Synopsis by Bruce Eder
The Uncle Floyd Show has been running on and off for over a quarter of a century on New Jersey television -- somewhere on New Jersey television, whether on public access cable TV, low-power UHF, or what sometimes seemed to viewers in New York City to be Channel 68.3. However it got to us, it was the last gasp of a brand of programming, ostensibly aimed at kids but actually much more appealing to their older siblings and even to parents, in the same manner as the Warner Bros. cartoons of the 1940s. Floyd Vivino, an actor, pianist, singer, comic, and general low-rent performing genius (who's been glimpsed in feature films such as Good Morning, Vietnam) is the host, playing off his puppet sidekick Oogie and an array of satiric and generally nutsy cast members: wickedly funny straight man Scott Gordon, supported by Netto, Mugsy, and Looney Skip Rooney (who has lately been a DJ, according to one source). Among the show's writers and participants in the 1970s were future Saturday Night Live writer Tony Desena, and their hundreds of musical guests over the years included the Ramones before they were respectable and Cyndi Lauper before she turned serious or did videos. The show's set was a virtually nonexistent, undressed studio with a desk and a prop or two (though the most expensive items onscreen were usually Floyd's hat and coat). Typical content were sketches satirizing aspects of mainstream television, such as "Julia Stepchild" and "Joe Frankfurter," and wonderful send-ups of personalities like Tom Carvel. The gags were, in the tradition of Jay Ward, so bad they were funny, and that goes double for the puns. (A typical example would be when Mugsy comes running onto the set yelling, in a panic, and asks Floyd if he heard about the explosion at the boarding house. Floyd says no and asks what happened, and Mugsy replies, "The roomers were flying everywhere!") Some of the parodies were viciously on target; it's amazing that local New York variety show host Joe Franklin was the only one who ever threatened to sue (over "Joe Frankfurter"), and Floyd was always good for an enjoyable song at the piano. In fact, watching the show over time, one got the beginnings of a good education in a century of popular music as well as old-style comedy.