What is The Bobby Heenan Show, you ask? If you have to ask, you must have never seen it. If you had seen it, you'd definitely remember it.
A little background is in order. Back in the mid-1980s, Vince McMahon tried a number of different things to make wrestling more mainstream. In addition to the obvious, such as bringing in mainstream quasi-celebrities and creating the rock 'n wrestling connection, there are a number of "less successful" ideas he had during that time period that have been lost in the annals of wrestling, overshadowed by the successes of RAW and Nitro.
One of those ideas was WWF Tuesday Night Titans (TNT). It was a wrestling talk show, hosted by Vince McMahon. It was your basic talk show, except all the guests were wrestlers, and they were all in character. This show brought us great moments like Kamala eating a live chicken, the Samoans putting whole raw fish in a blender and then drinking it, and the "Hearts and Flowers" section where wrestlers would give romantic advice, such as Freddie Blassie telling a lonely woman that if she shaved her armpits and put on some deoderant, maybe she'd find a man. Probably my all-time favorite bit on that show was the Mating Game, which was structured like the Dating Game and the three bachelors were Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, and Jimmy Hart. The woman picked Jim Neidhart, and when she saw him, she ran off screaming. Great stuff.
One of the lesser-known efforts was The Bobby Heenan Show. Roddy Piper had become co-host of the WWF's weekly show along with Gorilla Monsoon, and had taken the Brain's spot. So, the wind up was Bobby Heenan getting his own talk show, which can best be described as a cross between Larry Sanders and Fernwood 2 Night with a little bit of Howard Stern's first TV show thrown in. The Bobby Heenan Show was well ahead of its time, and I believe only a few episodes were run before it went off the air. Like Police Squad and Get A Life, it was an incredibly funny show that had a cult following, but a cult following doesn't keep you on the airwaves.
It was like Larry Sanders in that it seemed to be a spoof on talk shows and it was like Fernwood 2 Night in that all the guests were really bizarre. However, unlike Fernwood 2 Night, the guests on this show were real. And, like the original Howard Stern TV show, watching this show was like watching a plane crash...no matter how painful it got for the guests, you just couldn't turn away. Bobby was at his best, and he would just rip the poor saps to shreds. He always gets a zinger or two in on Nitro...imagine him being the host of a show where the guests are easy targets.
The show is really low-budget, and the content of the entire show seems to have been done in one take. In fact, it seems like all three episodes might have been filmed in one day.
When I put out the call for a copy of the Million Dollar Man segment on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, I was contacted by one of my readers, Kevin Buchanan. Not only was he willing to lend me a videotape of it, but he had a number of other tapes, one of which contained three episodes of the Bobby Heenan show, which I had never seen but had heard about.
As I watched, the shows got funnier and funnier. The premiere episode was so-so, but the second and especially the third were incredible. For obvious reasons which you will soon see, as I watched the third one I was laughing so hard I started gagging.
So, enjoy these tapes that Kevin was nice enough to share. And the most important thing to remember as you listen to the sound clips, these are real guests getting (verbally) torn limb from limb.
I suggest you go through them in order, since they get better as you go along.
Go to Episode 1
Go to Episode 2
Go to Episode 3
Look for more stills from the Kevin Buchanan archives on DDT Digest soon. Also, before you ask, I can't copy these tapes for you. In the first 24 hours since I initially put up this feature, I got a number of requests to do that. Sorry, but if I did it for everyone, I'd be copying tapes all day.
Note: In June of 2002, I got an e-mail from Wes, the world's biggest Bobby Heenan Show fan. According to him, there were actually four episodes, and I'm missing the second one. His e-mail:
I was looking up info on the Bobby Heenan Show through a search engine, and I came across your website. I wish they had made more of them. Anyway, I know for a fact that there were four episodes made of the Bobby Heenan Show. I have the first three on tape. The real second episode that you were leaving out on you list, had an 84-year-old stripper and a man who whistled through his nose. The belly dancer episode was number three and the adult film star episode was number four. After the fourth episode, they just would just cut to the studio where Bobby was and talked to him and usually one of his wrestlers that he managed, and good old Jameson Winger (What a Goober). It was a great show that should have been kept around a while longer.