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Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special Predicted Zoom Backgrounds

  • Back in 1988, Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) had the playhouse every kid wanted to visit, and that was especially true in Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special, because he also had celebrity guests like Cher, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, Little Richard, and Dinah Shore.

    That's not even counting the pre-fame stars like Laurence Fishburne's Cowboy Curtis and S. Epatha Merkerson (Chicago Med, Law & Order) as Reba the Mail Lady.

    Of course this was all pre-internet and pre-cell phones, but Pee-Wee had "the Picture Phone," a magical combination of the old tin-can telephone and a two-way television screen. When he answered a call on the Picture Phone, he pioneered the now commonplace "silly Zoom background" by pulling down a shade behind him with a wacky pictures on it. In this special, he sneaks out of the Picture Phone and puts a Pee-Wee mask on a mannequin in his place to escape watching Dinah Shore sing "The 500-ish Days of Christmas."

    Watch the complete special above.

    Andy Hunsaker has a head full of sitcom gags and nerd-genre lore, and can be followed @AndyHunsaker if you're into that sort of thing.

    TOPICS: Pee-wee Herman, Pee-Wee's Playhouse, Paul Reubens, Christmas