Pee-Wee's Playhouse, Innuendo & The Art of the Supercut

video by YouTube contributor superjehovahnova

Curator's Note

From Miss Yvonne’s flirtatious advances to Cowboy Curtis’ admission that he sleeps in the nude, innuendo was always slyly embedded in Pee Wee’s Playhouse, even though children were always the show’s intended audience. The video montage accompanying this post (and its sibling, part 2, here) illuminates the frequency and varying kinds of innuendo employed on the show.

Issues of sexuality on Playhouse have been covered by scholars. This New York Times article, published at the time of the Blu-Ray re-release of the Playhouse box set in Fall 2014, does a good job of summarizing some of these discussions. So I’d like to turn our attention to supercuts in general (although we can also discuss sexuality in the comments area!).

The innuendo montage fits loosely within’s definition of that genre: “A fast-paced montage of short video clips that obsessively isolates a single element from its source, usually a word, phrase, or cliche from film and TV.” In this example, the editor/creator has decided to focus not on one specific phrase but rather on one overarching concept in order to show viewers just how skillfully (or clumsily) innuendo permeated the Playhouse.

But who’s making supercuts? And why? Gawker writer and supercut creator Rich Juzwiak states, “The most basic motivation comes not from being able to assert my dominance over preexisting material, but my own ideas. Supercutting allows me to tailor and package my argument in a more specific way than a written essay.” So it would seem that supercuts are mainly the product of fans: a way for them to claim a larger stake in their chosen media objects.

It is Juzwiak’s second sentence which intrigues me the most, however. The idea of the supercut as an audiovisual essay ought to appeal to all scholars engaged in the digital humanities because this method offers a unique way to analyze granular conceptual facets from television and film.

When we cut up, remix, distill, and re-present media in this way, we may find new meanings we missed upon viewing the in-tact, in-context object. The innuendo supercut from Pee-Wee’s Playhouse is so effective because, by lumping all the instances together, we can see exactly how much innuendo played a part in the show. (I definitely didn’t catch all these when I watched the show as a kid!)


Thanks, Nedda, for providing the term to describe this remix of video clips, and the idea of using the supercut as an argument is delightful. I'm also reminded of Cory Doctorow's book Pirate Cinema. Your post gets me thinking about the relationship between innuendo, humor, and performance. I wonder if kids who watch Pee-wee might feel like they are in on the joke because of the nonverbal behavior that accompanies innuendo, even if the joke itself is elusive. The exaggerated physicality of Pee-wee's world might also be part of the mix.

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