Allen Ginsberg in 1982 on The Vern and Evelyn Show

The last of our spotlighted videos from the Stanford Allen Ginsberg Archives is a strange one – Allen on a cable tv improvised-comedy show –  Leon Varjian’s “The Vern & Evelyn Show”  (broadcast out of Madison, Wisconsin (WISC Cable 4) back in 1982).  Allen appears in three segments, in addition to a framing skit where he is jokingly misperceived (since he’s “world-famous”) as the author of the much-loved (and corny) baseball poem Casey at The Bat

The first segment (approximately three-and-a-quarter minutes in) is a spontaneous collaboration with Varjian, “Dueling Poets”,  (parodying “the Dueling Banjos scene” from the 1972 film “Deliverance”.  but with the two taking turns, swapping lines of poetry)

Leon Varjian and Allen Ginsberg in “Dueling Poets”

AG: “The archangels in heaven poured down their cups of  emptiness in to the polluted Mendota

LV: “The box of Kleenex was stapled to the ceiling”

AG: That was because Michael with the sword thought that he had a sneezing cold!

LV: Mounds of linguine piled upon my head

AG: I wonder why Thomas E Dewey let Lucky Luciano out of jail to get that heroin trade over the Mediterranean

LV: Gasoline pumps spewing forth dish detergent

AG: In a free economy they wouldn’t be subsidizing nuclear power and petrochemical waste

LV: Arabian mosquitos sweating pencil tips

AG: I wonder what happened to those empty angels.

Allen is mock-ceremoniously presented with a cup as the winner, at the end of the sketch

The second segment (approximately thirteen minutes in ) – ” “The Wisconsin Roll-Your-Own Symphony Orchestra”  (Allen is accompanied on this, and on a subsequent piece, by Charlie Wagner on guitar)  performing “Put Down Yr Cigarette Rag”  (“don’t smoke, don’t smoke, don’t smoke..”)

The third segment (approximately twenty-two minutes in) is a performance of “Do The Meditation Rock”

Allen also concludes with a spontaneous note (following a request made in comic squeaky -mouse voices – Vern and Evelyn as two mice, an ongoing conceit – (“Why don’t we bring in Mr Ginsberg and have him recite a poem so Louis (sic) can get an idea of what he writes?  – That’s a great idea! – Hey, Mr Ginsberg, could you come in and tell us a little poem here?”)  – Allen responds with an exhalation (“Ah!”) and this line:

“Approaching midnight in the early 1980’s/we four mice play house for you on our table”

Other skits (not involving Allen) include “Micro Wave Church”, “Fascists” (a parody of Dragnet),  “Dave Hubcap’s Football Round-Up”,  “Clown Stereo Repair”,  “The 30 Second Interview”, “Mo Slime Show”   (a parody of radio call-in shows) – “Vern & Evelyn Mousebreak” ( a parody of tv news shows)  “Silent Movie” (The Queue)  and  “Purino Drunk Chow”

“Allen Ginsberg is a world-famous Buddhist poet who has written many many poems who people over the entire world have read and  loved”

The complete show, an odd little item, may be viewed – here 


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