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Wonder Showzen

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Reply #15 on: April 11, 2006, 09:41:31 PM
is WS getting better with each passing episode?

yes. which is awesome cause it was so great to begin with. still consistently and progressively hilarious.

Sometimes the "Beat Kids" segments are kind of dumb, and sometimes "Clarence" annoys me, but those are my only complaints, really.

interesting, i consider the beat kids and clarence to be two of the show's strongest strong points.. :ponder:

has anyone listened to the [screamin steven j hawkins etc] commentaries on the season 1 dvd? very funny stuff.


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Reply #16 on: April 12, 2006, 04:00:28 PM

interesting, i consider the beat kids and clarence to be two of the show's strongest strong points.. :ponder:

What's so strong about them?  Clarence drags on a bit sometimes and the things said in Beat Kids gets overdone.
"As a matter of fact I only work with the feeling of something magical, something seemingly significant. And to keep it magical I don't want to know the story involved, I just want the hypnotic effect of it somehow seeming significant without knowing why." - Len Lye


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Reply #17 on: April 12, 2006, 06:29:02 PM

interesting, i consider the beat kids and clarence to be two of the show's strongest strong points.. :ponder:

What's so strong about them?† Clarence drags on a bit sometimes and the things said in Beat Kids gets overdone.

i'm always glad to see more of the Beat Kids stuff, they manage to put a different twist on that joke every time (by 'that joke' i mean the joke of having a little child asking adults about all these horrible things.) the one where the boy dresses as Hitler is hilarious. people try not to be rude or angry to children even when they're listening to them say the most horrendous things. it works perfectly for this style of wild satire. honestly, some of the stuff they get people to say and do is amazing.

same with Clarence. the humour in watching adults explode with anger at a puppet sounds like a gimmick that would get old after a while.. but to the contrary, its getting better with each passing episode, as evidenced in the hysterical first episode of season 2 when he gets his eyes ripped off. beyond that, mixing the cartoons, puppet sketches, Q&As and all the other bits with the Beat Kids and Clarence going out and engaging non-actors in a regular environment serves as a really wonderful platform for this sort of satiric comedy.


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Reply #18 on: April 24, 2006, 09:43:06 AM
i dont have mtv2 but sometimes they preview this on mtv...and its a fucking stupid show...i think current snl might even have more comedic merit than this...this falls into the "dork chic" category with adult swim...but hen again i  am not in high school, so, i am not the show's intended audience...


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Reply #19 on: April 24, 2006, 10:04:46 AM
i dont have mtv2 but sometimes they preview this on mtv...and its a fucking stupid show...i think current snl might even have more comedic merit than this...this falls into the "dork chic" category with adult swim...but hen again i† am not in high school, so, i am not the show's intended audience...
i don't think anyone here apart from hedwig is in high school (whatever that has to do with anything). the only demographic i can think of for this show is "mature audience".
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Reply #20 on: April 24, 2006, 12:35:48 PM
i laughed last night for the first time at this show. I spotted david cross as well...looks like i'll be dl'ing a few episodes.
ďThe myth by no means finds its adequate objectification in the spoken word. The structure of the scenes and the visible imagery reveal a deeper wisdom than the poet himself is able to put into words and conceptsĒ Ė Friedrich Nietzsche


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Reply #21 on: April 24, 2006, 03:14:25 PM
I didn't like Wonder Showzen, so you're an idiot if you did.

"As a matter of fact I only work with the feeling of something magical, something seemingly significant. And to keep it magical I don't want to know the story involved, I just want the hypnotic effect of it somehow seeming significant without knowing why." - Len Lye


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Reply #22 on: May 07, 2006, 04:46:58 PM
their last episode about piracy was right up Patience's alley. loved it.


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Reply #23 on: May 11, 2006, 03:53:19 PM
I only watched part of the piracy ep, but I think the jokes were even more rapid-fire than usual.


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Reply #24 on: May 16, 2006, 04:20:06 AM
Wow.† The last episode was all 'Horse Apples.'† It's amazing-- I feel equal parts awe and hatred.† L&C's contempt for middle-america, Mtv, casual fans, and pretty much the world, well, it's something to behold.† These guys are the truly the biggest risk-takers on TV.† I'm anticipating an episode in season 3 where it's just static for 30 mins.


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Reply #25 on: May 16, 2006, 01:47:57 PM
It was pretty good, but the joke wore thin at around the 9 minute mark.
no, that's just when you stopped getting it.
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Reply #26 on: May 23, 2006, 05:45:41 PM
season finale had me crying when the guy was chasing clarence. "but lets discuss the contradictions.."

great ending to season 2. fingers crossed they come back for a third.

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Reply #27 on: May 23, 2006, 08:02:30 PM
season finale had me crying when the guy was chasing clarence. "but lets discuss the contradictions.."

great ending to season 2. fingers crossed they come back for a third.

"ok try to get it in my mouth"

Was there an episode this past week?  My DVR didn't tape it!  Fuck!


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Reply #28 on: May 23, 2006, 08:11:38 PM
Was there an episode this past week?† My DVR didn't tape it!† Fuck!
yeah, the whole ep was a Clarence Special Report.


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Reply #29 on: October 24, 2006, 02:15:36 PM

I prefer not to simultaneously interview two people who work together. Usually the duo will feed off one anotherís energy, often resulting in an amusing but not very informative interview. That nearly happened with Vernon Chatman and John Lee, creators/writers/directors/producers of one of my favorite shows, Wonder Showzen. I was able to throw some real questions at them--and I did get some real answers--but their reality is so bizarre that I wouldnít even believe their truths. The second and possibly last season of Wonder Showzen has just been released on DVD. If you havenít seen this show then you must check it out--I guarantee that it will shock you, disturb you, and most importantly make you laugh.

Daniel Robert Epstein: Where are you guys today?

John Lee: Iím in New York.Vernon Chatman: Iím in LA.

JL:Vernon is a savvy traveler. He moves all around.

VC:Iím the most savvy at any given time.


DRE:Are you guys working on a new season right now or is that still up in the air?

JL:I like to describe Wonder Showzen as dying but not dead. It is at the stage where you call the family and the friends over to come visit it.

VC:If Wonder Showzen was a four year old child it would be getting its wish from the Make a Wish Foundation and its wish would be put me out of my misery. At halftime at a Lakers game, watch Kobe Bryant rip my head off.

JL:I want Kobe Bryant to just gently press my neck, just add weight slowly over the whole halftime show.

VC:Dunk my head.

JL:I think he wants him to do a back flip off a trampoline and dunk his head. Or would it be better just for someone to shoot the head into the bucket and win a million dollars.

VC:Wonder Showzen is a whiny kid and Iím sick of him.

JL:Weíre happier that heís dying.

DRE:[laughs] Well you may get that wish. Are ratings the trouble?

VC:MTV2 doesnít work by ratings.

JL:Yeah, MTV2 is not based on a ratings system. Theyíre not just in it for the money. Theyíre in for the artistic integrity.

DRE:How many people need to watch a show on MTV2 in order for it to stay on the air?

JL:I guess Wonder Showzen needs to do better than the reruns of other shows and I donít think it did. At least 12 more people need to watch every night.

VC:Yeah, that would double our ratings.

DRE:So I guess you guys are not putting together ideas for a new season if you donít know if you are coming back.

JL:No, we arenít.

VC:Weíre working on bigger stuff.

JL:Yeah, weíre probably going to write a movie and weíll work on another TV show once the official dunk happens.

VC:Weíre putting the finishing touches on an assassination plot.

JL:Yeah, an assassination plot, we need to add a few more jokes and stuff. Then itís going to be really good. Youíll hear about it.

VC:Yeah, weíre going to get Martin Sheen on board.

DRE:To kill somebody?

JL:Donít worry about it, youíll hear about it once itís done.

VC:Yeah, yeah.

JL:We donít want to leak anything. We got Bruce Vilanch to really do a lot of punch up on it.

VC:So youíre just going to be crying, but youíre probably going to be laughing.

JL:Most assassinations are horrific. None of them have been performed where theyíre truly just hilarious. Where youíre like, I canít believe his pants fell down and I canít believe that donkey kicked him in the neck. I canít believe that.

DRE:It sounds like a variety special.

JL:Well, thatís what we want, yeah.

VC:Yeah, weíre hoping to make the victim stick around for a full hour before dying.

JL:Weíre trying to make the ultimate most sad and most hilarious version of Americaís Home Videos where one clip takes the entire show.

DRE:Oh wow.

VC:Itís a coup by way of slapstick.

DRE:Can you guys talk about the movie yet?

VC:No, weíre working on the movie, but thatís just one thing. Weíre mainly focused on the assassination plot.

DRE:All for MTV2?

VC:Yes, MTV2 will be taking responsibility for said assassination.

JL:Yeah, yeah.

DRE:Whatís more interesting to you guys, disturbing your audience or making them laugh?

JL:Whatís more interesting is probably more confusing the audience, but whatís more enjoyable is making them laugh.

VC:Yeah, itís a blend of all those things because people do need to be surprised and youíve got to make them laugh.

JL:Theyíre expecting you to try to make them laugh, so when you really try to make them upset or annoyed or confused, that works for ten seconds.

VC:Youíre forced to do extreme things to keep the surprise factor up. Itís not our fault. Itís the goddamn audience. Theyíre too savvy nowadays.

DRE:Ever since the early 90ís people are willing to do something so weird on television that youíre not sure if it is supposed to be funny. You guys have both worked on shows like that and it seems that Wonder Showzen is really the model of that idea.

JL:Yeah, but I think weíre trying to be funny and people say ďWow, thatís just really disturbingĒ and we say, ďYeah we did that on purpose, yeah.Ē [laughs] When really we just thought we were being funny.

VC:ďOh really? Thatís not really funny?Ē Isnít that cool how disturbing we are.JL:I think that reflects poorly on us.

DRE:Sometimes it is funny just to see someone do that on TV.

JL:There are definitely stunts on the show but we always try to make sure that they are not just stunts but there is some comedic premise. As a viewer you get bored after 30 seconds just saying, ďOh theyíre the first to do thatĒ or ďThatís crazy, look what they did.Ē You have to have actual jokes or a concept.

VC:Itís more fun to justify something unjustifiable than just do it.

JL:Yeah, well thatís the definition of an asshole. Itís more fun to be an asshole than not.

DRE:[laughs] Do you guys actually write together in the same room?

JL:Legally we canít be in the same room. Itís not our choice; itís our lawyersí choice.

VC:It helps the sense of alienation and alienating the audience.

JL:Yeah, itís all about modernity and that really clarifies it for us. We have to scream through a little pipe in between the two rooms.

VC:Weíve never laid eyes on each other and weíre afraid that if we do the lovemaking will never stop.

JL:I know Iíve received all these notes via his carrier squirrel. But I think it might be his biographer thatís sending them and not him.

VC:Iíve received many a secret midnight rogering which Iím assuming is from John but I donít want to know.JL:Itís best not to know.

DRE:[laughs] You have a lot of different things going on in the show. Does one of you write one thing and then you guys both rewrite it?

JL:Vernon writes down one letter, I write down the second letter.

VC:I just do the verbs and vowels. Johnís a consonant man.

DRE:Would you guys get bored if we did a straight interview?

JL:This is as straight as it gets.

VC:Youíre going to be the bored one here. John and I are trying to talk. Hey John!

JL:Yes Vernon. Howís your squirrel?


DRE:See, now Iím bored. You guys are right.

JL:See how easy it is?

VC:See, thatís the problem.

DRE:Hey Vernon, you sound so far away, is there any way you can get closer or louder?

VC:I will scream.

JL:Do the cup method.

VC:Howís that?

DRE:Thatís better.

JL:Itís distorted, but itís more punk rock.

VC:Is it sort of like The Strokes? Iíll be mellow and half drunk and talk about my New York City nights.

DRE:Maybe more Radiohead.

VC:Oh yeah? Feel free to harmonize with any of my riffs.

JL:I say go back to the screaming.


DRE:Are you guys always scanning stock footage?

JL:Yeah, we wear these special glasses that stock footage gets pumped into 24 hours day. Weíre always looking for something good.

No, when weíre doing a show, we actually have two people who just deal with finding great stock footage.

VC:Yeah, we use this guy Skip Elsheimer who has this company A/V Geeks who is just this insane collector. Itís just his dream through his whole life to collect educational movies. So heís got 30,000 films in an old abandoned orphanage and we get access to his stuff.

DRE:This sounds real.

VC andJL:It is real.

VC:Yeah, luckily thereís really only one guy who has a dream like that in the world. I think thereís actually only one person allowed to have a dream like that in the world at one time.


VC:We feel very lucky in finding the right freak who is going to go along with us with the very specific objectives to help us.

JL:Yeah heís got a lot of crappy corporate educational movies.

DRE:Were you guys going to do a kidís show satire or was it the result of the budget that the show ended up being the way it is?

JL:Our budget is surprisingly high. I think we are probably one of the more expensive shows on MTV2 or MTV.

DRE:Oh really?

JL:Which is part of the reason; the ratings didnít match the budget.

DRE:I assumed it was not high.

VC:It costs a lot of money to look that cheap.JL:Itís really expensive because there are so many different things going on in the show. There are 20 to 30 segments in each show.

DRE:Yeah, thereís a lot going on. I just assumed you guys were brilliant and were able to make that money stretch.JL:We do make it stretch.

VC:Yeah but itís stretched to our fancy lunches, thatís about it.

JL:Yeah we get the best fried chicken thatís 20 dollars a piece.

DRE:That must be pretty darn good.

JL:Yeah, itís gold dipped.


VC:Itís food that looks cheap but is really expensive. They fry it in gold actually.

DRE:Nobody has enough money to make stuff in gold anymore.

JL &VC:Yeah.

VC:Have you ever had that Goldenschlager fried chicken?

DRE:No, I havenít [laughs].

JL:Well you got to get a show on MTV man. Spend all your money on that and say, ďOh weíre fucked, letís make a crappy kids show. Thatís cheap.Ē

DRE:A lot of people, when talking about their own show, say they make the kind of show they would want to watch.

JL:No, I wouldnít watch shows like this.

VC:I wouldnít watch MTV2.

JL:When youíre making a show, anytime you get bored you try to keep yourself interested which is what ends up coming off as weird.

DRE:So youíre trying to avoid the boredom?

VC:Yeah, you mean during this interview? Desperately trying to avoid being bored.

JL:Yeah, thinking when will it end. Iím stuck here for two more weeks. How can I alter it to be now so that tomorrow when I look at it for the 90th time.

VC:I wonít fucking throw up.

DRE:Iíve spoke to David Cohen who co-created Futurama, which is a show that often does jokes that are so weird theyíre funny. He said that those jokes seem to happen at three or four oíclock in the morning when the writers have been up all night.

VC:Yeah, the writing goes through some weird hours but it is when youíre not trying to work on the show that sometimes the best stuff comes out.

DRE:This is a show where a lot of the things are created on the computer and the editing machine. Do you guys sit there with your editor and say, ďOh, make the victim yelling kid come in againĒ?

VC:The computer does it all. We just put the tapes in the computer.

JL:Yeah thereís now a program just called Wacky Show and you push a button and out comes the show.

VC:We have something called a funnyputer. Shove the tapes in the funnyputer and you turn the crank.

JL:Yeah, you feed the donkey, the donkey chews on the balloon, the balloon flies up which hits the crank, which sets the wheel rolling.

VC:Yeah the whole thing runs on hay and donkey slop.

DRE:If there was a funnyputer, I think thereíd be a lot funnier things on television right now.

JL:Well, none of the people know that thereís a funnyputer.

DRE:Yeah, I guess their punch cards are fucked up.

JL:Probably one of the things we enjoy the most is the editing. Because everythingís done and then you really build it and you see what youíve got and youíve got to make something up. Sometimes something out of nothing. But sometimes weíve got to cut five great jokes because we donít have time to stick them in.

VC:Yeah we sit there and obsess over it. The show is made for the editing room. It is really fun for the editors because thereís so much to do.

JL:We shoot hours of stuff and because our segments are not longer than two and a half minutesÖ Well thatís not really interesting for readers.

DRE:No, that is interesting. Thatís real. Thatís actually something real.

JL:Yeah, but who really cares. I assume most people know that stuff.

DRE:No, no, no, no.

JL:Is that going to stop a girl from committing suicide? If it does, perfect.

VC:Would people rather hear about the care that we take meticulously in the editing room working and cooperating with qualified editors or would they rather hear more about the donkey and the funnyputer?

DRE:I think a nice mixture of both.

Iíve spoken to people like Robert Smigel and Louis CK and they love Wonder Showzen. Do you guys find that a lot of people like that love the show?

JL:Yeah I think itís true. Luckily the show has gotten to the right audience. Since itís on MTV2, we were worried about just the show getting the crappy fans who would not interpret it the correct way. But luckily it got out there to the right people and they like it for all the right reasons. When we were kids, maybe you knew the cool guy who worked at the back of the grocery store who would be like, ďHey kid, check this out.Ē You would watch the tape and go ďThat guy knows whatís going on.Ē

VC:Every type of nerd can unite with the internet until they can at least get to the right people. If youíre a comedy nerd then youíll know.

DRE:Do people at MTV get the show or do they just understand that itís popular?

JL:They donít even get MTV2 the people at MTV.

VC:Yeah. Itís not even in most cable boxes.

JL:Some people over there love the show and have been real supportive and some people just donít get it. The people who love the show, theyíre the smart people so they get promoted out of their jobs and canít help us anymore.

VC:But some people over at MTV love the show but they donít want to tell anybody that. Itís like some queer little secret that they have this comedy show that might be funny on MTV2 so they like to speak about it in hushed tones which doesnít make us feel any better.

DRE:Do you guys like the fact that itís not so popular because then it doesnít get attacked much?

JL:Are you asking, do I like the fact that I still rent an apartment and I donít live in something that I own? Like the rest of the MTV executives in this world.

VC:Itís so much more fun to be attacked.

JL:You love to be attacked [laughs].

VC:Thatís why you see us on the streets being attacked by people with knives and getting punched and kicked.JL:Being attacked is comedy gold.

DRE:Vernon I think you do Clarence.


DRE:Do you hold the camera too?

JL:I hold the camera and Vernon holds the puppet.VC:John holds the camera, I hold the puppet and we both get punched and kicked.JL:Iíve been spat upon.

VC:Iíve been spat upon and it was hippie spit too.

JL:Oh yeah, there was this hippie who hit us with his blanket. That was his superpower. He had this blanket that he could whip and the dust just went right into our nasal cavities.

VC:He was an angry, dirty, evil Gandalf with his magical hippie blanket.

JL:You can just imagine, probably years of just hippie scum and dust he had in that blanket.

VC:His truth and righteousness.

JL:He called it truth and righteousness.

VC:It went right up our noses and I know I got sick for a couple of days.

JL:I think I passed out for a couple days. I think I woke up in New Zealand or something.

DRE:When I first watched Wonder Showzen, I wondered how you got a staff together for it. Then I read that it is all your friends and wives.

JL:Yeah, itís like 70 or 80 of our wives.

VC:If you marry us youíve got a job.

JL:Also vice versa, if you want a job you have to marry us.

We just had friends who were super talented and we loved giving them work. Thatís the best part about having a show. In our band PFFR, there are four of us and itís Alison Levy, Jim Tozzi, Vernon and myself and we all have very crucial roles in the show. Thereís a key group of people that without them the show wouldnít be as good as it is. We wanted to hire people who are not television people but more like idiot savants.

VC:Yeah we can take advantage. We can exploit their idiotness and take advantage of their savants.

DRE:The first time I saw your guysí show as much was a couple of years ago in Paris. I watched it in French.

JL:Oh, what happened? Weíve always wanted to know what they do. What did they do?

DRE:Well, the theme song is still in English, thatís what was weird because I was like, ďWhat the hell is this show with the song?Ē You couldnít tell what the show was. Itís just translated to French, thatís all.

JL:So they dubbed all the characters in French?


VC:So was it adults doing little kid voices or actual little kids dubbing the little kids?

DRE:I think they got little kid voices.

VC:Did they do really funny like comedy voices for each character?

DRE:I think they just imitated the same inflections and thatís as far as I remember.

JL:That sounds great. I heard that guy who does the FrenchÖ Whoís the guy on House?

VC:Hugh Laurie?

JL:Does Chauncey, yeah.

DRE:Really? [laughs] Whatís funny was that Doggy Fizzle Televizzle was also on TV so I got a double dose.

JL:Wow, so they dubbed Snoop?

DRE:No that was all in English.

JL:When the first season of Wonder Showzen came out we dominated television because they were showing Doggy Fizzle Televizzle, Wonder Showzen, South Park and there was also that show you wrote on Vernon, Kenny the Shark.

DRE:Oh you were on that one?

JL:Yeah, Vernon wrote the opening theme song which you can tell if you look at the credits very carefully.VC:Itís a real childrenís show so we donít like to give that out too much.JL:Thatís pretty good, four shows.

DRE:Yeah itís great.

JL:All of that and renting a studio apartment. Thatís pretty good.

VC:And having no success, thatís pretty amazing.

DRE:Did you guys first meet on Doggy Fizzle?

JL:We have known each other from, remember The Pit?

VC:Yeah, juvie.

JL:Yeah, from juvenile. We were in the same phone bank. In juvenile hall thatís how you make money, you work phone banks.

DRE:Then things just gelled with Snoop?

JL:Yeah, we got hooked up with Snoop in juvie. Snoop introduced us and it was a good fit.

DRE:What were they thinking with Doggy Fizzle?

JL:Well, when you make a deal with Americaís biggest pothead, you get pothead quality work.

VC:Heís actually really charismatic.

JL:He can be really funny too.

VC:Heís an interesting personality and you can write something that is funny because he really does have this bizarrely charismatic way about him. We thought of him as the Hugh Hefner of his time where heís just got this really ridiculous persona that you can fuck all the time. But if you show up four hours late and then get your hair done for two and a half hours and then smoke weed for another 45 minutes and then play videogames for another two hours by the time you show up youíve got ten minutes to shoot a bit.


VC:In a cloud of smoke with a George Washington wig on so it just becomes a scramble.

DRE:Originally the pilot for Wonder Showzen was done for USA Network. What did they think when you showed them the pilot?

VC:The shut down comedy.

JL:I think thatís maybe one of our biggest claims to fame. I hope it doesnít remain that way.

DRE:Wait, they what?

JL:They shut down their comedy.

DRE:Oh, I thought you were joking.

JL:Oh no.

VC:They had started a comedy department and they were doing a couple of pilots and making deals. Ours was like the second one to be turned in and [USA Networkís chief executive] Barry Diller watched the first five minutes of our show and said to the president of the network, ďNot only should we not do the show, I donít think we should do comedy.Ē

DRE:Thatís awesome.

JL:So they closed the comedy department and that executive was fired.

DRE:Thatís awesome.

JL:Yeah. Our goal is destroying television.

VC:Weíre coming after you next FX.

DRE:Vernon, how did you first get on The Chris Rock show?

VC:The standard way, I knew some people who worked on it. I did standup and I worked on a couple of shows.

JL:Vernon had had some A-list jokes during that time. Like the chicken mouth joke.

VC:I had a one man show about the problem of being a victim of chicken mouth. That caught Rockís attention and then I also wrote the niggers versus black people bit for him.

JL:It was a one man show he performed it in a port-a-potty every night. Right?


JL:Sold out every night.

DRE:How about you John? I canít seem to find much info on you before Doggy Fizzle.

JL:Yeah. He wants to know about me Vernon. Vernonís my biographer so he can tell you about my world before Doggy Fizzle.

VC:John was in a gymnastics crew. You know, the Blue Angels? Well, John was in the gymnastics version of that. Where youíd fly over and do tumbling and stuff like that. Thatís where Snoop saw him. Snoop was really high one day and he hallucinated John into existence and hired him on the spot.

JL:Yeah, I was originally liquid diamond. Snoop smoked one of his diamond chalices and before he knew it I filled that chalice.
ďDon't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.Ē - Andy Warhol

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