Fridays: The 80’s Ronny Reagan Horror Show
FRIDAYS was ABC’s attempt at their own SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, and on a few accounts, they sometimes succeeded with edgy, hilarious comedy and some fantastic musical guests like The Clash and Devo. Although the show too often revolved around cheap “We’re so high” humor, I watched it faithfully due to Michael Richard’s panopoly of weirdos, especially his “Battle Boy” character, a youth who actually gave his plastic soldiers hell by mangling and torching them as he mimicked their screams. I thought this was such a brilliant de-construction of war toy play that I had tears rolling down my face and me on the floor — my mom actually told me to “calm down.” FRIDAYS also introduced us to Larry David and Mark Blankfield, who was the sole “breakout” star of the period. Along with that, the show featured many of Andy Kaufman’s jaw-dropping appearances that surpassed his SNL antics.
FRIDAYS was even more “80’s” than SNL, and nothing better placed the show into the Pastel Decade than this ambitious musical sketch from December of 1980 that tributed THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (whose stage success in Los Angeles led to the cult film). As I had just started attending the midnight RHPS showings, I was instantly entranced by the pitch perfect homage, and only vaguely aware of the sketch’s political implications. In terms of predicting the end of the 70’s counterculture and coming exact tenor of the Reaganite decade (with John Roarke as the greatest Ronnie impersonater ever) this is a visionary piece of satire. Albeit a depressing one when the era’s “Greed Is Good” mythos began to conquer all.
FRIDAYS ran this sketch only one time since RHPS producer Lou Adler threatened to sue; a pity since this heartfelt tribute got a standing ovation from the audience and only complements the original film. Thanks to the magic of youtube, revel in this two-part very rare and clever sketch that also features Larry David as a singing Nixon.
Ah, Friday night TV lights…