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Schadenfreude Fridays: The Smash Club Was The Worst Bar on Television

Jesse and the Rippers were awful. Joey Gladstone's comedy was awful. The Smash Club was awful. Everything was awful.

Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about.
Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about.
Erik Soderstrom via Flickr

Full House was an American institution. The family sitcom was an eight-year staple of ABC's TGIF lineup and was responsible for giving a generation of children a completely unrealistic representation of how families, jobs, and relationships actually worked. The premise, that two grown men would willingly live with Bob Saget for seven years, was rooted in delirium. The lessons, that every conflict could be settled with hugs - or in the case of annoying neighbors, some kind of sliming - were unbelievably simplistic. And its representation of how bars, entertainment, and adults operated all came together in a sublimely irrational alternate dimension known as The Smash Club.

The Smash Club was an alien sanitation of American night life, neutered as it was passed down in legend and carried to earth on a spacecraft powered entirely by farts. Its genesis was the fevered dream of a man who spent the 25 years between a hyperactive childhood and the crippling depression of adulthood in a coma. The music was terrible. The drinks were non-existent. The staff ranged in age from eight to pedophile. And yet, the club was presented as the successful culmination of one man's dream, an appropriate surrogate for a past career touring with the Beach Boys and creating the greatest wedding song of all time.

As an adult, I can now identify the exact sources of my disconnect between expectation and reality in my life. It's directly tied to both Full House and Saved by the Bell (Family Matters, which was my only representation of African-American nerds as a child in Rhode Island, turned out to be spot on). Leading the way in this disillusionment was the Smash Club, which instilled dreams of child labor, sold-out shows headlined by septuagenarians, and teenagers dancing harmlessly with each other in day-glo vests. Those dreams were never to be realized.

And it's all because the Smash Club is the worst bar to ever be portrayed on television.

The venue:

First, a brief history of the SC under Jesse Cochran/Katsopoulous's management. When Uncle Jesse first got the wild hair to buy the Smash Club, his former haunt was in utter disrepair. The furniture seemed to be entirely made of balsa wood, and the interior was covered in graffiti.

No, wait, graffiti suggests that the Smash Club was worthy of social commentary. Instead, some hooligans just splattered day-glo paint on all the walls, making the whole place look like an interior scene from Joel Schumaker's Batman movie.

Upon review, this is pretty great.


Cut. It. Out. Where "it" is "having shame" via

This happened, too. In the above still, Uncle Joey has apparently created and then participated in his own low-fidelity trap from the Saw franchise. If he cannot chew his way through the rest of the bar, Lori Loughlin will be dropped into a shark tank.

I understand that the majority of the people you interact with have the minds of children, Joey, but Jesus Christ - how do things like this even happen to a grown man? When you're the living embodiment of an Amber Alert, you can't afford to be this stupid. Get your shit together.

Apologies. Back to the matter at hand.

Fortunately, Uncle Jesse had saved enough money by buying "Shasa" colas to scrape together a down payment on the bar. He eventually secured a bank loan despite a complete lack of qualifications, the fact that he may or may not actually have a GED, and his complete inability to hold down a steady job for more than a few months at a time. He was granted this funding for no other reason outside of his charming good looks and the fact that his loan officer once worked as a cage dancer in the club.

History was kind to the writers here, who accurately predicted that irresponsible Californian Savings & Loans would throw money at people with no skills and no hope of repayment. Presumably, they immediately sold Jesse's bar loan to Wall Street for a modest profit, where it was repackaged with the loans of people who did not primarily play guitar and helped lead to the destabilization of the American economy.

In terms of plausibility, this was somehow even less likely than the time D.J. got into Stanford because her interviewer, Winfred-Lauder secretary Mimi Bobeck, happened to enjoy watching the Super Bowl.

Anyway, Jesse was able to fix up the club in an episode devoted solely to him choosing the toilets for the club's bathrooms and nothing else. One episode later, the whole venue was completely renovated, a strategy that was boldly co-opted by the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The only logical conclusion here is that the Full House universe is a safe haven for magic plumbers. The Smash Club looked like this when all was said and done:


The producers said we need you to dance like Frankenstein getting stung by bees. via

It's abundantly clear that the secret to this plumbing magic was just Angel Dust. There's nothing in this bar that wasn't bought at a Spencer's Gifts.

At any rate, whoever was actually contracted to rebuild this bar did a bang-up job, because this place is sturdy as hell. The bar tops were now able to sustain the force of idiot man-children, and the disco ball alone was strong enough to hold the weight of a grown man. And it lowered all the way to the floor, for some reason!


Like an angel descending into a grand mal seizure. via

Jesse had to come into his own club like a wrecking ball after locking himself in a storeroom on opening night. This is an impressive piece of character development from the FH writers; it finally portrays Uncle Jesse as a man stupid enough to own and operate a club marketed to toddlers.

The music:

Jesse Cochran-Katsopoulos bought the Smash Club for one reason: to give his shitty band a place to play. Jesse and the Rippers were 99 percent plot point and .3 percent band. The remaining makeup was filled by random backup singers and guitarists named "Viper."

Despite the help of the Beach Boys, the Rippers never really grew beyond playing at proms, in airport lounges, and headlining gigs in the basement of the titular full house. That's where the Smash Club came in. On any given night, you would be treated to a lisping puppet propped up by a creep. They would then introduce 15 minutes of Uncle Jesse butchering all the songs on his RonCo "Rockin' Hits of the 60s" album. However, it was home to a litany of other acts that were so stroke-inducingly horrible and saccharine that they made Katsopoulous and company look like the acid-laden Beatles in the middle of composing Sgt. Pepper's.

Those notable acts included:


Now playing every night of the week: underage performers! via

Girl Talk, Stephanie Tanner's all-girl band, who horribly botched an Ace of Base song. This is especially exceptional because "The Sign" only has three notes and was originally written to be played on the recorder.

Michelle's pre-metrosexual friend Derek and another 8-year-old girl we never see again. They sang Elton John (but sadly not Yellow Brick Road) to win the talent show - a staple of Smash Club Friday nights - in which Girl Talk had their famous breakdown. One day we'll dive deeper into how Derek was well ahead of his time with his preference for cream rinses, piano ballads, and bow ties. Unfortunately, that story lies a galaxy beyond this dayglo scrap heap of broken dreams.

Little Richard, who indiscriminately told audience members to shut up during a school board rally, which, alright. The venue only was able to book him because one of Michelle Tanner's two black friends happened to be his niece. If that sounds kind of racist to you, it's only because you don't have access to the kind of cocaine with which Bob Saget stocked the FH writing room.

REM. Not the actual band, but 73-year old triplets who were hired to play because Jesse has no idea how to interpret a contract. This furthers the fan theory that he couldn't actually read. After getting booed, they broke out into the world's shittiest rendition of Devo's Whip It. Even though it was 1993 and the music was horrible, the crowd erupted in applause anyway. This can only be explained by a gas leak, probably related to Jesse's illiterate ass breaking something while he crawled through the air vents. Have mercy.

Joey and Joey's Comedian Lady Friends, who all had the same Bullwinkle impression and similar ideas about the quality of your in-laws.

Oh, and one time Kimmy Gibbler pretended to make out with MacGyver (played boldly by Kimmy Gibbler) on stage.

So, in summation, 50 percent of the time, you were getting some derivative of Uncle Jesse and the Rippers or Joey Gladstone's amazing three impression comedy act. Otherwise, you were listening to pre-teens decades before Bieber blew up or, even more incredibly, any one of a number of septuagenarians. All at a bar that didn't serve alcohol.

The food/beverages:

The only people that ever got to drink alcohol on Full House were Joey's scumbag poker buddies or Jesse's reckless biker friends, so liquor was a complete non-factor at this bar/dance club. Instead, the Smash Club offered cappuccino and unlimited Shasa Cola to your face. Fortunately, that cappuccino is so good that it notably turned Danny into a speed freak, setting up a key development point that ultimately led to his award-winning cameo in "Half Baked."


Danny Tanner thinks your weed addiction is bullshit. via

There's never any mention of actual food at the club, but there are a seemingly infinite number of bins labeled "tater CHIPS" in the storeroom. If Smash Club patrons are fed, it's either like gerbils or not at all.


So many chips. via

It's also interesting to note that the Smash Club doesn't have a single TV anywhere, thus making watching sports there impossible and leaving music that makes Air Supply look edgy as the only possible entertainment. This is confirmed by season eight's Super Bowl Fun Day, where Jesse and Joey take Michelle's science club to a sports bar and somehow blow out all the televisions and...and...I've thought too much into this, haven't I?

Even if you found something interesting to do there, you were bound to have to deal with some asshole family hugging in the background, and there's no way a bar without alcohol could make that comfortable. There are no redeeming qualities of the Smash Club, aside from decor that looks like the bloodstained aftermath of a clash between Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer's posses. It was a golem comprised of all the worst traits of the early 90s whose role in the television community was as an ouroboros of shame.

And yet, it's found a spot in the "ironic-love" creases of adult brains that grew up unclogging Pixy Stix and listening to Candy Rain on worn down Walkmen. That's because there are no bars like the Smash Club, no place willing to alienate every potential customer that would go to a live music venue on a Friday night. The Smash Club was a unique failure because it stood out in a saccharine world of schmaltz and lessons designed to remind adults that "kids are people, too." It was a mountain of bad, poking through the clouds of a fantasy world dreamed into existence by a shut-in child whose only interactions with the world were My Three Sons reruns and the airplane cut of Mannequin II: On the Move. It was the TGIF counterbalance to warm, friendly bars like Cheers, an element stripped from a dimension where hugs have become the worldwide currency and Kidz Bop performs all the national anthems.

But it also gave a place for Jesse and the Rippers to share their dreams with the world. There was no limit to its horrible-osity.

*Many thanks to the excellent Full House Reviewed, who provided so many incredible pictures of this terrible, terrible bar, and to Gumbercules for his lengthy explanation of how Uncle Jesse ruined our economy.