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Adam Forstadt and Tim Cycon are fervent TV watchers and firm believers in a newly revised American dream, the one perpetuated by Wayne’s World, The Tom Green Show, and Weird Al’s UHF—a public access mythology that puts limitless power in the hands of any third-rate yahoo with a video camera.
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“I laugh at the most ridiculously simple things, because they trigger wild things in my head,” says Forstadt, by way of explaining the simple-minded subversion in his show, Simple Pleasures. Since the fall of 1997, Forstadt and Cycon have cranked out 35 episodes of the show, using and abusing the closed-circuit station at American University to pump video footage of their campus pranks and shenanigans into dorm rooms. Now they’ve taken their yuks to the promised land: DCTV.
The local cable station is a stomping ground for public service announcements, religious detritus, and raunchy late-night low-fi, rounding out District Cablevision’s halfhearted commitment to community programming. The enterprising duo shelled out $20 to become members of the Public Access Corporation of D.C. and lay claim to their piece of the action.
“I feel like a good American citizen, being able to use that privilege,” says Cycon, who plays the spastic foil to Forstadt’s understated simpleton. Asked to describe what they do with that right, Cycon starts spitting freestyle rhetoric like a misfiring SaladShooter: “My main influence is firsthand experience, takin’ it from the streets,” he riffs. “We just try to get punk-rock ethics on it—you know, break stuff ’til it starts working, take synapses hostage. I was born with an IMAX theater on my prefrontal lobes. I mean, I’m straight off the lobe, man.”
Listening to Cycon, you begin to realize that his on-air Hunter S. Thompson routines and madness-as-muse persona might be more than just burnout schtick. “We get digital, you know. I mean, we’re new-school, not analog—straight-up ill kids,” he continues. “We probably give less of a fuck than anyone else I’ve ever met.”
True to form, a large portion of their work is plum awful—the role of Verbal Kint recast as the campus retard in “AUsual Suspects,” and the offensively bad faux commercial for Bitch Out candy bars stand as particularly unenlightening examples. But all is redeemed in Forstadt’s playful music video sendups, for which he gleefully dances in shopping malls and campus quads, serenading unsuspecting passers-by with lip-sync versions of current pop hits—finally beginning to embody the less-is-more philosophy he preaches. If Tom Green can take his moron Olympics all the way to MTV and Pepsi, then the Simple Pleasures crew can’t be far behind.—Colin Bane
Simple Pleasures airs on DCTV Channel 25 at 10:30 p.m., Sept. 25, and at 7 p.m Oct. 2.