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What the . . . Friday?

May 18, 2012

*What the…Friday? is a weekly Friday feature in which I resuscitate a video relic from the swampy pits of Pop Culture Wasteland.*

Today:  What the Ray Stevens?

In 1992 the commercial for the Ray Stevens Comedy Video Classics hit the airwaves and my life was forever changed.

Back then I remember seeing Ray Stevens every day.  Sometimes he came on between every commercial break of a half-hour television show.  Sometimes he interrupted Coach.  Sometimes he interrupted Murphy Brown.  Sometimes he interrupted Roseanne.  No one interrupts Roseanne.  I hated Ray Stevens.

I grew up in Nebraska.  So I likely lived among Ray Stevens’ targeted demographic.  If you grew up in San Francisco, chances are you never saw this.  And chances are you think Ray Stevens is my cousin.  And chances are he is.

In 1992 I was 16 and my humor was of the bottom-dwelling variety.  Meaning it revolved around bottoms.

Or more specifically — sphincters.

A sphincter says what?  What?  Exactly.  “Comedy gold,” said 1992-Angie.

But even 16-year-old-me didn’t find Ray Stevens funny.  And that’s very telling.  And that’s when I learned a valuable lesson.   Humor is not subjective.  There is right and wrong.  There is hierarchy.  And Ray Stevens is at the bottom.  He’s at the bottom of the totem pole.  His is the totem face that looks like a bottom.  Or more specifically — a sphincter.

I couldn’t help but wonder what became of Ray Stevens today.   So I tracked him down.  Turns out he is something of a big shot.  Turns out he is a big sphincter.  Here is his website.  And he’s right now running a Tea Party Special.  Yes.  That’s what he calls it.  Order now and while supplies last you’ll get a free flag lapel pin.

I guess this is what patriotism looks like.  A sphincter.


This post goes out to my bloggy friend Les of BestBathroomBooks (who never thought, but likely always hoped, he’d one day see the word sphincter on my blog) as he plans his departure from the blogosphere.  Many happy poops to you, Les.

48 Comments leave one →
  1. May 18, 2012 6:24 am

    Oh you take me back to painful car trips with my father, he thought that sphincter spread comedy gold. I died inside everytime we packed the car.

    • May 18, 2012 8:41 pm

      Now you have me worried. Because I can imagine my own father grabbing the phone to order this. I might have to check up on him.

  2. May 18, 2012 6:53 am

    I vaguely remembered going around yelling ~Ethel put yer clothes back on~. and thinking it was quite hysterical. After watching the video I felt a moment of discombobulation. I don`t remember Ray Stevens quite like that.Watching the video was a bit like waking up in a strange place wondering how you got there, and being filled with dread. A ~What the heck was I on~ kind of thought. (not that I would know anything about that kind of thing, but I can imagine it`s just like this) So I googled The Streak and feel much relieved to see that it was popular in 1974 so I was not in highschool, but in grade 3. That makes much more sense. Bit of an emotional rollercoster first thing in the morning.

    • May 18, 2012 8:42 pm

      In 3rd grade, I can assure you I would’ve laughed at anything about nakedness. You’re forgiven, Lori-Ann.

  3. May 18, 2012 6:58 am

    I could barely read your post because I find Ray Stevens as disturbing as pedophiles on a playground. No, really. He terrifies me.

    • May 18, 2012 8:43 pm

      Is it possible that they’re one in the same? I mean, I don’t know what I’m talking about and, whoops, now I’m being sued for slander. But seriously. Does he drive a white van?

  4. May 18, 2012 7:41 am

    Oh, man! that brings back the memories, doesn’t it? Memories of a creepy old great-uncle. They call him The Streak! That video right thar is solid comedy gold, baby.

    • May 18, 2012 8:45 pm

      He’s like the creepy uncle at the reunion who tells racist jokes and drinks too much. I can’t believe people would willingly sit through this.

  5. May 18, 2012 7:58 am

    I am not going to click on the video. I am nightmare-prone.

  6. May 18, 2012 8:08 am

    My redneck neighbor got the video and loaned it to my dad when I was nine. My little brother got obsessed with it, namely the Streak clip. Our home was never the same. My corneas were forever scorched.

    • May 18, 2012 8:47 pm

      You poor thing! I was only ever subjected to the commercial…I can’t imagine seeing the actual video! And yet, you seem so normal today. Therapy is a wonderful thing.

  7. Tony permalink
    May 18, 2012 8:21 am

    I think Larry The Cable Guy was his understudy.

  8. May 18, 2012 8:22 am


  9. May 18, 2012 9:08 am

    Golden!! And my 10-yr-old approves of your blog post potty humor. Yes, the sphincter factor needs to make a comeback. In a really bad way. I’ll admit though, I had several Steven’s 45’s as a kid. I had no idea that it was brainwashing propaganda…good thing I purged all my vinyls decades ago.

    • May 18, 2012 8:48 pm

      I forgot what a sphincter even was, what without Wayne’s World around anymore to remind me. I had a 45 of Sheena Easton. I think you had it worse. Barely.

  10. May 18, 2012 11:45 am

    Are you flippin’ kidding me? The Streak was EVERYwhere when I was a young teen. It was the epitome of humor at the time. Of course, when you consider the clothes we thought were cool then, well…it all makes more sense.

    • May 18, 2012 8:51 pm

      Hello? Didn’t you grow up in Illinois? They shipped Ray Stevens records and videos into the Midwest on fertilizer planes. They put them in our cereal boxes. But the rest of the world can’t possibly know who he is, can they? He did win two Grammys though.

  11. May 18, 2012 1:21 pm

    He looks vaguely familiar, but I also kind of recall running screaming from the room during that ime period. You know, before I knew “Mute.”

    • May 18, 2012 8:52 pm

      Perhaps you emotionally blocked him out. I wish I had.

      • May 18, 2012 8:57 pm

        There are decades of folks I have emotionally blocked. But I am in therapy to overcome these blockages. That’s why I read your blog, Angie.

        You really should be charging all of us for therapy.

      • May 18, 2012 8:59 pm

        Could you pay me in Pop Rocks?

  12. May 18, 2012 1:41 pm

    Never heard of the guy… but then, I’m from England, centre of the cultural universe… we would never allow such humour there. We had comedy gold like The Young Ones instead :D

    • May 18, 2012 9:01 pm

      I had to google The Young Ones and I’m confused yet intrigued. I think I need this in my Netflix queue.

      • May 18, 2012 10:57 pm

        Actually, since you’re going through a Madness spell, here’s a song from them about condoms that was in the Young Ones… this song was #1 when the Pope came to town :D Superb.

    • May 18, 2012 10:51 pm

      Here’s a teaser… bear in mind it was the early 80’s… and watch out for House :D

  13. May 18, 2012 2:47 pm

    Nope, never watched this sphincter. But I sure did love me some Wayne’s World!

    • May 18, 2012 8:55 pm

      I would love to see a Wayne’s World 2012! I’m pretty sure it would be the most awesome movie of all time, if by “all time” you mean of the past two weeks not counting The Avengers or Dark Shadows.

  14. May 18, 2012 5:33 pm

    Thanks, Angie for mentioning my blog. I just got over six and a half million hits. You’re right, I’m not sure who this guy is, but his website is awful and if that’s the way he looks all Photoshopped, I can imagine what he looks like in the flesh.
    Seven to go! Got to make it to the finish line!

    • May 18, 2012 8:58 pm

      That’s funny because I have exactly 6 1/2 readers. The 1/2 is my 2-year-old son who pushes on my laptop screen while drooling into my keyboard. I guess that counts as reading.

      I hope you do at least one more post on Newt Gingrich. I miss him.

  15. May 19, 2012 10:20 am

    I couldn’t remember anything about Stevens except that he’s bottom-feeding terrible. But when I watched the video it all came back to me. I’ve never heard any more of him than what’s in that specific ad, but I saw that many times, and couldn’t believe how unfunny he was. The Larry The Cable Guy of his time.

    • May 22, 2012 12:30 pm

      I’m convinced that everyone who finds him funny is either on “the pot” or literally sitting on the pot. That just seems to fit where I’d see someone watching this.

  16. May 20, 2012 8:41 pm

    you loved Roseanne?! Me too! gosh that is the ultimate 90s nostalgia for me.

    • May 22, 2012 12:31 pm

      Loved that show as a kid. I took up a Roseanne revival about 10 years ago when the reruns would come on right after I got home from work. It became my daily routine unwind time.

      • May 22, 2012 1:18 pm

        did you like the last few seasons? i remember that episode where roseanne and dad get into a huge fight — it was awful!

      • May 22, 2012 1:26 pm

        I think they jumped the shark when she won the lottery. I didn’t really watch it into that season. It lost it’s flavor.

      • May 31, 2012 11:56 am

        What? Roseanne won the lottery? Did I miss something?

      • May 31, 2012 1:38 pm

        It was in the final season and the show never rebounded from that horrible plotline.

      • May 31, 2012 2:57 pm

        Oh, so it was the character that won, not Ms. Barr herself. Right. Not that she ever needed a monetary reason to not give crap about anything…

        I never watched the show, so I completely missed it. Thank you, o-Miss-80’s-Diva. Thank you so very much.

      • May 31, 2012 3:03 pm

        I think I was in college without a TV when that dumb season aired so I didn’t catch it until the reruns. It made me despise the entire series. Oh, so I guess they’re just sort of poor for a few seasons so we can watch them go all Beverly Hillbillies fish-out-of-water rich in the final season? Excellent. Brilliant. You’ve outdone yourself, Roseanne Barr.

  17. May 21, 2012 8:55 am

    That ‘A (insert insulting word here) says what?’ joke was huge at my school when Wayne’s World came out. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was getting in on the ‘like it because it’s popular’ comedy train.

    • May 22, 2012 12:36 pm

      I believe you’re correct that having knowledge in Wayne’s World-speak was once a prerequisite for being cool.

  18. May 28, 2012 3:17 pm

    Oh, man. You’re dredging up for me some very painful memories. I had repressed this. Suppressed? Oppressed? I had done something bad to it in my subconscious. And now it’s back in my conscious. So … thank you?


  1. What the . . . Mr. T’s Fashion Show? « Childhood Relived

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