(the Majestic Theater in Madison, Wisconsin, where the CyberMad show ran for 15 consecutive years)
The CyberMad concept was created in 1952 by the writing/directing comedy team of Alan Smithee, Christopher Parr Sr. and Joe Gillis (the masterminds later responsible for 'the Jerry Lee Lewis Comedy Hour,' 'My Mule, My Mother' and the black hit comedy of the '70's 'Those Wacky Jacksons').
Before their success in Hollywood, the team was living in Madison, Wisconsin, working on the Oscar Mayer weenie wrap line. Known for their wit and hot dog humor, they entertained the plant from dusk til dawn. Mr. Mayer overheard their wisecracks and knew that these three fine lads had great potential. Promoted to the PR division, the team created the short films 'Weenies - Made Outta 100% Luv' and the award-winning 'Mr. Heimlich - a meat lover's buddy.' They also invented the 50's dance craze 'Doin' the Bologna.'
Then opportunity knocked! The local WMSN wanted the boys to produce a Saturday morning show - which later became 'Toad-the-Cartoon.' An instant hit, 'Toad' was picked up by ABC and ran for 31 years (cancelled in the mid '80 and replaced with 'Pac Man'). While enjoying their success, they developed the stage show CyberMad - chock-fulla their comedy bits like 'The Men VS The Issues,' 'Insult-a-rama,' 'National Affairs' and the live puppet sock version of 'Toad.'
Many still debate about the origin of the name CyberMad, but here's the skinny: Ron L. Hubbard was visiting Madison on his Cybernetics book signing tour. He caught a performance of Mad - the original name of their stage show. Backstage, Ron congratulated the boys - who mentioned that they were being sued by EC's Mad Magazine unless they changed the name of the show. Mr. Hubbard suggested 'CyberMad' - and would give them each a thousand dollars IF they would hand out Scientology fliers after each performance. They accepted and changed the name and the rest is history!
Soon they moved to Hollywood and created many hit sitcoms - but the team finally split due to 'creative differences.' The reason: disagreeing with the other guys, Joe refused to sell the character 'Toad' to Mr. Walt Disney. Being a quick thinker, Walt created 'Mr. Toad's Wild Ride' and made millions (this case is still being battled in the courts). Bitter and alone, Joe died in a swimming pool.
When the '70's rolled around, Alan and Christopher joined forces to create 'Liberal Lou' and the J.J. Walker vehicle 'Those Wacky Jacksons.' The success didn't last for long before tragedy struck. Christopher's son, Christopher Jr., was the pyrotechnics director for the band KISS. The elderly Parr was in the crowd that night during the Love Gun Tour when Gene Simmons tripped and scorched the audience. Many lived, many died - including Christopher Sr.
In 1996, Christopher Jr. viewed the Internet as a possible way to milk the CyberMad name. Finding Mr. Smithee at the Burbank Retirement Center, Christopher obtained the rights to the CyberMad name and characters. CyberMad premiered online March 20th, 1996. In their press releases, Parr describes the site as "...an eclectic oasis on the Information Highway." He also added, "Our goal is to entertain, not to sell out."
While on the 'net, don't forget to visit
the Church of Scientology.