What The Funny #8: Office Visit
It’s the next installment of What The Funny featuring Freakazoid!
-First, apologies for the delay; I had meant to get this one out earlier this month, but I got sidetracked by a new project Jason and I are undertaking which may prove to be a big thing for us, creatively speaking, but I’ll hold off on going into detail about that until things become more concrete. Now, let the craziness commence.
Today we’ll be looking at one of my favorite shorts starring one of Freakazoid!‘s recurring added attractions, namely…this chap.
For those who don’t know, this is Lord Bravery, voiced by Jeff Glen Bennett. Lord Bravery is a superhero from the United Kingdom. His real name is Nigel Skunkthorpe. He lives with his wife and mother-in-law, who refuse to move from the couch and hurl ficus at his head when they want something. While he prefers to search for crime using his shortwave radio, his aggravating wife and mother-in-law pressure him to actually venture outside the house and find people to save. His initial appearance, “Sewer Rescue”, gave us one of my all-time favorite insults:
Easily agitated, short-tempered and pompous, Lord Bravery bears more than a little resemblance to comedian John Cleese.
Particularly, Cleese’s character from Fawlty Towers, Basil Fawlty.
He hates sewers (and even more so people who get themselves stuck in sewers and won’t stop whining about it), and becomes very agitated when people compare him to Superman.
Lord Bravery’s shorts (all 2 of them) begin with a stylized intro, featuring Monty Python inspired Bobbies singing his praises in a Gilbert & Sullivan inspired ditty:
Feels no pain, he can fly quite fast
In feats of strength, he is unsurpassed
His grip is sure, never quavery
Britannia’s super hero, he’s Lord Bravery.
Lord Bravery, Lord Bravery, Lord Braveeeeeery! (Then the pillars he’s standing under crumble and collapse on top of him)
*True story: when Freakazoid! was airing on Kids’ WB!, I thought they were calling him “Pretentious super hero”. Fitting, but that’s not what they were singing.
The short we’re spotlighting today is the second (and final) Lord Bravery short, “Office Visit”.
Premise: Lord Bravery learns to his dismay that he can no longer use his name due to copyright issues. He heads to Lord Bravery’s Bake Shoppe to try to sort out the problem, but things only become more confusing from there.
Smiley Man: Emmitt Nervend
Find Emmitt Nervend: Twice in This Episode
“Just keep telling yourself: It’s only a TV show.”
The short begins with Lord Bravery visiting an office of bureaucracy (this’ll end well); after exiting the elevator with all of the other occupants laughing at him…
He sits down to speak with the rep from the Office of Trademarks & Copyrights, Mr. Snarzetti, who informs him that he can’t continue going by the name Lord Bravery because it’s already being used by another business, specifically Lord Bravery’s Bake Shoppe. (How a bakery ended up choosing the name Lord Bravery is probably an interesting story in and of itself.) Mr. Snarzetti says that even though he’s a person and not a business, it’d be too confusing: “Someone could run up to (him) in the street asking for a muffin or a scone, or someone could run into the bake shoppe demanding to be saved.”
Snarzetti tries to reassure Bravery that his name doesn’t matter:
Mr. Snarzetti: I’m sure the children will love you no matter what you call yourself.
Lord Bravery: Children??
Mr. Snarzetti: You’re a party clown, aren’t you?
Lord Bravery: ‘A party clown’?! No, I’m NOT a party clown! I’m a super hero!!
Mr. Snarzetti: Well, I just assumed by your little hat…
Undaunted, Snarzetti begins searching through a database of failed businesses to give Lord Bravery an alternate name. His first choice: SMOKED MEATS AND FISHES!
Lord Bravery: What sort of superhero would rush into danger shouting “Fear not, Lord Smoked Meats and Fishes has arrived?!”
Mr. Snarzetti: One wishing to use the element of surprise. (He winks.)
Lord Bravery: Oh, you’re a loon! Where did you escape from? I’ll take you back!
-This goes on for a little while, with Snarzetti suggesting names like “Taste of Tempura” and “Plastics Advisory Board”, with Bravery getting increasingly annoyed, until finally landing on “Dreamworks!”
Lord Bravery: “DREAMWORKS??!!??” (Stops to ponder it for a moment) “Dreamworks??”
(Snarzetti’s computer beeps)
Snarzetti: Oops, no, it just got taken. (Another beep is heard.) Oh, and again. There’ll be a lawsuit there! Heh-heh!
This is a reference to executive producer Steven Spielberg’s then-new company, and a minor legal kerfuffle regarding the name. Time enough, I think, for a piece of wood.
Finally, an exasperated Lord Bravery has had enough. “How…do I keep…my old name?!?”
Snarzetti: (peeking out from under his desk) You have to get the bake shoppe to change theirs!
So Nigel goes off to Lord Bravery’s Bake Shoppe to meet with the owner and proprietor, a woman named Helen, who confides that she never wanted to use the name Lord Bravery, as she finds the moniker “stupid, dumb and idiotic”. (I know, Rule of Funny, but again, this begs the question of why she choose that name in the first place.) Helen says that she wanted to name the place after herself, but there was already a Helen’s Butcher Shop. So the 2 of them go to the butcher shop to find out that its’ owner, Rudy, wanted to name his shop after himself but there was already a Rudy’s Hardware and Twine. Then they find out that Rudy’s owner, Hank, wanted to name his store after himself, but there’s already a Hank’s Tires…
It seems that the entire town’s business owners have encountered this same issue with names. Finally, Lord Bravery, accompanied by nearly every proprietor in the area, confronts the owner of a paint store.
Lord Bravery: What part of this don’t you understand??
Paint Store Owner: Any of it!
Lord Bravery: Look, it’s very simple. I take Lord Bravery. Lord Bravery’s Bake Shoppe becomes Helen’s Bake Shoppe, changing Helen’s Butcher Shop to Rudy’s Butcher Shop. Rudy’s Hardware and Twine becomes Hank’s Hardware and Twine, causing Hank’s Tires to change to Terry’s Tires, then Terry’s Intimate Apparel changes to Wendy’s Intimate Apparel…changing Wendy’s to Frank’s, Frank’s to Shirley’s, Shirley’s becomes Enrique’s and Enrique’s becomes Bill’s. Which means….that all YOU have to do, is change your name from Bill’s World of Paints to something else!
Paint Store Owner: But I don’t want to.
Lord Bravery: WHY?????!!!????
Paint Store Owner: Because my name’s Bill.
(The crowd disperses.)
Lord Bravery: No, wait! We’ll make him change it! We outnumber him!
Flash-forward to some time later. Lord Bravery flies in to save a schoolboy stuck in a tree, announcing “Fear not! Lord Smoked Meats and Fishes has arrived!” (Guess mob rule didn’t prevail this time.) The kid’s mum doesn’t want her son to be saved by someone with such a goofy name, and proceeds to beat him with her purse.
Lord Bravery: Look, it’s alright! It’s alright! My real name is Lord Bravery!
A city gent approaches him.
This goes over as well as you’d expect it.
Both Lord Bravery shorts are funny, but “Office Visit” particularly resonates with me, since I can identify with Lord Bravery’s frustration over the situation; when my brother and I first started blogging, it seemed like every name we wanted for this blog was already being used by someone else; we could wallpaper a room with all the names we considered and/or had to reluctantly drop. heck, the name has changed a couple of times during the 7 years we’ve been working on it since!
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Incidentally, Lord Bravery only makes one more appearance on the show. In season 2 episode 7, after Freakazoid chases down Cave Guy at the Anaheim Comic Convention (where he undergoes a less-than-ego-building Q&A panel with hardcore Superman fans–Superman: The Animated Series was Kids’ WB!’s newest show at the time), he is confronted by Lord Bravery, who along with The Huntsman, Fan Boy and Mo-Ron (or Bo-Ron, whatever) demand to know why they’ve been kicked off the show (the added attractions were abandoned in season 2 in favor of half-hour stories) and what their new roles will be in the new season. It turns out their new job is washing the Freakmobile.
Next up: Freakazoid returns for “Next Time, Phone Ahead!” Stay funny!