Two simple, monosyllabic words: “Hey now.” A meaningless expression, many would argue. And yet those two little words carry so much pop cultural weight. “Hey now” was the contrived on-air catchphrase of Hank Kingsley, the sad sack sidekick portrayed so vividly by Jeffrey Tambor on HBO’s The Larry Sanders Show. Much to his boss’ annoyance, Hank became so enamored of the phrase that he even started working it into his real life. When Larry Sanders went off the air in 1998, some might have thought the “hey now” was down for the count as well, gone the way of “Where’s the beef?” or “Sit on it!” But the members of Smash Mouth had other ideas. The very next year, the California band contributed the inescapable smash hit “All Star” to the soundtrack of Mystery Men, and the song’s catchy, earworm-friendly chorus relied heavily on those same two magical words. And now, comedian Joe McAdam has created the ultimate tribute to the catchphrase: a mashup simply entitled “Hey Now.”
To say that this mashup is minimalist would be accurate. McAdam has done very little to the original Smash Mouth video, apart from crudely substituting Jeffrey Tambor’s “hey now”s for Steve Harwell’s “hey now”s. McKay has even kept the video’s Mystery Men-centric prologue intact, so viewers will still get to see a young Dane Cook auditioning for Ben Stiller, Paul Reubens, Hank Azaria, William H. Macy, and Kel Mitchell. From there, it’s 1990s nostalgia all the way, in three different flavors: Larry Sanders nostalgia, Mystery Men nostalgia, and, yes, Smash Mouth nostalgia. Most savvy viewers will probably guess, just from the title, where Joe McAdam is going with this. So then, it’s just a matter of waiting for the joke to kick in. It’s a little like winding up a jack-in-the-box: The viewer knows exactly what’s about to happen and at exactly what point in the song it arrives, and yet the feeling of anticipation is palpable nevertheless.