Mr Mike’s Mondo Video


‘…something of a collectors item rather than a hidden gem, but cultural and comedy historians may want to take a look…’

Yikes! Fancy a Saturday Night Live-inspired comedy from Lorne Michaels with Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Margot Kidder, Carrie Fisher and more? Of course you do, but Mr Mike’s Mondo Video really isn’t the film you want to see. In fact, Mr Mike’s Mondo Video was deliberately buried, not just as not ready for prime time, but not suitable to be broadcast at all. The creator, writer and comic Michael O’Donoghue was presumably disappointed, but excavated some four decades later on streaming, it’s easy to spot why this was hastily shelved.

This is a loosely assembled sketch comedy show, something in the vein of The Groove Tube, Loose Shoes or Kentucky Fried Movie; a few of the sketches are worth your time. Aykroyd does a nice spoof or religious evangelical television, with his pastor for the church of Jack Lord (pic above), complete with a rousing gospel song for the Hawaii 5-0 star, featuring the refrain’ ‘Where you there when they crucified Jack Lord?’ The use of old footage is in the name of the Mondo series of films from the early 60’s, a compilation of outré clips that we’d now watch on YouTube, ranging from, checks notes, ‘Mexican sex aids and a mouse princess hit by two trains’ or ‘The circumcising skater defiled by crazy foam ‘; such loop the loop nonsense predates the general news parody featured in Chris Morris’ Brass Eye.

But errors of judgement are many; archive footage of an elephant being electrified is unpleasant to watch, as is a filmed insert of poor cats cruelly being thrown in swimming pools, although the sequel about a European school teaching hand-gliding to cats does firmly land. Comedy is one thing, and having an edge is desirable, but cruelty to animals is never cool. There’s also a nice rip-off of the old John Smith The Girl Chewing Gum gag from 1976 about a director pretending to direct a previously filmed scene, but it’s been done better elsewhere.

Mr Mike’s Mondo Video feels like it was hastily constructed after the budget was blown on high-living; it’s something of a shambles, with a few big names clearly doing a favour rather than a days work. It’s something of a collectors item rather than a hidden gem, but cultural and comedy historians may want to take a look.


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    • And it now sinks to the bottom of the bucket of comedy ephemera with all concerned wishing it didn’t exist…

  1. Crawling out of the hole where I’ve been chained to my day job desk for the past 2 weeks…….!

    Sounds like a miss. I think these sketch comedies really need to be seen as newspapers – they’re best seen in the moment. I’m thinking of the best Saturday Night Live skits – sure, there are the evergreen ones (Sally O’Malley “I’m 50” is a particular favorite) but otherwise the best ones are skewing a very particular political or cultural moment.

    I’ve got back and revisited some of the really good ones (Sarah Palin, etc) and it’s amazing how quickly they get stale.

    So I’m typically not a fan of revisiting these types of things unless I can’t sleep and I cherry pick some off YouTube.

    All this to say – I’ll be skipping this one!

    • Yup, youtube has replaced a number of media; people used to rush out and buy VHS’s of the pop videos of their favourite bands. There’s zero need for that kind of product anymore, you can see what you want on Youtube. SNL, of course, is never as good as it used to be, but efforts like this remind us that we’re only remembering the best, and there was always plenty of bad stuff around, despite the talent involved. Like newspapers, all but the best routines are fish and chip paper after a year or so…

    • Yes, the amount of not funny is considerably greater than the amount which is.

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