Sixty Rokk Live
Sixty Rokk Live is a long-running hour-long sketch comedy television program aired Friday nights on the NABC network. The title comes from the studio where the show is performed and taped in front of a live audience, at Sixty Rokkendelder Centre in New Amsterdam. It premiered in 1982, airing roughly twenty episodes per season for approximately a quarter of a century. Given its late hour (llpm), the program has gotten away with things a lot edgier than shows broadcast earlier.
In the 1980s, the Four regular networks in the NAL (i.e. ABC, CBS, NBC and NABC) found themselves in increasing competition from local stations (which eventually merged into the Public Broadcasting Network) as well as the advent of Video Disks. Various new types of programming were funded, including sketch comedies. The most successful of these was the brainchild of Luc Mikkals, a writer/producer whose parents came from Xliponia.
Mikkals put together the original "Sixty Rokk Players" and encouraged edgy, satiracal writing as well as recurring characters. He also brought in musical guests, including individual members of NoMoreEagleZ. Although initially only a moderate success, over time its audience grew and by 1985 it was an undeniable hit. In 1988, several major cast members left the show, but were replaced and within another two seasons the program had regained most of the viewers it had lost. For much of the next decade, SRL became better known for its zaniness than for its topicality, but that began to change by the late 1990s.
By 2001, Mikkals wanted to explore other projects, having increasingly turned over most of the actual day-to-day producing duties to the then-head writer Moses Sorkin. In 2002 Sorkin became Executive Producer and has guided the program himself ever since. One noticeable change has been the tendency to "link" some sketches together--for example, a character from one sketch will wander into the next one, or a running joke (often a complete non sequitor) will make its way through several sketches (famously, this once consisted of a fictional network censor who insisted on having a part in several sketches so he could render judgement on ad-libs by the cast).
It is also broadcast in England by various Independant TV franchises.
The format of the show is a series of sketches with a musical guest performing once (usually in the second half). Sometimes there are guest performers. In general the show is an ensemble piece, with the performers jointly known as the Sixty Rokk Players. Sometimes filmed segments are included. The cast has had numerous changes, with some members going on to have very successful careers.
In general the show includes both social and poltiical satire, although some sketches are "just silly for the sake of it." Certain elements have become standard fare, expected in almost every episode:
- A fake news broadcast, unofficially dubbed the "Friday Update," has become the standard opening sketch of the series. Dennis Stuart in particular has become famous for his humorous takes on real news items of the day, such as his reading aloud government press releases, and simply reacting to the actual sentences there.
- Impressions. Members of the cast nearly always include those who can do recognizable (sometimes excellent) impressions of famous people, such as former General Moderator Clinton and his wife Jane, Gwilim Buchanan or MPs Geoffrey Sessions and Hannah Coultier.
There have also been memorable series of sketches:
- Less-Than-Superheroes, a series of characters who either have (or think they have, or want to have) superpowers. These include sketches where (1) Major League finds his wife leaving him for his arch-enemy, the Blue Skeleton, (2) Lady Fury--whose power is PMS--going in for a job interview with the International Justice Alliance, and refusing to admit she's totally unqualified, (3) Asterix Boy, the least popular kid at Superhero High School, who accidently saves the day and uses his new status to take revenge on the student body.
- The Therapist, a woman (played by Inca Rudolf) who seeks to help others but is totally handicapped by her own rampant insecurities and issues. For example, she will project her own personal history onto a couple seeking marriage help, or testify at trial than an accused serial killer had her childhood rather than his own. Her catch phrases include "You have no idea" and "Listen to me!"
- Political Cinema were versions of famous motion pictures but with celebrities playing the parts and with stories skewed to political satire. Probably the most famous of these was "Brom Stoker's O'Kinneide" about Senator John Robert O'Kinneide as an unkillable vompire in the League's body politic.
- Mister Conservative (played by Philip Hart) was a recurring character who hosted a talk show, in which he promoted ideas that were not only extremely conservative ("I say--steal an apple, lose your head") but prehistoric ("Everybody knows Fire is a God, deserving of the occasional human sacrifice"). His catch phrase was "Why change?"
- Brandon (played by Doug Carey) is a teenage boy trying desperately to rebel, but confronted with adults on all sides who are tolerant, experienced, mellow and encouraging, much to Brandon's frustration. His catch phrase is "What I'm saying is..."
- Michalena is a lady who pretends to be a transvestite male by wearing "drag" and false moustaches. In later series she also tries to feign homo/bisexuality. She usually walks up to random strangers in places such as shopping centres and goes into a long and inaudiable rant in a falsetto voice about how she is a transsexual but no-one will accept her, gradually becoming more and more 'sexual". However when anyone tries to speak to her about her feelings she returns to her she can no longer keep up the act and returns to her normal voice saying "Don't you dare!"
The Alliance for Public Decency have condemned the show on a number of occasions for "making a mockery of values America cherishes" and "allowing political correctness to over-ride the natural method of man". The Green Carnation Party have likewise criticised the show's portrayal of LGBT people.