In 1994 I went on a short-lived MTV game show called Trashed. It was hosted by Chris Hardwick, and featured a staff of extras which included Brian Posehn. The show was shot in Hollywood in late February, then aired in April just a few days after Kurt Cobain’s death.
I’ve finally taken the time to dig the VHS tape out and YouTube it, editing out all the commercials with the exception of the MTV-specific bits. With YouTube being the household term of 2006, it seemed the perfect time to scratch this one off the ToDo list.
You may recall a similar game show on MTV called Remote Control, featuring Ken Ober, Colin Quinn, Kari Wuhrer, and a young Adam Sandler (as cult classic character, “The Stud Boy”). Trashed was the successor to MTV’s Remote Control, lasting just one season.
The basic structure of Trashed consisted of two teams of two competing against each other in a contest of pop culture trivia. What made the idea so enticing (to me, anyway) was that the Grand Prize Round was constructed much like my favorite game show of all time, the $25,000 Pyramid. The two partners would sit facing each other, with three video screens behind each of their heads. There would be a music video (without sound) on each of the six screens. In a limited amount of time, each player would need to get his partner to identify the band on each screen.
The Grand Prize Round rules:
— You can’t name any part of the band name.
— You can’t name any of the band members or album titles.
— You can’t sing, hum, whistle, or name the song.
— You can’t recite lyrics.
Other than that, it’s all fair game.
We went up to the MTV offices at Universal Studios in Hollywood a few times over the course of that winter, participating in orientations, run-throughs, practice sessions, the whole thing. It was all very nineties. The Real World reality series was in full swing on its second (Los Angeles) season, and the folks in the office were in the process of casting Season 3, San Francisco. (Remember Puck and Pedro?) We were all hanging out at MTV one night and being thoroughly entertained by digging through boxes and boxes of submitted applications from all over the world, which each included a letter and a photograph. You would not believe some of the stuff that was coming in. We were rolling.
Prior to the shoot, we were all required to submit three prized possessions to put on the line in case we lost. I had them come by my apartment and pick up an old couch, and also gave them a non-functioning ghetto blaster and a pair of embarrassingly ’80s surplus Zodiac boots. (Whatever happened to Zodiac, anyway? Or Fossil watches?) The couch ended up being too big for the truck so I gave them a broken VCR.
Back to the game. Dave and I had no doubt that we’d find ourselves in the Grand Prize Round, so we mapped out our agenda. Largely influenced by some of the better players on Pyramid who made effective use of synonyms and metaphors, I suggested we create a list of all the possible bands they could throw at us, and then come up with nicknames for each. If we spent a little energy memorizing our list, we should be ready to rock. Right?
— Destroying Jack-o-lanterns (Smashing Pumpkins)
— Rock Altar Aviators (Stone Temple Pilots)
— Caucasion Dead Guy (White Zombie)
And so forth. We had one for every band we could think of.
As we prepared, one thing became painfully obvious. During that time, as we got into the thick of the nineties, there was a certain explosion of what can only be described as “black female hip hop vocal groups”, which became terribly confusing. En Vogue. SWV (Sistas With Voices). TLC. CC Peniston. And so on. We ran into a very real challenge of figuring out how to describe any video from any of these artists, since, well, they all looked very similar. In a couple practice sessions up at Universal, they threw me a couple such videos and I fell on my face. Dave and I both realized that this was a weakness we needed to address, since they’d likely exploit it should we get to the Grand Prize Round.
So we created a wild card of sorts. I think we jotted down a list of about a dozen groups that fell into this genre, alphebetized the list, and attempted to commit it to memory. I was the Achilles heel of the process. But theoretically, once we did our homework, the challenge of describing and identifying these videos would be a non-issue. We’d just communicate to our partner that we’d hit a wall, and the other guy’d bail him out by rattling off this wild card list from memory. Cake.
We practiced this list continuously all the way through the green room and on to the main stage. I could tell you what happened next, but it’d ruin the surprise.
As I reviewed this footage, there were a few questions that came to mind. Particularly:
What ever happened to the hostess, our girl Andrea Wagner?
YouTube took the original clips down for whatever reason. I’ve thus re-uploaded the clip in its entirety, updating the link in this original post. However, being that it’s on YouTube, the link is subject to change at any time. Should the YouTube link not work, you can pull the show down here:
On a Mac? Here’s the MP4 version (large file).
On Windows? Here’s the WMV version (68mb).