Popee the Performer – Episodes 1-4

Welp, somebody paid for some Popee the Performer notes, and you all know what that means. All I really know about Popee is that it’s an insane CG shock-comedy spectacle and that @shinmaru has very honorably matched my dedication to Speedwagon with his own psycho clown avatar. I really don’t know what, i craft I’ll be able to glean out of this experience, but I’m beginning to suspect you guys fund these things just to see me try and spin meaning out of bullshit, so hopefully my generous benefactor will be satisfied either way. Let’s get right into Popee the God Damn Performer!

Episode 1

Popee the Performer

So yes, this CG looks jank as all hell. I guess that kind of works for what this show is going for – it’s supposed to look trashy and offputting and inhuman, because it’s heavy on extremely violent gags. “Looking intentionally horrible because everything is horrible so why not” is a neat way to make use of CG, I suppose

I mean, if you’re gonna make a gaudy shock-comedy spectacle, a circus is the place to do it, right? Circuses are inherently depressing, rimmed with freakish spectacle, and feature prominently in all manner of nightmares. Even the music of circuses is off-putting

God, this CG is so hideously horrible. The closeups just make it worse, which I guess translates to making it better in the context of this show???

Gotta love this cheap techno soundtrack

Popee the Performer

Why does Popee have like a cat tail if he also has bunny ears. Isn’t he supposed to be a clown? What is his aesthetic here

Basically just Looney Tunes gags – “putting him back together backwards,” etc. Not much to dig into there

So far the aesthetic seems far more important than the overt comedy beats. The comedy is standard kids’ stuff, just given this really weird sheen through the show’s lack of dialogue and horrific aesthetic

So Popee is a sadist, I guess

Popee the Performer

And now we’re doing a Scooby Doo run

And the wolf’s legs run away. Yep

And then the Popees start dancing. Weird for the sake of weird

Welp, that’s one episode down. So far, this seems extremely very much not my thing – I like experimental comedy, but this just seems like very basic comedy done awkwardly, with a distinctively hideous visual style. But these episodes are four minutes long and I’m funded through four of them, so on to the next one!

Episode 2

Popee the Performer

Opening with a drum beat. This show relies heavily on sound design, much like classic Looney Tunes. Narratives of slapstick given an emotional arc through music in the absence of dialogue

Time to limbo dance

What in the fuck

Okay, the resolution to Popee’s fall is very purposefully unnerving. They recut to his fall so many unnecessary times, and then we get this panning shot across the motionless, graffiti-art audience

Popee the Performer

It’s like we’re starting in the surreal, world-disintegrating finale of a Tim and Eric skit

And then the “punchline” of this first bit is Popee hurting his foot, but the tone is entirely dominated by these weird moaning noises from the audience. It’s like the show is intentionally reaching for the style of a discordant nightmare

And the music is starting to support that – it’s just unnerving electronic keys and this weird whispering noise. This show is designed to terrify stoners, something like Suicide Mouse

And then we switch back to this simple cartoon punchline of his tail being on fire, but all the tonal cues leading up to that were pure nightmare fuel

Popee the Performer

The characters clip through each other if they even try to touch. This is the opposite of animation

Episode 3

A rainy day at the circus today

And now Popee is trapped in a tube as the rain pours down. Just a low-key anxiety nightmare tonight

More bizarre-ass music. What is this spoken-word song supposed to convey, dramatically?

Popee the Performer

Ah good, Popee has gained lightning powers

Popee somehow lives, and wolf-dude is surprised and goes inside the food pot. Is that supposed to be an un-punchline? This show’s general humor is so broad, but then it does so much intensely weird stuff, too. I can’t trust that the show is intentionally going for its nightmare effect, and not just really, really inept – the show still needs to prove its intent to me, and even then, “Looney Tunes but deeply weird and tinged with horror” isn’t really my bag

Episode 4

You know, maybe if I was tied to more 50s/60s slapstick cartoons in the first place, I’d be a bigger fan of this quasi-surreal subversion of the formula. We’ve all got different comedy roots to mess with

It’s also kinda hard to watch something whose visuals are so strikingly terrible when I’m also burning down Nichijou

Popee the Performer

I do like the wolf guy’s faces

Popee threw a knife right in his goddamn face

Yeah, it’s the mix of Looney Tunes expectations and dark subversions that defines the show. Everything leading up to and following that moment of violence is standard setup and breakdown – the goofy way of preventing a miss, Popee’s bulging eyes, etc. But the moment itself is just an extremely violent act with no heightened execution to soften its impact

But again, I can’t really be sure that’s exactly what the show is going for. The show is just Weird

Popee the Performer

And Done!

Welp, that’s it for Popee. As these notes probably imply, I didn’t really get much out of this one – I don’t have any interest in the style of cartoon slapstick the show is starting from, and its inherent weirdness and darkness certainly make it unusual, but don’t make it particularly entertaining. There’s just nothing for me to grab onto here – it’s too quick and archetypal for any kind of investment, it’s one of the ugliest things I’ve ever watched, and the show’s quirky inversions don’t really tell me anything new. Can’t win ‘em all!

This article was made possible by reader support. Thank you all for all that you do.

One thought on “Popee the Performer – Episodes 1-4

  1. Popee was a work that represents the times it which it was made. It loses context over time, advancing technology. Unhinged shorts straight from the creator’s mind at the beginning of CG, the beginning of the Internet. No one else was here, only Popee.

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