The Joe Piscopo Halloween Party (1987)

In 1987, I thought, “Oh Joe, what happened to you?” You sprung from my home state of New Jersey, full of promise and talent and then, I just don’t know what happened. Someone gave you a set of weights or something, you left SNL, the movies were a mixed bag. My friends all mocked, but I have to tell you I still stuck by you. People could deride, but I had your back. I even planned a little viewing party with my friends to watch your Halloween comedy special on HBO in 1987. Live comedy from the funny man from Passaic, this would be an interesting capper to the Halloween festivities and would certainly pull my friends back into the Joe-loving fold.

20 minutes into the special, I was alone. My friends found the special was confusing and at times embarrassing and they left, but I stuck it out. When it was over, I sadly retired the last inkling of my fandom for you Joe. Was I wrong to do so? Time would tell…

A decade later I was at a flea market and I spotted a hand labeled VHS tape with the words Joe Piscopo Halloween on it. I bought it for 75 cents, brought it home and rewatched this blast from the recent past. The whole thing was still a train wreck, but I have come to appreciate what an epic mess it is and from that point on, my friends tended to agree. It might not have been your intent, but this time capsule started to make new fans of Joe. Could it be you were ahead of your time? Was the world not mature to understand and appreciate this extravaganza?

It is time for you to break this title out of its VHS tomb and hit the road marketing it. Sell people on the “thinks I’m a rockstar” thing that was happening to comedians. Geniuses are never respected in their own time and yes your work on SNL bordered on genius, but his pop culture comedy musical mashup might be your Sgt. Peppers.

For people who have never seen it, you are in for a real treat, a segment of the special has been posted online.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Patrick J. Doody

    Holy crap, this is awesome!!! As someone who produces and writes big variety specials like this, I suppose I have a place in my heart for these kinds of programs because I know what goes into them.

    In watching the credits, I know a few people who worked on this – notably Bruce Ryan the art director. We have worked together on a few shows and he is incredibly talented. I’m going to show him this and see what he remembers from making it.

    And the fact that Piscopo rides a motorcycle onto the stage at the top of the show just makes it awesome. And ending with Louie Louie turns it into an instant classic.

    Also, at what point did Joe get so jacked? I remember that once he did, he always showed those pythons off!

  2. Patrick J. Doody

    Oh my god, I can’t stop watching this show. This has been my favorite post of the Halloween season.

  3. The Retroist

    It is amazing right? Definitely a show whose time has come.

  4. Patrick J. Doody

    Dude, I CANNOT stop watching this!!! It’s incredible. I just put together a group of links for my other variety show buddies to enjoy. It’s such a mess, it’s awesome.

    On variety or award shows, we make something called a show board – it’s like a corkboard with the entire rundown of the show on index cards, and you can move them around into the different show acts so you can see the show in a macro view.

    I would LOVE to see the showboard for this. It’s like CARD 1 – HBO show open, CARD 2 – wrestling short film (arm gag), CARD 3 – Joe rids in on motorcycle, CARD 4 – Joe raps and scratches


  5. The Retroist

    When I have shown it to people, they are often left speechless. In fact if you watch any of these clips in almost any order the show still kind of works, but I think it is important to watch that finale as the finale.

  6. RC

    This is a perfect mess and perfect example of Piscopo’s career derailing right before our eyes. I was a fan of Joe’s work on SNL but I got off the train when he started putting out mediocre work such as this. Strangely enough, his SNL partner, Eddie Murphy, would follow in his steps, although it was after a much more successful film career.

    This is very bad.

    Joe needed to put down the dumbbells and workout his comedy muscles more.

  7. Atari Adventure Square

    Piscopo was the funniest player on the revamped SNL, following the cast change.
    Everyone on the 1980 show tried very hard but just couldn’t get it off the ground, then Piscopo would show up as the sportscaster and knock it out of the park for a minute or two.
    He’d get longer bits as the season went on, and Murphy popped up briefly now and then, but they didn’t know how to use him before Lorne Michaels came back and changed things up again, this time for the better.

    Yeah, Joe Piscopo brought the funny back on Saturday nights, so I’m not surprised they gave him opportunities like this to show off.

    He should’ve hired writers instead of dancers.

  8. Robb

    The links are no longer valid! the clips they have on YouTube like the David Lee Roth skit are edited bigtime! Where can I get the full length show?!?

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