You never heard of Uncle Floyd Vivino?
By Anthony Buccino
The power behind the Uncle Floyd Show however, is Floyd Vivino, Uncle Floyd himself. Or as The Storyman, Strongzini, Rocky Rock‘n’ Roll, or any of his other incarnations. The former baggy pants comedian has a way of talking to viewers of all ages without talking down to any of them.
The climate grew ecstatic at the end of The Uncle Floyd show last Friday night. Uncle Floyd sang and played the piano until a news bulletin announced the end of the war between the Floydians and the Trekies.
The Floydians proved victorious as news was announced that “Star Trek”, which had been crowding Uncle Floyd’s time slot, had been replaced.
General Delivery was in Venezuela, unavailable for comment. Uncle Floyd was jubilant, calling every one in the studio in for a celebration.
“We won the war because of (our) viewers,” Uncle Floyd said, bubbling with the thrill of victory. The war had been declared by the majority of viewers less than a month earlier.
“Just tell the Trekies you’re watching this show,” Uncle Floyd had declared the day following an attack on the studio by the Trekies.
The war was over, despite concentrated attacks by Trekies in the studio, Brooklyn, and from the Glen Ridge High School Star Trek and Science Fiction Club.
Not that Uncle Floyd is a war monger, he just followed the tide of his many faithful viewers who were worn with the gloating of Trekies who had never seen the Uncle Floyd Show at six p.m. on channel 68.
The man of the after dinner half-hour is dear Uncle Floyd. Not that he’s only my Uncle Floyd, he’s your uncle too, like Uncle Sam. He’s everybody’s uncle.
He’s great with the kids, like every uncle should be, and he’s got a chuckle or an aside for the grownups too. He’d be a lot of fun at a cocktail party or at a child’s birthday party.
He’s full of surprises. He’s the honorable chairman for the Essex County Girl Scouts Cookie Drive. In an almost primitive way, Uncle Floyd has something to offer everybody.
Then, why you may ask have you never heard of him?
The main reason is that the Uncle Floyd Show is not full of the hype that its inferior competitors are. Another is that he’ son a nearly obscure UHF station (WHTB-TV 68), that without cable, viewers are subject to the relativity of the weather (in order to receive the signal.) But diehard fans will watch with only the voice coming through, never to miss a show is their motto.
At Christmas, a friend of mine asked if I ever watched The Uncle Floyd Show. I said, no, but I’ll give it a try.
I’ve been watching more and more shows every week, it’s like a habit that grows into an obsession.
The Uncle Floyd Show being run on a shoestring budget is as close to a live show without actually being live. The shows are taped nonstop, consecutively.
“Who’s at the door?” Uncle Floyd asked, then came the knock.
Unrehearsed, some of the skits strike Uncle Floyd silly. It’s all part of the show.
He gets me to laugh after a hard day. A half hour of unrefined camera shots and references to Uncle Floyd’s “Uncle Nunzio” is all I really need to help me make it through the night.
His outfit of purposely uncoordinated checks and stripes allows me to fool around with all the knobs on my TV set. It is something I do not do often, get to do on the normal VHF stations.
UNCLE FLOYD AKA
Floyd Vivino (also known as Uncle Floyd), producer and creator of the show, is no newcomer to show business. Reared in Paterson, N.J., he went on to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the American Mime Theatre in New York. He has toured in family shows for the Snoop’s circuit in North Carolina and Virginia, and as a stand-up comic and emcee with “Manzini The Great” king of escape artists.
His first television show as “Uncle Floyd & His Friends” which debuted in late January 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 where it has remained despite a change in the station’s owners.
LOCALS VISIT TAPING
A delegation from the O T Zappo Fan Club (Uncle Floyd has over 1000 fan clubs) who all work at our local (Bloomfield Avenue, Bloomfield) IHOP came on stage to greet Uncle Floyd. Among them were Twig the Wig (age 25) and Tom Coughlin (Betty’s brother?), they discussed the hardest pancake to make: German pancakes.
On that same show Mr. Brownjeans, Scott Gordon brought on what was supposed to be a deer. It was a dog with sticks attached to its collar. Uncle Floyd quickly informed Mr. Brownjeans of the oversight, “Kids today are hip,” Floyd said, “you can’t fool them this easily.”
The Classics appeared on a recent show, they sang their upcoming release, “The Way You Look Tonight.” Uncle Floyd, a record collector at heart, was thrilled to have the late 50s group of singers on his show.
Mugsy appeared on another show direct from a thirty-two week gig in Nutley. He accompanied himself on guitar as he sang, “Shake, Rattle and Roll.”
Richard Jost of the Tropical Fish Emporium brings on animals from his store once in a while. He recently brought on a year-old Irish Wolfhound whose favorite food was bananas. The Irish Wolfhound, a hunting dog originally raised to hunt and kill wolves, is the “tallest of all breeds,” Jost informed viewers.
Juggler Mike Keith, a student at New Jersey Institute of Technology, at an apple while juggling it and two balls. The trick was to know when to bite and when to juggle.
A new feature recently introduced is Mark Nathan’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Review. It reminds one of the old “this is Rona Barrett from Hollywood.” It’s sure to improve with practice.
Scott Gordon appeared recently as a Polish comedian telling “American Jokes” on the Polka Program. Gordon dons many outfits as Mr. Brownjeans and The Lady From Brooklyn, and others, like a cross between a Teddy bear and a chameleon.
The power behind the Uncle Floyd Show, however, is Floyd Vivino, Uncle Floyd himself. Or as The Storyman, Strongzini, Rocky Rock ‘n’ Roll, or any of his other incarnations. The former baggy pants comedian has a way of talking to viewers of all ages without talking down to any of them.
It does not take one long to foster affection for this man. In fact when the end of the war was announced, I was so happy for Uncle Floyd I could not put my emotions into words. My jealousy over the fact that his mail pull from Glen Ridge and Bloomfield completely overwhelms mine faded, it was such an absorbing moment as the bulletin reigned.
The happiness was immeasurable. Nice going, Uncle Floyd.
Floyd 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.
First published in the Independent Press of Bloomfield, on Feb. 10, 1977.
Adapted from: A FATHER'S PLACE An eclectic collection 2nd ed.which includes
© 1977 Anthony Buccino
Essays, photography, military history, more
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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