I just found out over the weekend that Chicago's local horror host is going national. His name is Svengoolie, and he is played by Rich Koz. Sven has been a staple of the Chicago airwaves for over 30 years. His show currently airs on WCIU, which is a local Chicago station. But that station is owned by the same guy who owns Me-TV, which became an independent national station this past December. It took a bit longer to work out how to switch Svengoolie over, probably because they needed to work out the movie rights. It sounds like some exciting stuff is coming our way.
Here are ten things you should know about Svengoolie.
1. At the beginning and ending of each show, he is pelted with rubber chickens.
2. He makes lots of jokes about Chicago suburb Berwyn (BERRRRWYNNN!) because the name sounds funny, and because of the annual Berwyn mushroom parade.
3. He does not live, nor has he lived, in Berwyn.
4. He writes all of his own material and does all of the voices in his skits.
5. He pre-dates MST3K.
6. Rich Koz is not the original Svengoolie. That was Jerry G. Bishop, from 1970 to 1973, on WFLD.
7. Koz took over as "Son of Svengoolie" from 1979 to 1986 on the same station.
8. When WCIU started in 1995, Koz was brought back. He got permission from Bishop to become Svengoolie (rather than "Son of").
9. He writes all of the lyrics for the song parodies that appear in every show. The music is arranged by Doug Scharf, also known as "Doug Graves."
10. His show goes national this Saturday, April second! Thank goodness it runs on Saturday. If it was Friday night I would be worried it was an elaborate April Fool's prank.
I have actually gotten to meet Sven no less than three times, including once when I actually got to go on the set! Our next-door neighbor is a musician and long-time friend of Doug Scharf. So Doug took my brother and me to a taping of the show. It was incredibly cool. Rich is such a nice guy, and just as funny in person as he is on-screen (and yes, I mean that as a compliment!). He was at C2E2, only two tables away from the line for Eliza Dushku. Here he is in the background:
That's him with the top hat and eye makeup.
Jason and I met him last year at Cyphan. Here he is with the two of us (and the rubber chicken we had him sign).
Congratulations again to Svengoolie! May he rule the airwaves for many years to come.