For comedy nerds and MTV2 devotees, “Wonder Showzen” was the best show on the air in 2005 and 2006. Pitched simply as a satire on typical children’s programming, the sketch comedy series often spins out of control and gets very dark and very absurd. Using stock footage of old children’s programs, puppetry and real child actors, “Wonder Showzen’s” creators John Lee and Vernon Chatman made something unlike anything on television at the time, which attracted a variety of comedians and musicians to cameo. The following six are the funniest, oddest and most impressive.
1. Amy Poehler
2. Dick Gregory
Legendary comedian Dick Gregory appears on the show as Mr. Sun. When the puppet Chauncey swallows a hallucinogenic substance, Mr. Sun warns “Don’t get hooked on imagination, Chauncey. It can lead to terrible, horrible things.” Gregory also provides informative, funny but mostly odd guest commentary on the “Wonder Showzen” Season One DVD, in which large segments are intentionally bleeped out.
3. Zach Galifianakis, John Glazer and David Cross
“Horse Apples” is a recurring sketch that lampoons the early ’70s TV show “Hee Haw.” The original show lightly mocked Middle America with folksy jokes about hicks and farmers. “Wonder Showzen’s” version is as dark as “Winter’s Bone,” delivered with the same shtick. Zach Galifianakis, John Glazer and David Cross are standouts, but also watch for Judah Friedlander, Toddy Barry and Will Oldham.
4. Amy Sedaris
Amy Sedaris of cult hit “Strangers With Candy” appears in the first season to read the children a nice story about a princess. When a chocolate-stained chubby kid demands that she put him in a story instead, Sedaris complies with her patented sugary-sweet/darkly comedic delivery.
5. Flavor Flav
Originally shot for the first episode, the full “Storytime with Flavor Flav” was cut prior to broadcast and only available later on the Season One DVD. The scene is essentially Flavor Flav being the lovable former crackhead we know and love. The truly impressive thing is that parents allowed their children to be in a room with him.
6. John Oates and Rick Springfield
It’s one thing to get comedians and a confused Flavor Flav to appear in a totally f***ed up kid’s show, but ’80s rock stars like John Oates and Rick Springfield takes some serious calling in of favors. The two sing an anti-war spoof called “War Doesn’t Solve Anything,” along with musicians Devendra Banhart, Sleater Kinney’s Corin Tucker and a children’s choir. It’s inspired and a bit frightening at the end.
+ Watch the best of “Wonder Showzen” Season 1 below.