Monday, July 14, 2014

The Uncle Floyd Show and the Ramones

Other than CBGBs, the Ramones in the early years were promoted on The Uncle Floyd Show, a New Jersey VHF improv comedy show masquerading as a kids show.
Being ten years old, I probably didn't quite understand what I was watching. But from 1974 to 1998, Vivino used the kids' show format (and the relative freedom of broadcasting on the tiniest of independent stations) to zap real outsider art - a stew of outdated song and dance, vaudeville and cutting edge performance pieces - to the living rooms of the masses. Kid-friendly pop culture spoofs (Bruce Stringbean, John Cougar Melonhead) would appear alongside actual recording artist David Johansen, trying to figure his shit out between The New York Dolls and Buster Poindexter. And while the model of "gonzo fake kids' show" had sort of been trail-blazed by Soupy Sales and Ernie Kovacs, Floyd belonged to Gen Xers living in New York and New Jersey. We tuned in not for polish, or even professionalism, but because it was unpredictable, and it was raw, and mostly because it was ours. It aired locally and no one else in the world had it. There was a hip cachet to Uncle Floyd's underground status, and emerging East Coast acts like Cyndi Lauper, Dramarama and a young Bon Jovi were frequent guests. The show was a favorite of then-NYC resident John Lennon, who turned his friend David Bowie onto the program. You probably know or have come across poseurs wearing Ramones T-shirts, but The Ramones wore Uncle Floyd T-Shirts.
Like the Ramones, that show never got big ratings (improv is mostly miss than hit at best--but when it hit it was funny), but like the Ramones that show had a lot of influence (despite the size of his audience).

The passing of Tommy Ramone, may he RIP, reminds me of those years.  Still, despite all of that, Uncle Floyd is still out there plugging away.

The Uncle Floyd Show 1974 through 1998

 Uncle Floyd Vivino is still out there, doing gigs in and around New Jersey, Florida, and in Reno.  You can still book him for a reception!  Here is his Facebook page.

Uncle Floyd and Oogie

Looney Skip Rooney

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