Last night I saw the closing performance of the Pee Wee Herman Show at Club Nokia. The whole gang was back. Cowboy Curtis and Miss Yvonne, the King of Cartoons, and the Bear, Mail Man Mike and my personal favorite Jambi the head-only genie in a box. Of course Pee Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) was center stage on a rebuilt Pee Wee’s Fun House, complete with Chairy, Globey, talking flower beds and Mr. Window.
The show was as funny as ever. Updated a bit to reflect the current political situation with a short bit about gay marriage, abstinence rings, and some very odd comment about Israel that was very anti-Israel. And of course I was puzzled by this . But most of the emphasis was on silly fun.
I remember in the 80’s enjoying Pee Wee’s show on television. At first I watched it because I wanted to have something to share with the kids that I taught in Religious School. Jambi’s favorite wish starter-“Meckalecka Hi- Meckalecha Hiney Ho” became a good way to engage with my students! But then I got into the show and some of its social commentary. Even then Pee Wee made fun of certain cultural issues that were still controversial. Cowboy Curtis and Miss Yvonne’s trans-racial relationship doesn’t seem so radical now. It did then.
The covert references to things “gay” that oozed out of Pee Wee’s house then don’t seem so edgy now. Except the tzuris (the problems) Pee Wee’s creator-Paul Reubens has had with the law keeps us hoping that one day Pee Wee himself will get who he really is and just come out!
And indeed this is Paul Reubens’ revenge: The continued success of the Pee Wee character, the humor, the simple fun and social commentary that can be updated with the times. Everyone has flaws and moments of regret. Paul Reubens has much to be proud of these many years later. His beloved character of Pee Wee made a difference then –adding to much-needed conversations and he is still trying to find a way to make those conversations come alive.