29 September 2000 | DLewis
Not to be neglected by fans of black comedy
"Mr. Mike's Mondo Video" was created under the auspices of NBC-TV as a proposed network special. NBC's motivation for doing so was largely supported by O'Donoghue's strength as a writer and performer for Saturday Night Live, then one of NBC's few genuine hit shows. When NBC censors saw the finished product, they were horrified; much as they had been when Richard Pryor's earlier comedy specials were first reviewed. But unlike the situation had been with Pryor, NBC rejected "Mr. Mike", which sent O'Donoghue packing from the network, Saturday Night Live and all. 'Twas a pity; after all, his unpredictable, twisted sense of humor had helped to make SNL distinctive, and his departure was the first indicator of the gradual decline of SNL into the mediocrity it eventually became. Somehow M O'D retained the rights to the finished product, and it was released as a theatrical film in 1980; the author was one of perhaps a half dozen souls who braved it in first release at my particular theater. Few films have been such a poor draw, and it was pulled from distribution very quickly. NBC's main objection to the show was the inclusion of a clip of ex-Sex Pistol and suspected murderer Sid Vicious singing Paul Anka's song "My Way" and firing a pistol at the camera. It's arguably the weakest segment in the film, but for some reason M O'D refused to part with it. When "Mr. Mike's Mondo Video" was issued on VHS in 1985 the audiotrack to this segment was expunged from the release, as Anka's publishing company refused to grant a license for the song. Ironically, the same segment, in a somewhat different visual form, appears in Julien Temple's Sex Pistols film "The Great Rock and Roll Swindle", and no such censorship is imposed in the video release. I am commenting as I am surprised by the low viewer rating for this title on the imdb. Some of the segments here are quite honestly among the funniest, darkest, most irreverent comedy ever committed to film. Fans of offbeat humor really shouldn't miss this one; much of it is still cutting edge two decades on, and certain segments are even now enough to reduce me to helpless hysterics, tears rolling down my cheeks with laughter. Mr. Mike, your "Mondo Video" is so funny, it hurts.