AIR DATES: July 23, 30, 1990
Early episodes of Joe’s Basement are suffused with a fatalistic sense that the producers are making the show only for themselves. It’s both freeing – who cares if we fail? – yet desperate – is anybody watching?
That era ended abruptly when a deluge of viewers phoned in during the broadcasts of “Episode 16: Joe Eats Real Dog Food.” This episode shows those phone conversations, and some responses from the Joe’s Basement crew.
More than a few confused channel-flippers weigh in, but many callers are devoted fans with odd requests. A man demands that the shows creators all get jobs. A woman asks if the Mole – that surreal, hairy video creation – has a girlfriend. The Mole pops up and re-enacts their date and subsequent passionate encounter.
Just as Joe’s Basement only took mail at a P.O. Box, none of the crew were willing to use their phone number for the call-in show. Fortunately, they gained access to a building with two pay phones at the nearby University of Chicago, and used those. Since they never encountered any resistance, Joe’s Basement would continue to use that setup for call-in shows over the next three years.