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John Oliver Devoted An Entire Episode To The Fall Of Chuck E. Cheese

By Andrew Sanford | TV | April 12, 2023 |

By Andrew Sanford | TV | April 12, 2023 |


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John Oliver lobbed a curveball at audiences this week. On his regular show, he delved into Homeowners Associations or “HOAs.” In short, they’re mostly terrible. However, Oliver suggested that anyone under the age of 35 will never be able to buy a home (ouch), so he put out a separate episode for those who will be renting until they die. The topic of that episode? A popular chain of restaurants run by the original Pizza Rat, Charles Entertainment Cheese.

I am 34 years old. That puts me in kind of a sweet spot here. My wife and I would like to buy a home, that’s the plan, so I was interested in the HOA segment. That said, I was also the prime age for Chuck E. Cheese growing up. My family went about once a year (as long as things weren’t… lean). We would visit Chuck E. Cheese at the end of summer to soften the blow of returning to school. Surprise! That created an unhealthy relationship with school that lasted into “college.”

After watching the HOA special and getting thoroughly depressed, I switched over to Chuck E. Cheese. While both highlighted the horrors of capitalism in their own way, the special about Mr. Cheese’s entertainment restaurants was surprisingly salacious. Good old Chuck started as a wisecracking misogynist from Jersey. There used to be a hippo whose animatronic boobs bounced up and down (for the kids). The original creators suggested that employees were displaying inappropriate behavior in the locker rooms and mascot costumes. It was a mess!

The restaurant didn’t even last long under its original creator. During the “video game crash of 1983,” Chuck was starting to go under. Their competitor, Showbiz Pizza, swept in and bought up the rat and the busty hippo. They then revamped the chain into what delighted an easily distracted and young me. Now, I don’t even recognize that rat.

I’ve already been to a “play place” with my kids. My sweet little dudes kept saying “scuse me” and “sahwy” as they were pushed over by bratty kids, with no parents in sight. I don’t think I’ll be passing on my love of Chuck E. Cheese. It might not matter anyway. Oliver points out that the chain has been “busted,” delivering their pizza under a different name. They’ve lost what makes them special, and without that, they are not long for this entertainment restaurant world.

You can watch the episode at lastsqueaktonight.com.