Between his work on Archer, Bob’s Burgers, and any number of Adult Swim shows, H. Jon Benjamin is one of comedy’s most successful voice actors, in addition to working regularly on-camera. Of course, Benjamin hasn’t always been on his current hot streak, and that’s the subject of his just-released memoir, Failure Is An Option. In a new excerpt published on Vulture, Benjamin describes what went wrong with an attempted early-2000s children’s show called Midnight Pajama Jam. Astoundingly, the anecdote does not begin and end with Matt Walsh attempting to suck his own dick in front of a group of children and their parents.
At its core, the show was meant to be a late-night show for children—with “late-night” for them being 8 or 9 P.M. The show would feature puppets, oddball characters and guests, and various recurring segments. As Benjamin puts it, “It was a bit Pee-wee’s Playhouse–ish, in that it completely ripped off Pee-wee’s Playhouse.”
Benjamin describes the first test-run of the show, held in a small mid-town Manhattan theater to an audience of mostly children, as going fairly well to start. Things began to go less well when Walsh, playing a southern character named “Wyatt Trash,” sang a song announcing he was going to attempt to suck his own dick, followed by Walsh attempting to suck his own dick. Of course Walsh, bound by various laws of physics, anatomy, and public indecency wasn’t actually performing said self-sex act. According to Benjamin, the children, unaware of what Walsh was doing, were amused by a man in overalls writhing around on the stage. Their parents, however, were amused to a lesser degree. Writes Benjamin, “In hindsight, it was a show that adults and kids could enjoy together, as long as the kids didn’t understand auto‑fellatio.”
Despite the extremely inauspicious start, Benjamin continued on with Midnight Pajama Jam, moving it to the original UCB Theatre in New York and perhaps wisely dropped the “for children” aspect. Despite boasting a lineup of future stars including Eugene Mirman, Dave Attell, and Jon Glaser, Midnight Pajama Jam never garnered an audience in more than the low double-digits, and was eventually done in by a disastrous last-ditch effort to sell the show—an attempt at creating a DVD that Benjamin describes as “the Producers scheme except everybody, including us, would lose money.” After pulling out all the stops to film the show, when reviewing the footage, they found it had no audio. And lo, the show was dead.
You can check out the rest of the except over at Vulture.
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