Let’s be honest….You hated history classes. Right?!
Well, that is my stupid assumption! Maybe it was just me. Honestly, I had a water vs. oil kind of relationship with the history lessons. But surprisingly, a cartoon show changed my entire point of view.
Yes, you heard me right. Histeria! Made me fall in love with history again by presenting it in the exact manner that I wished all my teachers could deliver the message.
Let’s jump in.
Maybe it was because of the FCC that stated every cartoon should have some educational message. But Hysteria! was one show full of lessons on history, that turned me from being a history hater to an almost history major….I repeat…almost!
Histeria! Intro theme song
What on earth is Histeria!...? And why was it popular in the 90s?
Histeria! was an American animated TV series made and produced by Warner Bros and created by Tom Ruegger. Histeria! was explicitly designed to be an educational series. This was in keeping with the FCC requirements at the time for informational vs. educational content for kids.
The show aired from Mid-September 1998 to the end of March 2000 at the Kids’ WB and had some reruns until August 2001.
The show featured as a sketch comedy at the Saturday Night Live (SNL) show with the cast playing historical figures. It was the most innovative idea of the WB after the Animaniacs.
Unfortunately, the show was canceled in March 2000, with 13 episodes less of the supposed 65 episodes that were supposed to have been shot. This was because of budgetary constraints. It was reported that the budget for the entire TV show had overshot the planned budget by over $10million.
Owing to the high cost of production, footage from the previous episodes were re-used and recast to fit newly recorded audio, and many non-educational segments were used as fillers. The show was later broadcast on in2TV from March - July of 2006 and again made a dramatic return in October of the same year. Sadly, all the episodes were deleted from the web in January 2009.
Histeria! Cartoon Show CharactersHisteria! had many characters with different personalities that made the show epic. These characters included:
Frank Welker voiced Father Time. He was the main host of Histeria! that helped the cast to travel through time. He has dark skin, a huge beard, and he is easily irritated by Kid Chorus, especially when their facts are not correct. This appears to, in turn, irritate Kiddington, who, after being out of sight, would sometimes yell, “SHEESH, what GROUCH!”
Big Fat Baby
Voiced by Luke Ruegger himself, Big Fat Baby (BFB) is Father Time’s egg-shaped sidekick that always follows him in the sketches. The foul smell he bears is because of his diapers that are still full and remain unchanged.
In the show, Big Fat Baby is vulnerable to injuries and sometimes falls on steps or high places. There were several Big Fat Babies with several female versions that had a single hair and bow stand.
Laraine Newman voiced her. She is portrayed as a competent tour guide who guides a group of visitors in different historical moments as if the world was her museum. She is seen to get the wrong thing constantly and sometimes uses some demented logic to explain her argument.
For instance, she does not believe that the Washington Monument was named after George Washington since it is not called the George Monument.
The Oldest Woman in the World
Tress MacNeille voiced The Oldest woman in the world. As the name suggests, she is portrayed as a very old woman who appears to know when the air was invented. J Additionally, she also says that she has dated every male in history. She seems to have an eye on Bill Straitman. She is also known to hit on any male host in the episodes.
The Kid ChorusLoud Kiddington
Loud Kiddington was voiced by Tom’s son Cody Ruegger.
In the show, Kiddington is a young boy so well-known for his incredibly loud volume. He also performs dramatic recreation of noisy events in history, like the Big Bang and dynamite creation. Often he watches something by quietly saying, “I see, I see…” when it is insight and then screams, “Don’t see it! Don’t see it when he lost his sight.
The personality of Loud Kiddington was based on Tom’s son Cody; he appears to the noisiest in the family.
Laraine Newman voiced her and she is the female lead character. Kid Chorus and her personality attribute are expressed in her catchy phrase: “I’m not happy.” Whenever she is not singing, she usually talks in a monotone, unless excited.
She could be seen to stand up for animal rights and can quickly be swayed by the lure of cookies. She also hats maths!
The Ruegger’s seem to have dominated the voice over for the TV Series. This time, Froggo was voiced by Nathan Ruegger. He is a short frog-like, a blond-haired kid with a low voice in Kid Chorus, hence his name.
He also asks historical figures for two apparent useless objects to make an invention, although the requested items are not always received. The show portrays that he is a huge fan, but he doesn’t like turnips. In American, he is seen to be a die-hard fan of Batman.
Cree Summers voiced the Aka Pella. She is an African American Kid Chorus member who wears sassy lingo, sometimes offending people she is going out with. She is a tomboy and appears to be the voice of reason for the entire team compared to most other girls in the Kid Chorus.
Kip Ling, Chipper, the Crooked Mouth Boy, and Bow-haired Girl are the three additional members of the Kid Chorus who usually appear only on songs or in crowds. They seem to have no distinctive features like the rest of the squad.
Voiced by Tress MacNeille, Susanna is portrayed as a native American girl with beady eyes and a wide gap in her face that gave her a giant lisp. The catch line is “That's Twue,” which is supposed to translate to “That’s True.”
Frank Welker voiced Pule; he is an overweight kid who usually resorts to violence, and he is vulnerable to pitching fits.
Jeff Bennet voiced Lucky Bob. He is a kid with a remarkable overbite. He usually talks with a dimly wise drawl. He typically only speaks when he agrees (no matter what they say), with Ed McMahon’s catchphrases like “You are correct, sir,” “Yes now,” and “Hi-yo!”.
Voiced by Tress McNeille, Cho-Cho is a little girl from China who’s a lot tougher than she seems. She likes following people around accompanied by Bob. And she will not leave the theme until they purchase whatever she is selling. The background music “Chopsticks almost always follows her dialog”.
Voiced by MacNeille, Toast is an indistinct surfer whose name comes from believing that his brain is fried like toast. His name is also because his skin is always sunburnt. He is the host of the show Ask Me If I Care, in which he invites historic celebrities to tell him what they are renowned for, but only I order for him to finally chuck them into the sky or space because he never cares what they say to him.
Toast once stated that he had a rock band, Nasty Head Wound and an uncle called Melba.
In this series, the talented Tress MacNeille did a great job by voicing most of the characters, and they all sounded different. Pepper Mills is another Histeria! character that was voiced by Tress. In the show, Mills is a hyperactive youth who loves all celebrities. An excited scream accompanies much of what she says. She keeps getting historical figures to send her autograph and is surprised to learn that she’s not the famous cultural icon she mistakes for.
She also regularly hosts a Pepper's Pep Rally interview. It seems she’s incredibly quick, and she’s going to pop and yell till she decides to give an autograph.
Other Histeria! Characters
Voiced by James Wickline, Bill is a straight man compared to the rest of the characters. Usually, he interviews both historical figures and the Oldest Woman In The World, whom he struggles to avoid her advances.
Photo: Annette, Devinart
Voiced by Rob Paulsen, Smartypants is a shy genius with huge pants and several tidbits of information. His head and hands are the only part of this body ever seen. He has romantic feelings for Miss Information. Smartypants also discusses historical realities like the toilet's invention, exasperated by the network censor Lydia Karaoke.
Voiced by Billy West, Chatterson is an eccentric salesman who sometimes attempts to defraud his clients.
Frank Welker voiced Fetch. He is Loud’s aptly named speaker who likes to chase tennis balls and sometimes asks historical figures if they can catch him. He still comes with Loud if he wants to sell something with Loud saying that he will make Fetch eat something nasty if he does not sell something that Fetch never prepared for. He seems to be of the same dog breed as Road Rover's Hunter.
Nora Dunn voiced Lydia. She is a Kid’s WB employee who has been appointed as the network censor for the program, and this may be quite a hazard for her considering the type of show.
She is often seen interrupting the sketches to argue that what is about or has just been shown is unacceptable for children's TV. Especially scenes of abuse, nudity, and anything deemed to be disgusting or gross.
Sometimes her efforts to moderate the show lead to physical damage, which causes her to accept the original claim. Lydia is also hosting “What’s my job?” a game show where participants must guess about the role of a historical figure that they can never come close to because of their anger. Karaoke used to work for the Weather Channel according to the episodes “Histeria! Goes to the moon”.
Rob Paulsen voiced Sammy. He is a parody of the clever and desperate TV representatives, who continuously diminish the Histeria! TV series for ratings’ sake.
Molly is seen to continually offer water refreshments with broad smiles, saucer-sized eyes, and a positive attitude. She was created after Martha Stewart.
Paul Rugg voiced Nostradamus, who believes he can predict the future, although he often has proved incorrectly. He also behaves erroneously and impatiently and shouts “Shutup” repeatedly in the middle of a sentence, usually to silence some kind of public.
Many of the recurring historical figures in modern life in Histeria! were described as caricatures of modern-day, real-life celebrities. The goal was to draw analogies to contemporary people as far as personalities and attitudes are concerned.
Histeria! cartoon series Episodes
I still remember the show like yesterday. It was a hilarious and entertaining show besides being educational. I remember vividly the captivating scenes of the first episode, “Inventors Hall of Fame – Part 1. The episode presented Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Thomas Crapper.
In the show, the new telephone system is introduced to Alexander Graham Bell. Thomas Edison gets an idea of inventing the light bulb with the aid of Loud Kiddington. While J. Robert Oppenheimer and Toast speak about the Manhattan project for an atomic bomb.
In the show, we see Alexander going crazy about the new telephone system and seeks aid from Thomas Watson. It is at this point that Mr. Smartypants introduces Thomas Crapper, the inventor of flushing toilets, but is interrupted by Lydia, who feels the segment is too gross for kids’ TV.
Did you get the jokes in Histeria! When you were a Kid?
Histeria! was a lively cartoon show with a combination of informative lessons in history, comedy, music, and the spoofs of pop culture. The only problem is some of the jokes seemed to be above the audience at the time.
When I was a kid, it was hard to realize that Thomas Jefferson was played out like the “Jack Benny Program.” I had no clue that the voice of Abraham Lincoln should be a Johnny Carson parody!
Back then, I was not acquainted enough with the Rat Pack to understand why Julius Caesar, Brutus, or Evita Peron sounded like Charo. At the same time, Ernest Hemingway and Leonardo da Vinci sounded like Batman.
The show was funny all the same because it was an educational show. I loved the scenes where the actual quotes are momentarily imposed on the screen with historical characters' handwritten signatures. The show lasted only two seasons, and that’s too bad because there are many creative ways to develop new episodes for this show.
Ok, they tried to cover most of the historical events and historical figures. Still, I feel it was not enough and the tales of the great depression that our grandparents didn’t war us about like the Bonus of 1932 or about the socialists and Fascists should have been covered in the show. Ok, now that I know a little more history than I did back in the ‘90s.
The show also received a fair amount of bashing from the anti-media zealots like Peggy Charren, Terry Rakolta, who complained about the children’s content in the show. They said that the show would turn kids into aggressive sociopaths and that parents should watch the show with the kids.
Either way, since the show was entertaining for both kids and adults, it was a good thing to watch the show with your kids. Because they always had to seek some clarification and needed some jokes explained to them. Some historical characters were also little known to the kids. Hence required some interventions from the parents or guardians.
Final WordMy elder sister looked at the intro theme song and said that Histeria! was the dumbest thing she had ever seen! I figured she was asleep during her history classes, or she was just slow at getting some educational jokes!
This show kept me laughing. Even today, as I am writing this article, I am still laughing at the scenes of the episode “General Sherman’s Campsite” that aired in October 1998 and the scenes of “Women Leaders in Group Therapy.” They keep playing in my mind.
I have found some fascinating stuff that they didn’t bother to teach us in schools like the origin of the weekdays names and the Aztec Gods. I always watch it, even now. I still laugh at the jokes, no matter how much I watch the reruns.
If you missed this show back in the ‘90s, I recommend you watch it if you have an “educated” sense of humor J Just kidding. It is a fun show, whether you know your history well or just like me, who scratches the surface.
As for my sister, she is still complaining and belittling the shows that I love. Right from Freakazoid!, Animaniacs, Ed Edd, and Eddy. I guess I should sell her off in the next yard sale!
What about you?
Did you get a chance to watch Histeria!...? How would you rate it? Why?