Floyd Vivino

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There have been many cases of creative geniuses lurking within the confines of a regional television production. The Uncle Floyd Show, broadcast in the '70s on channel 68 out of Newark, NJ, never seemed…
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There have been many cases of creative geniuses lurking within the confines of a regional television production. The Uncle Floyd Show, broadcast in the '70s on channel 68 out of Newark, NJ, never seemed confined at all, except of course from a budgetary standpoint. Floyd Vivino had purchased the airtime and sold advertising himself to get the show on the air, so he wasn't exactly eager to start tossing money around on the sets. Moolah shortages stimulate the most honestly appealing forms of creative activity, and this was just how he dealt with the zero dollar production values of this kiddie show. Part of the musical family out of which the Vivino Brothers emerged with several rock and blues efforts, Floyd Vivino was the sibling who had mastered ragtime and swing piano, learning many classic standard songs. He could put on a cowboy hat and draw not a gun, but on a refined knowledge of classic country music. His brothers pitched right in on the broadcast enterprise, making up most of the overwhelming musical talent. The Vivino family knew, after all, that good music could basically be created for free. In the '70s, there were many good rock bands operating around New York City and New Jersey, obviously. Many of these denizens of what was being called the new wave scene were interested in promoting themselves by appearing on this weird TV show. This gave the Uncle Floyd Show an added edge, but one more perceivable to adult viewers than children, who after all always seem to like to watch rock bands play live on television. In this case, that included, unbelievably, the Ramones and the Squeeze. Kids also liked Uncle Floyd's cute puppets, goofy skits, and sardonic sense of humor. Another element of Vivino's talent was musical parody, including satires of musical stars of that era such as Bruce Springsteen, even funnier than the then quite-primitive efforts of Weird Al Yankovic. Like Yankovic, he is an incredibly well-studied musician from both the technical and historical standpoint. In 1987, he again launched his own program, this time an Italian radio program, the Italian-American Serenade, broadcast on WRTN-FM out of New Rochelle, NY. He spins sides from his personal collection of a quarter of a million Italian records dating back to 1916.

He remembers almost every member of his family including mother, father, and several uncles and cousins having been involved in show business. He performed as a child, giving piano recitals and appearing as a dancer at the 1964 World's Fair. He was most drawn to the sound of laughter a good comedian gets out of an audience. Floyd was 16 when he first performed professionally at a little club, doing an act he described as "...this little Italian Kid that played a bunch of instruments, told jokes, and sang." After high school, he performed in the circus, nightclubs, amusement parks, and as a comedian in a burlesque.

In 1974, he began broadcasting the Uncle Floyd Show over UHF, utilizing the Uncle stage name for the first time. The show stayed on in its first run until the end of 1979, but was eventually revived on cable out of Oakland, NJ. The funny little show has become the longest-running television show in New Jersey television history. He has worked regularly as an actor, appearing twice on Law and Order and the soap opera Loving. He has also appeared on variety programs such as Turkey TV, Up All Night, and the Dr. Demento Show. In 1998, he appeared on the Cosby Show. He also had small roles in several films, including Good Morning, Vietnam. In 1999, he achieved the honor of placing in the Guinness Book of World Records for non-stop piano playing. Floyd played for 24 hours and 15 minutes under the close observation of the Guinness experts. Brothers Jimmy and Jerry Vivino became known for their appearances in the house band on the late night Conan O'Brien Show.