The giveaway has ended, but you can see what’s in the Fun Pak here!
There was a time when Saturday mornings were magical, thanks in large part to Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Even now, I still get a little thrill when I hear the first few notes of the theme song, which begins slowly and mysteriously before breaking into gleeful weirdness.
I almost don’t know where to start when talking about how this show inspires me. Well, yes I do: the anthropomorphized puppet objects have a naive brilliance that I think I recognized even as a kid: Pee-wee’s chair is named Chairy and gives him hugs with her armrests, Clocky tells everyone when it’s time to play different games (all of them bizarre), and the Mr. Window tells us who’s about to ring the doorbell. (The door is just a door, though.) It’s pretty obvious that much of the inspiration for my own Grouchy Couch, Error, and Flushie (among others) came from Pee-Wee’s friends.
And then there’s the animation. I remember getting excited about visits to the ant farm, a world-within-a-world that the show occasionally featured. And the Penny shorts combine a happy claymation style with the almost dreamlike free-association stories of a chatty young girl.
Of course, Pee-Wee himself is the manic man-child who accompanies us through this weird world that is his playhouse. He may “scream real loud” more often than I would tolerate in a real person, but his over-the-top personality wins me over because his innocence is more feral than cloying.
I think the thing I love the most about Pee-Wee’s Playhouse is the way it takes mundane objects and activities that we’re all familiar with and makes them strange and thrilling. Maybe that’s how kids see the world anyway to some extent, but this version is just the right balance of playful and twisted.
I bet many of you are Pee-Wee fans like me, and so I thought I’d share some nostalgia for the show with a special giveaway! I came across someone selling old pop-culture trading cards at the Brooklyn Flea a few weeks back, and I couldn’t resist picking up some Pee-Wee’s Playhouse “Funpaks.” These are the real thing! Original 1988 cards made by Topps; according to the wrapper, they include 1 sheet of tattoos, 3 picture cards, 1 sticker, 1 wiggle toy, and 1 activity card.
Leave a comment by midnight on Monday (May 28th) sharing your favorite thing about Pee-Wee’s Playhouse (or one of the Pee-Wee movies, or even the more recent stage show). On Tuesday I’ll pick a random winner, who will get their very own Pee-Wee Funpak!