Hey you guys,

I didn't have space to write about it in my forthcoming TV Funhouse review, but one of the special features on the DVD set is an outtake of the show's crack crew of puppet penis wranglers painstakingly yanking a towel to reveal that a turtle puppet has a disproportionately enormous penis. One might even say he has a big, green, threatening monster cock. Incidentally, I'm trying to slip the phrase "monster cock" into everything I write, which may prove difficult in my upcoming series exploring the films of Ingmar Bergman.

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The outtake initially seems like a suitably smutty way of conveying that an enormous amount of work goes into a seemingly tossed-off throwaway gag. But the bit goes on. And on, and on, as the puppeteers repeat the bit over and over and over again, for a full five minutes, carefully measuring the level of hilariosity with each big green reveal.

At first it's mildly amusing, then kind of tedious, then deeply annoying, then amusing again, then kind of transcendent. It goes from being a smutty but rather conventional DVD extra to being a strange piece of performance art, almost a treatise on the art, craft and structure of comedy and the way something can go from funny to unfunny to funny again through dogged repetition.

In that sense it's like the legendary rake gag from The Simpsons, where Sideshow Bob steps on one rake, then another, then another, then another, or the Mount Everest sketch on Mr. Show. In each of these bits the whole point is for a gag to go on way too long, to stretch a thin bit to the breaking point, then past the breaking point, and finally to a place where the gag doubles back on itself and becomes weirdly fresh and funny again. This isn't the only time TV Funhouse creator Robert Smigel has fucked around with the conventions of DVDs. On one of the Triumph DVDs (I think it was probably the DVD that accompanies his CD), Triumph begins to deliver an audio commentary, then quits in disgust a minute in, never to return. It's a move at once refreshing and irritating, cause I'd actually really like to hear a Triumph The Insult Comic Dog audio commentary, though I can understand how it may be tough to sustain that shtick without a foil for too long.

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We at the A.V Club try to watch every Special Feature on the DVDs we review, although when pressed for time, I sometimes watch or listen to an audio commentary long enough to get a general sense of it. So, if Nora Ephron were to drunkenly admit to committing several vehicular homicides in the late eighties an hour and forty-five minutes into the audio commentary for Lucky Numbers I'm probably not going to catch it.

Strange moments like the turtle-puppet penis reveal make me happy I delve deep into the special features for just about any film I like. Heck, I often delve deep into the special features of movies I don't like. I noticed recently that the deleted scenes for Mr. Saturday Night are funnier and better than anything in the film, a bloated, saccharine character study of a lovably detestable insult comic played by writer-director Crystal.

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Though I'd never recommend the film, several of the deleted scenes are wonderful, beginning with an aborted opening sequence that drinks in the madness and cacophony of racing around backstage at an early sixties variety show via a gorgeous uninterrupted tracking shot like famous sequences in Boogie Nights and Goodfellas. Later there's a wonderful character moment where Crystal's shameless ham can't stop doing broad physical shtick to amuse his potential agent (Jerry Orbach) even after he's ostensibly said goodbye and Orbach is on the phone with another client. It's a scene that nicely conveys the compulsive, almost pathological need to entertain that defines so many veteran comics.

The third deleted scene that's infinitely better than anything included in what is really kind of a shitty film (though David Paymer is fantastic in an Oscar-nominated supporting role) finds Crystal's borscht-belt-scented ham incongruously doing his trademark shtick and zany one-liners in a B western. It's a funny juxtaposition of Catskills and Death Valley that doubles as an adroit satire of movies like Kelly's Heroes where Don Rickles just basically does Don Rickles despite being in the midst of World War II.

I understand why these scenes were cut. They didn't move the plot forward and they weren't integral to the story but I prefer funny, clever, revealing stand-alone scenes to boring, schmaltzy ones integral to the plot. What do you guys look for in a DVD's special features? What are some of the weirdest, most unexpected special features you've encountered? Lastly, can you think of other DVDs where the deleted scenes tower over everything included in the film itself?

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