With almost 350,000 views in its first two days, the video “Mr. Wizard's A Dick is blowing up like a lousy chemistry experiment. The video compiles three minutes of Don Herbert, aka Mr. Wizard, correcting and acting curmudgeonly to the young guests on his show (some of the instances taken out of context). It's very, very funny—and, incidentally, a nice reminder of a time when Nickelodeon showed good educational programming. I contacted the video's creators, writers Mike Schuster and Diane Bullock, and Mike and I had this brief chat.
How did you come up with the idea for the video in the first place? How long did it take to collect the best putdowns and compile them? Has your opinion of “Mr. Wizard” changed while making this video?
This idea was about 25 years in the making. We both watched the show as kids, but I was a bit more obsessed. I would watch it religiously before school and had running jokes with my parents about how casually cruel and condescending Mr. Wizard could be to the kids.
About a year ago, Diane and I started re-watching the old episodes and would die laughing at some of the things he would say and do—dbe it a snarky tone or how he'd just cut off a kid's answer even if they were on the right track.
A few weeks ago, I was laid off from my day job and, simultaneously, Diane lost her main freelance writing gig. We'd been writing partners in the past (in fact, I wrote a Splitsider piece about balancing our working and personal relationships) and decided it was a good time to start a new project together. We figured the Mr. Wizard compilation was a solid choice.
We spent last weekend watching all the episodes we had and logging every instance of Mr. Wizard acting like a jerk. By Monday, we finished inputting and editing the footage on my ancient MacBook and had the finished product that night.
Our opinion about Mr. Wizard hasn't changed. We've always loved the persnickety old coot and how he championed science and education, even if it came at the cost of an 11 year old's ego.
“Mr. Wizard’s A Dick” has gotten tons of attention over the last two days. How surprised were you by the reaction?
Once we compiled the clips, we thought the video would click with fellow comedy nerds and Mr. Wizard fans. We just had no idea there were so many out there, and never suspected it would be this popular or catch on so quickly.
What's your favorite line from the video? And what was your favorite “Mr. Wizard being dickish” moment that isn’t in this video?
It really changes with each viewing, but the one that consistently gets us is the lengthy clip at the very end where Mr. Wizard wordlessly gets into his car and leaves the kid behind in a desolate field. It was such a strange choice and hilarious gift for the original series to include that entire sequence.
While we were editing, we realized that we couldn't fit all the clips we compiled into this video, so we hope to include our favorites that didn't make the cut in a follow-up.
Has anyone who has said they were on "Mr. Wizard’s World" contacted you because of this? Are you afraid of any repercussions (cease and desist orders/the video being taken down) by Viacom or by Mr. Wizard’s estate?
We haven't heard from anyone involved with the original series or anyone who knew him personally. We sincerely hope they realize it's all in good fun and that we truly love the guy.
Your YouTube channel’s only other video consists of a baby falling off a chair. What’s up with that?
Haha, that right there is Diane at age one and a half in a home movie with her parents and sister, Pam. Diane was showing me her home movies a few years back and I probably watched that 13-second clip three dozen times. The way she pauses in the chair mid-turn to say "Hi!"—like, "All right, Mom, get ready for this one"—and hits the floor with a thud is something I'll never get tired of seeing.
What do the two of you do outside of creating the “Mr. Wizard’s A Dick” video? Any future plans for mashing up other '70s and '80s educational television?
We met seven years ago while working as contributing writers for The Onion and have since bounced around various comedy writing gigs, mostly on the web. We co-authored a book in the Would You Rather…? series and wrote a pilot for Comedy Central that never went into production. Diane also has a few scripts being shopped around.
We have a few things in the hopper and certainly hope to be involved in more projects like this in the future.
Tom Keiser lives in New Jersey and has also written for Network Awesome, Fruitless Pursuits, and The Classical.