Today is the birthday of “Uncle” Floyd Vivino (b. 1951). One of my most cherished features of his famous tv show was the moment when he read the birthday greetings, almost always to adults (“Happy Birthday to Sheila, aged 43!”), so today it gives me greet pleasure to say, “Happy birthday to Floyd — happy birthday to EV’ry-body!”
In my view, in today’s benighted world , there is no greater living vaudevillian than Floyd. No one can touch him. It was one of the greatest pleasures of my life to interview him for No Applause. He is among my greatest influences. The Uncle Floyd Show, a public access tv variety show that went national, was my favorite tv show in the early 1980s (with the possible exception of SCTV, which came on just before it – – what a night of television!). Singer, piano player and comedian Floyd Vivino was its host and star, aided by a motley crew of similar low-brow comedians. Floyd works unapologetically in the tradition of all that came before — it’s as though nothing ever changed. In show biz, that makes you an iconoclast. After all he’s not sucking up to any whim of the moment or marketing trend. I can’t tell you the number of dolts I’ve dealt with on the producing end who don’t grasp that important truth — it is not he who is conservative (after all, he’s DIFFERENT); it’s the business. Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, Floyd Vivino is the greatest person ever to come out of New Jersey. Bruce Springsteen isn’t even qualified to be his altar boy.
Floyd’s show aired from 1974 through 1988 (when the plug was pulled because public access shows aren’t actually intended to be nationally successful or make money). The show’s fans (and guests) included John Lennon, Terry Gilliam, David Bowie (who wrote a song about Floyd), and the Ramones (who also mention Floyd in a song). You can also see Floyd in small parts in movies like Good Morning, Vietnam and Mr. Wonderful. Subscribe to his official Youtube channel here!
To find out more about the history of vaudeville, including tv variety and The Uncle Floyd Show consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.