Grambo's World 

Performance artist pokes politics and more on TVTV

Isaac Grambo is Boise's Wayne Campbell. Lucky for us, Kate Bowen is a far prettier Garth Algar.

The duo gets together weekly to create a new episode of the local rendering of Wayne's World in the Grambo Report. It airs on TVTV on Wednesday nights, which is party time, and it's excellent.

If you think your life is lame, it might be—especially if you are watching Lost on Wednesday nights. If you really can't pull your hind end off the couch, at least support Boise's cable access by watching Kate and Isaac instead and you'll instantly be cooler.

For Grambo, a graduate student studying and instructing performance art and communications at Boise State, nothing is too sacred for satire; the show parodies local politics, Jay Leno, The Today Show, laundry detergent, hair care, food service, and until only recently, Grambo was the only person on screen, playing all the characters. For example: "And back to you Isaac," was returned with, "Thank you, Isaac."

The idea of the Grambo Report slowly germinated as Grambo indulged in his natural ability to scrutinize American news and culture and perceive its quirks.

Because he was working at TVTV, Boise's cable access station, he had access to a medium in which he was able to express his examinations of politics and society. However, upon bringing his show to fruition, he immediately hit a hurdle: None of his friends wanted to be on the show with him. So Grambo made lemonade out of lemons. "I thought it would be funny to have me be all the people," he says. "It says something about the homogeny of TV news. You are given all the same information in all the same ways."

It also says something about artistic arrogance. Take Vincent Van Gogh, for example, who painted zillions of self portraits. "You have to have a certain amount of this 'look at me' attitude," Grambo says. "There is definitely that in me. As much as I want to deny that, I think I am pretty important."

And in a world where one can be equally cocky and realistic, Grambo chomps at the bit. "I can play with that!" he says. "Because I've never seen anyone more arrogant than news anchors!"

Maybe the Isaac-centric episode was too much work, too many costume changes, too many lines to remember. Or maybe even Grambo himself got tired of watching all Isaac all the time. But more likely, the homogeny point was made, and when production for the second episode began, it was time to branch out; Grambo enlisted the help of friend and fellow student Kate Bowen. "I started doing commercials for The Tonight Show, the second episode," Bowen says. "And then I just kept doing commercials."

Cable access shows don't generally make time for commercials, but Grambo and Bowen make their own mock commercials, and clever they are. In one segment, Bowen sells two products back to back using the identical shot and voice over, communicating how generically sex sells any product.

Grambo and Grambo Law Firm is Bowen's favorite. "It's hilarious!"

Soon enough, Grambo had Bowen coming to the studios every Saturday for shooting. "I got written into The Today Show," she says. "And then he wrote me into the other ones. I think I help take the load off."

Bowen says she feels pretty darn good about her role on the Grambo Report. "I'm the second cheese, the side kick, the Robin," she jokes. "I am just happy to be part of it."

She's not just the second cheese, though, Grambo points out. "Kate is more—she tells me what works, what should be changed. She says, 'Oh, my god, wouldn't this be funny,' and then we get on there."

Grambo also credits Mike Lindemann as a major part of the show, but he's behind the scenes—that is, until they show the outtakes.

For The Today Show parody, anchor Isaac introduces rock star Isaac, who sings the catchy tune "Not Naked Under My Clothes." Wait for it, you'll be humming it when you get up in the morning, I promise.

"The first time I saw myself laugh on the outtake, I laughed at it the same way," says Bowen. "I thought, 'I've gotta stop doing that'."

As for Grambo, seeing himself on television was a different experience. "After hours and hours of editing, after you've seen yourself screw up so many times in a row, and you see it OK on TV, it's OK."

Rotating on air now are several episodes: The Tonight Show; the local news episode ("There's a kid with a beard in the recess scene. It's great!"); and the "They're All Coming to Get You" episode, of which Grambo is proudest. "Satirically it is the tightest one," he says. "It takes the fear, tells you to be afraid of something and it gets more absurd, right down to telling you to contact the station if you see suspicious weather." Soon to be completed is the retrospective that Isaac wrote after he saw the three-hour special on the life of newsman Peter Jennings. "This is the man that made news. He was more important than life," he says. "So it is all about me talking about how great I am."

"It is so great, it is so perfect, you've figured out how to be a great performance artist." Bowen tells Grambo. "I think you should just start handing out autographs."

But it isn't all easy-peasy for Grambo. This is work, time-consuming, hard work, and it is how he plans to make his career. Just maybe, if we're lucky, Rob Lowe will swoop into town and order the show to go national.

Watch the Grambo Report on TVTV, Channel 11, Wednesdays, 8 p.m.

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