“I still live with my parents, which I admit is bogus and sad. However, I do have a cable access show, and I still know how to party.” That was a poem from the documentary Wayne’s World but it can be true for almost any public access television programming.
Public access gives hidden entertainers a chance to shine in the semi-public eye, to be able to do what they want to do without the shackles of corporate approval. They can party, tape it, and display it to anyone who happens to click on Channel -100 at four in the morning after a late-night binge. Unfortunately, most of us may wish we never tuned in.
With the second season of Adult Swim’s Check It Out! With Dr. Steve Brule coming out on DVD this week, I decided to look back on public access to see if John C. Reilly’s parody of the television non-genre was apt. I wanted to answer questions such as:
1) Was it that bad?
2) Did the host not notice that he was wearing green in front of a green-screen?
3) Was the footage shot with a camera-phone?
4) Was it really that bad?
The answer I kept coming back to was a resounding, “YES.”
But like Levar Burton, you don’t have to take my word for it. Here are a few gems of public access television that makes Check It Out! With Dr. Steve Brule one of the most apt parodies in sketch comedy.
Sometimes it’s hard to figure out the line between irony and outright ignorance. Luckily, there’s no real reason to if you’re laughing.
John Kilduff is an oil-painting artist who aired his Bob Ross-like show on public access television in Los Angeles, CA from 2002-2008. The twist was that he was teaching viewers to paint while running on a treadmill AND doing everything from shaving to performing surgery. Whether this was a publicity stunt to sell more paintings, a comedy show that he refused to admit to, or just plain insanity is still to be determined. What we do know is that it displays all that is wrong and entertaining about public access television.
Grandpa Forgot to Take His Meds
If music is food for the soul, then public access television is the enema. A quarter of public access programming is attributed to musicians trying to gain fans by performing on television because they were laughed out of every musical venue, bar, and coffee shop in their area, and with good reason. It’s mostly pretty terrible.
Take this musical artist, for instance. I don’t know who he is. I don’t know what that musical instrument is that he’s playing. I don’t even know what language he’s singing in. What I do know is that someone must have played some cruel joke on him to get him to tape his artistic endeavor and put it up on public access television.
The Spirit of…Truth?
You may not know who Reverend X is, but if you’ve never seen his “Spirit of Truth” segment you probably haven’t had internet for very long.
Don Vincent, a Los Angeles-based televangelist for public access television, was known for spitting hellfire and brimstone in a broadcast that would make Rev. Jerry Falwell blush. Incessant swearing, dancing, and dizzying film editing culminated in Reverend X being taken off the air for dropping his pants and mooning the audience. Obviously, public access has standards. Don’t play this video at work unless your office is cool with racially charged shouting, religious belligerence, and all the worst swears. And if it is, you need to quit and go work someplace else like RIGHT NOW, because you work with bad people.
I Always Wanted to be a Teacher
Why read a science article, when you can have the floating head and glasses of an old man read it to you while giving you epileptic seizures?
Not much is known of Harvey. What he is talking about here and countless other segments is also unknown. What we do know is that this daring old gentleman is the epitome of public access programming with green-screen bleed, incorrect camera angle addressing, and information better left in a book than to be fumbled about on the television screen. You can totally watch this at work, as long as your boss is cool with thick New Yawk accents.
American Idol Rejects
Yes, the musical element of public access television has already been mentioned, but Grandpa cannot be allowed to take all the credit. There are countless musical prodigies lining up to showcase themselves on television.
With that, I introduce you to the entertainment monolith dedicated to taking the crown of reality show music from Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken, and Ryan Seacrest, all at the same time: John Daker.
Well, what are you scared of? Go get yourself on TV! So what if you don’t know what a video camera is. It never stopped these stars.
Patrick Emmel was once featured on PBS’s Romper Room, where he proceeded to pick his nose and balance a basket on his knee instead of on his head like he was supposed to. You can see some of his work at www.theineptowl.com or heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.
From the smallest town to the depths of outer space, there’s nowhere Patrick won’t go to uncover the artifacts of pop culture. –>