from Mugsy/Capt Fork's UF webpages:
This site is dedicated to a show that might have been a part of your young life. It was a big part of mine. For twenty-five years the Uncle Floyd Show has been entertaining the masses and eradicating the blues, if only for a half hour a day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year. In a place in people's hearts not unlike Johnny Carson, Floyd was welcomed into millions of homes each night. Leading a weird bunch of misfits and even stranger puppet pals, the Floyd program was definitely an exception. It was a show that brought people together when everything else in the world was driving them apart. It was a show that parents could watch with children, husbands with wives. Teenagers would watch in one house and senior citizens in another. A show you might talk about the next day in school or work. Where the signs of status and success meant getting a picture on the wall or even Viewer of The Week!
A place where you might get to see what a band sounded like and what the Ramones looked like. What an 80 year old stripper dancing with a flaming baton on Christmas Eve looked like.
Somedays we came in snowy in the middle of the summer. Some days we had no heat in the studio and you could see our breath. But no matter who was on that particular show, or what bits we did that night, you could count on a good laugh and that we'd be back tomorrow. If you've ever wondered just how the show started, and who was that laughing in the background, and a lot of other stuff that might have slipped your mind over the years, I offer these pages as my own personal recollections, though I may play with the facts. If I kid my fellow cast members, don't believe it. These guys may have been nuts but were the most talented bunch of nuts I've ever met. We busted everyone including ourselves 'cause life's too short to be miserable. In some ways it was very much like a family, the off screen battles, the sensitivities, the loyalties. For me it was a break of a lifetime and also a heart breaker too. You see I was a witless witness to that daily dose of demented disarray that will forever be known as the Uncle Floyd Show.
(Hey Hey Hey, when's this page gonna load? Com'on, Snap it pal! History of the Uncle Floyd Show? Who are they kidding? Who wants to hear that crap? I'm looking for Asian babes. This site doesn't even have MP3 songs. GO WHAN! The pictures take forever to load, too. Well, you can read it if you want, BUT I WARNED YOU! Snap!)
Why does one watch a TV show? How does one join a TV show? How does one START a TV show? Though it seems this was all part of some divine plan (or orders from the other direction) how we all got together seems like it would be a good story. I only had to make up some stuff, you figure out which. This, of course, is MY recollection on how this all happened. I do not speak for any other cast members. This isn't every detail because some facts are just NOT public domain. Besides being fellow cast members, I like to think of these guys as my friends. Still, the actors and entertainers you see on the tube are more than they appear. I know them as real people with real stories. With real lawyers.
BS - Before syndication
I first became aware of Floyd from a friend who lived in West Orange. He knew the head technician and director of a new UHF TV station (WBTV-TV) that had just opened up in town. It was built on the grounds of Crystal Lake. In it's heyday you could see all the way to the bottom of the lake. By this time all you could see was the garbage on the bottom.
The Eagle Rock area of West Orange NJ has always been a famous area, first during the early part of the century as the Eagle Rock Reservation where its lookout spanned most of northern NJ and NYC, making it an excellent hunting and shooting site for eagles and other birds. It was an historic area. Tom Edison had made the first motion picture down the block. Across the street was Eagle Rock Reservation, a hot spot in the 20's where the dance, "THE EAGLE ROCK" was created.
The lot where channel 68 was on had originally been an amusement park, Crystal Lake Casino, and was standing into the early 1960's. Crystal Lake was home to many strange and unusual acts like the two headed dog face girl, Mr Squeezy the man with no spine, The Human Moleman, Russ Russel and Johnny Dupree and the Great Manzini. After a suspicious fire (a can of olive oil, 3 cans of gasoline and a pack of matches were found under the bearded lady's corset) burned it to the ground a new source of income was sought. Because of its height it was chosen as a perfect sight for a TV transmitter.
Channel 68 started back in 1974 as UHF TV station WWRO-TV which stood for the Walter Reade Outdoor group. It was at that time connected with WRTV channel 58 from Asbury Park whose HQ's was a drive in movie theater (these days a Chuck-U-Chicken outlet). Later that year it became WBTV-TV owned by two technical geniuses, Blonder & Tongue. Ike Blonder had invented a system for sending scrambled pay per view tv signals over the air but lacked enough capital to expand the concept. He had used a lot of his money chasing Bessie the Loch Ness monster around during trips to Scotland. Later the station was purchased by Wometco Broadcasting, changing it's letters to WTVG-TV with a jingle that went "WTVG is kidstuff, it's fun to watch us all day long..."
The actual house itself was moved to the top of Eagle Rock Mountain from a lower area of West Orange NJ, where a violent death had occurred inside. A women's head was found stuffed up a chimney, chopped off her torso using a Ginsu knife. The incident was later ruled a suicide. Since few people wanted to purchase a dwelling with a bad history it went for a song and a dance (the song "Battle Hymn of the Republic", the dance "the funky chicken"). Years later many sightings of the dead spirit were claimed by station employees, some not under any influences. According to former station employee Ed Kaz, "The dead spirit's name was "Mary" and she made quite a lot of noise from time to time. She knocked the transmitter off the air quite a bit, also." For some reason it was mostly the PTL Club that suffered at Mary's ghostly hand. We were never allowed to write "Mary" as the blame on our trouble reports. Some sort of FCC rule.
Channel 68 would sign on at 8AM with public affairs/local programming for free. Then it would scramble its signal (like cable) at 10AM for the morning movie. The free signal returned at 12:30PM and ran FNN financial news all afternoon followed by religious programming by the station's questionable assistant manager. Then reruns of network fare like Peyton Place, Dobie Gillis, Time Tunnel, Adventures of Hercules, Mr. Ed, Exercises with Oscar Levant, Green Acres and Speed Racer ran. Also local programs like Danny Tarentino (who sang "What I Did For Love" almost every show), Maria Popadoppolis (Greek program with Yiddish subtitles) were shown as well as live weekend shows like Maxon Theater, UFO Update, The People's Psychologist, Petland Discount's Show and something called the Uncle Floyd Show (wonder what ever happened to that?).
Then at 8PM it would scramble for the rest of the program schedule until sign-off at 6AM. Eventually (1984 maybe?) they decided to drop the afternoon and evening local programs and run pay-TV from 10AM - 6AM, leaving 8AM-10AM for free programming. A few years later, they dropped the pay-TV completely, and the Newark station became U68 running music videos. In the late 80's the station became WHSN-TV, The Home Shopping Channel. Ironically, the only time the station was ever profitable...you guessed it... was as a home shopping channel.
I had grown up in West Orange but had moved away. I was unaware, as were most residents, that this building would soon become famous. This is where they taped the Uncle Floyd show.
Deep In The Heart Of Jersey
words by F.Vivino and C.Charlie
Oh the factory smoke, will make you choke
Deep in the Heart of Jersey
The City rats run in big packs
Deep in the Heart of Jersey
The Pizza man says, "I no understand"
Deep in the Heart of Jersey
And Route 17, the traffic there is mean
Deep in the Heart of Jersey
The city skies ain't fit for flies
Deep in the Heart of Jersey
The Parkway man takes a quarter from your hand
Deep in the Heart of Jersey
The dumps in June ain't like perfume
Deep in the Heart of Jersey
But it's my state and I think it's great
Deep in the Heart of Jersey
Way out west in wild new jersey
Yippi Yi Yay!
STEP RIGHT UP!
Floyd had an interesting, if not sometimes bizarre, background. Coming out of an already talented family, Floyd's first gig was playing the accordion at the World's Fair (no, not the '38 Fair! The '64 one.) Originally taught classical piano, the rebellious kid was soon attracted to the flashy music of the 20's, 30's and 40's along with a love for old time entertainment including Burlesque. Signing with the Dick Richards Agency, Floyd would meet and work with some of the last true Vaudeville showmen around, now confined to smaller and sedate bookings, learning the skills of comedic timing and classic routines. From there Floyd linked up with a traveling circus that higods and combined with a slight cold created an intestinal distress.
Faced with the oil embargo and gas shortages of the 1970's, Floyd decided to try and get something closer to home. He approached a local cable company (UA-Columbia) in December of 1973 and sold them the idea of letting him produce a children's show. On Tuesday night January 29, 1974 from 6:30 to 7pm on channel WMCC-TV the UNCLE FLOYD & HIS FRIENDS show was born. He used the term UNCLE because a lot of old time kiddie show hosts called themselves Uncle. Playing the piano to a roomful of real children, Floyd gave away a cake, introduced the puppet lady and read mail. Floyd realized quickly that a lot of his jokes were going over the heads (literally) of the kids and cracking up their parents. In September of 1974 Floyd heard that channel 68 was going on the air and approached them for airtime. At the time TV stations had to devote a certain amount of time for kid shows. That, and the fact that Floyd would have to go out and sell the show's ads, had them agree to the arrangement. Floyd then went live from 5pm to 6pm Monday through Fridays during November and December of that year. In January of 1975 channel 68 went off the air until September and Floyd returned with the station's new management. That year he continued doing the cable show until April of 1976. Channel 68, WBTB-TV was a different type of channel then the New York Market was used to. The general manager, Gene Inger, was a stock market analyst who drove a bright red sports car which matched his flamboyant personality. He hosted a Wall Street info show on the station. His assistant manager was a jerk (my opinion, though shared by many) who had a religious show every day. He didn't practice what he preached though because he was constantly looking for ways to rip everybody else off. He had the soda machine fixed so it took our money but gave no refunds. When Floyd later had toy companies donate stuff to give away, he had his secretary divert half of the things to him for his kid. He had one of those Ichabod Crane smiles that could make paint flake off of metal. We basically tried to avoid him as we would any obnoxious odor. With props purchased from the local Salvation Army store, Floyd and then friend Pat Cupo began developing quick and often physical bits. Cupo would be the first, among a long line to follow, cast member that was dangerous to work with. Cupo's most famous character was THE MONSTER, which amounted to him wearing a cheap Frankenstein mask and a long brown overcoat and jumping about and grunting loudly as he threw objects all around the set often hitting Floyd. Cupo also created TOM SPIDER, establishing the wacky interview sketch used frequently since then. Floyd's character of Don Ho Hum started out as a cooking show but Cupo's Monster character loaded the blender with all types of dangerous shrapnel which found a soft taget in Floyd. Cupo seemed to have little faith in the show's future and left to pursue other projects. Floyd, the creator and always dominant voice of the show, stayed comminted to it even though things would get worse before they got better. And in those days it was no picnic. Almost no one had any kind of high hopes for the show's future. After all, the competition was the New York City market, the number one market in the entire country. The show aired on UHF which most people weren't even aware of how to tune in, none the less bend a coat hanger into an antenna. Millions of dollars were being spent developing programs to attract viewers. Many thousands were being spent by advertising agencies every second on the other channels, and not for products like the BAMBOO STEAMER or STEP AND DINE the automatic dog food feeder. This was the pie that Floyd had stuck his thumb into. Floyd alone carried the show on his back in those days. Make no mistake about it. There would be no show without Floyd.
Floyd taught every cast member that performing comedy was no joke. We all learned to take the work seriously even as we kid with each other. If we got mad at him for some reason we always respected his dedication and love of the business. If you've ever been lucky enough to catch him at a live show you know what a born entertainer he is. Though the cast has contributed much to different formats over the years, it was and always will be The "UNCLE FLOYD" Show because without him it had no focus and it had no heart. Like Sinatra's song, he took the blows as well as the bows and did it his way. But help was on the way with the wackiest cast of crazies ever assembled under one roof.
Floyd's original and longest running partner is Oogie, a puppet he had purchased years before in a small Times Square theatrical prop store. Oogie, originally known as The Hunter, became the wisecracking sidekick to Floyd's irritable straight man. Other semi regular drop-ins consisted of DOC PRENTIS, a long time banjo playing music partner of Floyd's, AL CAVALARO a.k.a. the Lady on Skates, and a part time magician and psychic Floyd had met while buying props in local magic store, SCOTT GORDON.
Scott, who soon would become the best known original core cast member, had a varied background. A jack of some trades, Scott was in to almost everything, or at least he claimed to be. He definitely had a background as a rock & jazz guitarist. He also had some theatrical training. Scott's first character was SIR JOHN WATERCRESS, a Shakespearean thespian who'd walk in and out of the scene reciting the Bard's works. In the years to follow, Scott would create among others: CHUCK LITTLEHAT, a dimwitted ukulele playing yodeled who'd had a seizure during each song and fall to the ground. MR. BROWNJEANS, a takeoff on Capt. Kangaroo's Greenjeans, who'd always bring on a new little animal (usually a broken or stuffed toy) and then proceed to accidentally torture it to death. Dr. VATS DAMATTER, a send up based on classic burlesque routines. Mr. WHISTLE, an off camera slide whistle voice that sang along with Floyd's piano. Mr. BABEL, as in the Tower of, who'd speak in an Al Kelly type doubletalk later actually reading(?) parables from his own "Book oF Bable". Cupo left off to explore his own possibilities, and Scott and Floyd continued on for several months before I came along.
Scott's characters have always had a perfect, if sometimes bizarre, way of blending in with and working with Floyd's. VIC, the best friend (nd with friends like these...) DON THE DRUNK the eternal partygoer with moods changes at the drop of a hat, or bottle. SLIM, the bass playing accompanist of the Cowboy Charlie revue who's signature song of SWEET VIOLETS was always a crowd-pleaser at the UF live stage shows. SLEASY SAM, the musical partner of Bluesy Woosie with a constant expression of malaise while performing his harmonic solos. I used to get a lot of mail about a particular Scott character which was part of Abbot Presley's backup band The DISTRACTIONS. While playing the drums Scott would make all kind of sneers and anti social glances into the camera especially during close ups. Instead of accepting the persona of an angry new wave type musician some wondered why I "made" Scott perform in a sketch that he obviously didn't enjoy being in.
Scott remembers a unique incident at channel 68. "We had a sponsor called THE TROPICAL FISH EMPORIUM which was owned by a man named Richard Joist . One day he brought some animals down to the studio (it was spring). There were centipedes, millipedes, kinkajous, very large Irish wolfhounds, and a large tank of Hermit Crabs. He dumped the crabs on the floor (about two hundred of them) never thinking that the heat of the lamps would warm them up and get them moving. Some at nearly 40 miles per hour! We ended up chasing them all over the room. When we were finished, we think we only found 150 of the crabs. Afterward, whenever the studio got hot it smelled like a Portuguese banquet.
Oh, look who's next. What a surprise. Look at all the old pictures he's got of himself. He really looks more like Mahatma Ghandi these days.
I'M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY...NOT
I had been performing with a friend at the time under the name of MUGSY & ANDY. Although Andy had a great singing voice, I was way too loud and got us fired from a lot of supper club jobs where we were supposed to be playing quietly in the background. Plus I'd perform little made up fun songs with, for the time, questionable contents and lyrics. To top it off, we had extra band members like a blind but obnoxious female violin player, and a loud Jimi Hendrix type black guitar player with a roving eye for babes.This was, in fact, the band assembled for OLD MILITARY HALL in Nutley, New Jersey, where we had been playing for three months to a pretty regular crowd. Well, that night they were gone and when I inquired where I was informed that down the block to watch a new guy play the piano with a puppet. I contacted Floyd about appearing on his show in hopes of getting a new crowd down to the bar but when I showed up at the taping I was alone, my partner had gotten cold feet. I went on to do a country & western song on the show (one of three that I knew) and apparently impressed Floyd enough to okay me for future visits which kept becoming more & more frequent till I was on at least once a week. Having run out of regular songs, I did a takeoff on current trend and debuted PETER PUNK. He was followed the next week by BOB DILLY. Although Alan Sherman had success with music parodies before, no one at the time was going to the trouble of dressing up to look like the performer and no one did an entire parody song. I did and used current topics as material. This was long before Weird Al or Howard Stern or Rush Limbaugh. I like to think, even if it is a bit vain, that if I didn't create the type of song parody so popular and common today, I at least helped develop it. This, among other innovations we came up with, would soon be ripped off and exploited elsewhere. But every time they did we just came up with something else. We had to. Besides music take-offs I invented some other characters that would either "walk on" the set and annoy Floyd or have their own little segments. My first experiments into the genre we're less then memorable. Mr TV HEAD seemed like a good idea. Coming out with a TV shaped box over my head. Trouble is It was too dark to read the lines I had pasted inside the box. BAD NEWS TODD would do a variation of the old "good news, bad news" routine. It was when I combined my artistic talents and writing skills together I came up with my most successful non music sketch.
CAPT. FORK would advance a show characteristic that would become one of the well known show formulas, not only for my bits but most performed on the show. Through a series of cartoon drawings I would "bust" the cast based on their "TV personas". For more on this read the page "Inside Guide to Inside Jokes". I also started writing ensemble bits like WEIRD STORIES and OLD TIME MOVIES which involved two or three cast members other then Floyd. This was done to give Floyd a chance to clean up after bits and to continue rolling the tape without stopping, a very important show rule. The reason why was that if we had to stop for a break it seemed to take forever to get started again. I started to take advantage of the technical abilities of the show, i.e. sound effects, croma key, etc, more than in the past. Floyd never trusted them, saying that every time we'd depend on a technical gimmick for a punchline it never worked. He was right a lot of the time. But you might remember because we always left all the mistakes in.
It was a five day a week show and we were always hungry for something to make fun of. I also let a lot of my liberal views influence some of the lyrics, though I was not against giving it to liberals who also had big mouths and small brains. The show itself was and still is non partisan. No one group has a monopoly on stupidity. Most of us, myself included, can do very little about the many troubles in the world except maybe attempt to make viewers forget about most of them and laugh at some others, if only for a half hour each day. I decided to try my hand at other projects and left the show in 1977. I still would watch it occasionally and kept up with the cast personnel. It was a strange time to be an entertainer. Disco was KING. The sexual revolution was at its height. So was the LOVE BOAT and DONNY & MARIE. Just over the horizon New Wave & punk music was starting to gain attention. It was a time of change. People were ready for something new, something different, something funny.
The first new cast member I noticed off and on was LOONEY SKIP ROONEY. Skip's act was a throwback to the early days of kids TV. In fact, Skip got his start as a character on the BOZO show in Florida. Although definitely influenced by Soupy Sales, Skip's charactetier we got (although we never really got that dirty). Skip's laugh became so apparent that I started putting music soundtracks in my ensemble bits so the audience wouldn't notice that Skip wasn't there when he went on vacation once a year.
Two of my favorite Skip bits were his pantomime of Spike Jones's recordings and his PHONE ARE ALWAYS RINGING sketch. In that he'd wheel out a big table and have some kind of scam to bilk Floyd out of money. On the SHANACHIE best of video tape CLARK THE WONDER DOG came out and went number two in front of Skip during this bit, to which Skip replied, "Everyone's a critic!"
The following cast member has asked to be removed from this page. This is his only approved link. Artie's Page
THINK ABOUT IT
NETTO, who probably predates us all by appearing on the show as a member of some 14 million bands, would often just hang out and enjoy the proceedings. NETTO is completely different in real life then his burnt out persona of the show. He graduated from Rome's prestigious large testicles University in 1976 SUM CUM LOUDE. From there he planned to journey to India to study under Mother Theresa. Unfortionatly he only got as far the 7 and 11 store in Jersey City where he conceived the original theory of Egg-Osmosis.
Netto's my favorite.
NETTO's acquaintance with Floyd goes back to early days when they'd work together with Floyd's two other brothers, Jimmy and Jerry, playing at block parties in the Bergen County area of northern NJ. Back then NETTO changed bands as quick as girlfriends and appeared on the UF show as a part of many groups. Switching to comedy bits he first came to viewer's attention as one of many monsters in CINEMA INTERNATIONAL, in which Scott would go into a closed room with a microphone and TV monitor and do all the voices of some weird sci-fi takeoff film like ATTACK OF THE CREAMFINGER (at the time a sponsor plug for Drake's Cakes) and appear at the end covered in whip cream.
NETTO's breakthrough character of Prof. Bissell (Buzy) Martinez of Bergen County Community College finally established his comedic talents. NETTO followed him with the BOX OF WISDOM, an Indian accented head with no arms or body that dispensed pearls of wisdom more befitting a souse's ear. This character, and about 40 other distinct items would later be blatantly ripped off by Pee Wee Herman for his HBO show. NETTO would often continue to perform characters we'd develop in my ensemble bits like WEIRD STORIES OF THE MIND. His character of SGT. CROCK, although based on the comic book Sgt. Rock and the premise of NETTO being at all military, was a big favorite.
NETTO often could get away with material he rest of us would be hung for. His HULA BULLA MAN was a case in point. Not meant to be offensive, it really wasn't. The Hula Bula Man would walk on with his friend KIMBA SUMA, a wooden idol with a shape that made you wonder if it had batteries inside. He must of liked the name because NETTO had two characters named OTTO. The first a bloody Igor type that was also called Mr.DEAD in Mr. SPOOKY. The other OTTO was NETTO's well dressed brother, well dressed except for the fact he never wore trousers. Besides later backing up Mugsy musical bits as Chris Street (Peter Punk), Eric Claptrap(Sour Cream), Phil McCrackin (Patty O'Blarney) and John McLegal (Legalmania), NETTO won much approval for his Jerry Garsweata character in the Greatly Depressed bit. NETTO not only played lead guitar on the UF show but also bass guitar, piano and mandolin. In 1979 he released a 45 record, "The Woodpecker Song" (with no reference to Oogie) with "Minor Swing" on the flip side.
YA DOESN'T HAVE TA CALL HIM JOHNSON
JIM MONACO, although not considered an original core member because he left the show before it took off, began to appear on the channel 68 show in 1978. He later went on to do his own show, the New Jersey Comedy Shop, with future UF show member Michael T. Wright. Jim's most popular characters during his stint were ANGELO MAFUNZO who ate and breathed garlic flavored salami into Floyd's face, Mr. JOHNSON (who seemed to have a similar act to Billy Salooga) and Mr. HOLES. Mr. HOLES was a double entendre experience that came as close to you know what as you could in those days. Remember, there was no cable. This was FCC broadcast licensed television. One complaint and the bowling alley's parking lot would be expanding.
I returned to the show in 1979. When I had left in 1977 we had a few people watching but now it was different. Now strangers would yell at me. They'd yell, YOU SUCK but at least it was recognition. Floyd was almost finished but still wanted one more cast member. It would have to be someone different. Someone with a talent no of us had. They didn't have to be great, just have potential.
Mr. Potential showed up in the guise of CHARLIE STODDARD, although at the time we'd thought Floyd was crazy. Charlie was at first shy and laid back. He didn't seem to write funny stuff, although he had an uncanny knack at voices. The show at that time was the Coliseum in Rome and everybody who got TV time was like a Christian performing in front of a lion's den. If we thought you could be better we let you know. To Charlie's dismay, we kind of went overboard letting him know but at the time it wasn't personal. We thought it was for the good of the show. CHARLIE had a music background, performing a lot with several bands around Jersey and mostly down the shore. A tragic accident to a friend soured Charlie's enthusiasm for that part of his life and he was looking for something else to do. CHARLIE's first success came with his DEACON JIM character on BROTHER BILLY BOBBY BOOPER. He'd ad lib with Floyd and sing funny songs besides doing the Amanda Akaway's Duck commercial. From there Charlie turned to the movies and created the only character in the show's history to have two names.
ROCKY, or Sylvestor Cavone, was an immediate hit. Although Charlie's other characters were funny, they didn't have the massive popularity of ROCKY and DEACON JIM which we, of course joked that it meant they weren't funny. They were, it was just ROCKY was done so well and at the time so popular also. In the meantime I was running short on musical expertise, and when I heard NETTO playing mandolin off camera on one of my music bits I told him to play ON CAMERA the next time. Charlie also volunteered his piano playing abilities to my parody writing skills and all of a sudden, it wasn't just funny, it was MUSIC! Charlie's next two characters became immediate show icons. David Burd had left the show to devote his full time to advertising, a field he proved to be very success at. Dave had a chaacter called PROF GLUMP whom we all toss paper airplanes at and slightly heckle (if you can believe we ever did anything slightly). Around the same time Charlie decided to do a movie review takeoff called GENE SHELLFISH. We tossed everything at Gene except the kitchen sink (and I'm not sure we didn't throw that). To Charlie's credit he was able to do each bit to it's conclusion, amid the smoke bombs, firecrackers, poles, flying chairs and moving walls. On several of the performances we went in back of the set and undid the claps that held it together. A dangerous, but funny procedure. Charlie's other fan favorite was Mrs. Jambalone, the old pain in the ass grandmother that would bother Piqualie at his pizzaria. She's would constanly being muttering about illnesses and problems and her catch phrase, "waddaya gonna do?". Charlie also displayed his vocal mimicery on and off camera. On camera with his TINY THOMAS takeoff, as well as SIDNEY DANGERFIELD. But the cast would often roll on the floor during his many off camera voices during the LARRY BLING CALL IN RADIO bit when MILDRED The CAT LADY would discuss her pussy, and someone would always ask Scott's chaacter, "when are you gonna change your damn jacket?"
An Inside look at INSIDE JOKES
What are the UF show "inside jokes" and why did they happen in the first place?
When we tape the UF show we only plan (and then very little) about the main bits for that day. The rundown for the show has changed very little over the years. The show usually opens with Floyd (and a puppet friend) at the desk and then is "thrown" over to someone standing in another location on the set. That's done so that Oogie, Mrs. Brillohead, Bones Boy or whoever can make a "graceful" exit and go back into the suitcase, so to speak. The person who is now on camera until Floyd walks over to greet them is in the "walk on" spot. Floyd then plays a song on the piano and introduces the first commercial or station break. Next is the first and main sketch of the show we call the "A" bit. It's usually a well known on going routine like Eddie Slobbo, the Polka Show, Cowboy Charlie, etc. Another break comes and goes leading us into the "B" bit. B bits have a wider range that could include a comedy scene at a restaurant, or maybe one of my musical takeoffs, or possibly a guest. Floyd often reads a piece of mail first and then intro the B bit. This is the "rigid unchanging highly controlled" format of the show. It sounds very easy but it's not. We are able to do it like this because we've worked together for so many years and know basically how to move a premise along. And what the other people in the scene are known to do, or not do.
With this kind of taping atmosphere sometimes things could go wrong, or mistakes made. This was SOURCE NUMBER ONE. Sometimes during a slow period in a sketch Skip or myself would tease Floyd or whoever was in the bit and keep up the energy without destroying the bit's premise. As you might guess we were a little stronger in our "critical remarks" before the video tape began to roll. Often we'd get caught at the tail end of something we wouldn't want going over the air at which point Floyd would attempt to explain what had just happened but in reality he'd make up an explanation on the spot. This was SOURCE TWO. The final source for inside jokes were the "public personas" of the cast members. They may of had little to do with a cast members actual life but they sounded funny and bigger then life. None of the cast members were really like what we'd joke about them as, from Oogie remarks to Captain Fork drawings. Some are much worse.
Floyd's TV show persona
Pookie - made popular by Skip. Based on the name of one of Soupy Sales puppets.
Ehhhhh! - often heard in the Mr. Grouch bit
Come on - a request made by Floyd to quicken the pace of the show.
Bottle of booze in Cowboy Charlie's boot. This was based on truth. In the early days of playing the Bottom Line nightclub in NYC we could not get a waitress to serve us during the show. It was just too busy so Floyd kept a small bottle of scotch in Cowboy Charlie's hat, not boot. Those shows were very demanding often lasting for three hours AND we'd do two shows a night AND play there for three consecutive days. By the way, Floyd never had a drinking problem, we'd only joke that he did.
Driving down the NJ Parkway with a tree stuck in the car's front grill. Okay, this one is also true but it was a small tree. After a long show and a long drive heading home Floyd momentarily dozed off and drove slightly off the road hitting some bushes which woke him up. He was not drunk, just tired. We would never have known except Scott passed him as Floyd had pulled over after after a toll booth pulling it out of the car.
The History of Comedy:
This is a phrase I'd often yell out at Floyd when I could see the bit he was performing was based on an old burlesque routine, something he was very familiar with from his early years in the business.
Buddy- based on Scott's original greeting to other cast members
Mr. Toast - After each taping at channel 68 for a while we'd all go to a diner. Taping usually started at 7pm two nights a week, during syndication three. Most of us didn't eat a big meal before we taped because we felt it slowed us down. The show was always very physical. Right before syndication we all used to go to a diner in Verona on Rt. 23. On one particular night Scott was late getting there and we had already ordered breakfast (it was 2 am) and eating it. While waiting for the waitress to return and take his order Scott was eyeing the big pile of toast in the middle of the table. Scott looked at Floyd and said something like, "Hey Buddy, are you gonna eat ALL that toast?" Floyd said, "Help yourself" or something and then one of us made a comment. We always made comments on everything. It wound up on the show and the rest is, well the page you're reading.
Hey Buddy - (explained above)
HEY! - (expressed in a loud rising tone when he's annoyed)
Get away from my table!
A lot of Scott's bits involved props for two reasons. First he was a magician and used to working with gimmicks. Secondly he was then working at Ken's Magic Shop, a longtime show sponsor, and had access to a lot of them. Scott would often have them set up, ready to go or explode or fall apart. Someone who wasn't used to handling them could easily break it or set it off and ruin the punch line of a bit we hadn't even taped yet. Still, we were curious and Scott would always chase us away uttering this classic phrase.
Scott is sometimes also accused of someone who loves to embellish his stories and also someone who borrows money but never pays it back. The later is not based on any fact. Neither are half of his stories. (HEY!)
Mr Excitement - based on Charlie's subdued lifestyle.
Forever Yours - (well, not exactly. Take the first letter of each word and think of another common phrase that's NOT a term of endearment)
Stick with Deacon Jim
The on going joke for years was that Charlie and his bits were not funny. Well as you know he is and they were, still we got a lot of mileage out of that premise. Not all of them, especially the early ones, went as Charlie had planned. Some of them like Swen Sweep and Sid Kreploch were not on the same level as the character Charlie had created for the Billy Bobby Booper bit, Deacon Jim. Of course this situation was true for all of us but somehow we took pleasure in busting Charlie. Every TV show usually has one guy, the default that can be mentioned when your own bit starts to die. It's like saying, "Hey,, I know this isn't my best material BUT at least it's not of of Charlie's bits". The truth is that if Charlie's bits weren't that good they never would've gotten on in the first place. Of course we may have gone a little too far at times in busting him. Judge for yourself in Charlie's Gene Shellfish bits that I have on a few of the show videotapes I sell. Charlie's impressions of famous stars have been well known throughout the years. What is not well known is his ability to mimic the cast. Steve Mildew is almost completely based on Scott's TV image. Other cast members take offs are even more on target and, unfortunately, unable to be printed here.
NET-TOE - usually chanted by the audience at stage shows, as was "OU-GEE!"
WAH LAH - based on a phrase often used by Netto's Bizzie Martinez character
ahhhhhhhh - (this is more of a low groan sound made by someone who is confused by his surroundings. Scott used to used this expression in the CINEMA INTERNATIONAL bit when Netto's character came out.
The last man to leave Woodstock
I don't think that Netto even went to Woodstock, although I do know he attended a few Grateful Dead concerts. As for the spaced out drug references when any of us ever taped the TV show we were all straight and drug free. We had to be because the show was too demanding. It's a hell of a lot easier to be straight and act high then the opposite.
NETTO shoes smelled really bad.
At times this was true but not because Netto was a slob. Netto had a regular day job that was physically demanding and he's often get out of work with very little time to make it to the tapings. Some days the choice between finding props and loading his car OR taking a shower and changing his clothes was hard to make.
Piggy - making fun of Skip's nose
YEAH? - usually used in a load questioning retort I Love yah baby - we used to kid Skip on his greetings to his female fans
Only source of comedy was corny jokes stolen from Soupy Sales. Although on camera Skip often told those old groaners, off camera he may indeed have the sharpest comedic mind of the cast. (No, I haven't lost my mind) Skip has always had great respect for old time showbiz and routines. He is also the main laugh track you heard when you'd watch the show. His background in quick patter stems from his radio DJ work where talking was a main qualification. You'd be surprised at a lot of "famous" fans of the show that used to really enjoy Skip's contributions to the show. (Okay, he does think Soupy Sales is God, Skip is still funny). Skip is a millionaire
Not a millionaire but Skip did inherit quite a tidy sum of money in the last few years. He still has most of it.
Mugsy's running gags:
Mugsy is the oldest cast member.
This is not true, in fact Scott and I are the same age. I AM older then Floyd who looks older then he really is.
Mugsy does not have a home and lives in the streets.
I had problems over the years with several landlords but I do have an apartment that I am in fact typing this from.
Ed Kaufman (past agent/producer of show)
We really gave it to Ed over the years during national syndication. He smoked like a chimney and had a beard and droopy eyelids. A few of the phrases that we used to identity ED were "It's just around the corner" (what he said to us right before syndication), "Christ!" (Ed's favorite expression of disapproval), ""Got a quarter? (Ed was addicted to potato chips and would feed the snack machine whenever we taped.)
When Jim was on the show on a regular basis around 1977-1978 he used to do a character called Raymond Jay Johnson. This character (and also comedian Billy Saluga) had a catch phrase when Floyd would say his name. Whenever we mentioned Jim on the show we always would yell out, "You doesn't have to call me Mr Johnston...You can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay...(you get the idea).
Jeff Friedman (director NJN series)
Floyd sometimes referred to Jeff as Mr. Sideshot because of his "over the shoulder" camera angles during Floyd's songs at the piano. Jeff had started out as a plain cameraman on the show in the early days of channel 68. He was instrumental in getting us in at the states public TV network. Because we were close to Jeff we'd treat him more like a cast member and bust him openly for "questionable shots". Also Jeff was acknowledged by us with chants of, "ahh...ahhh".
Michael Townsend Wright
Who? Okay if you're only familiar with older versions of the UF show, i.e. channel 68 or NJN, then you might not know Michael. He joined the show in the late 80's but since that has put in a hell of a lot of on camera time, more than Charlie Stoddard and Weenie combined. Still Michael knows he's doomed to always been referred to as "the new guy". Michael's on screen identity is a straw hat wearing lover of really old music who greets people with that old Rudy Vallee intro of "Hello Everybody". Also that he's tight with his finances. Although Michael does indeed know a lot about 20's and 30's songs, he indeed listens to all types of music, with the possible exception of Industrial Rave. He IS cheap, though.
Hey hey hey. New act in town. The Uncle Floyd show revue. Just like the 7 dwarfs. Grouchie, Tubby, Horny, Sleepy, Spacey, Shorty and Golden Oldie.
GIMME AN A
The first character to benefit from this comedic alliance was BRUCE STRINGBEAN, who we all know is a takeoff of. Some fans, however, did not think it was right to do a takeoff of him (after all I did call my character the BUM instead of the Boss) but the rest did and we went on to do a string of songs that often were more amusing then funny, but were right on musically. NETTO would switch from lead guitar to bass and Charlie from piano to bass.
Some of the favourites were SOUR CREAM, RICKY REGGAE, TOM WASTE, ABBOT PRESLEY, STEVE MILDEW (our loving takeoff on Scott) NEIL YUCK, and the one we tried doing live twice in a club, LEGALMANIA. I'm not sure how we would have done this bit if we knew at the time who was watching. The cast was complete, if not always harmonious. The live shows we'd do in the Tri-State area would often sell out days before we did them. And they were quite a show to watch, often going on for three hours. Floyd had his two brothers, Jimmy and Jerry put together a full backup band for the shows. Jerry was great on saxophone and Jimmy could arrange anything I give him, including my Meatloaf takeoff POT ROAST, whose parody song would often go on for seven to ten minutes. ARTIE had introduced me to DOREEN AUSTRIA, who sang backup and played the waitress role in such gems as YOU TOOK THE FOOD RIGHT OUT OF MY MOUTH. We were still funny, probably even funnier, but there was one thing we no longer were, a joke. We went from obscurity to being recognized anywhere we went. When we'd do the show in the studio in front of the cameras, we never really thought about how many people might be watching. It's not like we were live anyway. But with the growing popularity of the show, we all had the thought in the back of our minds that it was only a matter of time before something happened. We knew that something was just around the corner. The first UF show appearance was at Jungle Habitat, an early theme park built by the inventor of the glue that's used to stick those annoying lips on milk creamers they hand out at fast food restaurants. It was early in the show's history (which is why it's on this site) and the baboons outnumbered the crowd who came to see Floyd. Three girls Skip was dating at the time were the first to show up. During a lull in the activities, NETTO and Skip left the door to the wild sheep cage open after they had come out of it and in a few minutes all hell broke loose. Scott was trampled by a stampede of angry turkeys. Artie escaped serious injury fighting off what I think was giant snake. Staff photographer Bob Leafe had his jacket ripped off by a mongoose and later was treated for overexposure (or over charging, I forget which). Floyd immediately applied the cure for snake bite to himself in case he would be bitten. (That cure is three shots of scotch followed by two beers. At least that's what HE said it was.) Other live shows were also interesting. An old time sponsor of the show had been WILD WEST CITY. A lot of people still remember the commercials Floyd was on singing, "Wild West City, a city running wild". Well it WAS the night we did a live show there. For those never lucky enough to go there, the place is a consists of a an old time Main street that you'd expect to see in a John Wayne western movie with a big saloon at the end. A stage coach rode through every fifteen minutes, and a pack of mosquitoes every two minutes. The park is surrounded by a wooden fence. The crowd waiting to get in got a little rowdy in the parking lot and one of the stuntmen took a shotgun out to the entrance and fired a blank shot in the air to "calm the crowd down". Meantime the cast was backstage in the saloon going over that night's rundown. When the doors to the park opened that night the crowd entered still feeling very spirited. One particular patron made his way to the back door and gave Netto a beer. He forgot to tell Netto there was more then "Bud" in that bottle. About ten minutes later Netto told Floyd he thought someone might've slipped him something. Floyd, trying to help, thought it would be good if Netto threw up and got rid of the substance, never mind that it was probably in his bloodstream by them. Floyd's brother's band and the rest of the cast sat in a small room for the next 15 minutes listening to Netto dry heave. It got worse. Two of the cast's cars were vandalized during the show, unknown to us then. Slashed tires and a damaged radiator. One of the cast that night (it wasn't Floyd but I'm not saying who it was) was tossed out of the back seat of a car parked on Main Street they were "pitching woo" in. Another was "discovered" in the woods in roughly the same situation (Yeah?). Still, those shows were a blast to do after spending so much time confined in a small studio.
There would be more shows to come and more stations too as the show would go into national syndication. Read all about it in the next chapter.
Continued NEXT >
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