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Conspiracy Theory Rock
August 12, 2006 2:35 PM   Subscribe

Media-opoly from Saturday Night Live's TV Funhouse skit created by Robert Smigel broadcast in 1998 on NBC, a subsidiary of GE. Not broadcast since, apparently.
posted by riotgrrl69 (25 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
CBS sold Westinghouse in 1999.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 2:38 PM on August 12, 2006


this cartoon appeared in the original March broadcast of the SNL episode, but was cut from the summer rerun. SNL producer Lorne Michaels told the New York Daily News he "didn't think it worked comedically." In an interview, Harry Shearer said "The truth is that Lorne wanted to continue working at 30 Rock."
posted by riotgrrl69 at 2:45 PM on August 12, 2006


ITS FUNNY CAUSE ITS TRUE !
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 2:45 PM on August 12, 2006


Another "conspiracy" involving NBC and parent company, and nuclear reactor manufacturer GE.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:53 PM on August 12, 2006


I'll agree with Lorne that it actually didn't work comedically. That said, everything it claims is true: all of it.
posted by psmealey at 3:08 PM on August 12, 2006


Bah, that sort of humor belongs on Comedy Central, not on the big 3.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:12 PM on August 12, 2006


Bah, that sort of humor belongs on Comedy Central, not on the big 3.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:12 PM PST on August 12 [+] [!] [↑] No other comments.


Why doesn't "that sort of humor" belong on network television that more people can watch, as opposed to a cable channel that fewer (still lots of people, of course) are able to see? This speaking as someone who grew up without cable tv, who never really got into that particular cultural mainstream. But seriously, my question still stands: why shouldn't "the big 3" have content like this? I personally thought it was (bitterly) funny, and I don't see why it shouldn't be shown on whatever damn network will air it.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 3:17 PM on August 12, 2006


While it's amazingly hilarious it's almost too freaky and stunning to laugh at.

And the studio audience only laughed once, which more explain--even more than corporate censorship-- why it never played again.
posted by PeteNicely at 3:17 PM on August 12, 2006


You've got to be kidding me. If SNL cut stuff from their repeats that wasn't funny, they could fit the show in a commercial break.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 3:28 PM on August 12, 2006


Sorry, perhaps I was being too cynical there. It seems like the only place you can find "truth" today is in satire. It made me think of John Stewarts interview on CNN where he was attacked for mixing humor with news.
Attn: NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, et al, stop hurting America. That is all.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:50 PM on August 12, 2006



Love the You Tube comment: "This is Marxist bullshit".

Most likely a confused soul who probably felt too embarrassed to say "but, the news media is liberal".
posted by wfc123 at 4:10 PM on August 12, 2006


It's not really that funny. It's more ballsy.
posted by delmoi at 4:13 PM on August 12, 2006


Speaking as a former employee of CNBC, Fox News and a CBS o&o, I can safely say that "parody" barely scratches the surface.
posted by wfc123 at 4:14 PM on August 12, 2006


I don't get the Lorne Michaels/Marion Berry bit at the end. If it had a better ending, this could have really worked well as a piece. Instead, it's just another quick but powerful breakthrough on the screen, much like Pekar on Letterman.
posted by allen.spaulding at 4:18 PM on August 12, 2006


It's not funny. From the perspective of comedy design, it's focusing too much on trying to look like a parody of school house rock. This is my argument with a lot of the TV Funhouse crap. It's very full of itself. "Look what we can do" kinda attitude which loses sight of the fact it's supposed to be funny while it does it. The comic timing is horrible. The reason why the audience laughs at the Stand By moment in the cartoon is cuz that's the only joke that gets the comic timing right. All the other stuff is going too fast for the audience to catch it. There's no logical wind up to what's being said. In many cases, because it's not TRYING to be funny. It's trying to squeeze in as many "facts" as it can in two and a half minutes. Then it makes fun of its own "facts." In fact this isn't so much a burn on corporate america as it is a burn on conspiracy theorists.

Come to think of it, I don't think this bit knows what it wants to make fun of. It's a scattergun technique of humor. Attack everything and maybe the audience will find something that's funny. Lorne Michaels may have pulled it for reasons other than it being funny, but the fact it's not funny is more than enough reason to dump it. Of course, as someone has pointed out earlier, if he really edited the content of SNL due to some lack of humor, there wouldn't be a show. The few times I've tuned in to SNL in recent years, I remember laughing maybe once or twice per show. It's a sad shadow of its former self. The only reason SNL still exists is because there's nothing to replace it.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:35 PM on August 12, 2006


And the studio audience only laughed once, which more explain--even more than corporate censorship-- why it never played again.

"Get a coffee? Now? B-but Mr. Micheals, the TV Funhouse cartoon's about to come on, who'll man the APPLAUSE sign?"

"Don't worry about it Paulie. If I can run this show, surely I'm capable of flicking a switch, right? Now go get yourself a cup o' joe..."

Made me laugh AND managed to raise my contempt for Lorne Micheals to a dizzying new high!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:44 PM on August 12, 2006


The reason why the audience laughs at the Stand By moment in the cartoon is cuz that's the only joke that gets the comic timing right.

No, it's because it's the only joke. The rest of it is satire.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 5:23 PM on August 12, 2006


"The rest of it is satire."

As George Carlin once said, "If they laugh, you're a comedian. If they don't laugh, you're a fuckin' performance artist." However, comparing SNL to performance art is insulting to the Laurie Anderson clones.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:21 PM on August 12, 2006


It's true enough, sure. But lets face it, that was the least funny TV Funhouse sketch I've personally ever seen. Just because it's true, and important, doesn't make it any funnier.

So if I was Lorne, and I was basing my decision only on what was funny and what wasn't, I'd have cut it too. Hell even if most SNL sketches aren't funny, you can at least go by audience reaction, and even the usual unfunny sketch gets 5x the chuckles then that.
posted by Jezztek at 8:20 PM on August 12, 2006


I think this is more where the money is if you're looking for TV Funhouse hitting the bullseye in both concept and execution.
posted by StopMakingSense at 11:28 PM on August 12, 2006


Lorne Michaels is a pussy.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 11:33 PM on August 12, 2006


stop making sense, that was awesome
posted by das_2099 at 7:04 AM on August 14, 2006


> The only reason SNL still exists is because there's nothing to replace it.

I dunno; I'm pretty satisfied with MadTV, actually. It's got a couple of recurring sketches I'm not real impressed with (neighborhood watch being top of the list), but all in all, I laugh at it a lot more than I've laughed at SNL in 10 years ... and it's 11 seasons on, now.
posted by baylink at 5:14 PM on August 14, 2006


Under "Well, if anyone cares...."

In 1992, I worked on a film called "Conspiracy Rock" with a comedy troupe at Boston's Emerson College. It was also a parody of Schoolhouse Rock (specifically, the "Noun" song), but was about the Kennedy Assassination:

Conspiracy's a special word / it's everything you never heard,
I find it highly unlikely / to believe the single gun theory


And so on. I did the animation and character/set design, while others helped me cut out the drawings so we could do rudimentary cel-shading and the like. It was shot on 16mm and took about a week, with a wonderful soundtrack recorded by members of the troupe (and written by them, obviously).

In 1993, a few of the members sold a copy of this film to Comedy Central for one year. They ran it extensively during the 30th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination. We were paid roughly $1,300 for the use of it. It got a little press. (Just a little.)

I took a plane to Dallas in '63 / gonna see a speech by John F. Kennedy
The motorcade came rolling by / and bullets and gunsmoke started to fly
I took a plane to Dallas in '63


I went into video games and later computers, but my friends stayed in the entertainment business (some write for the Daily Show or work at G4 these days) and they put that little film at the end of a demo reel. They definitely sent it to Saturday Night Live in the middle of the 1990s, where it was seen by enough people to be given a specific rejection. (Among them, Al Franken).

Finally, it got a weird reprisal when it played at Sundance in 2000. Article here:

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117759857?categoryid=13&cs=1

When I found out that SNL did a parody of Schoolhouse Rock called "Conspiracy Rock", just a few years after the submission of the film, I always went "huh".

Like I said, under "If anyone cares..."
posted by jscott at 3:54 PM on August 15, 2006 [2 favorites]


I care.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 4:41 PM on August 16, 2006


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