Tulsa TV Memories      

"The Joe Pyne Show"

19 minute clip of "The Joe Pyne Show", 1967

May 11, 1968 TV schedule from the Tulsa Tribune
Note The Late Show, The Billy Parker Show, Sam Stewart, and Bob Brown, today of ABC's "20/20". Full page 5/11/68 schedule.

Joe Pyne(This was originally a 1999 sidebar on the Fantastic Theater page)

In 1968, Fantastic Theater had a little competition over on Channel 8: Metromedia's syndicated talk program, "The Joe Pyne Show". Some of Joe's guests were unquestionably weird.

"Guests include a self-styled Messiah; an editor protesting laws which prohibit homosexuals serving in the army; and a professor who discusses sex, marijuana and LSD in his The Tulsa Tribune
listed these highlights
for the May 11, 1968

Joe was a WWII veteran with a wooden leg. He was evidently a bit sensitive about this, since he always appeared behind a desk. Politically, he was a reactionary.

Joe loved to put down his guests. They were often not up to his gibes, but occasionally an F. Lee Bailey or a David Susskind would give him his comeuppance.

The audience could participate, too. An audience member stepped up to the "Beef Box" and addressed Pyne or his guest. If Pyne didn't like what he heard, he would tell him or her to "take a hike".

Roy Blount, Jr. recalls this '60s conversation between sharp-tongued TV host Joe Pine (sic) and rocker Frank Zappa: 'I guess your long hair makes you a girl,' said Pine (sic). 'I guess your wooden leg makes you a table,' replied Zappa. Left: from the webmaster's news clipping file. Did Mr. Blount witness this exchange firsthand, or could it have been an urban legend? My correspondence with humorist Roy Blount, Jr. and Billy Ingram of TVparty! is in TVparty's Classic TV Blog, topic: "ZAPPA MYSTERY?", dated 12/31/2007, halfway down the page.

This October 22, 1966 clipping from the Long Beach Press-Telegram lists "sculptor Vito and his 'freak-out' band" as upcoming guests on the Pyne show. It is followed by the comments of a viewer who recalled seeing Zappa on that episode. He doesn't mention the "wooden leg" quip.

Vito Paulekas was a sculptor who freaked out with a group of dancers at early Mothers of Invention concerts. He is heard on The Mothers' "Freak Out" album. So the above link corroborates the claim that Zappa appeared on The Joe Pyne Show, whether he uttered the legendary comeback or not.

Billy Ingram wrote an in-depth and illustrated article about The Joe Pyne Show at TVparty! Two Northeast Oklahomans, including me, comment on the show in sidebars. Here are my memories of the Pyne show from it:

Webmaster: As a teenager, I loved to watch The Joe Pyne Show on Channel 8 here in Tulsa for the weirdos he frequently had as guests.

Joe Pyne functioned as a corrosively skeptical Art Bell, bringing on out-and-out cranks, drawing them out and and poking fun at them in his deadpan way. I remember one guest with a shaved head (not so common in 1968) and wearing a ceremonial robe who would periodically retract his eyelids for a moment. I can't remember if his shtick was being a Messiah or an interstellar visitor.

(Added 5/24/2008: I believe the shaved-head guy must have been Anton LaVey [Wikipedia link with photo], founder and High Priest of the Church of Satan.)

Joe was such a put-down artist, it was a thrill to see him meet his match. David Susskind, who had his own controversial talk show, cheerfully batted away Pyne's barbs. F. Lee Bailey (well-known then as the attorney of Dr. Sam Sheppard, the real-life model for Dr. Richard Kimble on "The Fugitive") made Pyne look like a monkey, to my delight.

The audience members who stepped into the "Beef Box" were often as freaky as the guests. It seemed difficult to make any points against Pyne from this precarious perch, since Pyne usually wound up telling them to "take a hike".

I must be getting old; I don't enjoy any of today's rabble-rousers as much as I did Joe Pyne.

(From GB 267, 5/15/2008) The webmaster said:

I  just watched an entire Joe Pyne show from 1966 on TV4U.com!

Joe Pyne Show #1 (two are available at TV4U.com) opens with a lengthy pan of the audience. Quite a visual. Pyne warmed up by taking a couple of tedious complaints from audience members standing at the "dock" which doubled as the "Beef Box" at this point in the show. Joe should have told them to take a walk a lot sooner than he did. The first proper guest was a UFOlogist who got a relatively gentle but thorough ridiculing from Joe. The folks who appeared in the "dock" were mostly played for laughs (and rightfully so). Next up was an investigation of a then still infamous 1931 rape/murder in Hawaii.

The last half hour was dedicated to the interview of a 23-year-old conscientious objector. For 15 minutes, Joe engaged the angry and articulate young man without too much static. Then, just before the "dock" was opened, Pyne turned up the temperature of his rhetoric, cuing the audience.

With only a few substitutions of names, places and details, most of the same arguments and all of the tactics could play out today on a typical more-heat-than-light talk show. The parallels made it gripping.

At least Pyne gave the guest some time before the shouting started, which his descendants in spirit today would not do. In fact, I would characterize the Pyne show as a feast of reason by comparison, despite its inflammatory nature.

A segment of Joe Pyne Show #2 is examined in detail on the 2nd page of Billy Ingram's Joe Pyne article story at TVparty!

The protagonist of Dan Greenburg's wild, satirical 1982 novel, What Do Women Want?, appears on "The Joe Shine Show". He is asked by the producer not to shake hands with Joe, or to mention wooden legs. These are obvious references to the real-life Pyne, who had a phobia of shaking hands: "Don't touch me unless you love me".

Here is a July 29, 1966 profile of Pyne from Time Magazine: "Killer Joe".

Doesn't Joe Pyne's random xylophone/tympani-based theme (top of page) remind you of the music in this "Dr. Strangelove" theatrical trailer? As an 11-year-old in 1964, the trailer struck me as chilling, and it still does today. Joe Pyne's producer may have wanted to capture some of that free-floating anxiety for the show's intro.

Innovative "Dr. Strangelove" trailer, created by Pablo Ferro

webmaster's reviews    Chew's Reviews    Main page