Everybody makes fun of the Rose Parade.
But two Los Angeles radio stations really make fun of the Rose Parade.
Both KPFK, 90.7 FM, and KSLX, 97.1 FM, will offer their traditional lampoons of the flowery fiesta New Year's morning. The stations invite listeners to tune their television sets to KTTV Channel 11, which is broadcasting the parade from 8-10:30 a.m. without commercials, but then turn down the sound.
Instead of listening to the happy patter of the television hosts, viewers who want a little cynicism that early in the morning then turn up the sound on KPFK or KSLX, and listen to the commentary provided by station personalities.
After years of separate spoofs, the two stations are actually going to broadcast a portion of their parody patter together, as KPFK's Baldy and Scout--played by comedian Peter Bergman and his wife, Patricia Stallone--hook up by telephone with KSLX comic deejay Frazer Smith.
"It's a great way to send up American culture," said Bergman, who began spoofing the parade as a member of the comedy group Firesign Theatre two decades ago. "American culture basically begins and ends each year in the Rose Parade. America floats by every New Year's morning, and we take the cream off the float."
While the two stations will broadcast together for part of the parade, their general approaches to satirizing it are quite different.
Bergman and Stallone create a complete fantasy world around the parade--they make up their own theme and pretend that the floats fit in with it--and their comedy is mostly political.
For example, the two plan to pretend that parade grand marshal Bob Newhart is really Saddam Hussein in disguise, in Pasadena in a last attempt to appease George Bush.
Their program will feature a number of "guests," mostly in the form of impersonations done by executive producer Bob Young.
"I'll probably be playing George Bush, and occasionally when my voice feels too deep, I'll do Henry Kissinger," Young said, slipping from a creditable imitation of the President to the voice of the Nixon-era diplomat.
KSLX's Smith plans to be generally irreverent but more based in reality.
"His is not political and not out to be a barb," said Shaune McNamara, acting program director at KSLX. "He's just free-spirited. Like if somebody is walking by dressed like a court jester, he may say, 'Hey Dad!' or something."
Spoofing the Rose Parade has been a Los Angeles radio tradition since the late 1960s, when Firesign Theatre broadcast from KPCC, 89.3 FM, at Pasadena City College, then an underground rock station. Over the years, KRLA-AM and KMET-FM also broadcast satirical versions of the event.
"We do it because it's fun," McNamara said. "By the time New Year's comes around everybody's burnt out. This is a way people can have fun while just sitting at home not doing anything."