Its name? Wonder Showzen (MTV2, Fridays, 6:30 p.m.), and it's a brilliant and deeply troubling parody of Sesame Street, Zoom, Teletubbies, and every other educational kids show you've ever seen. Springing from the wicked minds of Vernon Chatman and John Lee, Wonder Showzen uses puppets, cartoons, and actual kids (from the ages of 7 to 10) to make vicious and hilarious fun of the government, corporations, religion, hippies, and every other social ill one can think of.
Like Sesame Street, the Wonder Showzen's gags and segments fly by at light speed, jumping from a gang of puppet numbers and letters getting into a knife fight (two eventually give each other oral sex), to real kids spouting jaw-dropping one-liners (one boy dressed up like Abraham Lincoln says, "While I never thought to shave my beard and free the slaves, I have thought of shaving the slaves and freeing my beard!"). Another puppet named Clarence--who resembles a blue Elmo--accosts people on the street, asking them if they will accept Jesus into their hearts. If they say yes, he asks, "Will you accept Him into your mouth?"
Then, before you can catch your breath, here come the cartoons! While they generally parody such genteel topics as bulimia and hobos, my favorite has been "Global Politics in 30 Seconds," a crudely drawn cartoon picturing the globe as seen from space. Suddenly, the United States turns into a howling, ravenous beast that disconnects from the continent, pees all over South America and then eats it, stomps on Europe, and then shits out three new tiny South Americas in the Middle East before blowing up the planet. Yep, that pretty much sums it up.
And though the puppets and cartoons can be simultaneously funny, bizarre, and terrifying, it's the inclusion of actual children that sends Wonder Showzen over the top. In one segment entitled "Q & A," a child is asked, "What is love?" His response: "Love is something special between my dog's butt and the carpet." In "Funny/Not Funny," children are asked to judge situations on the basis of their comedic value: A family pet being cooked on a grill="NOT FUNNY!" A drowned kid being pulled from a pool ="FUNNY!"
But my personal favorite is "Kid's Beat!" wherein child reporters interview the unsuspecting employees of different occupations. At the racetrack, a trainer is asked if the losing horses get made "into chop suey," while in a butcher shop, a kid reporter questions a decapitated pig's head, asking, "So… how long have you been a cop?"
CONVINCED? Thought so. Now for the love of all that's holy, purchase, borrow, or steal cable television NOW before the censors wise up to the most subversive, groundbreaking, and heeee-larious program on TV, Wonder Showzen. It may not be good for kids, but it's great for YOU.