The Joe Piscopo Halloween Party - A Horrifying 1987 HBO Comedy Special!
by: -RoG-


Back to the live stage, Joe comes out with a saxophone and some shades and does his best imitation of an old blues musician. It'd be fine for a minute at best, but this bit of his goes on for a solid four minutes... but hey, if you love watching Joe sweat profusely while playing a tenor saxophone, then I suppose these could be the greatest four minutes of your life. For everyone else, however, it's hell.

After Joe runs off, presumably to find a sweat rag, "The Tooz" returns with note cards in hand to introduce the next group. There you have it folks... confirmation that he can read. I know some of you just lost money on that bet, but keep your chin up and try to enjoy the rest of the show.

Remember when I said that Boogeyman sketch from the talent contest was bad? Yeah, about that... these next two performances honestly make that one look like a sweet memory of Halloween's finest hour. First up, we have four fish from Delta Zeta who do a horrendous white girl rap where they shout "Hey Jooooooe!" over and over that I wish I could unhear, but it's now forever burned into my cranium. It's extra awful when you see their sorority sisters in the audience singing along with it, suggesting that this was actually rehearsed.

The next segment isn't quite as bad as the rapping fish torture, but it still drags on far too long. Sherlock Holmes and another hockey player are stuck in the penalty box, and the gag is that while Sherlock complains about the bad call that put him there, he continuously slams down his hockey stick onto the other guy's crotch. Look, I'm all for an amusing nutshot here 'n there, but hearing some guy squawk like a tropical bird constantly after he gets hit in the crotch gets old realllly fast. I honestly think this was just an attempt for that one guy portraying Sherlock Holmes to showcase his (bad) British accent live on TV... cuz I could find no other real reason why Sherlock was in a skit about hockey.

With the latest talent show entries concluded, Joe rushes out onto the stage as Phil Donahue for a live pseudo-taping of the Donahue talk show. It's filled with all the stereotypical things you'd expect from a segment like this such as Phil telling a sheik that he appreciates it when he says "hello" from behind the counter at a 7-Eleven. Then it's onto an endless array of fat jokes as Phil's guest Oprah Winfrey (played by fellow comedian George Wallace) comes out onto stage and takes questions from the crowd. Eventually, Oprah gets sick of the jabs and chases Phil right off the stage.

Up next, we have a completely random commercial parody of the old Levi's 501 jeans where, instead of a bunch of hip youngsters wearing the jeans, we have a bunch of elderly folks wearing the jeans. It's okay I suppose, but it feels like something that you'd see on an old episode of SNL rather than a Halloween comedy special... especially since Piscopo doesn't even appear in it. I guess they just needed some more filler material in between acts.


The Tooz introduces the next group of three monsters - Dracula, Wolfman and Franky - who sing and old timey tune, but the audio quality wasn't that good to begin with in the original broadcast and it's even harder to hear now. But hey, the costumes are decent enough and the song ends with them saying "We are monsters, and we're pissed!" so it couldn't have been all bad. Certainly better than than the last two entrants at the very least.


For the final entry, we have three college girls dressed as a stamp, an envelope and a pencil singing a song to mom & dad. What's really bizarre is that they're singing "Jingle Bell Rock" with altered lyrics to their parents about their college experiences. I'll never understand why the hell they chose a Christmas holiday song for a Halloween party. Still, they did a solid job on their costume and they were the only group to actually catch the audience off-guard by having a guy dressed as a giant tongue come and lick all of them at the end of the act. He even licked the one dressed as a pencil. That's called commitment, folks.

Now it's time for one last pre-taped trick-or-treat stop for those two kids from earlier. They've survived encounters with a crazed wrestler and Frank Sinatra, so they must be just about home free, right? Wrong. When they arrive at this final house, the door opens and they come face to face with a ninja who appears to be ready to slice their little heads off. That is, of course, until Bruce Piscopo Lee shows up.


For a while, he imitates Bruce Lee like just about anybody would... with a lot of high-pitched "woop!" and "wasaaah!" noises while bouncing around, waving his arms and flexing. Soon, he dispatches the ninja with a high jump kick and then things take a turn for the truly scary. Straight out of the "Bad Asian Stereotypes 101" book, Joe starts asking the kids what they're here for on "Harroreen?" to which the little boy responds, "You know, tlick or tleat!"

When he realizes that they want a treat, he grabs a pumpkin and then proceeds to do some pinpoint karate chops on it. The result? A jack-o-lantern with slanted eyes and pronounced buck teeth. Yep, it left me pretty speechless as well. I'm surprised he didn't throw in an ethnic slur when he sent them on their way.

Either way, I'm sure this is a Halloween those kids will never forget. They got a severed arm, a thousand bucks and a racially offensive jack-o-lantern. It's a Halloween miracle!

Halloween for those two kids may be over, but we still have a little ways to go. The late great Sam Butera, a legendary jazz saxophonist, makes an appearance on stage and wows the crowd with his musicianship. Soon after, Joe Piscopo comes out as Louie Primadonna (his impersonation of the king of swing, Louis Prima) along with Madonna. They do a musical swing dance routine typical of the genre and then it segues into this...

In yet another pre-taped bit, we see "Raging De Niro" which is basically a showcase of all of Joe's impersonations of Robert De Niro's roles in Martin Scorcese films. The best part of it is clearly when a stagehand brings in his lunch and Piscopo is doing his whole "Are you talkin' to me?" bit from Taxi Driver. The guy looks genuinely nervous to deliver him his cantaloupe and Minute Maid juice box lunch. Personally, since this is a Halloween special, I think a box of Hi-C Ecto Cooler would have been more appropriate, but I guess Minute Maid was paying the bills this time around.

The whole segment continues on for far too long and even features a young Keenen Ivory Wayans acting as Ray, punching Piscopo in the face multiple times... something I'm sure many people who saw the Bruce Lee bit earlier on would've liked to do anyway. The whole thing doesn't get many laughs, not does it have anything to do with the holiday, but it does provide enough time for Joe to prepare for the final stage act to end this Halloween party in grand fashion.


To conclude the show, Joe shares with the UCLA crowd that one of the reasons they chose to do the show at Royce Hall was because it had an antique pipe organ inside. Then one of the professors from the school starts playing Bach's "Toccata & Fugue in D Minor" on the pipe organ, because... well that's the one song you HAVE to play if you have a pipe organ handy on Halloween. Soon enough the entire band joins in and even Joe hops on the drums to get in on the action with plenty of gratuitous drum fills.


They pull out all the available flashing lights for this performance and the best thing about it just how much Joe Piscopo gets into the music. He's really into it.

No, I mean he's *realllllllly* into it. He's into the music more than any band member in the history of bands has ever been into their music. I dare say Joe has become the music! For a little while there, I was pretty sure Joe was going to simultaneously have an orgasm and murder those drums, or at the very least, murder somebody in the auditorium. He does kick over a few of the drums when the song concludes, but nobody else is harmed... unless you consider having your mind blown as you see Joe unleash his inner demons upon the drums as being harmful.

You wanna know what that feeling was when you saw him playing the drums? That was your mind being PiscoPWNED.

Before they say their goodbyes, they announce the winners of the Joe Piscopo Halloween Party talent contest. The first runner-up is the Boogeyman one, which blows my mind because I would've given it to the Monster Mash group since they at least put some genuine effort into their bit. At least the winners of the contest were the three girls who were chased by that giant tongue on stage - it was easily the crowd favorite and they put some good work into their costumes. Maybe they can discard their snail mail costumes and use that $1000 prize money to buy a computer to send email with. I mean, who writes letters anymore anyway? Grandma does, that's who.

Joe wraps up the show by bringing everybody back on stage one last time so they can all sing "Louie Louie" together as the credits roll. I think they should've stuck with more Halloweeny pipe organ music, but this was a college party crowd, and there's just no reasoning with them.

And there you have it my friends, The Joe Piscopo Halloween Party from 1987 in a nutshell. It certainly was a party. It certainly took place on Halloween. It certainly was different from any other Halloween special I've ever seen. They never did film another Piscopo Halloween party, but I like to think that he's got a house in Jersey somewhere and treats all the neighborhood kids to a similar multi-character performance from his front porch come Halloween every single year. Unlikely, but it's a nice thought, and you can't take my Halloween dreams from me. Only Piscopo is capable of that... with his drums.

I should note that Piscopo did actually film a separate Thriller parody video, but before you go check out my article on it, here are some video highlights from The Joe Piscopo Halloween Party that you'll definitely want to see:

Have any questions or comments about this piece?


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Reader Comments



That damn kid
Oct 24th, 2011, 07:17 PM
That shot of Joe on the motorcycle reminds me of the gyrating sax player from The Lost Boys for some reason
Oct 24th, 2011, 08:59 PM
Respect to Joe for playing the drums regimental style. I'm with you Hangie. The mullet, the tan and the lighting really bring to mind that outdoor concert scene.
Pickled Patriarch
Oct 24th, 2011, 09:20 PM

Never forget.
Im one good looking Troll
Oct 24th, 2011, 09:37 PM
Oct 25th, 2011, 04:34 PM
Great article RoG. Everything needs that "A Joe Piscopo production" at the end.
Rocketry rules!
Oct 25th, 2011, 04:44 PM
It looks like a weird talent show.
Cranberry Everything
Oct 26th, 2011, 06:31 PM
This proves that no Halloween special will ever truly die.
The face of trapped wind.
Oct 26th, 2011, 07:43 PM
to be fair..diamond dave did have a weird habit of riding around on a big ass inflatable microphone back in those days so it is pretty accurate. still unfunny but accurate.
Oct 28th, 2011, 04:19 AM
There really didn't seem to be anything special about this Special.

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