Viva Variety (1997–1999)

TV Series  -  Comedy
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Pseudo-European variety show with all the trimmings. Mr. and (the former) Mrs. Laupin and their dimwitted more-American-than-American sidekick Johnny Blue-jeans team up to bring their "... See full summary »

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Title: Viva Variety (1997–1999)

Viva Variety (1997–1999) on IMDb 7.1/10

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Season:

1 | unknown

Year:

1997 | unknown
Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Series cast summary:
...
 Meredith Laupin (16 episodes, 1997)
...
 Agatha Laupin (16 episodes, 1997)
...
 Johnny Blue Jeans (16 episodes, 1997)
Betsy Chang ...
 Swimsuit Squad (13 episodes, 1997)
Jill Nicklaus ...
 Swimsuit Squad (13 episodes, 1997)
Kerri Quinn ...
 Swimsuit Squad (13 episodes, 1997)
...
 Swimsuit Squad (13 episodes, 1997)
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Storyline

Pseudo-European variety show with all the trimmings. Mr. and (the former) Mrs. Laupin and their dimwitted more-American-than-American sidekick Johnny Blue-jeans team up to bring their "European" show to an American audience with hilarious results. As they say "Viva Variety is as American as French Fries... with mayonnaise and vinegar." Written by Joseph Pranevich <knight@wwaves.com>

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Genres:

Comedy

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Release Date:

1 April 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Mr. and Former Mrs. Laupin Variety Program  »

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Connections

Referenced in Tosh.0: Angry Black Preacher (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

Fluffy escapism without the stupidity. I'd say "Sit back and enjoy" if only this treat hadn't been unceremoniously cancelled!
14 June 2000 | by (Fairmont, West Virgina, USA) – See all my reviews

Contortionists who balance on bicycles, a man who puts molten lead in his mouth, a woman who packs herself in a box with dynamite that's about to go boom... these people don't make up a large percentage of the population, but they do exist, they're brave, and they deserve to be seen on television. We have "Viva Variety" to thank for giving these odd eye-poppers a vehicle, and we can thank it even more for giving us clever comedy that actually demonstrates a familiarity with classical Greek theater and the former Soviet labor system.

I welcomed this return to the variety format, however short, and its creators knew that if you're going to do variety in this day & age, you can't play it straight. That would be like making "The Brady Bunch Movie" just as seriously saccharine as the sitcom that inspired it - you'd be laughed out of town. No, you want the folks laughing WITH you, and "Viva" usually succeeded. Ironically, this delightful half-hour spun off from one of the worst sketches on MTV's occasionally hilarious "The State."

The not-playing-it-straight tactic begins with the talented team of Thomas Lennon and Kerri Kenney, who bicker expertly as the pseudo-suave Eurotrash co-hosts, "Mr. and the former Mrs. Laupin." Michael Ian Black deflty does sidekick duty as Johnny Bluejeans, whose only exposure to American culture before moving here came from our leftover early-'80s exports. Thus he's hopelessly mired in the impression that Pac-Man and "Happy Days" are the very latest in What's Cool - and he's staged whole production numbers to prove it.

And such numbers are the highlight of the show. When Shelley Long guest starred, she and Mr. Laupin (with the help of the "Swimsuit Squad" standbys) professed their love in song for each other's bottoms - but the classy cabaret setting, professional choreography, and inventive lyrics ("His can/Is the kind you write home about... and ON!") kept the segment well above bathroom humor. And that's one of the things I liked best about "Viva": it was cheeky (pun intended) but never mean or scatalogical.

The frequent commercial parodies didn't always work (perhaps because the cast did them right there on the soundstage like in the olden days; they might have allowed themselves pre-recorded ads for the sake of being slicker and funnier). But the game show takeoffs were fun, in part because actual, unsuspecting audience members were called upon to participate. One of the best was a TV trivia quiz where the "real" contestant had a clear advantage in that the other two players were Amish. ("We cannot use the buzzers. They are a sin against God.")

Another high point of "Viva" was that it featured good guest musicians who, like the aforementioned sideshow acts, might not be seen on the mainstream talk shows. The Pizzicato Five performed a bouncy pop song; the fact that it was sung only in Japanese didn't diminish my enjoyment. Eartha Kitt sang a jazzy classic to remind us that old fashioned doesn't necessarily mean old hat.

It's a shame that "Viva" was yanked from the air so soon, especially since the last episode saw the Laupins' splashy (and trashy, but that's their aim) Vegas re-marriage and the Missus's announcement that she was pregnant. It would be fun to see a little Laupin following in mom's kitschy sequin-draped, overly pedicured footsteps.


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