Tuesday, May 5, 2020

American Tickler (1977)



In the years before and after Saturday Night Live’s debut, a number of low-budget movies either anticipated or mimicked the show’s format of comedy sketches satirizing mainstream media as well as society at large. Among the least of these endeavors is American Tickler, one of several raunchy comedies that Chuck Vincent directed while moonlighting from his day job as a pornographer. As always, the fact that Vincent demonstrates nominal skill makes watching American Tickler frustrating, because one senses that he could have occasionally rendered passable entertainment if he didn’t pander so shamelessly to the lowest common denominator. In any event, American Tickler combines a trivial recurring story with a whole bunch of throwaway gags. The recurring story involves several groups of people chasing after a treasure chest, and this element of the movie is exactly is forgettable as it sounds. Some of the sketches are truly vulgar, such as the one about New York being terrorized by a giant monster called “King Dong,” which is thankfully never shown. Equally dopey sketches include “The Happy Cooker,” about the erotic culinary adventures of one “Xaviera Collander,” and a PSA for “The National Pervert Foundation.” As did other comedy pieces of the same vintage, American Tickler also tries to make light of senseless murder, hence the bit in which a pre-SNL Joe Piscopo provides color commentary for a contest involving crazed snipers. Probably the best American Tickler has to offer is the game-show parody in which contestants wager the lives of their loved ones against mystery prizes, because at least that bit says something, however trite, about greed. There’s nothing special here, but as junk sketch comedy goes, the most watchable bits in American Tickler are roughly equivalent to the worst stuff SNL ever aired, so set your expectations appropriately.

American Tickler: LAME

4 comments:

top_cat_james said...

The Piscopo bit sounds remarkably similar to the Michael O'Donoghue-penned "Claudine Longet Invitational" sketch that aired on SNL a year before, and which necessitated an on-air apology the following week.

By Peter Hanson said...

Outright joke theft wouldn't at surprise me, given the lack of imagination on evidence throughout American Tickler. Nonetheless, if one is being charitable, it's possible that similar ideas were in the zeitgeist at the same time, and that this movie was already in post by the time the SNL bit aired. In any event, leave it to O'Donoghue to mark this particular terrain as his own...

THX 1139 said...

Funnily enough, the same year as this, American Raspberry, aka Prime Time, was released and features Warren Oates (!) taking part in The Charles Whitman Invitational, shooting people from the top of that Texas clock tower. Not very funny either, but maybe there was a lot of joking about gun murders at the time, as you say?

Guy Callaway said...

Watched another one of these literally last night,'Jokes My Folks Never Told Me', which you've reviewed. Man, they don't hold up well (not that they were any good to start with).
At least the 'Can I Do it..' films feature Uschi Digard!