By Paul Caputo and Jeffrey Carl
The Richmond State was a plucky upstart alternative newspaper (not that kind of “alternative”) that challenged the editorial might of the stodgy Richmond Times-Dispatch beginning in 1994. It folded in 1997 and left so little of a legacy that there is a grand total of one search result for it in all of the Googles, which is a link to the Library of Congress where you can find which libraries have copies on microfiche. At the time, Paul Caputo and I thought this was our ticket to comedy stardom. We were exceptionally stupid.
Hi. We are Jeff and Paul. At least our parents didn’t name us “Pongo” or “Mad.”
Not long ago, in this very “newspaper,” we published a column about the Richmond news media (which, due to typographical errors, included Channel 8). Like all of our best work, it contained biting political and social commentary, and repeated references to the word “ass.” The column earned these wacky comments from cheerful WRVA morning personality Tim “Tim” Timberlake:
“It seems we’ve been mentioned here in the … is this a newspaper? Oh, ha ha, how funny. Incidentally, you’ve blown it now, haven’t you, you filth-ridden vermin? Are you listening Jeff and Paul?! WITH GOD AS MY WITNESS, YOU WILL NEVER BE ON THE RADIO IN THIS TOWN FOR AS LONG AS I LIVE! Let’s take a caller.”
In fact, this controversial column provoked a flood of similar responses from “many” of our “readers.”
“Hey,” NewsChannel 6 Anchor Charles Fishburne did not say, “Why don’t you punks write something about cable television and leave us the Hell alone?”
That gave us an idea: “Let’s have PIZZA for dinner again!” But it also gave us another idea:
Jeff and Paul’s Guide to Cable TV
DIVISION I: The Basics
Motto: “Where Old Canceled Sitcoms Go to Die”
Format: Every bad TV show you can think of, plus excellent live theater (“WWF Monday Nite RAW!”)
Best Feature: (tie) 18-hour “Knight Rider” marathons keep derelicts (Paul) off the street./When Judge Wapner bit the head off a live plaintiff on camera.
Worst Feature: When Judge Wapner’s bowels are acting up and he gives people the death sentence.
Trivia Fact: It not only insults your intelligence, but slaps it upside the head, too.
The Weather Channel
Motto: “One Step Up From Static!”
Format: A wide variety of topical programs concerning important political and social issues, ranging from rainy weather to sunny weather
Best Feature: Vital up-to-the-minute barometric pressure readings from Boise, Idaho.
Worst Feature: Hey! It’s weather! Just look out the window, for God’s sake.
Trivia Fact: Temperatures in the 70s do not actually turn an entire state orange.
BET (Black Entertainment Television)
Motto: “When You Just Can’t Get Enough Rap Videos”
Format: Surprisingly, rap videos
Best Feature: No danger of seeing “Mama’s Family” at any time
Worst Feature: You won’t believe this, but it gets kinda old after a while.
Trivia Fact: Counterpart channel “NET” (Norwegian Entertainment Television) failed due to lack of rap videos about fjords or people named “Ingemar.”
VH-1 (Video Hits One)
Motto: “White Entertainment Television”
Format: Imagine Lite 98 with pictures.
Best Feature: (tie) Cool Cheesy ‘80s videos they got out of the attic at MTV/Keeps Mariah Carey off welfare
Worst Feature: Has been known to cause dizziness, stomach cramps and mild comas.
Trivia Fact: Originally intended as a “Baby Boomer” counterpart to the “younger, hipper” MTV, it is now used as an industrial-strength sedative, while MTV is used to entertain mutants and rabid farm animals.
MTV (Music Television)
Motto: “Cretin Central”
Format: Irritating game shows, cheese-ridden pseudo-dramas, “Beavis and Butthead,” and info-mercials, plus up to three bad music videos per day.
Best Feature: “The Great Cornholio” episode of “Beavis and Butthead”
Worst Feature: Is basically just total crap.
Trivia Fact: If someone identifies himself as an avid MTV watcher, it is socially acceptable to punch him in the face.
The Discovery Channel
Motto: “Must-Ignore TV”
Format: Alternating footage of sharks eating divers and World War II planes dropping bombs on buildings.
Best Feature: When they drop bombs on sharks.
Worst Feature: Jacques Cousteau thinks he’s so much cooler than everyone else.
Trivia Fact: Come see Jeff in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” this weekend at the University of Richmond theater! Mention at the box office that you saw this notice in The Richmond State, and they will punch you in the face.
Trivia Fact II: Sometimes you can see Paul walking around in the background of Channel 12 newsroom live shots.
Trivia Fact III: The fastest land mammal is the cheetah.
Trivia Fact IV: The fattest land mammal is Rush Limbaugh.
Motto: “We DARE You to Watch!”
Format: Pulse-pounding, rivetingly incomprehensible legislative session coverage
Best Feature: Wacky skits all the congressmen perform in drag between bills
Worst Feature: They only rarely air old episodes of “What’s Happening.”
Trivia Fact: Dwayne from “What’s Happening” was really kind of a dork.
E! (Entertainment Television)
Motto: (tie) “E!-rritating!” or ”AIIIEEEEE!”
Format: No one really cares.
Best Feature: “Talk Soup” is used as a nationwide indicator of stupidity.
Worst Feature: Howard Stern is just really ugly.
Trivia Fact: The exclamation point in “E!” is pronounced “Prince.”
ESPN (Entertainment Sports Programming Network)
Motto: “CNN With Excess Testosterone”
Format: All sports, all the time, except when they show golf
Best Feature: The SportsCenter anchors make having a rotten attitude seem cool.
Worst Feature: Occasionally shows New York Mets games, under the title “The Parade of Shame and Wasted Lives.”
Trivia Fact: In September of 1983, a woman watched ESPN.
ESPN2 “The Deuce”
Motto: “If You’re Watching This, You’re Pathetic”
Format: 24-hour coverage of second-rate sports, like “underwater skateboarding,” “beach bowling,” “wheelchair rugby” and “professional ice hockey.”
Best Feature: They’ve got to be hiring.
Worst Feature: Try as we might, we can’t get them to cover our annual Richmond State Whiffle Ball Tournament.
Trivia Fact: No one has ever actually seen ESPN2.
CNN Headline News
Motto: “Enough News to Choke a Horse”
Format: 24 hours a day – news from Really Ugly People
Best Feature: If you close your eyes and crumple newspapers, you can pretend you’re listening to WRVA.
Worst Feature: Not enough skin.
Trivia Fact: It’s the only news service to run syndicated repeats of old broadcasts.
QVC (Quality Value Convenience) Shopping Network
Motto: “Like Shopping, but More Irritating!”
Format: Kind of a cross between the Wheel of Fortune and BLAB TV
Best Feature: It makes you realize there are many worthwhile, valuable things you could do instead of watching TV.
Worst Feature: You’ll watch it anyway.
Trivia Fact: The modern consumer could do 100 percent of his daily shopping from home, provided all he ever needed were Diamanoid rings the size of golf balls and Cubic Zirconia coat hangers.
TBS (Turner Broadcasting System)
Motto: “Look, Jane, I own a TV station!”
Format: The Atlanta Braves and other minions of Satan, like “Matlock.”
Best Feature: Jane Fonda used to wear just a leotard to Atlanta Braves games.
Worst Feature: Jane Fonda still wears just a leotard to Atlanta Braves games
Trivia Fact: Paul hates the Braves more than he does any other group of human beings this side of the KKK and the phone company.
DIVISION II: Pay Stations
Motto: “Breasts Ahoy!”
Best Feature: Large breasts
Worst Feature: Small breasts
Trivia Fact: May not be suitable for children under 17 who don’t like breasts.
Trivia Fact II: We’ll be back watching this channel, once our girflfriends refuse to talk to us for a week after reading all these “breast” gags.
HBO (Home Box Office)
Motto: “You Were Just Too Lazy to Go to the Video Store, Weren’t You?”
Format: Good movies twice a month; “Ernest Goes to Hell” six times a day.
Best Feature: Thank GOD you didn’t pay to see these movies in a theater.
Worst Feature: You’re still paying an extra $5 a month to see these movies on cable.
Trivia Fact: Nobody has understood a single word said on “Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam” in over three years.
Motto: “Calling All Idiots!”
Format: Movies two months before they show up on HBO, plus specials like (True Fact!) “David Hasselhoff and Friends,” featuring Marla Maples and David singing.
Best Feature: Provides the pleasant illusion of being in a cheap hotel somewhere.
Worst Feature: You may miss that Mike Tyson fight you paid $40 for if you sneeze.
Trivia Fact: “Rosebud” was Citizen Kane’s sled.
© 1996 Puff Carpluto