“Cram it, clownie!” | What’s up with that?
Did a kid tell off Bozo on the air?
When I was in high school, a teacher told us there was a Bozo episode where a kid did really badly at Bozo Buckets, and Bozo was being all condescendingly sympathetic. So the kid blurts out, “Fuck you, Bozo!” This has to be just an urban legend, right?—RM, Portage Park
“Never happened,” says George Pappas, WGN senior programming coordinator and the station’s resident Bozo historian. “The urban legend has been circulating since the mid-’60s. It was just this rumor that spread like wildfire over a weekend.” Accounts of the child’s alleged remark vary, but Pappas, 50, knows it as, “Cram it, clownie!” He adds, “I remember as a teenager hearing the story from a guy who swore he saw it.”
According to Pappas, the late Allen Hall, who was Bozo director from 1961 to ’66 and producer from ’73 until the show ended in 2001, returned to the studio one Monday after a broadcast the previous Friday and caught word of the purported exchange. “Nobody on the crew
knew what the hell anyone was talking about,” Pappas says.
The tidbit became television lore, something “told in hushed tones across dinner tables,” says Rick “Fuzzy” Klein, founder of the online archive Museum of Classic Chicago Television. “Perhaps Bob Bell’s looser character of Bozo, in which he would regularly throw in a small aside or reference that was mildly risqué, also made the story more believable.” Because the tale ballooned before VCRs (and certainly TiVo), Klein says, “no proof was required or even expected.”