If you ever wonder how I became the person I am today, look no further than every single show that was on Nickelodeon when I was a kid. I wasn't particularly athletic and I didn't have many neighborhood friends, so I spent nearly all my free time watching TV. That might sound sad or unhealthy, and maybe it was both, but it was also really, really awesome. I was a Nick kid, through and through, and my TV never strayed too far from good old channel 28 (why do I remember this?).
I'm certainly not alone in this experience, and I'm always delighted to meet someone around my age with whom I can reminisce for hours about the "golden age" of Nick. So it should be no surprise that I bought tickets immediately upon discovering that the 92nd Street Y was hosting a "Historical Celebration of Nickelodeon." Based on the new book, Slimed: An Oral History of the Golden Age of Nickelodeon, the event promised to bring together cast and crew from an impressive list of shows such as Double Dare, Clarissa Explains it All, Are You Afraid of the Dark, Nicktoons, etc. The tickets were only $15 (with a discount via TimeOut NY), which is only 50 cents more than it costs to see a movie here in the city. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect (the description was a bit vague) but I knew that no matter what, it would be worth it.
If I'm really being honest, few things in my life have had more of an impact on me than '90s Nickelodeon. I can still remember Stick Stickley's address (PO Box 963, New York City, New York State, 10108) and every word to the Log jingle, even on days when I can barely remember my own cell phone number.
I had never been to the 92nd Street Y before, but the theater was pretty small so there wasn't really a bad seat. Marc Summers was the host of the event, and he was wonderful — a little older, a little fatter, but surprisingly funny and his booming voice brought me right back to being a Double-Dare/What Would You Do/Unwrapped-watching fan again.
The night consisted of a series of panels, each one centering on a specific show or topic — top Nick executives from the era, You Can't Do That On Television, Double Dare, Clarissa Explains it All, Nicktoons (specifically Doug and Ren and Stimpy) and a catch-all at the end for various cast and crew members. I was a little young for You Can't Do That on Television ('79-'90), but the panel included two main cast members, Alasdair Gillis and Christine McGlade, and it was interesting learning about the show that basically started it all (including the famous slime).
The Double Dare panel was probably the most fun, with Marc Summers reuniting with cohost Robin Marella and the announcer, Harvey. It was mentioned that Melissa Joan Hart was supposed to make an appearance on the Clarissa panel, but couldn't make it, which was unfortunate. However, Jason Zimbler (Ferguson) and Sean O'Neal (Sam) were there, and it's worth noting that of all the former Nick kids, time has been the most kind to Sean (i.e., he is a total babe).
Before the Nicktoons panel, voice actor Fred Newman (Doug) performed the Doug theme song and it was absurdly awesome. I'm not above admitting that it actually gave me chills, not because I particularly even liked Doug, but he was so spot-on with the sound effects that it was just a really cool thing to see and hear live. They also did the Beets hit "Killer Tofu," which was great until the audience started clapping along (my number one concert pet peeve). I was surprised to see the super-talented voice actor, Billy West (Ren, Stimpy, Doug, Roger Klotz, Futurama, Looney Tunes, etc.) on the Nicktoons panel. It was a total treat to hear him switch effortlessly between Ren and Stimpy or Doug and Roger. Constance Shulman (aka Patti Mayonnaise, aka Yoga Jones from Orange is the New Black) also did a little Patti, but that's basically just her normal speaking voice.
The last panel included Phil Moore from Nick Arcade, the dad and big Pete from The Adventures of Pete & Pete, Ross Hull (Gary) from Are You Afraid of the Dark, Kelly Brown (Brad) from Hey Dude, and Trevor Eyster (Sponge) from Salute Your Shorts. It was a super fun and interesting night and I'm so glad I went. The whole program was a little more than three hours, but I wasn't bored for a second. I even got my book signed by Marc Summers, even if I did feel super nerdy doing it.
I'm about a third of the way through the book and I only started it a few days ago. It's a little bit hard to follow since there are so many people giving their recollections, but it's almost not even necessary to keep them all straight. I am totally jealous of the author, Mathew Klickstein, for having the idea to write about something I know most people my age still can't stop talking about. But without him the night at the Y would have never happened, so I guess I owe him my thanks (in addition to the $17.95 I paid for the book).