Picture this: Kanye West stands opposite Kim Kardashian — clad in slave Leia garb — on a rotating stage while a suave lion puppet sings about putting his penis inside the reality star's vagina. Yes, that actually happened, and you can actually watch it with your own disbelieving eyes.
Cast your mind back to 2007, a deliciously schadenfreude year of celebrity scandal, and the year that the collective public realized that Kanye was a little bit... off. Back then, the rapper was working on his third album, Graduation, and although penning the Grammy award-winning, double platinum album must have been no mean feat, Kanye's spring-loaded mind kept on leaping to other strange places; namely, a "hip hop muppet show" starring himself.
While the strange circumstances between Kim and Kanye's initial meeting are (almost) common knowledge to anyone with a vague interest in the WTF nature of celebrity life, Wired has recently published a masterful article that plunges us deep into the madness.
So, if ranked lists of the coolest sneaker brands and recording sessions featuring porno of future spouses is your jam, read on below to sniff out the most WTF revelations about Kanye's ill-fated pilot.
1. Kanye Shares The Spotlight With A Pig Called Pork Troy
#KanyeWest might be reluctant to stand under the "Flashing Lights" with anyone he deems unworthy, but apparently a felty anthropormophic pig named Pork Troy made the cut.
The porcine Kermit the frog figure was invented by Kanye's friend Rhymefest while in the studio and was apparently pitched to Crank Yankers (another adult puppet show) co-creator Daniel Kellison like this:
"My buddy Rhymefest has this idea about this puppet Pork Troy and it's a sci-fi thing."
In the original pitch, Rhymefest describes Pork Troy as a well-disguised farm animal with a talent for sick rhymes, because, why not?
"Pork Troy, he a famous rapper, but everybody else is human and nobody know he a pig except for, like, smart people."
Although this pitch seems kind of crazy, the head writer of the would-be show, John Kimmel, testifies that Rhymefest was by far the comic pinnacle of the whole shebang:
"Rhymefest was probably my very favorite part of doing the show. I would love to have him in every room I ever wrote in, because he's so funny and just a really smart guy."
2. Kanye West: Style Over Substance Does Comedy
While Rhymefest was praised for his comic ability, Kanye, not so much. According to director Tom Stern, West has about as many comedic bones in his body as a fish fillet, but he is very good at sneakers:
"It's not like Kanye had a ton of ideas about comedy, but the things that he did care about were more like what kinds of sunglasses and sneakers the puppets would wear."
Like, really expert-level good art sneakers:
"He made some speech where he ranked sneakers in order of coolness — I think Skechers were at the bottom of the list."
While Kanye's style-obsession might seem obnoxious, other staff members were impressed with his dedication to making the puppets seem like living, breathing people who could slot seamlessly into the hip hop scene. According to Jimmy Kimmel, who helped hook Kanye up with contacts for the project:
"He cared about how it all looked. He wanted these characters to be contemporary and feel like they were regular people, so I thought that was a smart thing to have him involved with all that—I don't remember him being a jerk about it or anything. But he was very specific with his notes."
When you look at where Kanye is now in the fashion industry, it all kind of makes sense. Leather jogging pants for the win!
3. Nobody Hits Baby With The Rattle!
The nature of puppetry means that the puppeteers often have to bury themselves way too deep in the crotch of the stars for comfort. While this might seem like a thankless task, there is respite, like hitting Kanye in the face with a baby rattle for example.
According to puppeteer Victor Yerrid, his colleague Alice — who was festooned in some sort of "uncomfortable spacial situation" — really gave West a beating:
"We did this music video called 'Baby in the Club,' about people who bring their babies to the club, and Alice had to hit Kanye in the face with this little hard plastic rattle. We would do one or two takes of everything, but for whatever reason, this one scene they did like 20 times. And he clearly was not happy about it."
Despite Kanye's displeasure at being repeatedly smacked in the chops by somebody who couldn't really see what they were doing, the show had to go on:
"They'd be like, 'All right, Kanye, we're gonna do this again, can you get your face closer to the rattle?' And he'd be like, 'You know, it hurts!'"
4. My Beautiful Dark Porno Fantasy
Kanye was reportedly introduced to #KimKardashian the same way as many of us mere mortals: porn. According to Daniel Kellison, Kanye was adamant that the only woman to star alongside him in the pilot was Kimmy K, despite the fact of her relative obscurity. Apparently a huge part of this was that he would rather watch her sex tape than work on his actual career:
"When I first met Kanye, he was recording that song 'Flashing Lights'—I walked into the studio and he was behind the control board, and this woman was singing one of the sections of the song. She goes, 'How about that take?' And he was like, 'I'm sorry, I missed it. Can you do it again?' He was watching the Kim Kardashian tape on his computer; it had come out that day, and that's why he was distracted."
Just to be clear, this desire to have Kim in the pilot wasn't some form of friend service or nepotism, according to Kellison:
"He'd never met her at this point."
5. Kimye Comes Together
A lot of people like to wax poetic about the first time they met their significant other, but they might as well just go home and shut up because nobody can beat Kimye.
Get ready to gird your buttocks against the sheer romantic force of this first interaction as told by Kellison:
"So Kim Kardashian walks in, and I'm there to greet her with Kanye. And I go, 'Hi, I'm Daniel. I'm the executive producer. Nice to meet you, and this is Kanye.' And Kanye goes, 'Yeah, Dan didn't want you on the show.' She laughed — by the way, Kim Kardashian was lovely. A pro. She was really excited to be there. But I turned to Kanye afterwards and I go, 'You motherfucker, I should have told her that, when I first met you, you were watching her porn.' And he starts laughing and goes, 'Oh my God, you totally should have.'"
6. It Could Have Actually Been... Quite Good?
With writers such as Jordan Peele helping out with the script and backing from some big names in the world of comedy and puppetry, Kanye's pilot — which was named Alligator Boots, by the way — apparently really had potential.
According to big names such as Jon Kimmel, Jordan Peele, Tom Stern and Daniel Kellison, the show could have been a comedy success, despite the pretty ropey pilot, and they aren't sure why it wasn't snapped up. In director Stern's words:
"I'm not gonna say Kanye was Richard Pryor. He's not a naturally funny guy, but he tried hard once he was onstage. But yeah, the show could have been picked up. Why not? The Muppet Show was great, and there's no reason this one couldn't have been great."
Instead, according to Kellison, Comedy Central used Kanye to hype a couple of parties and then dropped the big-thinking rapper like a ton of bricks:
"Comedy Central had a party, and they said, 'Hey, can you bring Kanye to this party?' It was so fucking transparent to me what the motive was there. Kanye knew what they were doing too, but he wanted to have the show get picked up. I brought Kanye and Sarah Silverman together to that party, and then the next day they told us they weren't picking it up."
Enough of my inane babbling though, I think it's time to let the actual promo do the talking so you can judge Alligator Boots for yourself:
Do you think that Kanye West's hip hop muppet show had the potential to be a comedy series?