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…

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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.

Beatboxing!

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.

Levitating!

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!

Ouch!

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!

Meh.

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!

Incredibly…lame!

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!

MAKE IT STOP!!!!

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…

Juggling!

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…

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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!

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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!

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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

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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!

Driscoll and Egbert - Title

Blockbuster Video Training Video #2: Driscoll and Egbert

From the now-defunct video store chain that brought you Buster Sales, comes an obviously intentional parody of two now-deceased film critics.  The store? Blockbuster Video. The film critics? Siskel and Ebert…well, no. Not them. They wouldn’t train Blockbuster new hires. Besides, too costly. Filling in to do something less dignifying, Driscoll and Egbert!

Driscoll and Egbert: Yes You Read That Correctly!

Betcha thought I said Siskel and Ebert, didn’t you?

Nope. I did not.

In 1989, one year before “Blockbuster University” strove to create “Professional Opportunists” through Buster Sales’ training methods, Blockbuster Video created three learning opportunities through the use of fake movie clips and their own versions of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.

I don’t think Siskel and Ebert ever had this life problem…

Those guys were Jerry Driscoll (of the “Chicago Tribulation”) and Rodney Egbert (of the “Chicago Fun-Times”), and those movies? Just as ridiculous as you’re assuming they are.

Prepare to constantly mutter “Oh dear God.”

About those movies…

Beaverton Hills Cop IV

Circa 1989 Eddie Murphy should have lawyered over this. An obvious take on the Beverly Hills Cop movies (the first two were released in 1984 and 1987), “Eddie Mumford” is out to stop an illegal cartel from smuggling…Colombian Coffee into North Dakota.

Oh Good lord.

When one of the baddies gets away, Not Axel Foley chases him to a Blockbuster Video.

SERIOUSLY?!

The baddie, played by “Leo Ross,” is sneaking around the store, aided in his attempt to go incognito by employee Roxanne, who helps him pick out Marlon Brando movies.

Yes, this is terrible! It is everything you imagine, yet try to block out!

There’s also this…thing!

…and he’s packing heat!

We’re just getting started! Next up on Driscoll and Egbert

Passing Ships

Foreign and Black and White. A romance between two star-crossed lovers, searching for each other only to emigrate to the United States (on the same plane!), and find themselves in a Blockbuster Video.

All the main character wants is his happy ending tonight, and the Blockbuster Associate that helps him tries to fill the void with recommendations of movies and popcorn.

Will the lovers meet? Will the protagonist find his happy ending? Does good customer service exist in this alleged teaching point?

The end is in sight, tortured Blockbuster new hires!

How about a tale of forbidden (because of age difference) romance, youth, recommendations of Humphrey Bogart movies to said youth, and the policy on renting movies to children?

Blockbuster has this training point too!

Casablanca Summer

In this “coming of age” “film,” Josh Sanders has been renting recommendations of classic films by Blockbuster employee, Beth. Josh has the hots for Beth, and mostly because she has never steered him in the wrong direction movie-wise.

Josh’s friend, Alfred, happens to be at the video store on that particular day. He aspires to rent a “17 Plus” movie by wearing his Jason Voorhees mask to pass as his brother.Will it work? What about Josh and Beth? Will their romance bloom? Does this sound like an educational short on stranger danger?

What will Driscoll and Egbert think of these “training points”?

You’re just going to have to watch the videos, aren’t you?

Yes, you are!

Driscoll and Egbert

Thanks to DJameyson (the same person responsible for the “Buster Sales” training video), this feat of training point perfection is available for your viewing pleasure. At around fifteen minutes long, it is not as painful a watch as training videos go. It is good for a laugh (hey, we’re not new hires, we don’t need to take it seriously!), and accomplishes its point…to teach employees good customer service skills. Sure, the lessons are buried in cheese (not the flavored popcorn), but as I said, we don’t have to take it seriously. And the guys playing the Siskel and Ebert roles are actually having fun with their roles – they’re quite good without taking themselves too seriously.

See for yourself! Click on the first video to get started with your Blockbuster training!

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Oh yeah, for the uninformed, the balcony is still upstairs.

I can’t take credit for that cheesy line!

No, seriously, I didn’t make it up!

Let’s Kinda, Sorta (Not Really) Play #4: Hydrosub 2021

But, before we “play” Hydrosub 2021…this ultra important clip show! Previously, on…these videos of me commentating over Action Max games!

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Quadruple The Action Max, Quadruple Your “Fun”…

Four of these. I’ve sat through four mind-numbing, bad special effects-laden, disasters of video game attempts that would go down in infamous history, if it were not for the fact that no one remembers this system.

Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Five people watching this remember Action Max, and all its glory!

So, what exactly is Hydrosub 2021?

Hydrosub 2021: Darling It’s Not Always Better, Down Where It’s Wetter…

It’s like Sonic Fury, but without Trucker and Chief, stupid nicknames, and it happens under the sea.

You know what? Hydrosub 2021 is nothing like Sonic Fury. I just thought it sounded good.

It’s actually a submarine OF THE FUTURE adventure. You’re a crewman on Captain Jason’s vessel, and he’s like a cross between Third Rate Scotty from Stark Trek: TOS and Third Rate Leslie Nielsen. Which is actually an insult to Leslie Nielsen.

I mean, I guess he sorta looks like Leslie Nielsen, just with a goofy accent and a salad bowl on his head.

And what’s with that outfit? Oh, and there’s the crewman whose face we never see except for a “barely there” shot of the side of his face. I could make a joke about that, but there’s about eighteen minutes’ worth that doesn’t necessarily need commentary (but was fun to do anyway!).

We’re tackling the dangers of the sea, complete with robot sea creatures.

I guess fish were either not available, not high tech enough, or demanded an unreasonable salary, resulting in their removal from the finished product.

Consider them lucky.

Let’s Dive Into the Dangerous Seas of Hydrosub 2021!

Of course, seeing is believing. And since I’m huge on “if I have to suffer, so do you,” as well as mutual torture. So come, join me. Click play. We’ll watch together. We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, we’ll realize this was a ridiculous idea.

I’m just referring to the scene with the submarine re-enters the depths of the bathtub…I mean Not A Bathtub!

Phew, saved that one!

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We’re getting one step closer to the grand finale of Action Max “gameplay” commentary videos. Next time, we’ll revisit my first Retroist article, and provide commentary on (arguably) the best Action Max video of the bunch.

Only because it lifted footage from an actual movie.

Did I mention that fifth one is a rare gem in terms of quantity? For every twenty copies of The Rescue of Pops Ghostly, there’s one (possibly half of one) copy of this elusive Action Max game.

That’s a story for another time, friends, so until then…

Stay prepared for ACTION!

I have nothing else, folks.

Related Readings/Viewings

Because this isn’t new or novel, folks.

The Halloween I Spent Rescuing Pops Ghostly

Let’s Kinda Sorta Play “Sonic Fury”

Let’s (Kinda Sorta) Play #3 “.38 Ambush Alley”

The Rarest of the Rare Video Game System – Exploring Action Max’s Blue Thunder VHS Game