How To Be Cool At Parties…With Malcolm-Jamal Warner!

Oh Malcolm-Jamal Warner, you’ve already taught me how to stay safe when I’m home alone. Now you’re going to teach me how to be cool at parties?

Vestron (and Children’s Video Library) Wrote The Book (Or, Made The Video) on How To Be Cool At Parties!

Have you ever wanted to make a splash at your next party, whether hosting or attending? Look no further than Malcolm-Jamal Warner – and an array of people you wouldn’t invite to your next party – hosting Show Off! How To Be Cool at Parties.

That’s right, from budget home video label Vestron’s Children’s Video Library, comes to the key to popularity and promises of many more party invites. All because you watched Show Off! How to Be Cool at Parties, and said “hey! I can do all of this!”

But, before we start, and this is REALLY important…

Upload via DudeThatLogo

That song will stick with you, and you’ll fight the temptation to punch the television and pop those balloons!

Why, you get to see all these amazing things!

And who better to host this walk-though of potential coolness, other than Malcolm-Jamal Warner. He already taught you how to be safe when home alone, why not how to be cool…at parties?

I’d say you’re in for the greatest how-to guide of them all, but it’s more like comedians/assorted odd people you would never invite to your party teaching you how to be cool enough to be invited. It’s like…they want to live vicariously through you!

As for the party tricks, they’re a bit eye-rolling.

For instance…

The String Trick!

Malcolm’s contribution to the party!

Upside Down Face Lip Syncing!

“I’m gonna up, up, upside down!

I laughed, but a part of my soul also cried.


This was actually cool – he’s the voice of Skeeter on Doug, and becomes clear later on!

Thumb Wrestling!

And now for sports…if thumb wrestling was considered a sport.

I picture the liveliest of parties involving a small wrestling ring, fingerless gloves, and “one, two, three, four, this is how we start a war!”

Is this a party for third graders?

Straw Paper Worm!

My straw paper art is way more exciting!

The Imaginary Stairway!

I first saw this on an episode of The Hogan Family…as demonstrated by Sandy Duncan.

One of the oldest, funniest, and at the same time, most eye-rolling gags ever.


Not on a magic carpet, but still, wouldn’t that be awesome!

It’s actually done with your feet. Which is actually…quite depressing.

Making an Exit!

…and smashing your face on the door!


Trying to exit through a locked door…or is it locked?He thinks he’s the COOLEST!

But wait, there’s a dog just waiting at the door, planning their attack upon exiting?

She’s the worst of the bunch, until later on…

The Bicycle Horn!

(I’m so sorry about the screenshot on the right).

The Finger Dangle!


The T-Shirt Sheikh!

Offensive in every way possible!

Complete with low budget camel!

Did anyone say “HUMP DAAAAAAAAAAAY?!”

Pencil Tricks!

Bending the pencil…

…rubberizing said pencil…

and making a coin disappear…with a pencil!


The Invisible Piano!

From offensive to…actually, I like this one. I wouldn’t bust it out at a party, but it’s pretty funny!

But from this we get…

Window Tricks!

Sometimes, she makes such a scary face, she even scares herself!


The Imaginary Ball Trick!

His “ball” is blue, and he takes it everywhere with him.

Mmmmkay…I could make a joke about a blue ball, but I won’t.

How about…


The Dancing Scarf!

And finally, because this trainwreck can’t go on forever…

Hawaiian Nose Humming!

Which looks like something entirely different altogether.

And how about that amazing cast of fine mentors of the art of being cool at parties?

The “How To Be Cool at Parties” Players!

A few of these fine folks did nothing/next to nothing beyond this video, but some of them are actually comedians, writers, and Fred Newman is a voiceover artist. And Friedhoffer is an actual magician!

And as we move on to the credits, which display a set reminiscent of what happens when Pee-Wee’s Playhouse goes on a three-day bender…

We are then treated to the horror of this logo all over again…

Upload via Dude That Logo

Which, by the way, is terrifying at 3 am. Not sure why that’s important, but it is.

Because I’ve never sat up at 3 am watching logos!

And this reminder…

Catalog valid until 1987.

So, what do you say? Are you ready to find out what it takes to be cool at parties?

Well, wonder no more! You’re about to live it!

Show Off! How To Be Cool at Parties!

Upload via Occult Demon Cassette

As we close out yet another golden moment of weirdness from the dustiest of archives, I wonder who this video was marketed at. No, hear me out. The video was distributed by Children’s Home Video, the family-friendly arm of Vestron Video, itself a (former) distributor of various instructional videos. This isn’t exactly the type of film that targets high school partygoers. Heck, I bet it wouldn’t even target middle school partygoers.

Which means one thing, and one thing only…How To Be Cool at Parties is made for the cool Kindergarten parties!

Nah, that’s harsh. It’s more mature for first grade parties.

I’m going to walk away now.

Oh look, my ride is here!

That’s a Not Bicycle. I’m talking about this ride!

Don’t be jealous, T-Shirt Sheikh!

Home Alone With Malcolm-Jamal Warner (And Friends!)

In the mid-1980s, Malcolm-Jamal Warner was not just Theo Huxtable, he was the host of several child-friendly pseudo-instructional videos on various topics, from being cool at parties to a home safety video for those times kids find themselves…home alone!

Home Safety Video For Kids…Starring Kids!

And now for a whole other kind of training video of the “departure from my usual training video” type!

I’m talking a home safety video for the younger set!

In 1987, Nelvana Limited and Hi-Tops Video produced a home safety video called Home Alone: A Kid’s Guide to Playing it Safe When On Your Own.

Malcolm-Jamal Warner hosts the program, along with a cast of child actors, all of whom were actual working child actors, and none of whom appear on the box cover.

I’m serious.

Now, before we start, I have something important to get out of the way!

Upload via Veepar

Ah yes.  Now we can start!

Anyway, the actual kids…

From right to left (As they introduce themselves): Alyson (Alyson Court), Sunny (Sunny Besen-Thrasher), Mike (Ian Heath, because why use his real name?), and Wendy (Wendy Chong).

For those not in the know, Alyson and Sunny were prominent voice actors who (at the time) starred as siblings in the live-action My Pet Monster, Wendy was a regular on The Elephant Show, and Ian/Mike made appearances on The Edison Twins (Sunny played the twins’ younger sibling, Paul) and starred in the mini-series Anne of Avonlea. He’s probably the least well-known of the four child actors. Malcolm himself was playing Theo Huxtable on The Cosby Show, and is the only non-Canadian of the group.

So…did he go up to Canada to film this?

The video’s aim is to teach kids how to stay safe in any possible situation when by themselves. The instruction is done through scenarios and role play, and done in a way that kids understand.

And there’s kiddie game show-style theme music and eighties transition magic. Because 1987.

What scenarios do they act out, you ask?

Scenario #1: How to Safeguard Your Key

Featuring giant keys on a string around your neck, or attached to your belt loop, and Malcolm wearing a black Halloween mask and ski cap!

Scenario #2: Kitchen Safety (Making a Snack)

Not using sharp knives, the stove, or the oven. Also featuring Alyson Court’s giant sandwich!


I saw My Pet Monster. The Giant Sandwich and Sunny Besen-Thrasher in the same room does not end well, trust me!

And Malcolm’s slightly evil face next to knives.

I kid you not.

Scenario #3: Person at the Door

Malcolm tries to convince the kids to let him in, and almost succeeds with Wendy and Alyson.

Malcolm: “Knock, knock!”

Sunny: “Who’s there?”

Malcolm: “Boo-hoo.”

Sunny: “Boo who?”

Malcolm: “Don’t cry, I’m here to fix the hot water heater!”

Scenario #4: Phone

That phone and its giant buttons are on point!

Scenario #5: Problems with Utilities (Water, Gas, Electricity) And First Aid

Malcolm demonstrates turning off water or gas in the event of a leak, and explains what to do if the power goes out.Malcolm reviews the First Aid kit, creating a contact list, and what to do in the event of a fire.

Scenario #6: Medical Emergency

Alyson and “Officer Warner” go over what to do in the event of a medical emergency.

And now that you know all of this, time to…

Put The Home Safety Video Details Together!

Mike/Ian and Wendy (as “Dad” and “Mom”) review all the scenarios and explanations with their “son” Malcolm.

And now that you know everything there is to know from this home safety video…

Make A Plan!

Create a plan that works well for you, practice it, and watch this tape once a month to refresh your memory. After all, Hi-Tops did throw this at the beginning of the video…

It is a nicer way of saying “BUY THIS HI-TOPS VIDEOCASSETTE!”

So, what do you think? You know the scenarios, but how about seeing them played out by our young stars?

Well, you’re in luck!

Home Alone: A Kid’s Guide To Playing It Safe When On Your Own

Upload via PDCS216

Takeaways From Home Alone: A Kid’s Guide To Playing It Safe When On Your Own

1. Staying safe while home alone (especially at a younger age) never becomes a dated concept.

2. There was a time when cell phones didn’t exist, and we relied on handwritten contact lists and the home phone.

3. Alyson listened to records or the radio. A modern-day kid wants to know what a record is.

4. Sunny will get robbed or kidnapped leaving his window open and door unlocked.

(The perp won’t look like Malcolm-Jamal Warner).

5. Malcolm-Jamal Warner looks slightly evil standing next to knives.

That might be my screenshot skills, but seriously, that expression!

The music sting after each “incorrect” response makes so much sense!

And finally…

6. Giant Sandwich a la Alyson!

And now that you know how to stay safe, 1987 style, it is time to put these strategies and to work! So write up your contact list in huge letters, put your giant key on a string around your neck, and don’t answer the door for anyone!

Stranger Danger? Never heard of it in 1987!

Have You Heard This Version of “Beginnings”?

Just to recap (because this isn’t the “Beginnings” of my Chicago love): Chicago, love Chicago, Chicago, Jason Scheff = hot, love their music, love Chicago. Chicago, Chicago, freakin’ Chicago! Spoiler alert: This is about one of their live performances. Back out now.

So, you’re still here. That’s good!

Not The Beginnings Of My Chicago Articles…

…and not the ending either!

If you’ve seen enough Chicago concert footage, you know by now that the sound, regardless of the vocalist, barely changes. From Peter Cetera to Jason Scheff, Terry Kath to Bill Champlin (let’s skip Donnie Dacus, please!) to Lou Pardini, the person changes, but the quality does not. The only difference I’ve ever noticed is with “Colour My World” – that song changed hands several times, from Terry Kath to Bill Champlin to Robert Lamm to Lee Loughnane (who currently sings it), but it has never decreased in quality.

It’s still not my favorite Chicago song, but I don’t have a problem with it.


So, when you hear the Chicago song “Beginnings,” this is the version you likely know best…

Upload via Chicago Band

Or, this version…

Upload via SoundStage

And, this version…

Upload via phillymacvideos

It’s all nice, it’s all amazing, and it’s all Robert Lamm…and sometimes Phillip Bailey. But always Robert Lamm.

Robert Lamm, circa 2003

But what happens when the person whose made that song sound incredible for so many years gets a sore throat prior to a concert, and needs a little help?

Well, it happened!

Devon, Pennsylvania: August 4, 1994

As the story goes, Robert Lamm was at the concert (part of the Valley Forge Music Fair) that evening, and had a sore throat, effectively limiting him to singing songs from the their then-current album, Night and Day: Big Band. But when you’re backed by a talented group of seasoned pros (including two other lead vocalists), ready to jump in, you know you’ve got the best.

Bill Champlin took the reigns of “Saturday in the Park,” but it was Jason Scheff who sang that it was only the beginning!

Jason Scheff – July 1993 at the Greek Theatre

That’s right, Jason Scheff took lead on “Beginnings,” and the audio exists. I wish it were video, but can’t be picky, this version is incredible!

Would you like to hear it?

“Beginnings” (With Jason Scheff on Lead Vocals!)

Upload via cetera06

Scheff captures the mood of the song perfectly, and hopefully, he smiled the way Robert Lamm does singing this. :-)

Related: Filed Under “Chicago”

Did You Know Chicago Performed on Solid Gold? – The group’s 1987 appearance on the dance/music hybrid Solid Gold!

Have You Heard Tris Imboden’s Chicago Story? – Tris Imboden departed Chicago after 28 years in January 2018, but did you know how he got started with the group?

Chicago Did Hip Hop?! – Stone of Sisyphus keeps on rolling, and spawned the most unconventional of Chicago songs. You’re in for a surprise!

Watch The Peanuts Gang Rocking Out To Chicago! – YouTuber Garren Lazar takes on Chicago songs…with a few familiar faces!

Have You Heard Chicago’s “The Pull”? – First performed at the Greek Theatre in 1993, this rare Chicago song was another offering from Stone of Sisyphus. 

David Foster Is Playing With Fire…And Chicago’s Horn Section! – That time James Pankow, Walter Parazaider, and Lee Loughnane provided their horns for a David Foster instrumental…

Chicago Did Disco?! – …and when you hear it, you’ll never forget it! (Not sure if that’s a good thing…)

Chicago Proclaims Someone Else is “Bigger Than Elvis” – Jason Scheff pours his heart out in a song about his father, Elvis Presley’s bassist, Jerry Scheff.

Will You Still Love the Changing Face of Chicago? – Peter Cetera is out, Jason Scheff is in. Will you still love them?

Hard to Say I’m Sorry (That You May Never Have Heard this Chicago Song Before!) – Resign yourself to getting this catchy, horn section-heavy song stuck in your head!

Along Comes a Woman…And Indiana Cetera! – Peter Cetera plays Indiana Jones, the James Pankow and Lee Loughnane rough up Robert Lamm a little, and Cetera (as Humphrey Bogart) gets taken away by police.  It’s a funny music video.

Christmas with Horns –  A look at Chicago’s first Christmas album, Chicago 25, and the follow up, What’s It Gonna Be, Santa?

Old Days…Good Times Some Didn’t Have! – Keith Howland takes the reigns on a classic Chicago song about growing up.

Chicagoland Gems: Keyfax Nite-Owl Service

Chicagoland television of the past, at any time of the day, tended to be a real treat. But for the night owls out there who liked their news with a side of good music, there was Keyfax’s Nite-Owl service!

Were You A Nite-Owl?

Keyfax-produced Nite-Owl served as a community bulletin board-type program, beginning at midnight each evening on WFLD 32.

News, sports, weather, kids’ jokes (The Bullseye Club), and fun graphics played over real music (none of that Muzak stuff).

The Chicago Sun-Times office sourced the information, with data sent via telephone line from an editorial office in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.

The service ran from 1981 until 1982, replaced by an hour-long simulcast of CNN Headline News. That, in turn, was cancelled once Metromedia finalized their acquisition of WFLD.

While written Information on Nite-Owl is hard to come by, visuals make up for it in a big way.

I think you know where I’m going with this, right?

Stay with me, we just need to take a slight detour!

No, not a commercial break.  Just a shoutout/channel plug.

Fuzzy Memories.TV

In light of this interesting find, the time has come for a mini-YouTube Chanel shout out!

The Museum of Classic Chicago Television (aka FuzzyMemories.TV) serves as an online museum dedicated to preserving Chicago-area television broadcasts. Their archives originate from airchecks recorded in the 1970s and 1980s.

Established in 2007, and registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, MCCTV hosts more than 4000 clips of commercials, news broadcasts, bumpers, station IDs, obscure specials, and various oddities. Once in a while, the occasional master tape turns up, the result of a donation by former television station employees.

As a matter of fact, thanks to MCCTV, some Keyfax Nite-Owl footage exists. Further, thanks to their YouTube channel, we can watch this footage.

So, how about it? Want to get sucked into the visual splendor of Atari-era graphics and good music?

Nite-Owl Blasts Off…

…every night at midnight on channel 32, WFLD Chicago!

All uploads via The Museum of Classic Chicago Television.

Nite-Owl (And Teletext) Ascends to Nostalgia Heaven

Unfortunately, Nite-Owl – and community bulletin boards in general – have moved on over the years, but preservation (and people with unusual video collections) make it possible to find tidbits and oddities we would otherwise not be aware of. In turn, it reminds us of days gone by, keeps online preservation by the likes of the Museum of Classic Chicago Television going, and keeps people like me writing.

The internet: It’s not just a tool of evil!

Finally,  I’ll leave with this parting wonder: Did anyone ever watch the full block of Nite-Owl? Do you think someone stayed awake just to hear the music?