Saturday, December 4, 2010

Big Joe Polka Show

I don’t know if the Big Joe Polka Show is on in your area, but I do know if you have access to it, you must give it a sample.

The Big Joe Polka Show is a polka show-think of the Lawrence Welk Show with nothing but polka music-hosted by a large elderly man with white hair by the name of Joe Siedlik.

Here’s where it gets weird: there is some kind of contractual dispute between Big Joe and the station that carries his show-RFDTV, which is some kind of rural only channel from Omaha that specializes in poorly produced polka shows and shows about horses.

Evidently, the producers of the show and the station that broadcasts them are embattled in a bitter dispute to this day with allegations of “slander and defamation.”

If you’ve ever seen an episode, you’ll understand how hilarious this all is. The Big Joe Polka Show is Joe sitting on a chair, introducing polka bands and their next songs. Joe is very jovial about his introductions, sometimes telling jokes and declaring how some of the guests were invited back by popular demand.

The cameras keep a close eye on the audience-which usually contain a few dozen couples dancing to the music on a plywood floor. Some come in matching outfits-the louder the better-and some have a natural attraction to the camera-hamming it up whenever the cameraman is near.

The median age of the crowd is 70.

Al Grebnich recently came out of retirement to perform a few classics from his catalog on Nebraska records (I’m not making any of this up), which include “You Are My Sunshine.” I know this because Big Joe mentioned that Al is “still in the record and cassette business” and even admitted that he has a few 8 tracks still available.

Again, I’m not making this up and again, this was from an episode that was recorded in 2010.

Al looked to be napping while performing and he sported the same loud grey plaid suit that he bought forty years ago

But let’s not single out Al for his attire: the entire crowd looked to raid an old clothes trunk from decades past, or at least live in some kind of secret Polka society that is immune from any outside contact with the world circa 2010.

Peter and Paul Wendinger sported some newer clothes with a blue shirt that had a floral emblem. They also wore hiking shorts and cute little Czech hats. They performed their hit “Minnesota Polka” (every state seems to have their own Polka) which contains the verse:

“Fishin’ Minnesota
Fishin' Minnesota
You’re sure to hit your quota
When you fish in Minnesota”

The song ends with an offer to “have a beer in Minnesota” and even the fish themselves serve up an offer to come visit and kill them for consumption.

For some of you, this may sound like an alternate universe, but here in the Midwest, there are still Polka dances taking place and some radio stations broadcast a weekly Polka show. I’ve heard there’s even a younger contingency of Polka supporters in the Decorah, Iowa area-but there’s a lot of Norwegian up in that area, so it may just the genetic make-up.

Also of note: do you know the Grammy's no longer have a Polka category? They said that with one of the last polka awards feature at the Grammy's, there was only one nationally released effort that qualified.

Hell, I should have been looking for a gig in the Polka genre. I'd get to be on a nationally syndicated television show for exposure and have a good shot at a Grammy in a few years!

And here's another example of why SCTV may have been the funniest comedy show ever.


Charles "Chuck" Hoffman said...

YES. I'm so glad someone else is talking about this. I've been trying to tell people about RFDTV and the Big Joe Polka Show ever since my friend Tyler turned me on to it a couple years back.

I hadn't heard about this contract dispute, that's kind of sad. Big Joe is really the highlight of their lineup.

I do love how they play old Hee Haw episodes though. Brings back memories of watching it with my grandpa. And between that and the old Porter Wagoner SHows they run you can catch performances by some really great classic country artists. And I've wiled away more than a couple weekend afternoons zoning out to the cattle auctions.

I'd watch Bog Joe more often but my wife can't stand it. I've seen some truly wretched bands on it, and some really great ones that I thought, if I wandered into a bar and they were playing, I'd definitely hang around for a few beers. Probably enough that I'd actually attempt to polka.

The fact that this rural culture that I get glimpses of on RFDTV and the livestock barns at the state fair still exists gives me a happy feeling. Long may it live on.

Joe said...

this contract dispute is going to loose alot of czech slovak,polish all ages of "happy" people who want an hour of enjoyment.some 86 year olds and 2 year olds; finish and bring Big Joe back!!!!! we are from czech republic
Deb Nemec

Anonymous said...

Is the Big Joe Polka Show going to be on another tv channel? We miss the show. How will we know if it goes on the air again?conro