Host Segments for

pee-wee's big adventure
Joe Bob's Library


Boy, are we in luck now. I'm Professor Joe Bob Briggs, and for the next two hours you get to watch a weenie wearin lipstick runnin through the desert gigglin and trying to find his stolen bicycle. It's "Pee wee's Big Adventure," the movie that gave new meaning to the word "Pee wee," and it's like a giant human cartoon where these cardboard cutout actors run around with giant thumbs and toothbrushes and jump off trains and talk like nerds and, basically, if you're five years old or younger, this one's for you. Course, in retrospect, if you keep in mind what we now know about Pee wee Herman, the movie holds new meaning, so if you haven't seen it since 1985 and since this IS Pop Culture 201, you'll find the subtext now wrought with significance. Okay, let's do those drive in totals. We have: No dead bodies. Two breasts (both of em on Mark Holton). One bathtub rasslin match. One bicycle chase. One motorcycle crash. Burning pet store. Bartop "Tequila" dance. Gratuitous Milton Berle. Kung fu. Two stars. Check it out, and I'll be here to analyze it for you along the way.

[fading] This is one of those movies where they finished it and they said "We DID put some plot in, didn't we?" "Yeah, we did. I mean, I didn't but I think Bill did." "Did you put in the plot, Bill?" "No, Sam put in the plot." "Sam?" "Okay, don't tell me we forgot the plot."

"PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE" Commercial Break #1

image 1 Did you enjoy the famous "nyah nyah nyah" scene with Francis the fat kid? "Did not, did too" that's ALWAYS funny, isn't it? Oooookay, can we talk about subtext? "Dottie, there are things about me that you wouldn't understand, couldn't understand, shouldn't understand!" How portentous, no? You guys aren't gonna be able to concentrate until I answer the question that's on everybody's mind, right? We all wanna know the same thing: Which porno movies was Pee Wee Herman watching when he was arrested for indecent exposure? Well, the crack TNT research department has dug deep and found the titles. You ready? "Nancy Nurse," "Turn Up the Heat," and "Tiger Shark." Course, it wasn't Pee wee Herman who was caught rousting the puppy, it was Paul Reubens, the guy who PLAYS Pee wee Herman. We invited Paul to come be a guest lecturer tonight, but he still doesn't like to appear in public. The guy's visiting his parents in Sarasota one day, he's bored, so he goes to the South Trail Triple X to unwind which, by the way, is an excellent theater FOR that area and it's such a slow night down at Sarasota P.D. that they send not one, but FOUR undercover cops down to the South Trail. There were hardly that many people IN the theater. The Sarasota County sheriff's affidavit said that a detective arrested him in the lobby. But think about it. If the cops arrested him IN THE LOBBY, that means the cops SAT THROUGH THE WHOLE MOVIE. What kinda sting operation is THAT? Unless he just went to the lobby for popcorn, but impossible how would he hold the box? They were just covering their butts so they could expense their movie tickets, is what it sounds like to me. Why am I the only one who notices these things? Okay, we'll talk later about how Paul Reubens may have sub-consciously got himself arrested on purpose, so let's get back to the flick.

[fading] I've driven by the South Trail Adult Theater. Heck, I even remember when the old NORTH Trail was still open. They just called it The Trail. Sarasota hasn't done such a good job of historical preservation.

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image 2 Little cameo by the great pro rassler, Professor Toru Tanaka as the Butler. By the way, let's keep in mind that "Pee wee's Big Adventure" was the first feature directed by Tim Burton, when he was 26 years old. Before Beetle-juice, before "Edward Scissorhands," before "Batman." Before Mars Attacks! which we're showing here for UFO Studies in a few weeks. It was also Danny Elfman's first film score, and now he's one of the biggest composers out there. So you have to think about the fact that "Pee wee's Big Adventure" served as the foundation for the soon to be pervasive live action cartoons accompanied by whimsical scores, both the small, personal films and the megabudgted and megamarketed blockbusters. You're not listening to me, are you? Okay, let's ALL do the Pee Wee Herman laugh. Here, I'll start. [laughs] That was terrible. [crew members try] That's good. It's a little hiccupy thing you have to do. [laughs] Okay, keep practicing.

[fading] Pop Culture Night on TNT. The Official Pee Wee Herman Laugh Lesson. Thank you.

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[academic articles]

Kinda drags in the middle, doesn't it? Kinda drags at the end, too. And it's not too PEPPY at the beginning. Why are they speaking French? Did anybody explain that? Okay, that's Diane Salinger as Simone, the waitress with the inexplicable crush on Pee wee. Tim Burton reunited the two of em in "Batman Returns" as the Penguin's parents. Anyhow, this movie is gettin into the areas where the eggheads go crazy. I have several academic articles here: "The Playhouse of the Signifier: Reading Pee wee Herman"; "The Cabinet of Dr. Pee wee: Consumerism and Sexual Terror"; and my favorite: "The Sissy Boy, the Fat Ladies, and the Dykes: Queerness and/as Gender in Pee wee's World." That's "and slash as." Those are two words I didn't think had that kinda relationship. Let me read first from "The Playhouse of the Signifier." "Pee wee's mail man is a 'mail lady,' a phrase that given the over-determinations encoded by the sexual hijinks on the show takes on an added resonance: MALE lady. M-A-L-E. It doesn't take very long to recognize the gay subtext, intertext, or just plain text of the Pee wee episodes." Wait, we have a Mail Girl -- does that mean WE 'have a gay subtext, or intertext or whatever? Don't answer that. Okay, this is from "The Cabinet of Dr. Pee wee," the part where they actually quote from ANOTHER article, "Pee wee Herman: The Homosexual Subtext." This is about the men in "Pee wee's Playhouse": "Each represents a specific gay male icon, prominent fantasy figures in homosexual pornography, including the sailor, the black cowboy, and the muscular, scantily clad lifeguard, not to mention the escaped con in 'Pee wee's Big Adventure.' In the film we see explicit references to gay fantasy in two instances of drag..." Blah blah blah... "Irreverent gay camp aesthetic... Disguised allusions..." Boy, what do these guys say about "Bosom Buddies"? Their EKGs must go off the charts. Wait, I need to read one more. "Simone the waitress serves as Pee Wee's female 'double,' representing parallels to his gay femininity in all its problematic construction. These, and other, examples of Pee wee and women characters bonding and doubling are generally worked out as moments of gay femininity connecting with straight femininity rather than as moments in which heterocentrist notions of gayness as a masquerade of straight femaleness are being evoked." Actually, when you think about it, that makes perfect sense. Okay, let's get back to the movie.

[fading] I wonder if the guys who write these articles are gay.

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Well, wasn't that wacky? This movie kinda su - whoops. My favorite scene, though, is Jan Hooks as the Alamo tour guide. According to Tim Burton, that scene was all improvised, and Jan Hooks ended up on "Saturday Night Live" the year after this movie came out. Her first job, by the way, was on a sketch comedy show on TBS. Hysterical. Ted cancelled it. I should point out that this movie was co-written by the late, great Phil Hartman. These guys all knew each other from the Groundlings, the improvisational theater group out in El Lay. Paul Reubens invented the character of Pee wee Herman at the Groundlings. He did a special for HBO in 1981. He got extremely popular doing "Letterman." This movie in 85. He started the Saturday morning kid's show, "Pee wee's Playhouse." Another big hit. He did the voice of the little robot pilot for "Star Tours" at Disneyland. You know where you stand in line for an hour and a half to go on a fake rollercoaster? That one. Listen to the voice next time you go on it. Then he makes "Big Top Pee wee," and it's a big top flop. He burns out on "Pee wee's Playhouse," films the two final seasons in one year, goes down to Sarasota to work on his tan, and gets nabbed for waxing his spear. CBS cancels his show, his star is yanked from Hollywood Boulevard, and Pee wee Herman is dead. Maybe on purpose -- it's something to think about. But Paul Reubens lives! He's in a new movie, "Mystery Men," about a bunch of lame superhero wannabes. It looks great. All right, yack yack yack back to the movie.

[fading] You guys know who played the gay porno fantasy Cowboy Curtis in "Pee wee's Playhouse"? Laurence Fishburne. Gay porno fantasy -- that's the eggheads' term, not mine. By the way, did I mention the symbolism the eggheads point out in the name "Pee wee Herman"? Herman. HER-MAN. And I'm sure Paul Reubens sat down and thought ALL this out when he came up with the character. People get PhDs for this stuff.

"PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE" Commercial Break #5

How bout that Pee Wee Spastic Dance? And now yet ANOTHER scene where Pee wee's in drag. You know what the professors say about that? I'm quoting here: "The homosexual subtext of cross-dressing the implicitly queer Playhouse-as-closet, etcetera, etcetera." Hey, did you guys recognize Elvira as one of the biker mamas?
image 3 And speaking of late-night women, it's time once again for "Joe Bob's Jail Break," where we read letters from our great country's prisons. [enters] And to help us out is the TNT Mail Girl herself, Rusty. So what do you think about that egghead who says that having a Mail Girl is a pun on "male" as in male gender?


Do you think we have a gay subtext?

MAIL GIRL: Joe Bob, your subtext is about as straight as they come.

Now there's a sentence the graduate students would have a field day with.

MAIL GIRL: By the way, is that your foot, or are you just happy to see me?


MAIL GIRL: Oh, I get it.

In honor of Pee wee.

Have you ever kissed a girl on the mouth?

MAIL GIRL: Here's a letter, by the way, from Allen Breckenridge at the Buckingham Correctional Center in Dillwyn, Virginia.

"Hay Joe Bob,"

I only ask because we were discussing gay subtext.

"Hay Joe Bob, What's up dude?

"I was watching the movie 'Carrie' and man those ladies look real good. I really am glad they have someone who knows what narrating is. When Gilbert Gouthery [sic] was narrating he sounded like he was retarded, his voice was so earatateinly that I wouldn't watch the show.

"You are a real cool dude.

"I'm in prison for 100 years and there isn't a whole lot to watch on TV. Until Saturday nights when I turn on the tube to watch your programs.

"Let the Mail Lady know I think she is a bomb and really makes getting mail a real dream come true.

"Well guess I should go for now but not forever.

"Be cool dude,

"Allen Breckenridge #142458
"Buckingham Correctional Center, Dillwyn, Virginia."

That is so sad, isn't it? "I'm in prison for 100 years and there isn't a whole lot to watch on TV." Life's rough in jail, isn't it Allen? I don't think your case is gonna help the prison reformers. Look on the bright side, though -- it can only get better (TV that is). Preciate the support, 'bud. We love a captive audience. Buckingham Correctional Center is in Dillwyn, Virginia, population 12,000. Opened in 1982, the prison has 941 medium- security male inmates, with an emphasis on parole violators and sex offenders. Allen, free your mind and your butt will follow. But try to do it WITHIN the confines of parole.

[to Rusty] How many prisoners you think get beat-up if one of em wants to watch "Pee wee's Big Adventure"?

MAIL GIRL: I don't wanna know.

A hunnerd years. That wasn't shoplifting, was it?

"PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE" Commercial Break #6

Shades of Jerry Lewis, right? The WACKY chase. And I should point out that that was Twisted Sister as the heavy metal band. Quick, name a Twisted Sister song. [crew] You buncha trailer trash. All right, let's play this baby out. The high-larious conclusion to "Pee wee's Big Adventure." Go.

[fading] Twisted Sister is the official band of all colleges where they have puking your brains out as a major. And we DO have that available here at "Joe Bob's Summer School."


James Brolin as the screen version of Pee Wee, with Morgan Fairchild as Dottie. I'd forgotten that part. Okay, let's review the plot of "Pee wee's Big Adventure." Bike stolen. Pee wee searches for bike. Bike recovered. And, uh, that's about it. A big hit in 1985.

Okay, I wanna remind you that next week on "Joe Bob's Summer School" Body-building 304: Applied Anatomy and Bio- mechanics we'll be showing works from the early career of Arnold Schwarzenegger, "Conan the Barbarian" and "Conan the Destroyer." All while working out our gluteus maximus with fitness expert Karen Voight.

That's it for Pop Culture 201. I'm Professor Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you that, in the words of Confucius, man who lives in glass house should change in basement.

Did you guys hear the one about the guy who goes to a bar and gets really drunk? I mean really, really, REALLY drunk. When the bar closes he gets up to go home. As he's stumbling out the door, a nun is walking down the sidewalk. The guy lurches over to the nun and punches her in the face. The nun is really surprised, but before she can do or say anything, he punches her again. This time she falls down. The guy stumbles over to her and kicks her in the stomach, and then he picks her up and throws her into a wall. By this time the nun's pretty weak and can't move very much, so the guy finally leans over, puts his face right next to hers and says to her, "Not very strong tonight, are you Batman?"

Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you that the drive-in will never die.

[fading] Two Polish nuns have just arrived in America by boat. One says to the other, "I hear the people of this country actually eat dogs." The other nun says, "Odd, but if we shall live in America, we might as well do as the Americans do." The mother superior nods and points to a hot dog vendor, and they walk over to the cart and order two dogs. The vendor wraps the hot dogs and hands em over the counter. The nuns are all excited and they hurry over to a bench. The mother superior is first to open hers. She stares at it for a second, and then she starts to blush. She leans over to the other nun and whispers quietly, "What part did you get?"

Back to Monstervision

Tim Burton bio page

Actual riddle from Pee-wee's Playhouse: "What does a bear do in the woods?"
When Paul Ruebens and the writers got done laughing themselves silly, they came up with this, "A bear goes GRRRRRR in the woods"

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