The Popstream: Knifin' Around


I came pretty late to cable TV, though I do have the honor of making Cartoon Network's then-new Adult Swim block the first thing I watched religiously when I finally got my apartment hooked up in 2002. Probably my earliest exposure to the Williams Street brand of anarchic humor (also manifested in Sealab 2021 and Aqua Teen Hunger Force) was the "Flipmode" episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast -- the one with a completely zonked-looking Busta Rhymes as guest star -- and it was and will likely remain the hardest I have ever laughed at a single episode of television. The comedic timing was unnervingly abstract, the unpredictability was bracing, and the tendency to be fearlessly nonsensical was something I didn't even know a major cable network program could even be capable of at that level. As it turns out, it wasn't even the craziest episode Ghost Planet Industries had done in their final years.

That'd be "Knifin' Around", the one where our host Tad Ghostal frantically ricochets between attempts to interview Radiohead's Thom Yorke and getting his oh-by-the-way-I'm-married-now wife (who happens to be Björk) to leave him alone. There's some jokes that have turned into mildly inscrutable in-jokes in retrospect -- Space Ghost's remarks about having written his own song about knives, presumably as a take-that piece of one-upsmanship against the then-new Radiohead single "Knives Out" -- and some that have only gotten funnier with time, like an agitated Space Ghost worried about going to jail (in Mexico!) for bootlegging the new Radiohead CD. (Presumably, this was the real reason for the pay-whatever structure for In Rainbows.) By its final seasons, Space Ghost C2C was starting to get really abstract, with increasingly perplexed and even hostile guests, so it's great to see a cheerfully baffled Yorke and a chipper and friendly if mildly put-off Björk edited into some sense of amiability.

Buy any or all of Space Ghost Coast to Coast's five volumes on Williams Street's website