Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Best of Bizarre The Uncensored Vol 1|
Actors: John Byner, Mike Myers, Dave Broadfoot, Donnelly Rhodes, Julie McLeod
Genres: Comedy, Television
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"It's called the wandering Jew and it'll be here in about 5
Brian T | Canada | 04/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bizarre has aged much more gracefully than one might expect.
Sure, it dates from a time when names like Bella Abzug, Henry Kissinger, Fred Silverman and Tom Snyder were punchlines in and of themselves (though barely, and more often because they simply sounded funny as punchlines), and sure, host/cast leader John Byner was probably given too many opportunities to run through a surprisingly limitd (for his talents) range of impersonations that had been serving him well since the Sullivan show in the 60's (Paul Lynde, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Marlon Brando, Ed Sullivan, Johnny Mathis and John Wayne to precise, and usually in the form of "audition reel" sketches for famous movie and TV characters like The Godfather and Fantasy Island's Herve Villechaize), but having just transferred several season's worth of old Betamax tapes to DVD-r for safe keeping not long before this DVD series started appearing, I can safely say I still found myself chuckling at regular intervals despite knowing much of this material from heart. As such, this review DOES reference some of the sketches contained within this volume, as well as some that appear on other volumes, or not at all *yet")
The show's writers, directors and cast had a remarkable collective ability to spin old jokes into seemingly fresh full length sketches that would usually feature heavy padding via Byner's antics and asides. Distill just about any sketch down to it's raw elements - minus sets, cast, and the usual digressions for time - and you've got jokes that had been done on any number of variety shows in the decade before this one - Bizarre reformulated the brew in large part by added healthy doses of cynicism, sexism and slapstick violence - and of course the naked women (an earlier poster was right in noticing a thankfully mute Ziggy Lorenc as a piece of furniture, but failed to point out she was wearing a bikini like four other "pieces" placed in a slum apartment rented out by crotchety landlord Byner).
The cast list here fails to give credit to the contributions of many bit players who went on to greater things, most notably Canada's own Mike Myers (as Byner's nephew in a show closer in which Byner reacts to a review that claims he stuffs the audience with relatives, only to learn that all but one audience member is family!), future Crow villain Michael Wincott (look closely at the Mexican Nephew seated beside Luba Goy in the legendary Bigot Family sketches) and Matt Craven (as a thieving bit player). Donnelly Rhodes, another Canadian mainstay who had a memorable run on the U.S. sitcom Soap, plays one of Super Dave Osborne's stunt coordinators in a second-season sketch involving a mechanical bull. There were others, including SCTV's Dave Thomas (whose famous 'dueling evangelist's sketch' with Byner is included on one of these DVDs) and a young standup comedian named Howie Mandel, though guest stand-ups were generally more along the lines of Willie Tyler and Lester.
In the first and, to a lesser extent, the second seasons, Bizarre would include sketches filmed outside of Toronto, including an amusing bit (available on Vol. 2) filmed in an L.A. cemetery in which "priest" Redd Foxx sends bad TV shows to their rightful resting places surrounded by a platoon of Let's Make A Deal contestants), a segment where golfer Dick Van Dyke wades into a pond to try and win the PGA championship, and a peculiar filmed segment where a gorilla holds up a grocery store and speeds off in a stolen Mercedes.
When something clicked on Bizarre, viewers could rest assured the idea would be tweaked and repeated on a future episode. Witness the ever-increasing insanity of the Super Dave Osborne stunts, or the "Byner Originals", in which the host would claim to be introducing some new comedy creation - Boy John, Johnny Jackson - that were blatant ripoffs of actual personalities of the day which would prompt producer Bob Einstein to interrupt the sketch, calmly berate Byner, and then suffer a litany of insults in return ("it's called the wandering Jew and it'll be here in about 5 seconds", went one memorable line from a similar sketch). The Byner originals are mostly absent from these DVDs, most likely due to song rights.
The aforementioned Bigot Family proved popular enough to fill several repeat sketches with well-delivered ethnic humor. And although 90's syndication episodes usually excised the 'watermelon' gag that ended each sketch, they're reinstated for these DVD versions. Other popular returning characters included the Reverend T.V. Seewell, who broadcast from the Enzlo Veal Animal Healing Pavilion (the location of which changed from bit to bit), a Yoga For Health instructor with fake stretchy legs who invariably closed his sketch to Devo's Whip It, and a perennially bottom-rated news team (AWN) featuring a sportscaster who only favored black athletes, a drunken film reviewer (Saul Rubinek in the first sketche) kept on a leash, a clueless weatherman (Don Lake) with an atrocious toupee and a lead anchor (Byner) who took exception to his female co-host's bitter digs by punching her out of her chair.
Another great repeat gag was often played on regular Tom Harvey, who would be whisked from a sketch to correct a makeup problem, only to return to the re-shoot and discover doors nailed shut, breakaway furniture and real booze in the glasses. Audience members were often used to supplant "under whelming" actors, or to heap further indignity on Tom Harvey.
And finally, long before Conan O'Brien thought he came up with the idea, the creators of Bizarre used the process of superimposing real lips over cardboard celebrity cutouts to often delirious effect (politicians of the time singing cheesy love ballads, for example)
Bizarre's peak seasons were probably 1982, 1983, 1984, and certain parts of 1985-86, after which other comedy shows on then burgeoning cable networks (and regular broadcast TV) started to steal their thunder, signaling and end to the sketch comedy format as many had known it throughout the 60's and 70's. Nonetheless, these shows represent one of the last bastions of political incorrectness in broadcast comedy, particularly for something shown on a major Canadian network during early prime time hours!
At long last available on DVD, BIZARRE might not provide the hearty laughs it once did to those of us who were there to witness it during its initial run, but there are still many fondly recalled laughs to be savored in these volumes. And since these discs are uncut, we Canadians can finally see the boobies for the first time!"
Classic Canadian produced U.S. Cable show comes to DVD!
Paul J. Mular | San Carlos, CA USA | 12/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
10 Zany, uncut & uncensored episodes.
Cast members include sketch comedy genius Billy Van (The Hilarious House Of Frightenstein), Luba Goy (Royal Canadian Air Farce), and Saul Rubinek. While comedians Howie Mandel and Dave Thomas (SCTV), actors Pat Morita (Happy Days, The Karate Kid Films), and Dick Van Dyke and NFL football coach George Allen makes Guess appearances.
This is a show that was tape live, and the results often take the performers completely away from the written script into what many insiders consider the first unintentional forays into reality television. All this having been said... there's no simple word that sums up this incredible DVD collection: FUNNY! Oh... and here's the final word for you as you get ready to watch the DVD...ENJOY"
I LOVE THIS SERIES!!!!!
William Heinisch | Austin, Texas | 05/21/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Oh what memories. And it stands the test of time. It's every bit as funny now as it was back then. If you have not seen it before, give it a try. It's funnier than anything Saturday Night Live did. Just a true comedy masterpiece."