Getting to Know Us: Influences

By Jake, Bub, Glenn and Sarah

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Young Ones - I grew up on Comedy Central.  MST3K, I think, is responsible for my pop culture referencing style of humor and The Young Ones was one of the first absurdist shows that I remember seeing, besides Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

George Carlin and Sam Kinison - I grew up listening to comedy albums.  George Carlin was by far my favorite.  He was so angry and hilarious.  Sam Kinison took that anger to another level, and I could relate to his former religiousness, left behind for comedy, drugs and fame.  I have been an atheist since puberty.  Sam Kinison’s “Breaking the Rules” is my favorite comedy special.

Wrestling - I would be remiss not to include wrestling.  Much like “The Simpsons,” another huge influence, I have been watching it for as long as I can remember.  Unlike “The Simpsons,” there isn’t a level of embarrassment involved.  Wrestling is the campiest show on television and has been since I was a child.  It is fixed fights mixed with comedy skits and macho monologues.  It is a hilarious spectacle featuring larger-than-life characters, men with more muscles than common sense and beautiful, big-breasted women competing for a championship belt that looks like a butterfly.  It is amazing.

Mr. Show with Bob and David - convincing my parents to subscribe to HBO had an advantage behind being able to see softcore pornography.  In a time before modern internet, I by chance started watching a sketch comedy show on HBO that was at that point certainly the funniest thing I had ever seen.  As DVDs had yet to be invented, I taped the episodes every week and shared them with high school friends in order to spread the gospel of Mr. Show.  Fifteen years later, I still find myself thinking of and referencing skits in day to day life, such as Change for a Dollar.

Norm Macdonald - Norm’s comedy stylings hit our high school group at just the right time, not unlike the well loved Mr. Show.  His Weekend Update segments on Saturday Night live in 95-97 were hilarious, made even more so by the completely silent reaction of the brain dead pre-hipster crowd.  The fact that Norm went on to have over 20 failed television shows and revealed himself to be kind of a Republican lessens how I feel about him now, but I’ll be damned if I don’t end up quoting something from Dirty Work while in confessional with my priest or randomly thinking about Michael Jackson denying paternity for a child saying “Don’t get me wrong, that’s a very sexy baby - but it’s not mine.”  I hope one day Norm finds his happiness in debtor’s prison and the next generation “rediscovers” his comedy in the same way today’s teens are rediscovering Evening at the Improv.

The Simpsons - The Simpsons have had as much of an impact on me as any one entity, humans included, in the world.  I remember the countdown to the debut of The Simpsons on Fox in 1989, when I was seven, much more vividly than the fall of the Berlin Wall which happened within a month timespan.  History will decide which event freed more people from the shackles of oppression.  The tally, I predict, will be surprisingly close.  For my entire childhood, the undisputed highlight of each week was a new episode of The Simpsons.  When The Simpsons went into syndication, I was awarded an hour of bliss as a reward for every school day I could suffer through.  I used to dream of a perfect world there was a TV channel that played The Simpsons 24 hours a day.  When I got my tonsils out in first grade, I was told I could have any present I wanted - I did not ask for a pony, or for my absent father - I asked for the Bart Simpson doll at the grocery store that would say catch phrases when you pulled his string.  He no longer says ‘Aye Caramba’ or has a shirt, or most of his fingers, and is covered in an inexplicable black grime, but I still own him at nearly 30 years of age.  The Simpsons’ perfect embodiment of the internal forces that govern us all - the idiot, the genius, the rebel, the conformist; the meek, the loud;  the thoughtful and the thoughtless; the good, and the bad - has never been as effectively accomplished by another work of art, let alone another television program, and it was done with a sense of satire, awareness, and the absurd that continues to color my worldview.

I Love Lucy - I watched “I Love Lucy” almost every night in elementary school. It was a ritual - dinner, bath, bedtime snack, watch Lucy. My dad used to measure time in Lucy episodes for my sister and me. “It will take us one Lucy episode to get there, so pipe down.” I think what delighted me most about this program was Lucy’s ability to boldly go where I knew disaster awaited. She never backed down! She went for fame and stardom! All those stupid, fearless plans. Oddly, I only recall a few episodes in their entirety. However, I have to think that the physical comedy bits and ballsy attitude carried over into my performance style today.


  1. I was going to put Norm MacDonald too! But mine was already too long, so I'm glad one of you louts did!!

  2. There were no length restrictions, Bub!

  3. Jake, if there were no length restrictions, why'd you say "Camus, fatal accidents and fart jokes" wasn't long enough?!?!?!?