Friday, July 19, 2013

Video Spotlight: Celebrity Deathmatch

This is a month of spotlighting MTV sketches from our high school days.  Today, we spotlight Bruce's appearance on Celebrity Deathmatch, battling the late, great James Gandolfini.

In the late 90s and early 00s, every channel was coming up with bizarre animated shows aimed at younger, hipper audiences.  Currently, there are only three channels that spotlight mature animated programs - FOX, Adult Swim, and Comedy Central (with the notable exception of Archer on FX).  But, a little over a decade ago, you'd find adult cartoons on nearly every channel, such as God, The Devil, and Bob on NBC, Dilbert on UPN, Clerks on ABC, and The Oblongs on the WB.  Many of these shows failed almost immediately, and the over-saturation of animated shows contributed to shows like Futurama and Family Guy being overlooked in their original runs (only to be revived later after success in syndication).  However, one show that found a specific niche was MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch.

Celebrity Deathmatch, much like South Park (which debuted just a few months earlier), helped usher in a new trendy of "edge-y" cartoons.  Celebrity Deathmatch had a simple concept - take celebrities people know and love, and make them be as brutal and creatively violent as possible.  This worked well at the time, and definitely struck a humorous chord with my high school self.  However, the rise of the internet has completely taken away the bite that Celebrity Deathmatch had - we have all seen better celebrity impersonations and we've seen more gruesome violence.  If your comedy is based solely on pushing the envelope for what is acceptable at the time, it is inevitable that it will be dated.

But, let's just focus on the clip at hand.  I have to say, having Springsteen battle Gandolfini (with Steve Van Zandt as the referee!) is an inspired choice - it would have been so much easier to use Bon Jovi, his "natural" rival.  Sure, it may have one of the worst Springsteen impersonations I've heard (he sounds Southern), and, while I love a good pun, there's just way too many Springsteen song references that make me groan.  However, I love the attention to detail the animators put in the designs of the Springsteen toilet and Gandolfini urinal (not a sentence I thought I'd type when I started this blog).  Eventually, the fight finishes the only way it should - with unabashed toilet humor.  Unlike edgy humor, farts will never get old.

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