By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
For those who found Seinfeld's take on the existential
nothingness a bit too tony and smug (they wound up in jail --
how poetically just), MTV offers "The Sifl and Olly Show." A
late-night offering since its debut in July, "The Sifl and
Olly Show" hit prime-time last week. It now airs each
weekday evening at 6:30 p.m. on MTV, cable Channel 42.
(Fellow night-owls, rest easy — it repeats at midnight.)
Like "Seinfeld," this show is about absolutely nothing.
Sifl and Olly stand at a microphone and chat about whatever
bizarre things are running through their stoned little
minds — arguing about Cars songs, discussing the aesthetic
properties of waffles, breaking into song about Claire
Daines. It's not as much a retooling of "Beavis and Butthead"
as it is a lo-fi knock-off inspired by "Fernwood Tonight."
Both hosts have the same command of the loopy, making a
seemingly safe little chat show into something wholly bent
and bizarre. Their banter and double-take exchanges make
for hilarious TV.
It's the songs that make or break each episode, too.
It's on MTV because Sifl and Olly come from a genuine rock
'n' roll perspective. Even though they can't really carry a
tune, their spark and spunk wins every time.
Not bad for a couple of sock puppets.
Yep, Sifl and Olly are sock puppets. It's come to this.
The move to prime time doesn't mean new episodes have
been added — those come in January — but the first-season
rotation lasts a while and is full of yuks.
For those willing to surrender a bit of intelligence for
half an hour (think about the other TV programs you watch
before answering that), here's a quick guide to watching
"The Sifl and Olly Show":
Settle in. Whether watching the prime time or late-night
broadcast, it's a good time for a snack. Especially if you
have the munchies, in which case you're more likely to dig
Don't sing along to the theme song. As you'll see in one
show, the singing of the show's repetitive theme attracts
vicious bear attacks.
Wagering. Odds that Chester actually will introduce Sifl
and Olly are about 5-3 against. Odds he'll simply walk off
when given his cue are about 50-50.
Who's who. Sifl is on the left, the gray one. He's
fairly cool and laid-back when not lying about his
relationship with MTV News anchor Serena Altschul. He
provides a fitting contrast to Olly, on the right, who's a
bit excitable, particularly when hawking questionable
Polite conversation. After being introduced — or not --
Sifl and Olly will chat a bit, welcoming folks to the show.
There will be another few moments like this later, as if
the camera catches them having a rather bizarre personal
conversation. Whether you figure out what exactly they're
talking about is irrelevant.
Backdrops. Sifl and Olly are "standing" in front of a blue
screen, so various images and scenes are sometime projected
behind them. Be prepared for anything, from twirling skulls
to the surface of a waffle slowly oozing with syrup.
Interview time. Each show features two interviews with
some other sock puppet character. This is why they can call
their show a "talk show." Each interview is prefaced by a
graphic with a spinning, computer-generated skeleton which,
as one fan web site observed, may "symbolize the serious,
in-depth questions Sifl and Olly will ask that get to the
deep inner-workings of the guest."
Not quite. If the interview doesn't collapse entirely
due to a poorly chosen subject or our hosts' inept
interviewing skills, it inevitably backfires on them. Past
guests have included an orgasm (with his runt pal, G-Spot),
an atom on the comb of Elvis Presley, a woman named Sex
Girl, a psychedelic mushroom, the Grim Reaper ("I'm from
Montreal. I'm a French-Canadian") and the planet Mars.
Rock Facts. Each show is peppered with trivia questions
about rock stars. They're all bogus, though they provide
another opportunity for wagering: odds that a Rock Fact
will have something to do with Bjork are about 3-1.
"Calls From the Public." Sifl and Olly take calls from
their fellow sock-puppet public. Somehow, simply by yelling
into the phone, other sock puppet characters can be heard
AND seen by Sifl and Olly. Thus, we get to meet many
amusing locals, from a scary S/M duo threatening to beat up
Sifl to someone trying to sell our hosts some legless dogs.
Their landlord frequently calls to complain, as well; it
seems the Sifl and Olly home is amok with monkeys and water
Don't buy anything. Sifl and Olly are spokes-socks for
the Precious Roy Home Shopping Network, an enterprise in
dire need of investigation. Olly becomes particularly
exasperated when pitching products — such as scarehookers
(fake pimps to keep hookers away), Insta-Jerky (a chemical
that turns anything into edible jerky) and pirate beavers
(specially raised rodents trained to attack wooden legs of
threatening pirates) — and he sometimes must be sedated.
Performance. Art? Occasionally during a show and always
at the end, Sifl and Olly sing a song. Sometimes it's a
cover (their on-the-road version of the Cars' "Just What I
Needed" is priceless, as is their adorably spooky take on
"Don't Fear the Reaper"), more often it's an original tune
about something trivial and strange — how we deal with
stress, Claire Danes, marrying a vegetable, Claire Danes,
hiding in a cabinet or Claire Danes. The music is
sub-karaoke and neither of them can sing, but if you've
held out this long you've already been won over by their
And what exactly is Chester? You're right, he's not a
sock puppet. He is a mold turned inside out. In particular,
he is a mold from which small, plastic Buddha statues are
Watch in good spirits and remember — that whirring noise
you hear is Edward R. Murrow spinning in his grave.
These online "clips" reproduce a self-selection of my journalism (music etc) during the last 20+ years. It's a lotta stuff, but it only scratches the surface. I do not currently possess the time or resources to digitize the whole body of work. These posts are simply a bunch of pretty great days at the office.