The Hardest Working Man In Showbusiness

Internationally recognized acting superstar, or funeral director?  You decide.

Internationally recognized acting superstar, or funeral director? You decide.

Do you recognize the man in the picture above?  He doesn’t exactly look like someone who flashback fridaybelongs on my blog, let alone a Flashback Friday post.

Well, if you grew up in the 80’s like I did, you are almost certainly familiar with him.  What if I told you his name was Les Lye?  Does that ring any bells?

No?  Still stumped?  What could this rather stuffy looking guy possibly have to do with our childhood?

Here’s a little hint….

Duh'I got to get that recipe for Reese's Pieces from the last comic.

Duh’I got to get that recipe for Reese’s Pieces from the last comic.

If your parents had cable TV in the 1980’s, there is no way you weren’t raised on a heavy dose of Les Lye.  He was the actor who played all of the adult male roles on Nickelodeon’s flagship show of the decade, “You Can’t Do That On Television” (The female adult roles were all played by Abby Hagyard).  While the appeal of Nick’s legendary sketch comedy show was that it was for kids, by kids… there is no doubt that the show’s star was not one of its endless stream of child actors (Note from Buster the Mythbusting Possum: Alanis Morissette was barely a blip on YCDToTV’s radar, only appearing in a small handful of episodes).  She’s only remembered because of what she became), but the man who played all of the adult characters who constantly tormented them.

Lye created a whole slew of offbeat characters that were featured in most of the show’s sketches.  Above you see one of his most famous… restauranteur extraordinaire Barth.  Barth was slow and dimwitted, but an evil genius of culinary tastelessness nonetheless.  The Barthie Burger was legendary in its ability to make the kids sick, and you never quite knew what was going into it…

Whaddaya think's in the burgers?

Whaddaya think’s in the burgers?

Digging further into Les Lye’s closet of quick change disguises, we find other such memorable characters as….

Don't encourage your mother!

Don’t encourage your mother!

Senator Lance Prevert, the world’s worst and slobbiest father.

Here Lisa, stuff this in your mouth...

Here Lisa, stuff this in your mouth…

Ross Ewich, the show’s “producer” who could often be seen barging in on the set and trying to boss the kids around.

Only in the 80's could you get away with a Hitler and naughty word reference on children's television.  Man, I miss the good old days!

Only in the 80’s could you get away with a Hitler and naughty word reference on children’s television. Man, I miss the good old days!

The kids’ strict teacher Mr. Shidler, whose name was often pronounced with an emphasis on the T…

It's the 80's, I can still spank your ass, young man!

It’s the 80’s, I can still spank your ass, young man!

The school principal, who would run the detention and have the bad boys and girls of YCDToTV copy some obscene amount of pages from the huge, dusty dictionary on the desk.  I had a fourth grade teacher who loved assigning writing sentences (“I will not be an asshole in class” 200 times) as punishment, so these sketches always resonated with me…

Even Blip never dreamed of the day it would cost a dollar to play a damn arcade game...

Even Blip never dreamed of the day it would cost a dollar to play a damn arcade game…

Greedy owner of the arcade, Blip.  I don’t need to remind anyone in their 30’s and 40’s how popular the video game arcades were in the 80’s…

You're not going to trick me into saying "fire" (BANG! BANG! BANG!)

You’re not going to trick me into saying “fire” (BANG! BANG! BANG!)

The Capitan, who was in charge of executions.  These sketches would always start off with Lye using his sword as a baton as he said, “Ready….. Aim….” before the doomed kid would interrupt asking to stop the execution.  Most of these sketches wound up with The Capitan, who had the most dysfunctional firing squad (amigos!) in the history of executions, walking in front of the target area as he uttered the magic word “Fire!”, and he’d go down in a hail of gunfire.  “That is one sneaky kid!”

I can't drive 95!

I can’t drive 95!

Snake Eyes, the renegade driver of the kids’ school bus, who was always violating every rule of the road and running the bus off the road and into peril for the sheer thrill of it.

Now assigned to Guantanamo Bay.

Now assigned to Guantanamo Bay.

The dungeonmaster, whose job was to torment the chained up kids (why they were there in the first place was never explained).  The further I get into this post, the more I realize just how fucked-up awesome this show really was!

Evil Squirrel's Nest has been a mangy rodent production.

Evil Squirrel’s Nest has been a mangy rodent production.

The show’s announcer, who would only be seen at the end of the show, usually saying something he shouldn’t be saying and not realizing he’s still on the air.  At the beginning of each episode, you would hear him give the fake show that You Can’t Do That On Television was pre-empting (“Mr. Rogers Bullies the Neighborhood”, “Reading Rambo”, “Hulk Hogan vs. Punky Brewster”, etc.) as well as what kind of humorous production the show was after the credits rolled.

And Les had many other recurring characters on the show, including a Groucho Marx inspired doctor, a goofy looking high school coach, and a pain inflicting dentist.  What’s truly amazing other than the fact that this man literally carried the show with his endless parade of zany personalities is the fact that he was born in 1924, so he was in his 60’s during most of the show’s run!  When most people would be thinking about retiring, Les Lye was just beginning to make a name for himself… and working awful damn hard to do it!

Just another day at the office.

Just another day at the office.

Sadly, Les Lye passed away back in 2009 at the ripe old age of 84.  He will forever be remembered for entertaining and entire generation of kids who grew up in an era when kids shows were more worried about being funny and interesting and not just about selling licensed merchandise.  We here at The Nest salute Mr. Lye’s contributions to the children of the 80’s, and recognize one of the most underrated talents to ever hit the small screen.  We would also like to assure everyone that Mr. Lye’s remains haven’t been put into the burgers….

Duh'I heard that!

Duh’I heard that!

About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
This entry was posted in Flashbacks and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to The Hardest Working Man In Showbusiness

  1. merbear74 says:

    I loved “You can’t do that on television!” One of my favorite shows as a kid, thank you for doing this post ES! I had the hugest crush on Alistair…

  2. Lynda says:

    Born in the 50s and never having signed up for cable TV, I missed this.
    My Three Sons? (ref: merbear74) Now that I did watch! LOL!

  3. goldfish says:

    Oh, man, that brought back some memories.

  4. Thanks for the memories! I remember that show on boring Saturday afternoons! I always liked the executioner and the dungeon master…what does that say about me? A psychiatrist would have dissecting that show!

  5. Wow, I forgot all about the good ol’ days of YCDTOTV. That show was awesome. My enjoyment of said insanity as a child probably explains a lot about how I ended up 😀

  6. This reminds me of my childhood summers spent in front of the TV. I loved YCDTOTV!

  7. vengeance4 says:

    Ha!! I have no idea what any of you are talking about! I’m just a nineties kid! But if you want to talk about All in the Family…. Aaaaarrchieeee!!!

Jabber Away...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s