Where's the Pazow? (Ep. 81 - HR Pufnstuff)

This Week's Guest: Sam Pancake

For many of us, going home to the place where you grew up can be, at best, stressful. But what if you could recreate just the good parts of your childhood home -- the TV shows that kept you company and helped you shut out the rest of the world?

My guest this week is Sam Pancake, who you may know from Arrested Development, Legally Blond 2, Where the Bears Are, Last Will and Testicle, and the fantastic film You're Killing Me.

Sam grew up on a steady media diet of 70s cheese that had, by the time he moved to LA to be an actor, grown a bit stale. So imagine his shock when he discovered a troupe of actors who'd found a way to remix the schlock of his childhood into something new and absolutely insane.

By the way, Sam's doing a one-man show in LA on Wednesday, October 19 -- it's called Hot Sweet and Sticky at the Cavern Club Theater, and you can get tickets at BrownPaperTickets.com. You can also see him on Season 3 of Transparent, and coming soon on Documentary Now, Bajillion Dollar Properties, and Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life.

This Week's Recommendation

Thanks again to Sam for joining me. You can currently see him on Season 3 of Transparent, and coming soon on Documentary Now, Bajillion Dollar Properties, and Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life. He's also doing his one-man show, Hot Sweet & Sticky, at the Cavern Club Theater in LA on October 19.

My recommendation this week isn't necessarily gay, but it is deeply queer: a 1980s children's safety video called Strong Kids Safe Kids, starring our old friend Henry Winkler. It is completely well-intentioned and sincere, but unfortunately the whole thing is deeply troubling and bizarre due to a combination of weird dialogue, dream-like editing, disastrous advice, and guests that range from John Ritter to Yogi Bear. The result feels more like an art film than a public service announcement.

If I had to guess how this strange project happened, it would be that a group of adults thought that it would be an effective way to talk to children. That's why, for example, Henry Winkler cautions characters from Pac Man not to follow strangers into the woods, and a man in childish overalls sings a song about penises and vulvas.

But in trying to overcome the language barrier between kids and adults, somehow Strong Kids Safe Kids manages to become gibberish to everyone, advising children to make honking sounds at abductors and giving lines about disclosing abuse to Baby Smurf. And this is why grown-up attempts to talk to kids so often go wrong -- our memories of what it was like to be young are often wildly inaccurate. That can turn into something fun when it's a campy adaptation of The Brady Bunch, and everyone's on board with it being a silly tribute. But Strong Kids Safe Kids is exactly the opposite -- sincere and earnest and utterly clueless about what a non-stop train wreck it is from beginning to end.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About


Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0