Tuesday, October 7

RIP: Wally George

Yeah, his politics were over-the-top abysmal - it cost him his relationship with his daughter Rebecca De Mornay. His arguments were baseless and shameless. His show was a cacophany of boorish behavior.

And it was great TV.

In its heyday in the 80s, there was always an indication that Wally George truly believed in what he was saying, but he was always aware that it was just a show. His guests and his in-studio audience never took anything seriously. If a guest did, the verbal gasoline would be doubled on their burning. Thanks to Channel 56's lousy production values, there would invariably be a shot of Wally laughing totally out of context with his guest. Accidentally. Or maybe not.

My Wally George story was during the summer of 1984. In a fit of boredom, I called him up during his short-lived phone-in show as Dave from Venice Beach. When he asked me how the KDOC-TV signal was coming in (the cable system didn't carry KDOC), I said that I only needed four coathangers on the antenna to see him. I killed with that stupid comment. Wally and his crew cracked up and I was "outta here."

In the carnival and wrestling business, "breaking kayfabe" is suddenly jumping out of character to deal with a situation as yourself. Wally broke kayfabe a lot, which gave his show a much-needed wink. Moreover, he continued a genre which was given up for dead in the 70s - rambunctious political discourse on the tube. And his uber-conservative shrieking was custom-engineered for KDOC's Orange County core audience.

His show sucked. That's why we watched. And the best part was, he knew that.

Wally...you're outta here.