You've already witnessed the amazing Joe Piscopo Halloween Party, which surely changed your life forever (and if it didn't, go read about it again until we're on the same page), but did you know he also had another comedy special on HBO back in 1984? Unlike his 1987 special, this one wasn't focused on Halloween, but it did feature Joe's parody of Michael Jackson's Thriller. You see, one of the impersonations Joe was known for was Jerry Lewis, so he decided to see what Thriller would be like if it starred Jerry instead of Michael. Sounds scary, right? Believe me, it is.
Since I know you simply can't get enough Piscopo this Halloween, here's a full breakdown of Joe Piscopo's Thriller video:
It all starts off with Joe Piscopo walking down the street after a gig with Jan Hooks (one hell of a funny lady from SNL's glory days) as she asks him about who he really is. Joe turns to her and explains that he's "not like other guys" and then we see the clouds in the sky part to reveal a full moon. Joe starts clutching his side and grunting in pain while Jan looks on in total bewilderment. If I saw somebody acting like this, I'd think they were having a stroke and would probably rush to get that person some medical attention... but nope, she just watches the show.
In classic M.J. style, he suddenly turns to Jan with a new hairdo and glasses and says "Go away!" to which she responds with constant screaming. He didn't tell you to stand there and scream, Jan, he said to go away. So his transformation into Jerry Lewis begins as his glasses vanish for some unknown reason, his jacket and pants shrink to two sizes too small for him, and his feet turn inwards as his white socks are revealed.
He puffs out his face as he makes some more random grunts 'n moans while Jan continues to scream and then his two front teeth finally pop down. The transformation is now complete and Joe Piscopo has become Jerry Lewis. He lets out his own howl, and while it's not as loud as the Michael Jackson werewolf, it is horrifying in its own special way.
I should note that he now has a different pair of glasses on now too. For such a short video, you'd think they'd be able to prevent continuity goofs like this, but I suppose that's asking too much considering this is just a parody.
Jan finally decides to make a run for it and heads into the woods, but Jerry follows right after her, naturally tripping over his own feet along the way. Then, rather than have Jerry attack her in the woods and cut to the movie theater scene just before they show the gory details like they did in Thriller, they cut straight to the graveyard scene. Jan runs right past the graveyard and Jerry follows suit as he shouts, "Lady, wait! Wait!"
So we start seeing zombies rising up from the graves as the classic Vincent Price rap is performed by Jerry Lewis. As you can imagine it's not nearly as eerie as the original, yet it's somehow far more terrifying to hear Jerry's lines like, "Creatures crawl in search of blood to terrorize your neighborhood, AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" and "For no mere mortal can resist, the king of comedy's fatal shtick."
Still not scared? What if I told you in this version of Thriller, all of the zombies are Jerry Lewis doppelgangers as well. Yeah, that's what I thought... you're starting to feel that unease creeping in, and you're not even watching The Nutty Professor.
Soon we find Jan and Joe (he's briefly turned back to normal) in a familiar scene where the zombies are circling around them and closing in while mumbling things like "Oy!" They're back to back as the zombies draw in closer, and when Jan turns around, she sees that Joe has turned back into Jerry once more. They recreate the classic dolly zoom on Jan to show how lost she's feeling at the moment (we're right there with you, Jan) and then the music starts to play:
They couldn't use the actual Thriller music, but it still sounds close enough and serves its purpose. The dancing, however... wow. Jerry Lewis' character was always known as a clumsy buffoon and Joe certainly makes it shine through in these dance moves as you can see.
By the end of the dance number, they're honestly just flailing around and I'm sure they all had to ice their knees after that shoot since they had 'em turned inwards for most of the filming. Oh wait, they're zombies... they don't need ice... they need BLOOD!
Jan runs into that same old spooky house from Thriller and we see each Jerry zombie break his way in. Jerry (Joe) even breaks through the door and tosses the chair aside to make his way into the room where Jan is hiding out. Gotta at least give him points for paying attention to some of the little details like that to make it feel like the original Thriller.
Completely surrounded and with no place to go, all Jan can do is face her fears by staring Jerry Lewis directly in the eyes. All of a sudden, she's back at Joe's home as he says, "What's the problem? Come on, I'll take you home." They start walking out arm-in-arm, when Joe suddenly turns to the camera and...
"HA HAAAAAAAA! HA HAAAAA HAAAAAAAAA!"
Those two teeth will forever remain daggers stabbing into my brain whenever I close my eyes. So as you can see, Thriller may have been scary, but it's even scarier when in the hands of Joe Piscopo. And now, for your viewing pleasure, here's the full video of Joe Piscopo's Thriller:
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