Friday, September 27, 2019

Beyond Vaudeville was the greatest show in history

I grew up watching a lot of public access as a teenager. One show I would catch every once in a while was the strange and wholesome show Beyond Vaudeville, hosted by Frank Hope and co-hosted by the silent and violent David Greene. Frank was an awkward and nerdy collector of novelties, and David would usually sit there quietly, but he would also lash out at Frank. Normally, David would just yell out the opening credits and that would be the last you'd hear from him.

Frank Hope was a character created for the show, but he feels so real. Actually, he reminds me a lot of myself so I wonder how much of an influence he was on my personality. Normally, Frank would bring on stars and comedians from old television shows, or street performers and lounge singers, or guests who were simply unusual. A lot of notable local kooks from the NYC area made appearances on Beyond Vaudeville, which makes a number of these shows real artifacts of a different era in our local history. 

Some wonderful person has been uploading tons of episodes onto YouTube and that person will forever have my eternal thanks. I never thought I'd see these shows ever again. I have such fond memories of these shows, and in a lot of cases this show exposed me to entertainers who I would have never noticed or known otherwise. Tiny Tim, for example, made a few appearances on this show and this was my first exposure to his work.

The Beyond Vaudeville format was adapted for MTV and became a show called Oddville MTV, which was effectively the same exact show but with more current guests and mainstream stars, but also returning guests from Beyond Vaudeville. Also, they added the lovely Melissa as the new announcer so now David never spoke at all. The best part is the show still worked! No magic was lost, and they were able to give so many people a national platform that maybe they would never get before. Really and truly beautiful. I miss this show very much. 

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