Hey there, J1 Fans! DevilDriver1313 here once again to take you on a trip through animation history. Funny I should use that reference because this Awesome Cartoons will focus on a show that made learning history fun without being preachy. Each week, this show’s zany cast of characters taught kids of the Gen Y era various periods in history through song, dance and sketch comedy. The animated educational program I am referring is Histeria!
A project that was as ambitious as Animaniacs, Histeria is an American cartoon series created by Tom Ruegger and produced by Warner Bros Animation. The cartoon was unlike any other on television at the time, using comedic satire to illustrate different periods in history. Histeria! featured a zany cast of characters who provided important historical information in a hilarious manner, i.e. the cause of the American Civil War sung to the tune of The Brady Bunch. The show was hosted by Father Time who allowed the Kid Chorus to travel through time though he was frequently annoyed by them. He is joined by Big Fat Baby, an egg-shaped infant who is known for his foul smell due to his constantly dirty diaper, which has been referred as having not been changed since before a specific period in time such as Christopher Columbus sailing to the new world or the eruption of Pompeii’s Mount Vesuvius. Miss Information is the show’s ditzy tour guide who treated each historical period as her personal museum. As her name suggests, she is consistently getting her facts wrong and makes up outlandish excuses to justify her snafus. For example, she believes that the Washington Monument was not named after George Washington because if it were then it would have been called the “George Monument.” The World’s Oldest Woman is an incredibly old woman who claims to remember when air was invented. She also claims to have dated every historical male in history.
The Kid Chorus consisted of the boisterous Loud Kiddington, monotoned chorus leader Charity Bazaar, the croaky voiced Froggo, tomboyish Aka Pella, hyperactive celebrity crazed teen Pepper Mills, surfer dude Toast, the annoying persistent Cho-Cho, the dim-witted Lucky Bob, quick tempered Pule Houser and the beady eyed Susanna Susquehanna.
AWESOMENESS!! (almost): Histeria! nearly touched onto my “Cheesy Cartoons” section but after careful consideration, it has proven to have done things to keep it of that list. The show made learning history fun. Like many cartoons at the time, kids were getting taught a lesson without even realizing it. The hilarious cast kept things interesting with their brand of slapstick humor that was commonplace at the time, likely due to the popularity of other WB shows Animaniacs and Tiny Toon Adventures. The Kid Chorus were diverse in their appearances and personalities, making them easily relatable. It was entertaining seeing them interact with historical figures such as Ulysses Grant, Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Graham Bella and J. Robert Oppenheimer. Pepper Mills would constantly mistake the historical figures as famous celebrities and berate them into given her their autograph, only to have them tell her they are not who she thinks they are. Froggo is known for asking the famous person to find an item for him to use to make an invention, however, his request is rarely fulfilled. Loud Kiddington is as his name implies – obscenely loud. He often performs “dramatic reenactments” of loud moments in history, such as the Big Bang and the creation of dynamite; with each of this, the viewer is told to turn up the TV volume “for maximum effect.” The Kid Chorus play well off each other and still were able to get the history lesson across amidst the show’s comedic antics.
WHY WE WATCHED!! Warner Bros cartoons were popular in the decade of “Friday” movies and rock/hip-hop collaborations so Histeria! fell in line. Plus, it was one of the rare shows that was educational without being preachy once the FCC mandated educational programming.
Histeria! ran for 52 episodes from September 14, 1998 to March 31, 2000 on Kids WB, which continued to air reruns until August 30, 2001. However, 65 episodes were originally planned for the series but due to it running $10 million over budget, it was canceled March 2000. The series was not as popular as Animaniacs, Tiny Toon Adventures or Pinky and the Brain, yet it still holds a special place in our memories with its witty humor, catchy tunes and intriguing historical information. Though the jokes ran dry at times, it is for those reasons that Histeria! is an Awesome Cartoon instead of a Cheesy one….slightly.
Here are videos featuring some of the songs sung by the Kid Chorus: