I like two kind of television -- really well written interesting shows that win awards (Lost, Big Love, etc) and really awful bottom of the barrel fare that one should likely be embarrassed by. Luckily, I long ago embraced my love for a good train wreck. When I was a teen my ideal way to spend a teacher in service day was lying on my parent's water bed (bowchicabowwow) with the remote in hand flipping between talk shows. I was a fan of Geraldo, Sally Jesse, Maury and Montel but my greatest admiration was reserved for the king of klansmen marrying pregnant vampire trannies: Mr. Jerry Springer. My preoccupation with chair throwing rednecks continued through college when I sucked my housemates into late night Jerry-a-thons (and where we noticed that one particularly ugly long blue polyester sleeveless dress was practically vying with Steve for costar status as it appeared on guest after guest) but college was an long eight years ago and after graduation I left behind not only mixing rum with powdered iced tea and decorating with tapestries but also my good friend Jerry. A few weeks ago when I discovered that my 19 year old cousin had a disturbing devotion to Springer I decided to revisit his show.
The episode begins with this alert: "Warning: The Jerry Springer Show may contain adult themes or strong language. Parents are cautioned that this program may not be suitable for children." MAY? Seriously Jerry I think you can safely promise an adult hour full of curse words that kiddies should not be allowed to hear. During the 15 or so seconds when this warning is on the screen viewers ears are treated to the comforting lull of a toilet flushing. Just a precursor of the classiness to come.
Now officially warned we open with the familiar chants of "Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!" and a series of scenes from shows of yore. Jerry starts things off with a quote from a 1991 show, "we can even talk without punching each other out." Aw Jer -- you sentimental fool. In '92 people hit each other with chairs, same in '93. in '94 there is punching and women in tapestry patterned vests, in 1995 a food fight, repeated in 96 with someone dumping a 5 gallon bucked of spaghetti on a woman in a bridal gown. 1997 stars a klansman throwing a stool at the audience. In '98 Jerry appears in a neck brace. '99 a fist fight. 2000 a man without legs walking around on his hands. 2001 a man wearing only a refrigerator box and a mop-like wig chasing down a navy blue 70s era car. 2002 a woman ripping off her shirt. 2003 revisits the food fight this time I think chocolate cake is involved. Food being flung again in 2004, and, in a nod to healthy eating trends, we're having salad. Again a bride is faced with an avalanche of food in '05. My god apparently the last 5 years of Jerry have been all food fights all the time -- in 06 we see some dude essentially breakdancing in smashed leftovers. 2007 has a very obese woman with a man's head tattooed on her forearm who is possibly.... eating a mans foot? or maybe kissing his feet? All I know for sure is that there is no food being flung. Annnnnd now it's 08 and the show is starting and Jerry is entering the stage via a fireman's pool while bathed in red light and fog.
THAT WAS JUST THE INTRO.
I took notes on the entire hour long episode with the intention of this post being a sort of Jerry Springer live blog but... it's too much! The problem with live blogging Springer is that, unlike almost everything else in the world, I am incapable of improving the humor level via snide commentary. Springer is my kryptonite. Springer stands alone. I don't believe that the Jerry Springer show is real. I don't even really believe that the Oprah show is real (the Tyra show is probalby also fake but I so badly want to believe...). The thing is once you accept the show as a total fabrication it becomes crazy fucking awesome.
The title of today's episode is "On top of Old Smokey" I will now take a moment to hypothesize on what this might mean. I'm guessing... something about burley bearish gay men who are secretly bottoms? Guess again. The theme is actually, "Living a double life has finally caught up with me." kind of yawn worthy in comparison -- I should get a job making up Springer themes. The first guest is named Smokey so I think it's safe to say that someone is getting on top of his ass before the hour is out. As expected the episode has fighting and pixelated boobs and wigs ripped from heads and, shockingly, only one on top of Olde Smokey joke. But this is not news -- this is standard issue Jerry and no one is really impressed anymore. But I am happy to report that the folks over at Jerry Springer HQ are still, over 10 years in, thinking outside of the polyamorous sumo wrestler amputee box.
So the show starts and Smokey is sitting there telling us about his 2 womens blah blah blah... then the camera pulls away to reveal the most awesome thing ever: a mini-stage in the background with 2 puppets on it -- one a blond girl with huge fuzzy puppet implants and the other an old man complete with mountain man full gray beard. THE JERRY SPRINGER SHOW HAS PUPPETS! Oh man. As Jerry tries to get to the bottom of the story (Smokey apparently lives with both woman, one is his baby mama, etc) the puppets in the background "react" mostly by holding their heads in their hands and shaking in shame -- Smokey makes puppets cry. When Jerry makes a sad attempt at a joke he gets a budump-ba drum sound effect and the puppets guffaw uncontrollably. When we return from the third commercial break Old Man puppet has been replaced with young black girl puppet -- I suspect old man puppet had had enough of these crazy kids and went off to the senior center to have lunch and maybe play a round of bocce with the ladies. Later, when a fight breaks out between the girlfriends the puppets can be seen in the background acting out the entire performance. The puppets are my new favorite TV personalities (take that Holly, Bridget and Kendra). Would that I had the kind of muse that came to me with ideas like "we should get some puppets to reenact the action as it takes place on stage and one of the puppets should probably be a stereotypical Italian dude in a bikini." I predict in 5 years all studio audiences will be replaced with puppets -- Jerry is more than half way there since for some reason there is a dummy in the audience -- he appears to be wearing a Che Guevara shirt (I am not kidding.) and he is never acknowledged.
As the show's main segment comes to a close Smokey claims to "put the mac in macdaddy" and one of the girls attacks him again with her huge blurry boobs. Jerry encourages the girls to force Smokey to choose and Girlfriend #1 agrees but then claims that she didn't understand what Jerry was asking of her. At this admission the audience demands a translator and they bring up some Latino show staff dude and he starts translating to Spanish. Shockingly this 400lb black woman does not speak Spanish. For the remainder of the segment (at least 5 minutes) the translator continues translating everything said on stage including "I don't bleeping speak Spanish!" Then Jerry points out that the puppets are demonstrating the fight between the two girlfriend and Smokey furthers the demo by putting his arms around the puppets and claiming them both as belonging to him.
And that's pretty much it -- Jerry '08 is talk show meets the twilight zone and then somehow takes sharp left at Sesame Street. It is totally worth tivoing. Until next time... Take care of yourselves and each other.
This is entry is cross posted at Burt Reynold's Mustache