Joe Piscopo. He's not exactly the first guy you'd associate with Halloween. We know him from back in his Saturday Night Live days impersonating various celebrities alongside Eddie Murphy, and from his film appearances such as Johnny Dangerously and the horror-comedy Dead Heat that we featured here on I-Mockery a few years back. While his career has generally become the subject of much derision, there's this one old comedy special of his that most people never even saw, and I believe that's something that needs to change immediately.
The Joe Piscopo Halloween Party is a 1987 comedy special that aired live on HBO from the University of Los Angeles. It featured some pre-taped segments, Joe performing in a variety of skits and musical acts on stage, and students from the school performing their own Halloween skits. I saw this special when I was younger and thought it was lost forever in the annals of history, but somebody actually taped it. So now, for better or worse, you get to experience it.
It all begins with a bunch of excited UCLA students in costume on the stage introducing Joe Piscopo's Halloween Party. Then we cut to some motion graphics showing other comedians who've appeared in HBO comedy specials in the past such as Martin Mull, Howie Long, Billy Crystal, Martin Short, Whoopi Goldberg, George Carlin and finally... Joe Piscopo.
Throughout the special, it constantly cuts back to two kids, one dressed as a princess and one wearing an american flag bandana, who are out trick-or-treating on Halloween. The catch is, every house they stop at has one of Joe Piscopo's many characters residing inside it. When they walk up to the first house, they come face to face with Python Piscopo, his loud-mouthed wrestling character that some of you may remember from a series of Miller Lite commercials back in the eighties.
Python Piscopo doesn't want to disappoint the kids, so he starts looking through his trick-or-treat sack and pulls out some random items including a championship wrestling belt, Hulk Hogan's hair and even the head of Fabulous Moolah!
Well "Uncle Python" (as he refers to himself when in the presence of children) decides that none of those treats are nearly good enough for the kids, so he improvises by tearing off the arm of his housemate and giving it to the kids. They run away screaming in terror as Python shouts "Happy Halloween from Python!" and gives us a big muscle flex, clearly proud of the fine work he's done on this Halloween.
And on that note, the Joe Piscopo Halloween party roars into action as Joe Piscopo rides onto the stage at UCLA on his motorcycle and gives the audience a big thumbs up. Joe apparently thinks he's the Fonz.
After wishing UCLA a happy Halloween, Joe goes straight into his act with a performance of "Rappin' White Boy". He walks over to some turntables, puts on a hat and zips up a black jacket and starts acting like he's a member of Run-DMC as he does some 80s style scratchin'. After a few lines, he calls out "Hey white boy!" as he unzips his jacket. Turns out it's a reversible jacket, with the other side looking more like a yellow polo shirt. Joe then becomes a preppy white boy making his best attempt at rapping. "I'm a happening kind of guy, don't you know, and just because I'm white, I can still rap negro."
It goes on for a little while longer and then Joe hops out of character and does the typical performer spiel about how there's no place he'd rather hold this comedy special than at UCLA. The man knew how to pander to an inebriated college crowd, I'll give him that. He also reminds people that they are being watched live on TV across america by screaming "WE ARE LIVE! WE ARE LIIIIIIIVE!" as loud as he can into the mic.
Joe then announces that the Joe Piscopo Halloween Party talent contest is about to begin and that they've picked only the best acts from UCLA to compete for the one-thousand dollar grand prize. And to introduce each act and make sure they don't get out of hand, Joe brings in former NFL football player John "The Tooz" Matuszak. I'm pretty sure John showed up just to plug his book "Cruisin' With The Tooz", but he also claims he hopes one of the acts goes overtime because he came here to kick some ass. I don't know about you, but now I'm totally sold on his book if it means I get to read tales about how he mauled some college students with his bare hands on Halloween while wearing a tuxedo.
He then tells the audience, "You've never cruised until you've cruised with the Tooz." and proceeds to introduce the first act.
The first group features a gravedigger, a mummy and some dancing tombstones who sing and dance to the Monster Mash. It's a nice little set which I mainly appreciate because of the work put into the custom tombstone costumes. Well... that and the fact that you don't get to see dancing tombstones every day. One thing though - on the back of each tombstone, they spelled out "We <3 Joe" in big red letters, but before each tombstone had a chance to turn around and show TV audiences their homage to Pisocopo, the camera had already cut away. This is why we have rehearsals, people.
Next up, we have an entry that's already a frontrunner for the worst in the Halloween talent contest. These two people put on a sketch where the girl is getting ready for bed and doesn't believe in the boogeyman. Sure enough, the Boogeyman creeps up on her and when she screams, "Aieeeeee! Who are you!?" he replies, "I'm the Boogeymaaaan!" then tears off his dark robe to reveal a disco suit straight out of Saturday Night Fever. "Let's Boogie!" he then shouts as the two of them clumsily dance off the stage in an instant. I swear I could actually hear crickets chirping in my own head when this happened.
Keep in mind, Joe said they selected only the best entries for this talent contest. After seeing that last one, I'm pretty sure they put anybody on stage who was willing.
Moving right along, the show veers off into insano-land as the curtain rises and we a stage filled with dancing Playboy bunnies. The stage announcer then tells the crowd, "Ladies and gentlemen, the crown prince of rock & roll... What Hath God Roth?" Yes indeed, out comes Piscopo wearing a tight spandex outfit and rocker wig, doing his best David Lee Roth impersonation while singing a "I wish I was you, so I could make love to me!" that sounds nothing like a Van Halen tune. I'm pretty sure Van Halen never had a brass section.
And what does all of this have to do with Halloween exactly? Well... he's in costume, so I guess that counts?
When he's done rubbing up on the Playboy girls and shoving his crotch and ass into the camera, Joe... er... Roth comes out on stage bouncing around on a giant inflatable microphone. I think I'll leave it to Sigmund Freud analyze that one. I will give credit where credit is due, however, cuz he does manage do do the classic David Lee Roth jumping split to end the song - off of his motorcycle no less.
Next up is another pre-taped segment featuring those two trick-or-treaters. This time they show up at the house of Frank Sinatra, one of the impersonations Piscopo was most well known for. Since they're trick-or-treating, he gives the boy a glass of whiskey and gives the girl a mink fur to wrap around her torso. He then gives the kids a thousand bucks and tells 'em, "Now you kids run along and have a groovy pumpkin day." Good to see ol' blue eyes doesn't skimp on the treats come Halloween.
There's still plenty more of
The Joe Piscopo Halloween Party to see!
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