This or That!, usually filmed before a live studio audience at various theaters in New York City, tries to capture the glory years of burlesque, vaudeville, and variety hours. Each episode, in which the rowdy crowd can be heard cheering on the various acts, features the host, Fred Kahl, and co-host, Julie Atlas Muz, and is produced by Mark Cyr, who has, among various other jobs, lectured at such revered institutions as UCLA and USC on cinematography and HDTV production. This experienced and acclaimed crew puts together, somewhat unexpectedly, a most irreverent, bawdy throwback series that’s not always safe for work.   

This or That! has more than its fair share of good, not-so-clean campy fun, and the creators claim their shows cover a bit of everything – from sword swallowing magicians, to Coney Island style sideshow acts, acrobatics, to significantly more sexual fare. For example, one recurring act features the velour-wearing Kahl (who sometimes plays the wizard-like Fredini) looking on as brightly colored supporting cast and audience volunteers compete to see which pair of competitors can eat bananas in the most sexually explicit position. Other shows might depict Mr. Donut, the Queen of Magic, and an old fashioned Siamese twin striptease. If you find yourself thinking you’ve been time-warped to some never-before-seen 1970s network game show, you can be forgiven. There’s more than a little Gong Show present in the donut eating contest, or the rather sordid Easter egg hunt which was a staple during this past holiday season. Sometimes you can almost hear the acts getting yelled off the stage.

For some sadomasochistic pleasure, check out this Guiness world record holder. $%&# that looks painful!

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