You know him, you love him, Uncle Floyd! Floyd Vivino, everybody!
In truth, unless you’re of a certain age, and from the NY/NJ/PA metropolitan area, you probably have no idea of who Uncle Floyd might be.
“Uncle Floyd” Vivino is one of the most successful vaudevillian comics, possibly the most successful, of the past forty years. If that sounds like a specialty that doesn’t have much of a following anymore… you’re right. But it did keep him on television for decades, first on a UHF channel that broadcast from a local station in Nutley, NJ and later on a small-market cable show.
Uncle Floyd, with Oogie the puppet and his multicolored-plaid suit, with his piano playing and ready jokes, was a throwback to an older day. His show, however, was very much rooted in the modern era.
From his small studio in Nutley, Uncle Floyd hosted many bands who had difficulty getting booked on network television. The Ramones were frequent guests, and other early-career performances included Bon Jovi, Cyndi Lauper, The Smithereens and Squeeze.
Among the fans of the “kid’s” show were Iggy Pop and John Lennon, who would both watch regularly. While David Bowie was visiting New York in the 1970s, Lennon tuned in. Bowie became a fan as well; unlike Lennon and Pop, he committed his fandom to song.
Floyd had a small part in Good Morning, Vietnam and bit parts in other movies and television shows. Music was still where his national & international fame arrived, though. He was included in songs by The Ramones (given equal shrift to Jack Nicholson and Phil Spector) and Dramarama.
After the television shows shut down, he continued to regularly entertain in upstate New Jersey. That didn’t quiet him down, though. The man who virtually defined “regional fame” decided that state politics could use some humor and ran for Governor about a decade ago.
That was nine years ago, though. He did finally retire, with a lifetime of accolades and memories behind him.
Oh, wait… no, he didn’t. He’s still doing live streaming. Because he’s Uncle Floyd.
Question of the night: What’s your favorite local/regional entertainer or entertainment venue?