Yes, that’s right, Pee-wee Herman, star of television, theatre and the silver screen, was going to make an appearance on The Tonight Show. I was overcome with joy, ecstatic that I had happened to check Conan O’Brien out and was rewarded with Pee-wee Herman. How lucky was that?
If you haven’t already figured it out, I am a big fan of the P-man. I have been ever since my good friend Leon Rosko loaned me his tape of the Pee-wee Herman Show at The Roxy Theatre in L.A., where HBO filmed and aired it as a special on September 11, 1981.
The show featured the writing and acting of Groundlings alumni Phil Hartman and John Paragon, who would both reprise their characters on Pee-wee's Playhouse. The Pee-wee Herman Show played for five sellout months at The Roxy. Here is the cast:
• Pee-wee Herman - Paul Reubens
• Mailman Mike - John Moody
• Jambi - John Paragon
• Hammy - Tito Larriva
• Mr. & Mrs. Jelly Donut - Brian Seff, Monica Ganas
• Captain Carl - Phil Hartman
• Miss Yvonne - Lynne Marie Stewart
• Joan - Joan Leizman
• Hermit Hattie - Edie McClurg
There are many memorable moments, such as Pee-wee hypnotizing Joan and making her take her dress off. Or when he performs a musical tribute to Sly Stone with his neighbors, the Jelly Donuts. Of course any of Pee-wee’s scenes with the late, great Phil Hartman were outstanding, with Hartman portraying the lovesick Captain Carl.
Today I own a much-treasured copy of this performance on DVD.
As the stage performance gained further popularity, Pee-wee took to the big screen with Pee-wee's Big Adventure in 1985, toning down the adult innuendo for the appeal of children. This paved the way for Pee-wee's Playhouse, an Emmy Award winning children's series that ran on CBS from 1986-1991. Another film, Big Top Pee-wee, was also released in 1988.
Pee-wee's Playhouse was a children's television program starring the child-like Pee-wee Herman. The show, developed from the popular stage show and HBO special, was similar in style but featured less "adult" humor. The 5 seasons ran from September 13, 1986 – November 10. 1990.
Jambi, Captain Carl, Miss Yvonne joined Pee-wee in his television “Playhouse”. A young Laurence Fishbourne added to the madness as the jheri-curlrd Cowboy Curtis. Jimmy Smits and Sandra Bernhard both made cameo appearance during the show’s run.
I have the first two seasons of Pee-wee’s Playhouse on DVD.
It was announced October 6th that “The Pee-wee Herman Show” will begin a limited engagement starting January 12, 2010, at a new venue— Club Nokia @ LA Live. This theatrical production is for grown-ups and is appropriate for ages 16 to 106.
Pee-Wee is back!
Please do yourself a favor and check out these YouTube links to Pee-wee. The one from The Tonight Show is 10 minutes long and stops and starts a bit at the beginning, but is well worth the early distraction. Especially when Pee-wee and Conan enact the very first Thanksgiving dinner.
Pee-Wee and Captain Carl
Pee-Wee and the Jelly Donuts
Pee-wee on The Tonight Show
If you do get a chance to check these out, please leave a comment and let me know what you think. Okay, I have to get this posted so I can get downstairs and see if I can find my Pee-wee Herman doll. I am serious. Until next time…from the booth.