Studs from Microsoft


Chris Sells reminded me of the Studs from Microsoft sketch (direct link to video), a parody of the dating game show Studs, as performed by the now-defunct local sketch comedy program Almost Live! And yes, in that sketch is Bill Nye at the midpoint of his rise to stardom. Between his careers as Boeing mechanical engineer and nationally-recognized "Science Guy", he was on Almost Live!, performing both comedy and science demonstrations.

The program had quite an enthusiastic following in its day. If you were new to the area, sooner or later one of your friends would sit you down and force you to watch a half hour of sketches. It was a crash course in local geography and culture, with jokes about Ballard, Mercer Island, Renton, and Lynnwood flying left and right. (The Ballard Driving Academy is perhaps their greatest accomplishment.)

I noted earlier that one of its recurring sketches influenced a feedback tool included in the betas of Windows XP. I stole their "A or B" sketch for my Coffee machine or assault weapon? quiz (though you'll have to imagine the "ding"s).

One of my favorite sketches was the game show parody Pike or Pine?, wherein contestants were given descriptions of businesses or other landmarks, and they had to say whether the location in question was on Pike Street or Pine Street. The two streets run parallel and nobody, not even people who spent their entire lives in Seattle, can remember what is on Pike and what is on Pine.

Comments (11)
  1. Matt says:

    Now that’s a cool piece of culture. Orlando doesn’t do anything like that :(

  2. Alun Jones says:

    Don’t forget the "Lame List", which inspired KB article 147714 – http://support.microsoft.com/?id=147714, although that’s the expurgated version, and doesn’t mention J Allard’s hairstyle.

  3. asdf says:

    Almost Live! was shown in Los Angeles at some ungodly hour in the morning when I was a kid. I remember watching Billy Kwan (my favorite), The Lame List, and the John Report.

  4. It’s nearly 3 years since I left Seattle, and I found the Pine/Pike issue easy to resolve. It helps to identify PiNe as the Northern street of the pair. The rest is a trivial exercise left for the reader.

  5. Arlie Davis says:

    Yes, I stumbled on the piNe mnemonic, too.  But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s impossible to remember what business is on which street.

    Where’s the good Indian restaurant?  Pike or Pine.  Where’s the QFC?  Pike or Pine.  Where’s the Egyptian?  Pike or Pine.

    They are more like a geographical probability function than discrete streets.

  6. If you watch E!, you might recognize Joel McHale on "The Soup."  He’s an Almost Live! alum.

  7. Richard says:

    You’ll probably also find that non-locals are more likely to get this sort of thing correct. If you grow up somwhere you just learn your way around in manner somewhat akin to osmosis. When you first move somewhere is when you learn the names of streets etc…

  8. James Schend says:

    "The Worst Girlfriend In The World" and the "Lame List" were always my favorites.  I didn’t watch a lot of Almost Live, though, as I lived in Snohomish which is far enough north that Seattle people don’t consider it the "Seattle Area" anymore and it was never mentioned.  Too bad.

    In fact, I generally find that if you’re north of about Kirkland, Seattle/Tacoma people generally assume you live on a farm, raise goats, and have 4 broken cars in your front yard.

  9. JenK says:

    Part of the humor of the Pike/Pine show was the guy who got all the questions right about the gay clubs…

  10. rentzsch says:

    Proof the internet is lame: I can’t find any "Mind Your Manners with Billy Quan" videos online.

    Remember kids, be like Billy! Behave yourself!

    And, apparently, beat up John Keister at every opportunity.

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