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Why Joe Pyne’s Mr. Nasty Show Was Good for the Soul

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When Joe Pyne’s ’60s-era talk show came along, filled with vitriol, it seemed to take TV to a new low. But novelist John Gregory Dunne found the experience cleansing.

—from “The Hate Hour” by John Gregory Dunne. Originally published in the December 2, 1967, issue of The Saturday Evening Post

After watching one of these shows — and it does not matter whether I loathed the guest, the host, or both — I feel somehow drained and less misanthropic. Not long ago, for example, I had a terrible day. I had migraine and my daughter sliced her finger with a razor blade and I got a rejection slip and a cop gave me a speeding ticket, my third this year, which means that I will probably lose my license, and in Los Angeles that is like being a functional paraplegic.

That night I watched Joe Pyne. His guests included a lady who complained that television sportscasters never carried drag-racing results, a man who blamed the current racial unrest on Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and a veteran who said we ought to drop the Big Bomb on Vietnam. The vet said he did not fight World War II to throw this one away. It turned out that he had been a Navy mailman.

I was outside the zoo looking in again. Life did not seem so bad after all. I went to bed and slept well.

This article is featured in the July/August 2018 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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