From the monthly archives:

November 2015

Update: It’s been 6 years ago to the day since Ken Ober shuffled unexpectedly off this mortal coil. It’s not quite Thursday yet, but I’m going to throw it back early and in his honor tonight. I’ve also updated the video with a recently unearthed episode of the actual show which features what was always my all time favorite category: Sing along with Colin.

Kenny Wasn’t Like The Other Kids. TV Mattered, Nothing Else Did.
Girls Said Yes But He Said No. Now He’s Got His Own Game Show.
Remote Control!
And Now It’s His Basement, His Rules, His Game Show.
The Quizmaster Of 72 Whooping Cough Lane – Ken Ober!

The summer of 1988 was a tough one for your old friend, Dave. Being 13 years old is all kinds of awkward all by itself, but I had just moved to small town U.S.A. from Canada – a fate I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. My social life that summer consisted of a remedial Algebra 1 class at Minuteman Tech and watching MTV for hours on end. There was no such thing as reality television in the late 80s, and with the exception of a handful of game shows they actually played music videos. One of those videos was Never Gonna Give You Up. One of those game shows was Remote Control.

Gettin’ Silly Behind the Scenes of Remote Control

I will always remember Ken Ober and Remote Control fondly because they made me smile during a brief adolescent era when I really needed it. Today I’ll tell you that going to 4 different high schools is character-building, but at the time I wanted to swallow antifreeze and follow Heather O’Rourke into the sweet hereafter. Pre-SNL wiseacres Colin Quinn and Adam Sandler helped make up the cast of hilarious recurring characters and the whole mess was held together by Ober’s quick-off-the-draw and bone dry humor at the podium as the show’s seemingly reluctant host.

“Ken Ober was one of the sharpest, quickest, sweetest guys I ever met. He was always a great friend and I will miss him very much.” – Adam Sandler


“Kenny Ober was and always will be the quickest wit in the room. As the star and host of Remote Control, he was a welcoming ringmaster who helped to kickstart the careers of numerous talents, including Adam Sandler, Colin Quinn and myself. He will be remembered always by each of his friends not only for his massive talent but for his true, deep and enduring friendship.” – Dennis Leary

Ken’s post-MTV production career has already been well-documented in various pop obituaries. Most notable was his work on one of my all time favorites, Tough Crowd. He was a long time friend and collaborator of Mr. Quinn’s, and Colin must be having a very bad day today. And that was just written by someone whose molar just split in two. Ober also had film roles in a forgettable Lethal Weapon spoof (although next to today’s send-ups like Disaster Movie it comes off like Gone With the Wind) and the forever-awesome Who’s the Man?

The official word right now is “found dead in his home at age 52,” after experiencing “flu-like symptoms”. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Thanks for the laughs, Ken. You’ll be remembered far beyond the reruns.


An Ode to Ed Grimley

by Dave on November 9, 2015

in ,Television

Ed Grimley - Martin ShortIt’s safe to say that as we ramp up to the 2016 presidential elections most entertainment bloggers aren’t huuuuge (see what I did there?) fans of Donald Trump. As a result, remotely objective reviews or commentary on his recent SNL hosting stint are non-existent. In terms of the writing and humor-levels, however, I’m not afraid to say that The Donald’s first appearance since 2004 was pound-for-pound a much funnier episode than the season premiere (Miley Cyrus) and maybe even – although I absolutely love her – Amy Schumer’s. Her monologue, though, was one for the ages. Don’t get me wrong, this is a Schumer-friendly zone.

It’s no surprise then, that the day-after-breakdowns have focused almost solely on Larry David’s contributions, that Trump is a racist clown, that we don’t like Trump, that I know I’m supposed to be re-capping SNL but don’t vote for Trump… and have almost completely ignored the return of one of SNL and SCTV’s greatest characters of all time – One Mr. Ed Grimley. I’m here to fix that. Or just to ruminate like a psychotic Canadian comedy nerd while nobody pays attention.

Drake’s recent Hotline Bling video doesn’t need much help in the ridicule department from the pantheon of popular culture. It was quick meme material almost as soon as it was released a couple of weeks ago. Still, SNL’s call to Martin Short to come down and recreate one of his most memorable characters was one of their most inspired moments in recent memory. If you had better things to do at midnight on a Saturday, and I sincerely hope you did, have a look at his deliciously wonderful surprise appearance above – and then take a gander at some of Ed’s finest historical moments below. The lackluster audience reaction when he appeared on the live show leads me to believe we’re all in desperate need of a reminder, I must say.

Jesse Spends 9 Hours With Ed

The Reverend gets a long lesson on the ins and outs of Wheel of Fortune and Dolly Parton during this episode from October 20, 1984.

Ed Grimley for the Kids

Billy Crystal and Martin Short educate children on the finer points of laundry in this 80’s episode of Sesame Street.

The Fella Who Couldn’t Wait for Christmas

Before being hired as an established ringer – alongside Crystal, Christopher Guest, Jim Belushi, Harry Shearer and others – to help save SNL from cancellation after Lorne Michaels left the show right before its 10th season, Martin Short developed this strange character regularly on Canada’s SCTV. “Thank you, Bing.”

Incidentally I used to gel my hair, hike my pants up and do my fairly decent (I must say) imitation of Ed at my parent’s dinner parties. I also did it for the whole of my 8th grade class at Rideau Valley Middle School and had my teacher, Mr. Walsworth, in similar stitches. What did the rest of the class think? Let’s just say it’s a good thing I’ve always been a big lad. Adolescent embarrassments aside – it’s good to see you back, Ed.