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FERRIS BUTLER
FERRIS BUTLER
Creator, writer and producer of Waste Meat News

4-7-79

Every Saturday at 11:30 p.m., millions of Americans tune in to what is indisputably the boldest, the most innovative, and frequently the most tasteless comedy show on television — NBC's Saturday Night Live. But for the 400,000 residents of Manhattan who have cable TV, there is another program — also aired at 11:30, but on Sunday evening — that is, in its own way, even more offbeat.

Known as Waste Meat News, the half-hour satiric revue has been a regular feature of Channel D since April, 1976, when a young Westsider named Ferris Butler decided that he had the talent to write, direct, and produce his own comedy series, even without money and film equipment. Time has proven him right: last year, TV World magazine discovered, in a poll of viewers, that Waste Meat News is the most popular comedy program on cable, out of 150 public access shows.

A tall, willowy, 27-year-old with a quizzical expression permanently fixed on his face, Ferris once worked as a part-time office boy at Channel 7's Eyewitness News, and there he came to the conclusion that "TV news is nothing but throwaway scraps, like sausages or hot dogs. … Very little protein, like waste meat."

Many of the skits he conceives have the same format as "straight" news items, but have been twisted by his imagination into something outrageous. In place of the standard weather reports, for example, there is Ferris' "Leather Weather Girl," in which a girl is tied to a table, her body representing a map of the world.

The weather reporter, while telling about an impending onslaught of rain and snow, dramatizes his points by pouring a pitcher of water over the girl, smothering her with shaving cream, and finally applying a blow dryer to evaporate the messes while explaining that a warm air front will follow. Other skits include "Swedish Grease," "Music to Eat Rice By," and "The Adversaries," in which two actors wearing grotesque masks debate the question: should monsters be allowed to kill people, or just frighten them?

Ideas for skits, says Ferris, come to him any time of night or day, now that he has "stopped working at any legitimate job. I watch a lot of television. But most of the time, I meander around the streets and just think.

"I remember when I g............
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