Mistaking the Real Thing for a Parody

Years ago I was flipping through the channels and came across what I thought was an awesome parody of 80s police dramas. I laughed my a** off for twenty minutes and then realized it was just a rerun of T.J. Hooker.

Has anything like that ever happened to youse guys?

The banana, designed by God for man.

One afternoon, must have been in the '80s, I was flipping TV channels and didn’t realize I’d hit the God station. There was a woman leading an aerobics session, but yelling “Reach, reach, reach for Jesus!” “Feel the power!” Etc. I thought it had to be a parody at first, but it wasn’t. I kept thinking she looked a lot like Lynda Carter, Wonder Woman. At the end of the show there was a phone number at the bottom of the screen (for money donations?) so I called and asked who that woman was. I was told it was Pamela Carter, Lynda Carter’s better Christian sister, who wasn’t into all that evil Hollywood stuff. The whole thing could have been a parody.

Reach, reach, reach for your giant hair!


Another time I was flipping channels (also around the ‘80s), I found the God station again, and the group America was performing. I hadn’t seen them around in a long time by then. They were plying “Lonely People”, but the lyrics they were singing were: "This is for all the lonely people, thinkin’ that life has passed them by, Don’t give up until you drink from the silver cup, And give your heart to Jesus Christ". - - WTF?

After the song, the lead guy came and sat down with the talk show host, who happened to be a very old Mike Douglas, who I didn’t even realize was still around. The lead guy explained to him how he’d found religion and given up the craven life of rock and roll, and was now spreading the gospel (evidently by bastardizing his old lyrics). That was almost as surreal as Lynda Carter’s sister leading an Exercise-for-Christ aerobics session.

You know, pretty much anything on the God stations would qualify.

I just posted about something like that in Cafe Society not long ago. It was about the show “Floor is Lava.” I was absolutely convinced it was a parody…but it isn’t.

I remember that thread!

When the show Cop Rock was in the offing, and there were ads for it, but the first ep hadn’t aired yet, I had no idea it was a serious show. I thought I was watching a promo for SNL, or one of those commercials where the Energizer Bunny was going to interrupt.

After about the fourth time I saw an ad, it dawned on me that yes, this was a real show, but I still thought there was a punchline I wasn’t getting. Maybe if I watched it, it would be hysterically funny.


I remember sitting in a movie theater back in the 80’s and seeing a trailer for some upcoming movie called “RoboCop”. The entire audience was laughing, apparently everyone including myself thought it was a parody of the current wave of action movies. While there was a good deal of satire in the actual movie, I wouldn’t say it was a parody - it was a straight-up action movie.

I swear I’m not yanking anyone’s chain, but I was several hours late turning on the TV on Sept. 11, 2001. My first thought after tuning in, was Dammit! Spielberg or Lucas or Cameron has made some irresponsible money grab flick! So not really “parody.” And then the shock set in.

There’s a Canadian soap opera called “When Calls the Heart”, the promos for which suggested (to me) a cross between old melodramas and extended Carol Burnette sketches, with a little Dudley Do-Right thrown in.

The Mounties sure need to arrest that guy! Did you know he’s been marrying 2-3 actresses a day on that Hallmark Channel? Sometimes he pretends to be a prince or a veteran or a winery owner or a baker, but it’s that same scoundrel alright. I have faith though; the Mounties always get their man (as do half of the C-list actresses in Hollywood).

Maybe not exactly what the OP is looking for, but I’ve mentioned before that I used to play a little game with a co-worker: “real trump headline or Onion-style parody?” I fooled him with this one because he could not believe it was for real:

“ Trump applauds North Korea’s ‘great beaches,’ says they would be a perfect location for condos and hotels”

I just thought of another one. I was watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force when I saw my first commercial for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I thought it was just some little fake promo Adult Swim had put together and it was hilarious. It fit right in with ATHF because, you know, Time Lincoln and the wooden spaceship and all that in the ending credits of every episode.

So anyway, when I discovered it was a real movie, I had to go see it. Anybody who says they didn’t like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter because it is too stupid really doesn’t understand the movie.

I remember walking into the living room that morning. The television was on and the first thing my wife asked me was “Is this real?”.

Dudley Do-Right is itself a parody.

An ancient and very popular in its day comic strip called Hairbreadth Harry starred the prototypical all-American boy Harold Hollingsworth. His evil foe was Rudolph Ruddigore Rassendale, who definitely was the ancestor of Snidely Whiplash.

Since the strip is forgotten today, most people think that the Dudley parodied silent movie serials. But Hairbreadth Harry started in 1906, a decade before the serials did, and pioneered cliffhanger endings. Credit or blame writer/artist Charles Kahles for the device.

Today he is chiefly remembered for founding the Klingon Empire.

A long time ago, my brother and I ran across a 1959 movie on TV called “The Last Mile”. It was a grim drama about death row prisoners and starred Mickey Rooney as the scariest convicted murderer in the place, who instigates a riot by killing a guard with his bare hands . At the time, we only knew Rooney as a comical TV pitchman, and the proverbial butt of short-guy jokes. My brother and I laughed our asses off for about 10 minutes expecting to find out it was SNL or Second City, but finally realized it was real.