The 10 Most Ridiculous Talk Show Segments About Punk
1. Jello Biafra Absolutely Destroys Tipper Gore on Oprah In hindsight, every single thing about this interview was ludicrous. For starters, to think that Oprah, the current supreme overlord of television, would, at some point in time, care what Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra has to say about anything is mind-boggling. If anyone named Jello even wanted to get in the same zip code as Oprah today, he’d need to start doping and winning some Tour de France titles pretty damn fast. Secondly, Biafra was exchanging blows with Tipper Gore about music censorship. Amazing, given that she would eventually go on to become the Second Lady of the United States. And thirdly, he came out winning! He even directly accused her of trying to destroy his career and the audience actually applauded him for it!
2. The Locust’s Justin Pearson Pranks The Jerry Springer Show This now legendary episode of The Jerry Springer Show featured Justin Pearson, member of countless punk and grindcore bands including The Locust, Swing Kids, Holy Molar, and The Crimson Curse. Pearson dropped the bomb on his girlfriend that he’d been cheating on her with both his male and female roommates due to his “rock and roll lifestyle.” The roomates, it turned out, were cheating on him with each other. The usual Springer shenanigans ensued: slapping, torn clothes, middle fingers, shouts of “y’all ain’t know me!” But like many Jerry Springer Show segments, it was all staged. Bloodlink Records, a record label associated with The Locust, set the whole thing up as a hoax. All in all, it netted Pearson some free publicity for The Locust (whose shirt he wore), a duped audience, and a beating from security guards for blowing a snotrocket on the stage.
3. GG Allin Acts Like GG Allin on The Jerry Springer Show
If you have even the most basic knowledge of the late shock rocker GG Allin, you know why it would be a terrible idea to invite him within 5 miles of a TV camera. But as a champion of terrible ideas, Jerry Springer did so in 1993. And even worse, he paired Allin on stage with a 17-year-old fan and her parents. Put the whole thing in front of an easily-offended studio audience, and you’ve got an hour of TV gold. Allin had the audience’s jaws on the floor with his boasting of rape, bestiality, and extreme violence, dropping lines like, “If you get raped at my show, you’re better off for it.” At one point, the interview veered into discussion of Allin committing suicide, to which the audience uproariously applauded. Hooray for suicide!
4. Joey Ramone And His Adorable Mom On Geraldo
Punk can have a soft side too. Sometime around 1989, noted mustache aficionado, Geraldo Rivera, did a segment called “Heavy Metal Moms” and for some reason included Joey Ramone, despite Ramone being the all time poster boy for punk rock and definitely not heavy metal. Ramone appeared with his mother, Charlotte Lesher, who enthusiastically expressed her support of her son, telling Geraldo how much she loves The Ramones’ music. At first, it might’ve seemed like she was just being polite…until she started singing verses from “Beat On The Brat” and “I Wanna Be Sedated” on command. Basically, she was the coolest mom ever and you’d be hard-pressed to find a punk who wouldn’t want her as a parent.
5. The Entire New York Hardcore Scene Vs. New York Magazine on The Phil Donahue Show
Back in 1986, New York Magazine published a semi-inflammatory cover story called “Hard-core Kids” (yes, hyphen and everything) about the dangers of the burgeoning NYC hardcore scene. Phil Donahue invited the author, Peter Blauner, on his show to discuss it. The audience was jam packed with members of notable NYC hardcore bands, including Agnostic Front, Youth of Today, Murphy’s Law, Token Entry, and Cro-Mags who defended themselves and their scene. These not-ready-for-TV punks pretty much monopolized the show, with the exception of one sweet little white haired lady who found them to be “very insightful young people.” Awesome, see you in the pit, granny! The segment is worth watching solely for Donahue’s dry, Donahue-esque reading of Agnostic Front lyrics. Donahue also chimed in with this amazingly prophetic commentary on the hardcore scene: “Pretty soon, it’ll be mainstream and you’ll have to do something else.” Well yeah, Donahue, thanks to you.
6. Regis and Kathy Lee Meet Warzone and Murphy’s Law Following the infamous segment on “The Phil Donahue Show,” some of the hardcore kids featured on the episode were soon asked to join Regis and Kathy Lee on ABC’s “The Morning Show.” The show’s producers had to have sensed that they had a potentially hilarious setup on their hands when they invited Warzone’s Raymond “Raybeez” Barbieri and Murphy’s Law’s Todd Youth on the stage to talk about the hardcore scene with Regis Philbin. The guy can’t even wrap his brain around the concept of online banking in those TD Bank commercials. How was he supposed to grasp the skinhead movement? Philbin hilariously struggled to keep up throughout the interview and at one point asked if they’d “ever tried a marijuana cigarette.”
7. The Clash Cover Tom Snyder In Stickers In 1981, Tom Snyder wanted to have a sincere conversation about music with one of the biggest bands in the world, The Clash. And he did. Kind of. The interview was half serious discussion of the band’s career and half Joe Strummer fucking around. Strummer repeatedly derailed Snyder’s questions with his antics: wrapping a plastic bag over his head, playing with a teddy bear, and putting stickers all over Snyder’s suit.
8. National Talk Show Tries And Fails To Paint Black Flag As A Violent Band
This national news segment on the Los Angeles punk scene was clearly designed to paint punk as a violent, racist movement. But the interviewer got more than she bargained for with her guest, Chuck Dukowski of Black Flag. Despite his “tommyhawk hairdo” as the she described it, Dukowski was soft-spoken and thoughtful. Probably not the explosive interview they were looking for. If they had just waited a couple of years, they could’ve invited Henry Rollins on to discuss why he punches audience members in the face at Black Flag shows. 9. Twin Cities Live Hosts The Most Awkward Discussion of Punk Ever
This 1985 segment from a Minneapolis talk show might not feature any household names in the realms of either television or punk but it is the most incredibly awkward, cringeworthy segment of the list. The host, Gene Rump (cool name, by the way), who has an immaculately trimmed moustache and matching Supercuts haircut, incredulously discussed punk culture with a studio full of local liberty-spiked teens and for some reason, a whole bunch of goths. Every single question was the stupidest question ever asked. Questions like, “What’s in your nose?,” “What do you call that?,” “How do you do that?,” and “Doesn’t it hurt?” Rump made matters worse by peppering the show with incredibly long silent pauses and shoulder touching. Oh god, the shoulder touching! If you’ve ever had to explain any alternative fashion choices to your conservative family, this interview should feel like home.
10. The Sex Pistols Throw All The Profanity They Know At Bill Grundy
In this thoroughly unproductive segment with The Sex Pistols on The Today Show in the UK, Bill Grundy was able to ask exactly one serious question. After that, the interview devolved into the band hurling every expletive they knew at him until he shut the segment down, but not before creepily macking on Siouxsie Sioux who was standing in the background.
Bonus: Gwar Yucks It Up With Joan Rivers You’ve got to hand it to Joan Rivers (and at one point Gwar literally gave her a severed hand), she really did her homework and had a very reasonable discussion with Gwar. As reasonable of a discussion as you can have with a grown man in a g-string named Oderus Urungus anyway.