Chucklehead and “Crazy Eddie” Song

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.

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Chuckle Triplex by Chucklehead

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.

The Hot Dog Boys of Summer by Chucklehead

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 . . .

Chucklehead’s The Legend of Craggy John

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.

Chucklehead’s People Prod

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.

Chucklehead’s Bottle Return Video

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!

The Worst-Case Scenario by Rob Dinsmoor

FADE IN ON:
TITLE: “ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF EVERY COMEDY WRITER.”
FADE TO:

INT. ASTORIA APARTMENT – NIGHT

The apartment is extremely cramped. The living room has a TV, sofa, and bookshelves on one end, and a huge desk and file cabinet crammed into the other end. Rob is sitting at a keyboard on the desk, typing intently, while Kari lies on the couch, smoking and reading.

KARI
Say, do you know I’ve always thought would make a good Chucklehead skit?

Rob looks up from his typing with a look of nervous anticipation.

KARI
It starts out with this very successful Broadway actor—I think Rick would be great for the part. And he’s eating out, he’s had a few drinks, and he pours his heart out to the waiter. It turns out he didn’t come to New York to be a big Broadway star. What he really wants is to wait tables. Get it?

ROB
(flatly)
Uh huh.

KARI
So, he finally arranges to be a bus boy for this waiter. Works really hard at being a bus boy. Learns the menu by heart, and sets the silverware with precision. Then one night, something happens.

ROB
The waiter breaks—

KARI
The waiter breaks his leg, and the bus boy has to fill in. And the restaurant owner notices him, and eventually he becomes the head waiter! Get it?

ROB
Uh huh.

KARI
It’s an ironic reversal of, you know, that cliché where the guy comes to New York to be a big star, but winds up waiting tables?

ROB
Uh huh.

KARI
And he becomes an understudy to a big star, and one night the star breaks his leg and that’s the understudy’s big break?

ROB
Uh huh.

KARI
What do you think?

ROB
Well, the premise is sort of clever, I guess, but you know it’s—

KARI
(annoyed)
It’s what?

ROB
It’s one-note. Once the audience gets the joke, the joke’s over. Either the premise has to build in unexpected ways, or it has to veer off into a totally different direction.

KARI
You’re just being a pill. If you wrote it, the audience would love it.

FADE TO:

INT. APARTMENT – NIGHT
Rob finishes typing, and then presses the print button. He takes the script out of the printer tray and hands it to Kari. Kari reads it and begins laughing.

KARI
See? This is great! I knew you could take this idea and run with it. Take it into your next meeting, and if they like it, you have to give me partial credit.

ROB
Okay.

FADE TO:
INT. PETER’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

It is a Chucklehead script meeting and everyone looks really, really tired. There are scripts lying all over the place, some empty beer cans, a couple of cigarette butts in some of the beer cans. Rob is just finishing reading the script, really trying to pitch it.

ROB
(singing, to the tune of “New York, New York”)
If I can waiter there, I can waiter anywhere. It’s up to you—New York! New York!

He throws out his hands and bows. There is total silence in the room.

DIRK
Okay. Comments? Someone start.

People’s eyes dance around the room at each other.

PETER
(dejectedly)
I’ll go. Rob, I have to say, this is really a “one note” sketch. I mean, once the audience gets the joke, the skit’s over—or I mean at least it should be.

ROB
Uh huh.

RUSSELL
(rubbing his eyes)
As soon as it started, I knew the waiter was going to break his leg. It was that obvious where that was going. The only question was how long it would take to get there, and the answer was way too long, if you ask me.

ROB
I know. In my next draft, I’ll see if I can find a way to make it build.

PETER
Well, I don’t think it’s really a matter of making it build. I mean, the whole idea–I hate to say it–it’s, well, lame. All you did is take a cliché and switch the traditional actor and waiter roles. So what? What’s your point?

ROB
Yeah.

DIRK
I guess what we’re trying to say, man, is don’t bother with the rewrite. Take the week off!

PETER
What we’re saying is don’t waste your time with this. You’re a creative guy—and this—well—the guy standing next to me on the subway platform could have come up with something better than this.

DIRK
Yeah, man. How many six packs did you down before you wrote this?

ROB
Well, thanks, everybody, for your input. I really appreciate it.

FADE TO BLACK.

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