The aim [of Channel Five Children's Hour] should be childhood innocence tinged with sinister corruption. So think Andi Peters
Kids' show hosts. They laugh, they sing, they smile, they bring joy to children all over the world... at least, on the surface. But beneath that shiny, happy façade lies the Depraved Kids Show Host, a character you would not, under any circumstances, want your children around.
Unlike his zany-go-lucky cousin
, who's excitable but pretty nice off set as well, the Depraved Kids Show Host is at the very least a Jerk Ass
. When he's on air, he's Mr. Snuggles, happiest figure in Friendlytown. But in his down time, he (and it's usually a man
) is a sex, drug and gambling addict
who drinks, cavorts, and swears enough to make a sailor blush. He smokes like a tilt, lashes out at techies, and absolutely hates kids. Or likes them too much.
This trope plays on the irony of a jovial character who interacts with children actually being a horrible person. As such, it's related to Monster Clown
and other like tropes.
This is especially popular in Real Life Urban Legends
, the insinuations of which can ruin someone's career. For some reason, people just can't believe that a right-thinking adult would want to spend his life teaching kids manners and helping them grow as people. Fred Rogers would respectfully disagree; this is generally not Truth in Television
. On the other hand, Fred Rogers wanted
to be a kids TV presenter - many others only do it as a way into TV, and, as former kids TV presenter Dara Ó Briain
attests, "those people are the most ambitious bunch of pricks you will ever meet." And he's a a stand-up comic!
See also Nice Character, Mean Actor
, Villain with Good Publicity
. He may also Hate The Job Love The Limelight
. May exist in a Subverted Kids Show
, but most often they're villains in regular shows. In real life, they cause the show to be Undermined By Reality
. Surprisingly, not related to the Depraved Homosexual
or Depraved Bisexual
, although sometimes they overlap.
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- This is the backstory for the modern incarnation of the Superman villain The Prankster.
- The Sandman: "Hey kids, Dino the Dinosaur is trying to tell me something. Gee, Dino! I didn't know it was Terry Pteranodon's birthday today. Should we bake him a cake? And you want to tell me something else, do you Dino? We're all going to die. Dino says we're all going to die. Dino told me. He says we should slash our wrists now, and remember to slash down the wrist, boys and girls, not across the wrist." PLEASE STAND BY, WE ARE EXPERIENCING TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES.
- Hazel and Cha-Cha from The Umbrella Academy, sort of. See the back of issue 3: "The Hazel and Cha-Cha Show: Who needs drugs when you have cookies and guns?" And really, with those big cartoon characters heads...? The two are what the hosts of a kids show created by Quentin Tarantino would be like.
- Crocky, a Barney parody in Robin.
- MAD did a typical kiddie show parody starring one Uncle Nutzy, physically based on rude stand-up comic Jack E. Leonard, running a show featuring mindlessly violent cartoons and boot-licking sponsor worship. At show's end he's on the phone with his wife, angrily admonishing her for letting their kids watch his show.
- Kyle Baker's The Cowboy Wally Show had a childrens' show hosted by Al Space, who "really, really really loved kids. A lot", with such essay competitions as "In 1000 words or less, describe how Amy Sue Sturdfetzer looked much older than 12".
- Viz has the character of "Roger Mellie, the Man on the Telly," a foul-mouthed alcoholic and perverted TV presenter who in several strips lands a job on kids' TV and inevitably reverts to type in front of the horrified audience.
- Clown from the Hellraiser comic series was originally a Saturday morning show host named Winky Dink who wound up becoming a Pseudo-Cenobite, charged with keeping the children who wind up in The Labyrinth occupied so they don't run amok, causing chaos. He does so through pretty disgusting ways (not entirely by choice though, since Leviathan punishes him if he does anything remotely pleasant). A later story reveals he'd been upgraded to a complete, overly-sadistic Cenobite at some point, having finally gotten his "routine" right.
- Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #4 featured Barney Stryker. On-air, host of Uncle Barney's Good Neighbor Hour. Off-air, possessed by a demon which fed on the suffering of children and responsible for the gruesome death of eleven kids.
- Day Of The Barney Trilogy: wherein Barney the dinosaur is some incarnation of a demonic being that reappears every few centuries to wreak havoc. At the start of the fanfic, he held a special broadcast to persuade his young viewers to murder their parents and any other adults around, then inducted them into a cult. When any of them reached 13, he killed them (or worse). Flashbacks also show that he helped the Black Plague spread, and also saved Adolf Hitler during WW 1 and set him on his path.
- Parodied in The Pokémon Squad. A scene features Henry and June finishing up a KaBlam! episode, and as the director says "CUT!", June proceeds to ask for her cigarettes.
- In Death to Smoochy every host is deranged, and the whole industry is backed by the mob. When pushed, even Smoochy reveals some anger management issues.
- There were plans for a sequel for William Lustig's Maniac, which was supposed to follow such a character but it was scrapped due to its main star's untimely death. It sounded like a remake of The Psychopath.
- Meet the Feebles is this trope dialed up to 11.
- Floop from the first Spy Kids film was a subversion. The movie paints him as the Affably Evil Big Bad almost immediately: his "Fooglies" are actually secret agents subjected to Baleful Polymorph, and he's building an army of super-powered robots to take over the world. However, it's later revealed that neither of those were his ideas, they were Mr. Minion's. Floop is too preoccupied with genuine concern for his show.
- Even before he turns, he clearly cares more about the quality of the show than about the plans of world domination. When he turns a spy into one of the creatures on his show, the first thing he comments on is how the new "character" will be a holiday rush favorite.
- Mr. Jingles from Jingles the Clown was the host of a children's TV show, as well as a Satanist and serial killer who butchered roughly thirty children before being shot to death by the police, though not before filming himself murdering his co-host (whose wife he was having an affair with) and most of the man's family. It's also mentioned that he was born of an incestuous relationship between his mother and grandfather, who the mother killed with a cleaver before committing suicide.
- Somewhat meta example: Uncle Jingle, host of an insanely popular 'Net kids show in Tad Williams' Cyberpunk novel Otherland, is more or less a nice fellow, if heavily Merchandise-Driven. (In fact, he's actually played by actors working in shifts, since the show is on 24/7.) However, the character itself was inspired by the Monster Clown figure Mr. Jingo who haunts the Big Bad's nightmares.
- Shel Silverstein's "Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book"
- In High Society by Ben Elton, Tommy mentions that almost every children's TV presenter he has met was a heavy drug user, which he imagines is because it drives them insane to constantly have to act perky and cheerful for their audience.
Live Action TV
- The demonic puppet hosts of "Smile Time" from Angel, though one of them Became the Mask and started to genuinely enjoy entertaining kids (didn't stop Gunn from beheading him).
- In the Frasier episode "Juvenilia", Frasier is railroaded into a harsh interrogation from the three hosts of "Teen Scene".
- And then there was Nanny G, Frasier's first wife. She had become a Raffi-style children's entertainer in the meantime. During a concert she gave, she started singing a song that Lilith immediately interpreted as sexual, but Frasier explained as being sung to a child... until the next line...
- Mexican clown Brozo's entire schtick is this; he's a depraved, homeless, bitter and a tad mysogynistic. This is played for laughs... currently he has a The Daily Show type of program.
- Shirty the Slightly Agressive Bear from The Late Show
- Pate Biscuit from The Big Gig
- The Happy Smile Patrol sketch from SNL. Read a transcript here. It's guaranteed to make you laugh and gasp with horror simultaneously.
- From Finnish sketch comedy, there's the legendary "Nasse-setä" who is chronically hung over, and irritated at the anatomically incorrect drawings kids send him, taking offense at exceptionally large nose holes and lack of an actual nose in one of them and coming to the conclusion that the kid who drew it is a lazy slob who doesn't bother to draw any noses, let alone blow them because "you can't possibly blow a nose like this neatly!". His Catch Phrase was "Nasse-setä on harvinaisen vihainen!" [Uncle-Nasse is exceptionally angry!].
- Then there was Touko-Pouko from Studio Julmahuvi, the Show Within A Shows Butt Monkey children's host with a severe case of lazy eye, hair resembling a clown's wig minus the silly colors and a deeply disturbed personality. In his segments he might be dressed as Tarzan, an indian, riot police, a ninja or an astronaut. His idea of a good home activity might also be making a soul out of barbed wire and silly putty and comment how "we all have one inside of us, a misshapen ugly lump like this".
- Germany's sketch show "Switch" parodies the host of an actual children show on public TV channel Kika sometimes, much in the same way as the Finnish one above. In one sketch he threatened to kill the show's mascot Uhu (a real-life owl) when the children don't call him and give him the credit card numbers of their parents because he wanted to get a better apartment. He also has an alcohol-problem.
- The Seattle sketch comedy show Almost Live had a recurring sketch called "Uncle Fran's Musical Forest." Uncle Fran was a VERY bitter Deadpan Snarker who liked to sing songs about his ex-wives and ex-girlfriends ("Greedy Whores"), or parenting styles ("The Modern Day Dad...doesn't have a spine."). When his furry mascot objected to the content, he would beat the tar out of the puppeteer controlling it.
- Several of the characters in Greg the Bunny, in one respect or another. In particular, Warren is a heavy drinker and former drug addict with severe marital problems, while Junction Jack seems to be inspired by the aforementioned false rumours of Fred Rogers having been a sniper in 'Nam.
- An episode of Mathnet featured Vicious Vinnie, a villainous children's show host who taught kids incorrect information like that Chicago was the capital of Illinois.
- "Tia Penha" (Aunt Penha), one of the many characters of Brazilian Comedian Marcelo Médici, is a gender flipped version of this. But unlike other examples, she's an outright bitch even on air. She subverts upbeat children' songs by telling that everyboy died in the end and that everybody WILL die (your mommy included). She's also particularly fond of telling some truths about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
Today's show will be a little bit different for three reasons. First, Tia Penha doesn't like lies, second, Tia Penha doesn't like children
and third, what Tia Penha really likes is money so let's start it quickly!
- Boxcar Burt, a briefly-seen in-universe host watched by Brak and Meatwad in an [adult swim] New Year's Eve sketch.
"Heeey everybody! I hope you're rockin' out! But if ya ain't rockin' out, I hope you're drunk! Just like Boxcar Burt! Now come back after the break you little brats, or I'll kick your asses in!"
* raspy Evil Laugh
- A man who played Dougie the Whale in one episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. A complete jackass even onstage (at least to his backstage crew) and got into a fight with Will, in front of the child audiences no less.
- Laugh In often featured the demented "Uncle Al, the Kiddie's Pal!" who was usually hungover and kept cracking bad double-entendre jokes and running around like a maniac.
- SCTV had Muley's Roundhouse, featuring ol' Muley, who sulks and mopes throughout his program, in addition to critically ignoring the trains on his watch. This includes his criticism of the children's artwork sent to him: "These are the worst ones yet! You probably send the good ones to people you like!"
- Charlie Harper might qualify after he became a Children's Songs Star.
- Little Britain has the character of Des Kaye, the disgraced former host of a children's show called "Fun Bus." It's eventually revealed that he was fired because a child lost an eye while appearing on his show, and the Little Britain live stage show hints that Des's "Hide the Sausage'' audience participation game might also have had something to do with it ...
- Back in The Eighties, an episode of Les Dennis's Laughter Show featured Les parodying then-CBBC host Phillip Schofield. Dennis's version of Schofield gets steadily more drunk, attempts to murder Non-Human Sidekick Gordon T. Gopher, and eventually has a prostitute/groupie in the studio who he tries to pass off as "Gordon's mum"! Bizarrely, Schofield himself, long after his CBBC career, was interviewed for Channel Four's Zippy & George's Puppet Legends, where he claimed that Gordon had a drink problem.
- In universe, Jane from Coupling almost became this... she had the depraved part down pat, it was just the "Kid's show host" part that was up in the air... after all, her sidekick was a sock puppet named Jake the
Jane: I am not self-centered!
Jake: Oh, shut up, you deluded bitch!
- Inverted by The State with "Blueberry Muffins in the Morning," a show proposed by Blueberry, a children's television producer who looks and acts like a clown in real life.
Blueberry:BECAUSE I LOOK LIKE A F***ING BLUEBERRY!
- Reno911 had an odd example. Reading Ron is actually a great host, who does his best to put his dark past behind him. Enter the Reno Sheriff's Department, who so thoroughly ruin Reading Ron's Police episode that it sends Ron into a cocaine fueled rampage on the roof of the station.
- Season 2 of The Armstrong And Miller Show has a recurring gag with the hosts of a children's TV program (a spoof of Blue Peter) apologizing to its viewers for various drunken, lewd, violent and illegal acts - in kid-friendly language.
Alistair: Yes, by collecting all those stamps and unwanted clothes, you raised nearly a million pounds towards a holiday center for disabled people in the New Forest.
Tina: Now, Jason came up with an idea for making even more money from the amount you'd already raised.
Alistair: He transferred that money into another bank account...
Tina: And spent it on a large amount of special powder. This powder, like the holiday center, is designed to make people feel very happy...
- Ernie Kovacs was very fond of this trope. His character Uncle Buddy would allow kids to walk backwards blindfolded on the Staten Island Ferry railing. Another of Kovacs' characters, Mr. Science, could barely hide his exasperation toward his easily distracted kid helper Billy. Kovac's Hungarian chef character Miklos Molnar would show up to host a Howdy Doody knockoff show as "Buffalo Miklos". In addition to treating the Claribel knockoff with utter contempt, Miklos would get drunk, cut Howdy's strings, and yell at the kids in the peanut gallery to shut up.
- The short-lived Science Fiction series Special Unit 2 featured a children's show host (an ersatz of Barney the Dinosaur) who turned out to be a "Link" with a Pied Piper of Hamlin power.
- Sherlock villain, Psycho for Hire (And Fun!) Jim Moriarty is also a children's television presenter under an assumed name for the purposes of his evil plan to kill Sherlock Holmes, in a particularly creepy twist on his literary counterpart's cover identity as a math professor.
- Castle features "America's Dad", Bobby Stark, in the episode "Pretty Dead". While not guilty of murder, his off-air persona is a comically drug-addled, skirt-chasing, abusive man who bears no relation to his wholesome on-air characters.
- Played with in "Fool Me Once..." Dr. Stephen Fletcher is supposedly a lovable Arctic adventurer and wildlife expert who is presenting his adventures to little kids via web-cast from the wilderness. Instead, he's a con man faking the whole thing from his apartment, until he's murdered. Eventually it turns out that the con man really had a heart of gold: although he'd already gotten the money in advance, he put on a fun show for the kids long after he'd already gotten his money and even personally wrote replies to every kid who wrote him. He was quitting his con man ways out of love for his fiance, a woman he'd originally intended to con. So the lovable scientist is really a scheming conman who turns out to be murdered because he's redeemed himself... whew.
- In Living Color! had a skit in which Mister Rogers (Jim Carrey) visits a store and hits on the female customers as a prelude to holding the place up, but the policeman brought in to stop him doesn't believe he's capable of such a thing, and he goes on to pick up a hooker with his ill-gotten gains. The punchline makes the whole thing a subversion — he isn't the actual Mister Rogers, but a good impersonator taking advantage of his clean reputation to get away with his crimes!
- Captain Crocodile from The Monkees, especially after he worries that the band will become more popular than him!
- Taken to its ultimate conclusion by The Burkiss Way's "Childrens Favourites with Uncle Hitler."
"HELLO CHILDREN, EVERYVHERE! Und today, der first record ist der request from Norman und Edith Carruthers, for their little son Villie! Vally Vhyton, mit der disken kiddiewinks: DER RUNAWAY TRAIN! Unfortunately, ve haf some bad news for you! Der BBC Record Library cannot manage der aktual recording by Vally Vhyton! So! Inshtead, ve haf decided... TO INVADE POLAND!"
- Comedian Justin Edwards has the character Jeremy Lion, an unsuccessful children's entertainer who comes on stage drunk, uses nightmarish puppets and costumes in his acts, used to entertain himself as a child with "a box of matches and a kitten", and makes references to his sad depressing life. On one occasion, he had to sell the puppets he used in his act and used cans and bottles of alcohol as replacements, which he ended up drinking every couple of seconds.
- In one of their sketches, the French comedian trio "Les Inconnus" portray the team from "Club Dorothée", a very popular French kid show from the 80's, as this, harshly fending off a kid asking for an autograph once the camera is off by threatening him to call the show host Dorothée (the kid is frightened by this).
- While he's never explicitly stated to be a kids' show host, this is pretty much the shtick of Stephen Lynch. A lot of his songs sound as if they were written for children ... at least at first, before they turn either dark or depraved.
If you could be a super hero, would you be Justice Guy?
Making sure people get what they deserve, especially women who lie.
Like if a wife left her husband with three kids and no job
To run off to Hawaii with some doctor named Bob
You could kill them and drain them of blood so they die
... especially Bob ...
Then you would be Justice Guy.
- As alluded to above, Dara O Briain has riffed on his former career as a kid's show host in this fashion. The way he describes it the behind the scenes world of children's television is, if not exactly depraved, then certainly full of bitchy competitiveness.
- Urban legends adore this. Quick, think of a kids' show host! Got one? At some point, you've probably heard the rumour that he's a convicted child molester who's on the show as part of his community service note , some sort of deranged murderer, or a drug addict. Some notable examples of this trope (courtesy of Snopes):
- Fred Rogers was a heavily tattooed, cold-blooded sniper (or possibly a child molester).
- During the Golden Age of Radio, a legend was created whereby a local children's radio host named Uncle Don uttered the comment, "That ought to hold those little bastards!" after one of his shows. Uncle Don was the genial grandfatherly type gent who would read a bedtime story for children at 7 p.m. (local time), after which he said a gentle good night ... until the night where after his show he snarled the infamous remark, unaware his radio mike was still on and could clearly pick up his statement; the story goes on to claim that a flood of calls to the radio station's management resulted in Uncle Don's swift cancellation and his dismissal from radio. The legend has been told about many radio and television performers over the course of several decades, and predates Uncle Don's career by a few years.
- Steve from Blue's Clues committed drug-induced suicide, a rumor probably started when he played a drug addict on Law & Order.
- Barney is a crack dealer. Also, he committed suicide. In his costume!
- He swore at a kid that stepped on his foot. On live national TV.
- Comedian Soupy Sales has also been a victim of urban legends fitting this trope, most often those where he supposedly tried to sneak the word "fuck" into his comedy bits on his children's TV show Lunch With Soupy Sales. The most common example is Soupy and Fang reciting the alphabet, but Fang forever identifying the letter "F" as "K," and finally a frustrated Soupy admonishing the puppet, "How comes every time I see 'F,' you see 'K'?"
- On the other hand, the story about how he once instructed his young viewers to get the "funny green pieces of paper" out of their parents' wallets and purses and send them to him happens to be true.note
- Supposedly, one of the Tellytubbies was replaced for standing on a rabbit and swearing.
- It was Twinky-Winky; there was a rumour that he attacked somebody with his purse.
- Equally supposedly, one of the people on Bananas in Pajamas was replaced after drunken brawling. This detail often appears in these stories, probably because you can replace an actor in a suit more easily than another kind of host.
- Might better fit in Real Life, but this blog post, suggesting that the Wiggles have plumbed the depths of sexual depravity as no man has since Mick Jagger was mummified.
- Played for laughs in Disgaea 3 with the final Diez Gentleman. A rare female example.
- Captain Cutlass from Critical Depth was a nautically-themed kids-show host turned actual pirate.
- Crotchy the nutsack from Postal 2.
- In Ace Attorney, Matt Engarde is a children's show actor (specifically, the protagonist of in-universe tokusatsu The Nickel Samurai) who goes to great lengths to preserve his "fresh as a spring breeze" image. Like every defendant he carries a tragic secret. He's a sociopath who drove his ex-girlfriend to suicide just to piss off his rival Juan Corrida, and later hired an assassin to murder Corrida while he videotaped it with a secret camera, all so he could blackmail said assassin. And he was entirely willing to frame his agent, Adrian Andrews, to get away scot-free.
- Perry Bible Fellowship did a comic about a Depressed Kids Show Host: "Gee Golly Jeepers!"◊
- Used for a oneshot gag in Ghastly's Ghastly Comic, with plushophiliac Bunny Boy violating a stuffed rabbit in front of the audience. "What kind of world is it where it's okay to buy toys for children but bad to teach them how to play with them?"
- Bobble the Clown of the SCP Foundation mixes this trope with Monster Clown to frightening effect. For starters, he's an Eldritch Abomination, and anyone over the age of 10 who tries to watch his show gets knocked out instantly. Most of the time, he's just an Affably Evil character who cheerfully teaches children how to become arsonists and cannibals, but in one "episode" he lets his facade slip and he just glares at the kids for a half hour straight. Long story short, he's pissed that the foundation is blocking his "show" from being aired.
- Taken Up to Eleven by Mickey the Dick of Wacky Game Jokez 4 Kidz. He literally does not give a single shit about the show or anyone watching it (since he's being forced to host it against his will). He swears, drinks beer, makes sexual comments, insults the viewers, and assaults his coworkers all on camera. And his bosses still air the footage, completely uncut.
- In the flash game Pico vs. Bear from Newgrounds, Pico takes on Big Brown Bary, the host of one of his favorite shows. Bary forces the other residents to labor to his benefit, and is suspected of molesting his daughter Hoe-Joe. His costars are equally messed up.
- The Strong Bad Email "For Kids" sees Strong Bad imagining himself hosting a kids show in which he challenges kids to find The Cheat. The problem is he doesn't show the kids a lot of respect, as we first see when he gives them an "F-minus-minus" because one of them said "Christopher Columbus" instead of "The Cheat". Immediately after, he gets increasingly frustrated when the kids try to tell him where The Cheat is hiding but only give vague answers like "He's over there!", leading him to start freaking out.
- Total Drama's Chris McLean. Unlike most examples, he's openly sadistic and cold-blooded as the host of a reality show full of teenagers.
- The Simpsons: Krusty the Clown: When the cameras are rolling, he's the zany clown kids love! In his off hours, he's cynical, in debt to the mob, willing to do anything to his show for money, lewd, rude, addicted to everything, treats his biggest fan (Bart) like crap (despite the numerous things Bart did for Krusty — i.e., clear him of a robbery charge, reunite Krusty with his rabbi father, and save his show from cancellation with a celebrity-packed comeback special), and is more of a Jerkass than post-season 9 Homer Simpson.
- And still manages to be one of the good guys in comparison to his sidekick, Sideshow Bob, although he's Wicked Cultured and has a decent side.
- Gabbo and his puppetteer, who briefly got Krusty kicked off the air in "Krusty Gets Cancelled"; Bart produced a film of Gabbo referring to the kids as "little S.O.B.s.", which didn't quite work — it actually caused a public outcry until Kent Brockman made the same flub while reporting the Gabbo story, everyone got angry at HIM, and instantly forgot about Gabbo. His ratings actually went up when all was said and done. (In the world of the Simpsons, it's true that the Viewers Are Goldfish.)
- Rugrats had a rare female example: The host of a show Angelica wanted to be on turned out to hate kids and actually swore about what she thought about the kids on her show when she was offstage. Angelica overhears this, and later goes on the show, then is asked what the hostess thinks of the children. Hilarity Ensues.
- Robot Chicken had a parody of this when the old host of the Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? game show goes crazy after finding out his girlfriend is cheating on him. He drives them to her house and makes them memorize the day they met, the day she said she loved him. The skit ended with him crashing his car and dying.
- In The Secret Saturdays, the Big Bad actually has his own TV show, of which their young Genre Savvy son Zak is a fan. Unusually for this trope, Argost is the same on-camera as he is off-camera... a Faux Affably Evil Large Ham.
- In the Family Guy episode "Road to Europe," it is revealed that the characters on Jolly Farm Revue, a show Stewie likes are Depraved Kids Show Hosts.
- Binky the Clown from Garfield and Friends qualifies, although he was the same on and off camera. Sidney the Dinosaur was a better example in his episode.
- In The Mask, recurring crime boss Lonnie the Shark's original day job was as the costumed host of the kids' show "Barnaby".
- Potato Head Kids: The episode "Small Potatoes" was framed around "Pee Wee" Small, a cantankerous, frustrated children's TV show host who hates his job and children even more. He is forced to give free tickets away to his show, and when the Potato Head Kids show him up on his own show, he fires them.
- The Powerpuff Girls had a children's show host as the Villain of the Week pretending one of his co-actors needed "happy paper" (money) to cheer up. Bubbles, who always watched the show, and believed it, rounded up all the money she could find, until Blossom and Buttercup managed to expose the truth.
- This is a Shout-Out to Soupy Sales (though Sales said it as a joke and didn't think any kids would actually do it).
- Quacky the Duck from T.U.F.F. Puppy.