusly”). Vaudeville translated.
Because I am my father’s son, the bad jokes were (and are) my favorite. The more excruciating and the louder the groan the better. “Dr Bob, chickens do not quack.” “Sure they do, when they’re young. Drop them when they’re an egg and they quack.” “Dr Bob are you ready for the first patient?” “No, I’m ready for the second patient.” “What’s wrong with the first patient?” “I don’t know, that’s why I want the second patient.” “Oh no, another chicken.” “Yeah, if they keep bringing in chickens, we’re going to have to work twenty-four hours.” “What do you mean?” “We’ll have to work around the cluck!” “Dr Bob, should we give the chicken a transfusion?” “No, that won’t do.” “What will do?” “Cluck-a-doodle-do!”
Ballroom scene in honor of special guest star Roy Clark: “I hate barn dances. Only reason I come is for the door prize.” “Well, what’s the door prize?” “A free ticket to the next barn dance.” Dancing cow to horse: “My husbands weighs 5,000 pounds.” Disbelievingly: “Why, that sound like a lot of bull!” “It is, dear, it is.”
I haven’t yet seen the new Muppets movie, but I look forward to it.