The Ren & Stimpy Show

I found this single for $0.99 at my local Salvation Army store. That’s cheaper than iTunes. Of course the Salvation Army is — for all the good it apparently does — a rabidly anti gay evangelical church that operates a slick PR and advertising machine. I guess that’s a discussion for another time… probably in relation to the number of concerts that have been cancelled in recent months due to organised religious lobbying. For now, here’s something less religiousy, namely…

I Wanna Be A DJ [click to see the Discogs.com release info]

A radio DJ!

This two-track single appears to be part of what looks loosely like a 1995 concept album released by the voices of cartoon characters Ren and Stimpy, along with a backing band. The title track on this single, which refers to the traditional radio announcer DJ, is a three and a half something ditty straight out of a musical, orated by Stimpy. At one time he even refers to himself as DJ Stimpy.

It’s a quirky tune where he keeps repeating the title words, then on each hook he is accompanied by an over-the-top male radio voice exclaiming the same. The lyrics deal with Stimpy’s desire to announce, interview, and in particular his wish to give things away on air.

This CD reminded me of the cartoon (funny that). While I confess that I never watched enough of The Ren & Stimpy Show to call myself a real fan, I did catch enough to appreciate its warped humour — a hard to define mix of the very funny yet the somehow tasteless and gross. Indeed, the “earwax” or “nostril hair” humour of this show went on to embody the neurotic style of so many Nickelodeon shows after it.

And that’s what this CD has even though I feel it’s kind of toned down. The first lines detail how Stimpy was born inside an old tube-radio, followed by how his mother licked him clean while he slept (complete with slurping sound effect). There’s the juvenile humour — he refers to “breaking news” and how he’s going to “glue it together again”. And there’s much of the dumb innocence of Ren’s character.

This last point, I feel, may go a long way to explaining why some people just don’t get Ren & Stimpy. They see the grossness and the earwax, the close-ups, and the neurosis-induced bloodshot eyes. Yet the characters were exceedingly well refined and developed (at least based on what I saw). They might constantly act in a way that would get the writers in trouble with the Nickelodeon producers; but if it was shocking it wasn’t merely for the sake of it. As I said, its influence was quite something. There’d certainly be no SpongeBob SquarePants or Invader Zim if it weren’t for The Ren & Stimpy Show.

So maybe get this if you’re a fan? Or maybe get it if you just want something that gives the appearance of being clean and innocent, but which you know, just under the surface, harbours something hilariously unspeakable.

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