1 9 8 0 – 1 9 8 5 (Canada)
150 x 30 minute episodes
Hosted by comedian/impressionist John Byner, Bizarre featured off-the-wall and risque comedy vignettes and blackouts lampooning various aspects of modern-day life.
ABC had broadcast the original pilot for the series in 1979 with Richard Dawson as the host but did not pick up the series. Picked up by CTV Canada, the show went from commercial to pay cable TV (Showtime) and back again in just a few years.
The cast and crew would bang out 25 episodes in 10 weeks every summer, to be aired throughout the year. The version airing on Showtime featured bare breasts and four-letter words while the network TV version had neither of those elements.
Memorable segments include the stunts by Evel Knievel clone Super Dave Osborne (Bob Einstein, who also wrote and produced for the show); the Bigot Family (although 90’s syndication episodes oddly removed what few Asian gags there were and cut several watermelon gags); the bible-thumping southern Reverend T.V. Seewell (Byner) who broadcast from the Enzlo Veal Animal Healing Pavilion; a Yoga For Health instructor with fake stretchy legs who invariably closed his sketch to Devo‘s Whip It; and a perennially bottom-rated news team featuring a sportscaster who only favoured black athletes, a drunken film reviewer (Saul Rubinek in some sketches) kept on a leash, a clueless weatherman (Don Lake) with an atrocious toupee and a lead anchor (Byner) who took exception to his female co-host’s bitter digs by punching her out of her chair.
Many bit players on the show went on to greater things, most notably Canada’s own Mike Myers. Bizarre was also known as a vehicle for attractive female Toronto models to become big Hollywood stars, by baring their breasts on the (cable version of the) show.
Super Dave Osborne (Bob Einstein)