There’s a lot going on. A lot, frankly, going wrong. Well, no it’s just one thing- but one big thing. I’ve gone from mad to insulted to tired to now, frankly- just sad. I’m sad and tired and ready to just sort of give up, step in line, keep my head down, and wait. I guess that’s all you can do. Sometimes the jerks are bigger and so they win. So it goes.
The ’90s were golden years for Nickelodeon. The children’s cable television network was home to now cult-classic shows like Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1991-2000), Clarissa Explains It All (1991-’94), The Secret Life of Alex Mack (1994-’98), and Salute Your Shorts (1991-’92)—arguably heretofore unmatched in their clever, un-condescending approach to entertaining young people. Nick News with Linda Ellerbee launched in 1992, and remains to this day one of the only shows on-air devoted to frank, engaging discussions of teen issues and opinions.
But perhaps the program that best embodied the values of Nick in those years was All That, a sketch-comedy show that premiered 20 years ago today. Created by Brian Robbins and Mike Tollin, All That ran for an impressive 10 seasons before it was canceled in 2005. The prolific franchise spawned a number of spin-offs (Good Burger, Kenan & Kel, The Amanda Show) and launched the careers of several comedy mainstays: Kenan Thompson, Amanda Bynes, Nick Cannon, and Taran Killam.
Like Saturday Night Live (which would later hire Thompson and Killam), All That was a communal pop-cultural touchstone. The parents of ’90s kids had the Church Lady, “more cowbell,” and Roseanne Roseannadanna; the kids themselves, though, had Pierre Escargot, “Vital Information,” and Repairman Man Man Man, and we recited their catch-phrases to one another in the cafeteria and on the playground. Although All That was clearly designed as a SNL, Jr., of sorts, it wasn’t merely starter sketch comedy—it was an admittedly daring venture for a children’s network to embark on.
In its own right, All That was a weirdly subversive little show. It never explicitly crossed the line into “mature” territory, but it constantly flirted with the limits of FCC-approved family-friendliness. Take, for instance, the “Ask Ashley” sketch. A barely tween-aged Amanda Bynes (Seasons Three to Six), played an adorably wide-eyed video advice-columnist. Ashley (“That’s me!”) would read painfully dimwitted letters from fans with clearly solvable problems. (Example: “Dear Ashley, I live in a two-story house and my room is upstairs. Every morning, when it’s time to go to school, I jump out the window. So far I’ve broken my leg 17 times. Do you have any helpful suggestions for me?”) She would wait a beat, smile sweetly into the camera, then fly into a manic rage; emitting a stream of G-rated curses, always tantalizingly on the verge of spitting a true obscenity into the mix.
Read more. [Image: Nickelodeon]
attractive people: a poem
you are attractive
how and why
stop being attractive
im going to cry
The real Richard Ayoade is something of a surprise. Prettier, younger and slimmer than he looks on TV, the initial impression is more hipster than geek. He’s also quite possibly the best-dressed person I’ve ever been in the same room as; a peeping sliver of lemon sock perfectly matches the colour of a butterfly’s wings in the pattern on his shirt.
His answers to questions are similarly considered. Polite, softly-spoken and humble, the word that probably best describes Richard Ayoade is “careful”. Not the bad sort of careful that implies control freakery, but the decent sort that means “full of care”. The sort of careful that matches socks to butterfly wings.
Some folks might remember that I got my favorite part of Middle Earth tattooed on my head a while ago, but now there’s more! The whole side has been done that stretches all the way to Erebor, and I’m not even done yet.
(Many continuous thanks to Ed Dempsey in Woodstock, Ny)