Lost Signals: ‘Hey Vern, It’s Ernest!’ (1988)

Hey Vern, It's Ernest!When you’re 5 or 6 years old, there’s nothing funnier than to see an adult make a complete ass out of themselves. However, in some cases (if you watch them enough), that same adult can turn out to be pretty cool. Take Pee-Wee Herman for instance, who’s wide-eyed, childlike sense of imagination and enthusiasm during the 80s took me from the living room to the moon and back in under an hour. Likewise, advertising mascot turned cash machine Ernest P. Worrell (played by Jim Varney) provided kids with an elastic, rubberfaced brand of humor that just barely preceded Jim Carrey’s Ace Ventura when Hey Vern, It’s Ernest! hit the Saturday morning boob tube in 1988.

The series (which only lasted saw 13 episodes produced) centered around a collection of skits featuring Ernest, and his various wacky personas, introducing something new each week (magic, sports, space, etc) to his unseen “buddy” Vern. Aside from the eccentric collage-style opening (which I LOVE), Hey Vern, It’s Ernest! followed the Worrell formula of the films to a “t” with Ernest often getting into various sorts of trouble as a result of his curiosity (just like me!) with sprinklings of sketch comedy. In the episode featured here (Hey Vern, It’s Scary Things!) alone we get to see some personal favorites such as Chuck and Bobby discussing Halloween, the Dust Bunny, and perhaps my favorite Ernest persona: Dr. Otto!

Considering the fact that Varney was pretty much a solo act for much of the show, unlike MadTV or In Living Color, it’s not all that surprising that it ran out of steam after the first season. To have lasted that long at all, though, has to be a testament to Varney’s comedic sensibility (however juvenile) as well as his likability as Ernest and the show still offers a few chuckles even now (especially considering we could have ended up with this guy).

For those seeking more Ernest P. Worrell, Hey Vern, It’s Ernest The Complete Series has just been released! Check it out Amazon.com for more details.

Written by Rondal

Rondal is the Editor-in-Chief of Strange Kids Club and a creative instigator who tackles each day with Red Bull-induced enthusiasm and a mind for adventure. Rondal has written for other sites including Rue Morgue, Fuel Your Illustration and Bloodsprayer. His obsession with horror movies, 80s animation and action figures is considered unhealthy by medical professionals.

2237 posts
  • L

    Man, I remember this show! I use to watch Ernest goes to Jail, and Ernest goes to Camp all the time growing up. RIP Jim Varney!

  • I don’t recall if I’ve ever seen this show or not. I’m in the right age group for this, and I’ve see most of the Ernest movies(the good ones anyway). I don’t do the the Netflix deal, so I may have to see how much this series runs for and pick it up. Hopefully, it’s not too expensive. But it is Ernest, so I’m pretty sure I’d like it. Would you recommend it?

    • Strange Kid

      I would definitely recommend it for nostalgia purposes, always did like it a bit more than Pee-Wee myself, though some of the jokes/skits may not be as funny as they used to be as a kid. Still, I believe Amazon has it on sale for $6 buck and that’s not bad at all.