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Kids' show hosts. They laugh, they sing, they smile, they bring joy to children all over the world... at least, on the surface. But beneath that shiny, happy façade lies the Depraved Kids Show Host, a character you would not, under any circumstances, want your children around.
Unlike his zany-go-lucky cousin, who's excitable but alright, the Depraved Kids' Show Host is a Complete Monster, or at the very least a Jerkass. When he's on air, he's Mr. Snuggles, happiest figure in Friendlytown. But in his down time, he (and it's usually a man) is a sex, drug and gambling addict who drinks, cavorts, and swears enough to make a sailor blush. He smokes like a tilt, lashes out at techies, and absolutely hates kids. Or likes them too much.
This trope plays on the irony of a jovial character who interacts with children actually being a horrible person. As such, it's related to Monster Clown and other like tropes.
This is especially popular in Real Life Urban Legends, the insinuations of which can ruin someone's career. For some reason, people just can't believe that a right-thinking adult would want to spend his life teaching kids manners and helping them grow as people. Fred Rogers would respectfully disagree; this is generally not Truth in Television.
See also Nice Character, Mean Actor, Villain with Good Publicity. He may also Hate the Job Love The Limelight. May exist in a Subverted Kids Show, but most often they're villains in regular shows. In real life, they cause the show to be Undermined by Reality. Surprisingly, not related to the Depraved Homosexual or Depraved Bisexual, although sometimes they overlap.
- This is the backstory for the modern incarnation of the Superman villain The Prankster.
- Sandman: "Hey kids, Dino the Dinosaur is trying to tell me something. Gee, Dino! I didn't know it was Terry Pteranodon's birthday today. Should we bake him a cake? And you want to tell me something else, do you Dino? We're all going to die. Dino says we're all going to die. Dino told me. He says we should slash our wrists now, and remember to slash down the wrist, boys and girls, not across the wrist." PLEASE STAND BY, We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties.
- Hazel and Cha-Cha from The Umbrella Academy, sort of. See the back of issue 3: "The Hazel and Cha-Cha Show: Who needs drugs when you have cookies and guns?" And really, with those big cartoon characters heads...? The two are basically what the hosts of a kids show created by Quentin Tarantino would be like.
- Crocky, a Barney parody in Robin.
- Another Batman story featured a kids' show presenter who was trapped in Gotham during No Man's Land. Becoming slightly unhinged, he developed a version of his show that was tailored to suit the borderline-apocalyptic ruins of the city. Not only was it totally unsuitable for the supposed target audience, but he was broadcasting to a society that mostly didn't have electricity.
- Mad Magazine did a typical kiddie show parody starring one Uncle Nutzy, physically based on rude stand-up comic Jack E. Leonard, running a show featuring mindlessly violent cartoons and boot-licking sponsor worship. At show's end he's on the phone with his wife, angrily admonishing her for letting their kids watch his show.
- Kyle Baker's The Cowboy Wally Show had a childrens' show hosted by Al Space, who "really, really really loved kids. A lot", with such essay competitions as "In 1000 words or less, describe how Amy Sue Sturdfetzer looked much older than 12".
- Viz has the character of "Roger Mellie, the Man on the Telly," a foul-mouthed alcoholic and perverted TV presenter who in several strips lands a job on kids' TV and inevitably reverts to type in front of the horrified audience.
- Clown from the Hellraiser comic series was originally a Saturday morning show host named Winky Dink who wound up becoming a Pseudo-Cenobite, charged with keeping the children who wind up in The Labyrinth occupied so they don't run amok, causing chaos. He does so through pretty disgusting ways (not entirely by choice though, since Leviathan punishes him if he does anything remotely pleasant). A later story reveals he'd been upgraded to a complete, overly-sadistic Cenobite at some point, having finally gotten his "routine" right.
- There is an excellent (if extremely scary) fanfic wherein Barney the dinosaur was some incarnation of a demonic being that reappeared every few centuries to wreak havoc. At the start of the fanfic, he held a special broadcast to persuade his young viewers to murder their parents and any other adults around, then inducted them into a cult. When any of them reached 13, he killed them (or worse). Gah.
- Flashbacks also show that he helped the Black Plague spread, and also saved Adolf Hitler during WW 1 and set him on his path.
- Parodied in Pokemon Squad. A scene features Henry and June finishing up a Ka Blam!! episode, and as the director says "CUT!", June proceeds to ask for her cigarettes.
- In Death to Smoochy every host is deranged, and the whole industry is backed by the mob. When pushed, even Smoochy reveals some anger management issues.
- Floop from the first Spy Kids film was villainous, but really harmless. He's mostly a Cloudcuckoolander getting played by the Big Bad, and turns on the Big Bad when asked nicely.
- Even before he turns, he clearly cares more about the quality of the show than about the plans of world domination. When he turns a spy into one of the creatures on his show, the first thing he comments on is how the new "character" will be a holiday rush favorite.
- There were plans for a sequel for William Lustig's Maniac, which was supposed to follow such a character but it was scrapped due to its main star's untimely death. It sounded like a remake of The Psychopath.
- The Banana Splits Movie has Stevie. While he's on the air, he's good friends with the Banana Splits Gang. But when he's off the air, he's an alcoholic who (based on his interactions with Paige) is also rather lecherous. He's also the one person who is onboard with producer Andy's plan to cancel the show and dismantle the animatronics. Unfortunately, he makes the mistake of telling the Banana Splits Gang Andy's intentions, and he ends up being the first person killed when Drooper crushes his windpipe with a lollipop.
- Meet the Feebles is this trope dialed up to 11.
- Its spiritual successor The Happytime Murders features the Happytime Gang cast, who starred on a family-friendly sitcom . Almost all of the actors on the show qualify. Mr. Bumblypants (who portrayed the mailman) is addicted to porn (as much as he denies it), Jenny (who presumably was the main character of the show, despite being human) is a stripper, Couch Lyle is a drug lord (though to a puppet, sugary sweets are drugs), Goofer the handyman is a drug addict (and also a prostitute), and last but not least, Ezra and Cara have an incestous relationship with each other. The sole exception is Larry, who is a stereotypical actor playboy. (Though having said that, he's the only puppet who wishes to be a human.)
- Somewhat meta example: Uncle Jingle, host of an insanely popular 'Net kids show in Tad Williams' Cyberpunk novel Otherland, is more or less a nice fellow, if heavily Merchandise-Driven. (In fact, he's actually played by actors working in shifts, since the show is on 24/7.) However, the character itself was inspired by the Monster Clown figure Mr. Jingo who haunts the Big Bad's nightmares.
- Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book
- In High Society by Ben Elton, Tommy mentions that almost every children's TV presenter he has met was a heavy drug user, which he imagines is because it drives them insane to constantly have to act perky and cheerful for their audience.
Live Action TV
- The demonic puppet hosts of "Smile Time" from Angel.
- In the Frasier episode "Juvenilia", Frasier is railroaded into a harsh interrogation from the three hosts of "Teen Scene".
Ryan: According to the Boston Globe you spent two hours on a ledge threatening to jump if your wife left you. How many of your listeners are aware that they're taking advice from a man who was nearly a stain on the sidewalk?
- And then there was Nanny G, Frasier's first wife. She had become a Raffi-style children's entertainer in the meantime. During a concert she gave, she started singing a song that Lilith immediately interpreted as sexual, but Frasier explained as being sung to a child... until the next line...
- Mexican clown Brozo's entire schtick is this; he's a depraved, homeless, bitter and a tad mysogynistic. Of course, this is played for laughs... currently he has a The Daily Show type of program.
- Shirty the Slightly Agressive Bear from The Late Show
- Pate Biscuit from The Big Gig
- The Happy Smile Patrol sketch from SNL. Read a transcript here. It's guaranteed to make you laugh and gasp with horror simultaneously.
- Here, I found the video. It's very silly.
- From Finnish sketch comedy, there's the legendary "Nasse-setä" who is chronically hung over, and irritated at the anatomically incorrect drawings kids send him, taking offense at exceptionally large nose holes and lack of an actual nose in one of them and coming to the conclusion that the kid who drew it is a lazy slob who doesn't bother to draw any noses, let alone blow them because "you can't possibly blow a nose like this neatly!". His Catch Phrase was "Nasse-setä on harvinaisen vihainen!" [Uncle-Nasse is exceptionally angry!].
- Then there was Touko-Pouko from Studio Julmahuvi, the Show Within A Shows Butt Monkey children's host with a severe case of lazy eye, hair resembling a clown's wig minus the silly colors and a deeply disturbed personality. In his segments he might be dressed as Tarzan, an indian, riot police, a ninja or an astronaut. His idea of a good home activity might also be making a soul out of barbed wire and silly putty and comment how "we all have one inside of us, a misshapen ugly lump like this".
- Germanys sketchshow "Switch" parodies the host of an actual children show on public TV channel Kika sometimes, much in the same way as the finnish one above. In one sketch he threatened to kill the shows mascot Uhu (a real-life owl) when the children don´t call him and give him the creditcard numbers of their parents because he wanted to get a better appartement. He also has an alcohol-problem.
- The Seattle sketch comedy show Almost Live! had a recurring sketch called "Uncle Fran's Musical Forest." Uncle Fran was a VERY bitter Deadpan Snarker who liked to sing songs about his ex-wives and ex-girlfriends ("Greedy Whores"), or parenting styles ("The Modern Day Dad...doesn't have a spine."). When his furry mascot objected to the content, he would beat the tar out of the puppeteer controlling it.
- Several of the characters in Greg the Bunny, in one respect or another. In particular, Warren is a heavy drinker and former drug addict with severe marital problems, while Junction Jack seems to be inspired by the aforementioned false rumours of Fred Rogers having been a sniper in 'Nam.
- An episode of Mathnet featured Vicious Vinnie, a villainous children's show host who taught kids incorrect information like that Chicago was the capital of Illinois.
- "Tia Penha" (Aunt Penha), one of the many characters of Brazilian Comedian Marcelo Médici, is a gender flipped version of this. But unlike other examples, she's an outright bitch even on air. She subverts upbeat children' songs by telling that everyboy died in the end and that everybody WILL die (your mommy included). She's also particularly fond of telling some truths about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
Tia Penha: Today's show will be a little bit different for three reasons. First, Tia Penha doesn't like lies, second, Tia Penha doesn't like children and third, what Tia Penha really likes is money so let's start it quickly!
- Boxcar Burt, a briefly-seen in-universe host watched by Brak and Meatwad in an Adult Swim New Year's Eve sketch.
"Heeey everybody! I hope you're rockin' out! But if ya ain't rockin' out, I hope you're drunk! Just like Boxcar Burt! Now come back after the break you little brats, or I'll kick your asses in!" * raspy Evil Laugh*
- A man who played Dougie the Whale in one episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. A complete jackass even onstage (at least to his backstage crew) and got into a fight with Will, in front of the child audiences no less.
- Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In often featured the demented "Uncle Al, the Kiddie's Pal!" who was usually hungover and kept cracking bad double-entendre jokes and running around like a maniac.
- SCTV had Muley's Roundhouse, featuring ol' Muley, who sulks and mopes throughout his program, in addition to critically ignoring the trains on his watch. This includes his criticism of the children's artwork sent to him: "These are the worst ones yet! You probably send the good ones to people you like!"
- Charlie Harper might qualify after he became a Children's Songs Star.
- Little Britain has the character of Des Kaye, the disgraced former host of a children's show called "Fun Bus." It's eventually revealed that he was fired because a child lost an eye while appearing on his show, and the Little Britain live stage show hints that Des's "Hide the Sausage audience participation game might also have had something to do with it ...
- Back in The Eighties, an episode of Les Dennis's Laughter Show featured Les parodying then-CBBC host Phillip Schofield. Dennis's version of Schofield gets steadily more drunk, attempts to murder Non-Human Sidekick Gordon T. Gopher, and eventually has a prostitute/groupie in the studio who he tries to pass off as "Gordon's mum"! Bizarrely, Schofield himself, long after his CBBC career, was interviewed for Channel 4's Zippy & George's Puppet Legends, where he claimed that Gordon had a drink problem.
- In universe, Jane from Coupling almost became this... she had the depraved part down pat, it was just the "Kid's show host" part that was up in the air... after all, her sidekick was a sock puppet named Jake the
Jane: I am not self-centered!
- Inverted by The State with "Blueberry Muffins in the Morning," a show proposed by Blueberry, a children's television producer who looks and acts like a clown in real life.
Blueberry:BECAUSE I LOOK LIKE A F***ING BLUEBERRY!
- Reno 911 had an odd example. Reading Ron is actually a great host, who does his best to put his dark past behind him. Enter the Reno Sheriff's Department, who so thoroughly ruin Reading Ron's Police episode that it sends Ron into a cocaine fueled rampage on the roof of the station.
- Season 2 of The Armstrong and Miller Show has a recurring gag with the hosts of a children's TV program (a spoof of Blue Peter) apologizing to its viewers for various drunken, lewd, violent and illegal acts — in kid-friendly language.
Alistair: Yes, by collecting all those stamps and unwanted clothes, you raised nearly a million pounds towards a holiday center for disabled people in the New Forest.
- Ernie Kovacs was very fond of this trope. His character Uncle Buddy would allow kids to walk backwards blindfolded on the Staten Island Ferry railing. Another of Kovacs' characters, Mr. Science, could barely hide his exasperation toward his easily distracted kid helper Billy. Kovac's Hungarian chef character Miklos Molnar would show up to host a Howdy Doody knockoff show as "Buffalo Miklos". In addition to treating the Claribel knockoff with utter contempt, Miklos would get drunk, cut Howdy's strings, and yell at the kids in the peanut gallery to shut up.
- The short-lived Science Fiction series Special Unit 2 featured a children's show host (an ersatz of Barney the Dinosaur) who turned out to be a "Link" with a Pied Piper of Hamlin power.
- Sherlock villain, Psycho for Hire (And Fun!) and Complete Monster Jim Moriarty is also a children's television presenter under an assumed name for the purposes of his evil plan to kill Sherlock Holmes.
- Taken to pretty much its ultimate conclusion by The Burkiss Way's "Childrens Favourites with Uncle Hitler."
"HELLO CHILDREN, EVERYVHERE! Und today, der first record ist der request from Norman und Edith Carruthers, for their little son Villie! Vally Vhyton, mit der disken kiddiewinks: DER RUNAWAY TRAIN! Unfortunately, ve haf some bad news for you! Der BBC Record Library cannot manage der aktual recording by Vally Vhyton! So! Inshtead, ve haf decided... TO INVADE POLAND!"
- Played for laughs in Disgaea 3 Absence of Justice with the final Diez Gentleman. A rare female example.
- Captain Cutlass from Critical Depth was a nautically-themed kids-show host turned actual Pirate.
- Crotchy the nutsack from Postal 2.
- In Ace Attorney, Matt Engarde is a children's show actor (specifically, the protagonist of in-universe Tokusatsu The Nickel Samurai) who goes to great lengths to preserve his "fresh as a spring breeze" image. Of course, like every defendant he carries a tragic secret. He's a complete sociopath who drove his ex-girlfriend to suicide just to piss off his rival Juan Corrida, and later hired an assassin to murder Corrida while he videotaped it with a secret camera. And he was entirely willing to frame his agent, Adrian Andrews, to get away scot-free.
- Perry Bible Fellowship did a comic about a Depressed Kids Show Host: "Gee Golly Jeepers!"
- Used for a oneshot gag in Ghastlys Ghastly Comic, with plushophiliac Bunny Boy violating a stuffed rabbit in front of the audience. "What kind of world is it where it's okay to buy toys for children but bad to teach them how to play with them?"
- Pucca Pucca, a puppet-like goblin in American Dragon Jake Long who hypnotizes children into doing his bidding.
- Krusty the Clown: When the cameras are rolling, he's the zany clown kids love! In his off hours, he's lewd, rude, addicted to pretty much everything, treats his biggest fan (Bart) like crap (despite the numerous things Bart did for Krusty—i.e., clear him of a robbery charge, reunite Krusty with his rabbi father, and save his show from cancellation with a celebrity-packed comeback special), and is more of a Jerkass than post-season 9 Homer Simpson.
- And still manages to be one of the good guys in comparison to his sidekick, Sideshow Bob, although he's Wicked Cultured and has a decent side.
- Kamp Krusty actually has him subvert the trope. While Kamp Krusty is far from the ideal summer camp for children, he actually DIDN'T know how awful things were at the camp. When he finds out, he actually feels guilty and makes it up to the children.
- Roofi isn't exactly Krusty, but he shows signs of being a jerk. He isn't polite to his fans, for one. And he also apparently doesn't enjoy performing and it doesn't take much for him to quit singing abruptly. Despite this, he insisted that children come to his concert, by telling them that not only would he be sad, but the Helpful Bear would kick the bucket if they didn't come. And yet, his CDs still continue to be a hit (for babies like Maggie, anyway)
- Gabbo and his puppetteer, who briefly got Krusty kicked off the air in "Krusty Gets Cancelled"; Bart produced film of Gabbo referring to the kids as "little S.O.B.s.", which sadly backfired.
- It didn't backfire, it actually caused a public outcry... For a day. Then Kent Brockman made the same flub while reporting the Gabbo story, everyone got angry at HIM, and instantly forgot about Gaboo. In the world of the Simpsons, it's true that the Viewers Are Goldfish.
- Rugrats had a rare female example: The host of a show Angelica wanted to be on turned out to hate kids and actually swore about what she thought about the kids on her show when she was offstage. Angelica overhears this, and later goes on the show, then is asked what the hostess thinks of the children. Hilarity Ensues.
- Robot Chicken had a parody of this when the old host of the Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? game show goes crazy after finding out his girlfriend is cheating on him. He drives them to her house and makes them memorize the day they met, the day she said she loved him. The skit ended with him crashing his car and dying.
- In The Secret Saturdays, the Big Bad actually has his own TV show, of which their young Genre Savvy son Zack is a fan. Unusually for this trope, Argost is the same on-camera as he is off-camera... An Faux Affably Evil Large Ham.
- In the Family Guy episode Road to Europe. It is revealed that the characters on a show Stewie likes are Depraved Kids Show Hosts.
- Binky the Clown from Garfield and Friends qualifies, although he was the same on and off camera. Sidney the Dinosaur was a better example in his episode.
- In The Mask, recurring crime boss Lonnie The Shark's original day job was as the costumed host of the kids' show "Barnaby".
- Now for the often-cited Real Life example: In 1991, Pee-Wee Herman's actor, Paul Reubens, was arrested for "lewd conduct" in a porn theatre, which effectively ruined his career as a kids' show host (although at that point Pee-wee's Playhouse had been over for more than a year). Later, in 2002, he was charged with possession of pornography (just regular pornography, not child pornography as is often reported), though the charges were later (more or less) dropped. This is slightly subverted in that the character of Pee-Wee Herman was created for an adult audience and co-opted for children's television.
- On at least one occasion, IIRC, the mascots at Disneyland have behaved badly.
- Well they've been accused of doing so often enough.
- Monster Clown Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy was a clown for kids birthday parties, block parties, etc.
- Though obviously not depraved, several children's entertainers (such as Roahl Dahl and Chicago-based host Ray Rayner) have been veterans of WWII or other wars, and as such have seen wartime action. This is probably where the whole military angle stems from, playing on the contrast between the hardened soldier with a few kills under his belt and the calm, friendly kids show host. (Similarly, Dr Dolittle was actually written in the trenches of the First World War.)
- Roald Dahl also wrote some fairly racy (for the time) books (anything involving the lothario Uncle Oswald) and some pretty dark short stories. And his kids books rank rather low on the fluffy scale.
- He was also a womanizer on an epic scale, in Washington DC during the war and still during his marriage to Patricia Neal.
- Dahl has also been accused of being anti-Semitic off the record and not without good reason.
- Maurice Sendak is another author in this vein, more bitter than outright depraved, though, at least according to this interview. Interestingly, among the people and things he skewers, Roald Dahl.
- Roald Dahl also wrote some fairly racy (for the time) books (anything involving the lothario Uncle Oswald) and some pretty dark short stories. And his kids books rank rather low on the fluffy scale.
- Richard Bacon was fired from Blue Peter following a drug scandal. A later Reunion Show-cum-Panto featured him as the (off-screen) baddie.
- Thanks to this Bacon managed to play with his "bad-boy" image and move over to the more adult show The Big Breakfast and not fall off the face of the earth like most Blue Peter presenters.
- Not officially confirmed, but Italian singer Cristina d'Avena is said to hate children, despite having a long (since 1982) career in shows with singing children, and as singer/songwriter of cartoon themes. It's possibly justified by the fact that her career is exclusively child related: the only other work she's done with theme songs has been Christmas carols, and her only acknowledged acting role has been a cartoon character in a real life short series.
- Dara Ó Briain, speaking from personal experience, claims that this is ALWAYS the case.
- Brazilian children show's host Xuxa, before her success, acted in the film Amor Estranho Amor ("Love, Strange Love"), in which her character had sex with a 12-year-old boy. The film is actually an artsy film, but when the internet discovered it, they treated it as a disgusting act of child pornography. Xuxa already had a lot of haters, and her popularity kinda plummeted.
- For added hilarity, Jeff Dunham made frequent appearances on the show, though his career hadn't quite taken off at that point.
- George Carlin, Lampshaded his Mr. Conductor role in his "Fuck the Children" bit.
- Of course, Carlin was well known for his incredibly racy, foul mouthed persona long before having anything to do with Kids' Television. Overall its more of a Pet the Dog moment for him.
- This video of the Canadian game show Just Like Mom seems to imply that this is Truth in Television.
- In January 1965 on his morning children's show, the performer Soupy Sales suggested to his young viewers that they find the wallets of their sleeping fathers and take out "some of those funny green pieces of paper with all those nice pictures of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Alexander Hamilton, and send them along to your old pal, Soupy, care of WNEW, New York.". He also said: "Hey kids, last night was New Year's Eve, and your mother and dad were out having a great time. They are probably still sleeping and what I want you to do is tiptoe in their bedroom and go in your mom's pocketbook and your dad's pants, which are probably on the floor. You'll see a lot of green pieces of paper with pictures of guys in beards. Put them in an envelope and send them to me at Soupy Sales, Channel 5,New York, New York. And you know what I'm going to send you? A post card from Puerto Rico!". The reaction from outraged parents came fast and furious, and WNEW-TV pulled Soupy Sales' program off the air by the following Monday. Anyways, Soupy Sales program resumed broadcasting two weeks later, and his program ran on WNEW for close to another two years.
- The assertion after-the-fact was that he was testing to see just how much attention parents were paying to what their kids were watching. The jury's out on whether that's the truth, though.
- If you see a cartoon in Italy, there is a 50% chance that the theme is composed, written and performed by Cristina d'Avena. If it's on a Mediaset channel, chances raise to 90%