Make no mistake: Michael O’Donoghue was before his time. The dark humorist made a name for himself as a writer and performer at the start of “Saturday Night Live.” In 1979, he made a show to fill in for “SNL” on a week off, but NBC found it to be too hot for TV, and refused to air it. It’s been a cult item ever since.
Ostensibly a parody of the “mondo” film genre, “Mr. Mike’s Mondo Video” is a messy mishmash of clips, sketches and paraphernalia, featuring a variety of guest stars, including many of “SNL”‘s Not Ready for Prime Time Players. I’d seen it endlessly on a rented VHS in the late ’80s, so it’s nice to see it preserved on DVD, with a handful of O’Donoghue’s material from “SNL” as extras.
But it doesn’t hold up to my memories of it. There are two really good scenes, both un-PC. One is a faux Department of Defense film of field-testing the latest in high-tech weaponry: “Laser Bra 2000.” The other is “Cat Swimming School,” in which pussy after pussy is thrown into a pool, in slow motion. (“Yumpin’ yiminy! ” screams the coach. “You’re swimming!”)
Others don’t fare as well. Some, like a religion that worships “Hawaii Five-O” star Jack Lord, stretch an unfunny joke out for an unbearable amount of minutes. It’s worth watching as a curio “ a time capsule of dangerous, risk-taking comedy. It didn’t always work, but at least it dared.