By Grayson Johnson
For those not old enough to remember “Happy’s Hour,” the live local children’s program aired on Lexington’s WQTV from 1976 to 1980. Hosted by Happy the Hobo and his sidekick Froggie, the show became an immediate hit. Its unique brand of improv comedy won over the kids of Lexington and made instant celebrities of its stars. “Every kid in my neighborhood, myself included, thought they were rocks stars”, says local documentarian Michael Crisp. “I was one of thousands of children who loved that show”.
Crisp’s latest film, When Happy Met Froggie, chronicles the show’s great popularity while simultaneously telling the inside story from the cast and crew. “We take a look back at the show itself, highlighting its highs and lows, as well as its hilarious and sad moments, both on and off the set,” says Crisp. Partnered with producer Andrew Moore (as Remix Films), Crisp now has directed three feature documentaries. The Very Worst Thing (2010) weaves the tale of a mysterious school bus crash in Floyd County in 1958. Polterguys (2010) provides a hilarious inside look at Key West’s most popular ghost tour company. Now, with this 3rd documentary, Crisp continues to highlight remarkable local stories.
As a childhood fan of “Happy’s Hour,” and an actual improv comic himself, Michael Crisp has a great attachment to his subject matter. “It really brought back a lot of great memories from my childhood, specifically getting off of the school bus each afternoon and running home to catch the show…Most all of Happy and Froggie’s scenes and dialogue were completely improvised. I admire the fact that they were such amazing performers but also had the ability to think fast and react to each other in such an entertaining way.”
When Happy Met Froggie makes its world premiere on Wednesday April 6th at the Kentucky Theater. The film will be screened at 7:30 P.M. and followed by an onstage question and answer session with both the filmmakers and the cast and crew from the original show. All the stars are set to appear including Happy (Tim Eppenstein) and his wise-cracking sidekick Froggie (Mike Mellon and Greg Rice). “It tells the story of the way live television was in the seventies,” reports Eppenstein.
If audiences are unfamiliar with “Happy’s Hour”, Crisp stresses that it will not affect their enjoyment of the film. “It is really about reconnecting with your childhood. To some degree, everyone has special moments or feelings from when they were a child, and this film will strike a chord with everyone who remembers their own special childhood moments.”
For more information on When Happy Met Froggie, including how to reserve your tickets for the premiere at the Kentucky Theatre, please visit the film’s official website at http://www.whenhappymetfroggie.com/.