I was deeply touched when fellow Chucklehead writer Anne said she liked this ad, because I’m pretty sure I wrote it. It was part of our last show, called “Stocks and Prawns,” a mish-mash of weird story lines barely glued together. My goal was to make the most disgusting commercial imaginable, starting with “What’s that smell? It’s shrimpy the shrimp!” and “Can I lick the bag?” Steve, as the voice of Shrimpy, added a speech impediment, and Cubby and Rose played really repulsive little kids with seafood sauce all over their faces. You can read the whole story of shooting “Stocks and Prawns” in my Tale, “Requiem for Sea Captain Frank.”
I have no idea when this was taped. It was forwarded to me by Anne, who was one of the Chucklehead writers. Jay, Michael, Ronnie, and Mark are all in it. To earn some scratch, the Chucklehead performers performed in all kinds of ads for Crazy Eddie, which was a discount purveyor of electronics. The spokesguy used to end every commercial with “His prices are INSANE!!!” Can’t wait to get to the bottom of this one.
We used the Chucklehead Multiplex format to run three quick movie parodies. I was not around for these particular shoots. I’m guessing Cubby made the car–and got plenty of funny looks while “driving” it down the street. Since our short-lived director during that time, Randy Kovitz, was a professional fight director, it was inevitable that we would have some fight scenes, as in “Singles of Fury,” and Chandler Sante and Michael Huston had actually practiced karate. Randy didn’t last long as director only because the troupe was too large and unruly for him. I’m guessing “Sambo,” in which Steve Salter played the title role, was shot in Central Park.
This is another of our infamous guerilla shoots in New York City–somewhere near the West End Highway by the looks of it. Matt and Mark already had done some acting together, so their improv was very well done. It takes true genius to pull off stupid so well. One of the writers, Anne, played the nice lady who gives them money. I’m not sure what the hot dog guy thought was going on.
Matt disappeared from the troupe fairly early on. What I remember most about him was that he was constantly getting hit on the head. Once we presented him with a birthday cake, and as he was cutting it, a flat fell on his head. (It was almost as if we set him up but we didn’t.) Another time, at a pool in New Jersey, an ambulance showed up. I asked Mark was the problem was, and he just said, “Matt,” shaking his head. Matt had somehow sustained a head wound.
Anyway, we amused ourselves . . .
This was meant to be a much longer piece but, much like Werner Herzog’s “Fitzcarraldo” and Terry Gilliam’s doomed “Man of La Mancha,” it was hit with obstacles of epic proportions. Much of it was shot on Super-8 in New Jersey and Central Park, but then the Super-8 camera got stolen.
I have only vague memories of shooting this. Having a guy bring a suitcase on a hike was a nice touch, and I believe it was Jay’s idea. As for Craggy John’s hawk friend Mojave flying, there was a lot of conjecture on how it was done? Built-in remote-control airplane? Stop-action animation? A matte shot? The simple truth is that Mohave’s right wing was on a stick. I believe Mark Sarto, who played Craggy John, actually assembled Mojave, as he was the silly propmeister for the troupe.
I don’t know whether it’s clear from this footage, but the original premise was that Craggy John put the campers in harm’s way so that he could save their lives. But, over the course of it all, he became more and more injured. And so he sent Mojave off to attack them out of revenge. At least, that’s the way I remember it.
Note the severed hand. Whenever things got slow, we’d have Mark cut off his hand. My favorite was when he was playing a nerd taking a class in making sushi in “The Learning Hut.” Distracted by a beautiful nerdette played by Ronnie, he lets the knife slip and, well, you get the picture.
This video, taped in 1985 and plugged between live skits, was something of a standby for a while. As always, taping on the streets of New York was fun because innocent bystanders had no idea what was going on.) Videos like these allowed we writers to get into the act. (That’s me, looking for a handout in the first scene, and bums became my trademark role. Among those playing Trivial Pursuit in the second scene are writers Bruce Handy (with the People Prod), Margot Sheehan, and Robert Leighton (asleep).
This followed on the heels of another product called Lazee Blaze, essentially a fire alarm with a “Snooze” option.
This was one of the first videos we shot, very low-tech and guerilla-style. I wrote the script, and we taped it in Jay and Bruce’s tiny apartment on 14th Street. We actually had no paucity of dank, dirty little apartments to tape in. I was very gratified that this one has had 69 views on YouTube, and one review: “This is some funny shit! HAH!!!!” So, some of the material still holds up!