The 80s Ronnie Reagan Horror Show
September 22, 2012

I have never seen an episode of Fridays, although I knew it was an ABC attempt to counter Saturday Night Live. I’m now thinking I missed out, given this astounding piece from 1980. The almost 20-minute-long sketch rewrites The Rocky Horror Picture Show with Ronald Reagan as Frank N. Furter. And the guy doing the impression — this site says it’s John Roarke — is amazing. It’s gotta be difficult to keep two characters going at the same time like that.

You might also recognize Michael Richards as “Brad Minor”, Melanie Chartoff as “Janet”, and Larry David as Eddie/Nixon (!). All the songs have new lyrics, attacking the political revolution that had just taken place. Brad and Janet are on their way to an “anti-nuke rally” when they come across a group of celebrating conservatives. The costumes are really faithful, too.

I can’t imagine any comedy show today being as pointed or committing so much time to a piece, or it being so entertaining. Never mind the copyright issues that would kill such a parody before it ever aired today. The ending’s overly didactic — you can give up at minute 7 of part 2 — but until then, I was astounded. Magenta’s solo, about eight minutes into part 1, is still particularly timely: “It’s so good for the wealthy / who can afford to stay healthy / and the underprivileged / you won’t see at all.”

The cast and/or writers clearly knew the source material. Here it is, in two parts. (And bless home tapers, without whom we’d never have seen this again.)

2 Responses  
Johnny Bacardi writes:  

I watched Fridays a few times back in the day, usually for the musical guest- they had early 80’s-era King Crimson, Ian Hunter & Mick Ronson (with Ellen Foley), and Captain Beefheart, just to name a few (and Steve Forbert, too, obviously). Don’t remember seeing this, though!

J. Kevin Carrier writes:  

Wow, I had completely forgotten about this. Fridays was hit-or-miss, but SNL was in a slump at the time, so they looked pretty good by comparison. You’d think that with Richards and David on there, there’d be enough interest in at least a “best of” DVD.

Ronald Reagan was god’s gift to satirists, wasn’t he? He may even top Nixon in terms of being easy to lampoon.


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