Public Access Religious Horror

Christian Science clown

Public access TV may be a dying “art”. It used to be that when a company wanted to get the cable-TV franchise for a city, the city would insist on getting their own channel out of the deal. Very often, the rules allowed any city resident to put their own TV show onto that channel.

The heyday of public access TV shows was probably the 1970s and 1980s. You never knew what sort of weird or wonderful show you might stumble across as you’re flipping the channels in those days. (Most shows were weird. Some were wonderful. I even put on a few shows myself back then—and they were awesome!).

These channels still exist on many cable systems, but many people get their TV from satellite providers. That means less exposure for the local eccentrics. Also, with the advent of YouTube, I think a lot of these people have gravitated to the internet (What? Strange things on the internet?!). Sadly, the locally-produced quirk-o-vision is falling by the wayside.

But take heart! Some of it still exists! Take, for instance, David Hart. Apparently this guy is well known in the Los Angeles area as a local oddball, and he has made a few appearances on mainstream TV. However, he is most famous for his public-access TV program, the Junior Christian Science Bible Lesson Show. The program is best summarized in this video clip from some sort of BBC program about weird Americans or weird TV:

[Note: I'm having trouble embedding this video, but I want to get this article posted. For now, you'll have to go to the Wimp website to see the video (highly recommended!). I'll try to re-embed this video tonight. (If you know how to do this, please let me know.)]

If you want to see the actual show, you can see it on (where else?) YouTube. I’ve embedded it here, but I couldn’t watch more than a couple of minutes of it.

15 Responses to “Public Access Religious Horror”

  1. Lindsay Says:

    Ahh…I miss public access tv from my youth in Lincoln, Nebraska. We had our own local eccentric radical show named Ron Kurtenbach. He even has a write up in wikipedia

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Kurtenbach

    As you might guess, being an outspoken communist in Lincoln Nebraska is quite controversial. His show consisted of him sitting in his den with his phone number taped to the back wall and drunk or high people calling in. On slow nights he would sometimes nod off and the show would consist of you watching Ron sleep.

    There was also the famous incident on Lincoln Public Access of a man dressed as a clown masturbating. I think that was the beginning of the end of the station in our area. As far as I know our clown did not play the accordian.

  2. J. John Johnstown Says:

    My ex-wife and I used to watch a lot of Seattle Public Access. My favorite shows to this day are a toss up between Handy and Bandy’s Wacky Shack Funtime Hour (which I watched on acid the last time and that’s why I haven’t seen it since) or Rev. Bruce Howard of the Church of Life Scientist and his dog Buster. Good times.

    By the way, David Liebe Hart and James Quall are on the Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job! late night on [Adult Swim]. They were on tour with Tim and Eric this year. Wicked pissa!

  3. ericsan Says:

    I can never figure out about these bozos, is “church of christ scientist” the same as “christian science” and what kind of bullshit “science” are we talking about here?

  4. ericsan Says:

    OMG just watched the video, it’s craptacular. It’s really like the guy is doing it in his garage using VHS equipment bought at a garage sale. Check out the awesome chroma key with the see-through audience (not that it matters since half of them are asleep anyway). I love how the puppet’s ear falls off in the middle of the show and the choice of completely inappropriate themes (“my wife left me for a crackhead”).

  5. Ron Britton Says:

    Ericsan:

    is “church of christ scientist” the same as “christian science”

    Yes, although in the case of this lunatic, he is not officially connected. The real Christian Science church got upset with him for using the term in the title of his TV show.

    what kind of bullshit “science” are we talking about here?

    It certainly isn’t medical science. They don’t believe in that. At least once a year, you hear about a couple who let their kid die of some simple curable illness just because treating him is against their religion.

    It’s really like the guy is doing it in his garage using VHS equipment bought at a garage sale. Check out the awesome chroma key with the see-through audience

    That’s the state of the art in public access TV. Most of those stations are running with 30-year-old equipment, because they have almost no budget. It’s usually something like a penny out of your entire $100 cable bill goes to the public access station. I bet if I were to go back to the station where I did my shows in the 1980s, I’d see the exact same equipment. (I also wonder if I’d still see the bullet holes. I forgot the story on those. It predated me, but I guess they didn’t even have a budget for spackle.)

  6. ericsan Says:

    Ron, have your shows been preserved for posterity? It would be so cool to see them, I’m sure I can dig out a U-matic player somewhere!

  7. Ron Britton Says:

    Allegedly I have a VHS tape of the Halloween 1983 show. I haven’t looked at it or for it in eons. Magnetic media don’t live forever, so even if I find it, I’m afraid to put it in the machine. My co-conspirator in that endeavor has been hounding me to digitize it, but I don’t see him coughing up the money to do so.

    Sometimes memories are better than reality anyway. I can tell people how great the show was, and there’s no evidence to contradict me.

  8. Jeff Eyges Says:

    I can tell people how great the show was, and there’s no evidence to contradict me.

    Heh! Like creationism.

  9. Bart v.d. M. Says:

    o.O

    I didn´t manage to see the full vid either, but that´s because it was so bad my PC got bluescreened by it (I wasn’t running any other programs). It must be a sign! God doesn’t want me to listen to christians!

    Except this is actually proof against his existence, ’cause if he’d exist he’d either kill the guy who created this, or realized he had created the guy who created this himself and commit suicide in shame.

  10. Ron Britton Says:

    Bart v.d. M.:

    I didn´t manage to see the full vid either, but that´s because it was so bad my PC got bluescreened by it (I wasn’t running any other programs). It must be a sign!

    No. That was your PC’s logic fuse blowing. It can only handle so much. Be thankful they build those in there. It’s for your own protection.

  11. Thomas Says:

    I used to work on a friend’s show on PeopleTV-Atlanta. He was once reprimanded by the network for having religious content in his show. I think he wished people a happy Hanukkah in his closing.

    The strange thing is that there’s was also a lot of Nation of Islam programming on the channel at the time. I suppose I can’t expect people to be even handed about this kind of thing.

  12. spinetingler Says:

    My co-conspirator in that endeavor has been hounding me to digitize it, but I don’t see him coughing up the money to do so.

    Ron, I’ll do it for free. Digitizing VHS is one of those things that I do at least once per month.

  13. Lindsay Says:

    I wish I could hunt down the name of the BBC4 documentary as it looks like it is an interesting program (or programme, I suppose) and I’d love to watch the whole thing.

    As for the Jr. Christian Science Bible show…you really just can’t make this stuff up. I like how Andy Nyman described the puppets as objects pulled out of a fire at a Children’s Hospital. And the ex wife who’s addicted to crack comments from a puppet, that is priceless stuff. At least that corner of the fundy world is so whacked out the rest of us can chuckle at it and not have to worry about them infringing on our civil liberties.

  14. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Holy crap. And all this time I thought that guy was just acting being a dumbass on T&E:ASGJ! I guess T&E were showing him in all his cable access-style glory, understanding the lulz he brings without having to do anything to make him look stupid.

    Tim and Eric win yet again. Beaver Boys 4eva! Where’s my shrimp?

  15. Vidi Says:

    The BBC show is Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe, one of the more funny shows on telly about how modern telly is absolute rubbish. You can find it all on Youtube.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/xthemusic Though it’s mainly about British telly, there’s a few bits about foreign shows and he takes quite a few potshots at Fox News in Newswipe.