The Uncle Floyd Show on WBTB, Live Taping
By Anthony Buccino
The largest response to a column in three years was about the Uncle Floyd Show. Floyd Vivino invited us to a live taping. It could have gone better.
This month marks the beginning of my third year writing for this newspaper [The Independent Press of Bloomfield]. The largest response to any of my articles in the last two years was to an article about The Uncle Floyd Show on WBTB-TV, Channel 68, which ran two weeks ago. Since that article appeared, I met Uncle Floyd who invited me to visit a taping of the show. Here’s how it went:
STILL TO BE EARLY
We arrived about 90 minutes early and parked next to the broadcasting building. We went inside to find several other people who also arrived early standing around in the small hall.
As we stood there about 30 minutes, more people came in. The hall is at the foot of the stairs which lead up to the management offices. It runs parallel to the only studio in the building. The sounds of people moving around in the hall carries through the wall into the studio. We were told to whisper to avoid further delay and extra takes of the show that was being taped (a Japanese language show.)
Scott Gordon, a regular on the Uncle Floyd Show came down the stairs to inform us all that we had to leave. Apparently, a prospective sponsor was in the office and the management did not want riff raff in the halls.
It was raining and foggy as everyone shuffled out into the inclement weather. We stood there as Scott Gordon asked the rest of us if we’d mind leaving.
My future wife stared at me, “I absolutely refuse to leave,” she said grimly. I had her get up early on her day off, get dressed up nice like she does for work and hurry to get to the station early to see the taping.
Gordon answered himself saying something like, ‘I know you mind; I’m surprised they even let me stay. If the sponsor wasn’t here, I wouldn’t be here either.’
I showed him my copy of the newspaper saying, I wrote a nice article about the show. The decision was not up to him, if it were, he said, he’d have let us stay. We walked back into the fog and the rain.
NO SIGNS AGAINST IT
After the half-hour search for a place to eat, we returned to the small hall and waited. Uncle Floyd ran in and out getting his props from his car. People moved back and forth in front of the studio’s only door.
They decided to pre-tape a musical number while we waited in the hall a while longer. We watched the “ON AIR” light go on and off until finally we go the word to enter.
Before we could enter, I had to run back out in the rain to move my car away from the building ‘or the fire marshal will be down here,’ chortled a young executive who was probably the boss.
The musicians hauled their equipment back out then about twenty people moved into the cramped studio and stood behind the cameras.
Before the film began rolling, Uncle Floyd took a moment out to talk to a very young girl - about 4 or 5 years old, who said, “I remember you from Zipz.” Uncle Floyd answered with a line she didn’t understand but most of the older people did.
DRESS REHEARSAL ON TAPE
Uncle Floyd was to tape two shows that day. It was hard to remember that as he mentioned Monday it was really Thursday. We were uncomfortable and warm but Uncle Floyd an Oogie (some people think of him as a puppet) made it worthwhile.
Floyd and his sidekicks, Pat Cupo and Scott Gordon (the above-mentioned bouncer), gave a verbal once-over-lightly to the skit and format of the first show.
In an earlier conversation, Uncle Floyd referred to his show as a “dress rehearsal on tape.”
Seeing how they do it, we could see what he meant. Even so, this is not to say that it is done in a slipshod manner. Floyd Vivino is quite serious about what he does. We saw this when in a burglar skit a siren tape was run at the wrong time. Since they were working against the clock this could not be taped over again.
The smiling face was gone as Uncle Floyd showed all the frustration and disappointment of an Emmy winning artist.
As the show progressed, we were pulled along with the emotions of the crew. The fun was spreading infectiously around the one room studio. Pat Cupo waited for his cue as Mr. Mumbles. Scott Gordon led the small band of fans in cheers and shouts. Tony Petrillo stood behind the camera, his pockets stuffed with play money for his part in front of the camera.
The audience ranged in age from four to forty. There were several young boys enjoying a day of their vacation. Two were dressed like Uncle Floyd in loud plaid jackets and bow ties. Some had cameras, most were just happy to be sharing in Uncle Floyd’s zany world.
The first show was to air at 6 p.m. on Monday. The second show was affected by a time change and would air an hour earlier at 5 p.m.
Everyone grumbled at the lousy new timeslot. Uncle Floyd seemed sat at the prospect of losing some viewers, the older ones, who work until five (who) were being tossed aside for the younger viewers. Uncle Floyd (said he) had already received stacks of mail protesting the move.
(Oogie had conferred last week with General DeLivery on deployment of fan clubs in the event of another war like the one that knocked Star Trek out of Uncle Floyd’s timeslot. (Uncle Floyd actually loathes another war.)
TV FOR JERSEY
Undaunted by the heat, time change, and insanity pervading the set, Uncle Floyd plunged on. We were amazed at the speed in which he changed from Uncle Floyd to Oogie to Jerry Jersino. He dashed from desk to the wall where drawings from viewers were, to the piano for a Floydian version of Louis Prima’s “Josephine.” The humor and wit that he produces makes Uncle Floyd unbeatable.
His fan clubs are spread all over the state and into New York. Children and adults laugh at Jerry Jersino demanding that New Jerseyans fight for respect and rename Route 17 the “Ramapo Highway” to stump New Yorkers in retribution for the confusion they impose with “Harlem River Drive – FDR Drive.”
BE SEEING YOU
When we left, some two hours later, we were smiling and feeling good despite the hassles we had faced earlier. Of course, this is only an overview of Uncle Floyd’s show on Channel 68. You have to watch it to truly understand the good vibes. He’s not phony. The guy’s the same in-person as he is on the show. Without a doubt, Uncle Floyd is going places.
First published in The Independent Press of Bloomfield, February 27, 1977
Vivino's first television show, "Uncle Floyd & His Friends" debuted on January 29, 1974, on UA Columbia Network serving much of Northern New Jersey. Later that same year he was featured entertainer on the station's first telethon. In November 1974, the show moved from the cable network to WBTB-TV, Chanel 68 in West Orange, NJ. The show aired on various stations until 1998.
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New Jersey author Anthony Buccino's stories of the 1960s, transit coverage and other writings earned four Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism awards.
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