Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Pee-Wee Herman Show (on Broadway)

Some things are just too beautiful to cheapen with words... but I will try.

Becca and I sat and watched this special last week and were just overcome with love for it. One of my favorite things ever is the original Pee-Wee Herman Show comedy special that aired on HBO in 1981. They still show it on their various channels, and I still catch it every so often, and it always makes me laugh. It's a little rougher and more adult than either of Pee-Wee's movies (the great Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and the lesser Big Top Pee-Wee) or the seminal Pee-Wee's Playhouse, one of the Saturday morning shows that I watched the longest (by 1990 I'd given up pretty much every other Saturday show but that and Muppet Babies).

What we have here is a return to Pee-Wee's origins, but also a celebration of the Playhouse and its rich cast of puppets. This is a revival of that original comedy show, adult humor and all, but with a lot more gags and a lot of updating and it all takes place in the TV version of the Playhouse. So there are Conky and Pterri and Globey and Magic Screen and Clockey and Randy and the King of Cartoons and others, and new additions like ShamWow (hilarious!). But it's also the same basic show as it originally was (this is a revival, after all), with the same basic plot (Pee-Wee wants to use his wish to fly, the love story is still intact--though now it's Cowboy Curtis and not Captain Carl who pines after Miss Yvonne) but new set-ups (the Playhouse is being wired for the internet). So you do kind of know where the whole thing will end, but there is so much new material here that it feels brand new.

I think this was especially made for my generation; people who grew up watching Pee-Wee's Playhouse (there's even a Penny cartoon) but who know the stage show (yes, he still uses the Mr. Bungle film) and the adult irreverence that was originally a large part of the character.

And some of the original cast are back: Lynne Marie Stewart (Miss Yvonne), John Moody (Mailman Mike), and the irreplaceable John Paragon as Jambi (and Pterri). Phil LaMarr is especially welcome as Cowboy Curtis.

This is a wonderful show; if you haven't seen the HBO special and you were a fan, you really should. Becca was nostalgic as hell (she said she teared up a little on first seeing the Playhouse set), and I laughed my ass off from start to finish.

Paul Reubens, you continue to be a genius.


Devilham said...

My wife almost up and murdered me because the night this aired on HBO, I had just cancelled our subscription (money is getting TIGHT!), it stinks to do, but we were paying almost $200 a month for cable...ugh. Anyways, she's (my wife that is) right there with you, a lifelong fan as well.

Kal said...

I have a special love for Pee Wee and his show. I was always the TV and movie geek in my University crowd and it was something I introduced to the 'dent boys' (the crew of dentistry students that I hung with) that make me instantly cool to them. Noon and Saturday was when we met up at their house on frat row, enjoyed some ganga and laughed our asses off at Pee Wee and his adventures. I remember when he got busted for the 'incident' that I had none of that Shaudenfreud that you get when any celeb takes a fall. I figured for all the joy Paul Reubans gave me that he was allowed one theatre wank without judgement.

Nathan said...

My wife actually saw this on Broadway. I was supposed to go as well, but there was some kind of problem with my work schedule. I'm sure I'll watch it on TV eventually, but that's not quite the same.