Sprockets!: The answer to why I like Low-era Bowie so much?

No, this is not Dieter, but Klaus Nomi…a real ‘ahhhrtist”  from the Deutchland

I’m not a big television watcher now, but I have come to realize all the TV  I watched as a child shaped me to such a degree that I’m forever indebted to the idiot box, particularly through years 1982-1997.  Was my refusal to brush my hair as an adolescent subconsciously justified by my admiration of Topenga in Boy Meets World? A preference for quiet, contemplative boys perhaps a side effect of being a devout fan of Doug? 

One thing I do know: certainly my love/amusement of overly-serious German musicians with synths and cold voices (from Neu! to Nico to Ladytron) is a result of my favorite SNL sketch of all time, “Sprockets,”from the deliciously demented mind of Mike Myers. Not surprisingly, Myers based the uber-nihilist/minimalist/expressionist “Dieter,” on someone he knew in art school and turned this character into the host of Sprockets, a West German talk show (although occasionally he would do other things such as host German Jeopardy). With a remixed Kraftwerk theme song (“Electric Café”) and a mischievous monkey sidekick (“Klaus”), Dieter would interview guests (usually that week’s SNL host) and if he liked them enough he’d offer: “Would you like touch my monkey?” Usually he’d get bored with his guest (Dieter’s ennui was as determined as his love for Klaus) and then he’d always end the show with “Now is ze time on Sprockets ven vee dance!” Robot spazz dancing followed.

I was too little when I first saw the skit (it debuted in 1989) to understand what exactly Dieter was parodying (80’s German art culture ala Klaus Nomi), but I look back on this and I think that it made me curious about those Germans…perhaps why I read so much Nietzsche in college?

Anyhow, if you never saw this skit (it’s unlikely you haven’t-didn’t we all grow up on Dana Carvey/Mike Myers-era SNL?), check it out as it is still wonderful, all these years later: Click here for Deiter’s Dream (with a hilariously deadpan Miranda Richardson in a rare comedic turn). It is not unlike many of the students films I saw at SUNY Purchase. And yes, this is the infamous “Whorenun” episode.

Alas, it’s impossible to find most of the full skits online because of NBC’s stringent copyright issues (and WordPress won’t let me post above video, hence lack of embedding) , but do check out the transcript of one of my favorites, starring the unfailingly creepy Kyle Maclachlan as a German Bob Saget type (the compiler of “Germany’s Most Disturbing Home Videos”-“‘You may know him as ze vacky neighbor from Munich TV’s hit comedy ‘Who Are You to Accuse Me?’“). What a pleasure to watch the “beautiful and angular” Kyle MacLachlan scream “ANTS!!!!!!!!”  

(Many thanks to Bryan, who found this and also reminded me of my remembrance/deep love of Dieter in the first place.)


Electric Cafe–Kraftwerk


2 responses to “Sprockets!: The answer to why I like Low-era Bowie so much?

  1. You can read my story about Klaus Nomi here…


    All the best,


  2. I’m thinking the Sprockets dancing may have heavily influenced tecktonic.

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