A History of Chuck E. Cheese: Last Squeak Tonight with John Oliver (Web Exclusive)

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Published 2024-02-04
Last season, we made a hard-hitting piece on homeowners associations. And then, we made this. For those of you who are under 35 and will never own a home. Season 11 starts February 18th!

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All Comments (21)
  • @TimeBucks
    Chuck E Cheese is a husk of its former glory.
  • @knkrussell
    Did I want to know this much about Chuck E. Cheese? Never. Did I watch the whole thing? Completely enthralled.
  • @caseygecko
    "we thought we could talk about this for 5 minutes but then it got out of hand" ah yes, The Hbomberguy Effect
  • @markturner8439
    I remember going to Chuck E Cheese in the '80s and all the video games had ashtrays built into them for all us smoking teenagers. It was heaven.
  • @Yetr
    I can’t believe I just spent 20 minutes getting a history lesson on Chuck E. Cheese. What a time to be alive.
  • @TabuKat
    It was '84 or '85 in West Virginia. I thought I had that giant cup of coins at a Chucky Cheese. No, girl, the best birthday party of my single digits had been at a Showbiz pizza. I remember the freaking band.
    There was a pressed sugar medallion on top of my cake. I got to eat it myself while watching animatronics for the first time. Queen of the world.
  • @shelbyherring92
    The fact y'all even named the webisode "Last Squeak Tonight" is the level of dad joke humor I come for.
  • @skipthebase
    I am the Marketing Manager at Bullwinkle’s in Wilsonville Oregon. We took down our animatronic show about 4 years ago. I still have Rocky’s guitar in my office :)
  • @cjschaff317
    Okay but the "Are you not entertained?" as upfront as the question is, made me laugh considering we're discussing the Gladiator Breads and Circus next to the ball pit
  • @lolly1898
    This video documentary? Great. But as a 29 year old late-stage millenial man with no hope of home owning in sight, you made me cry 30 seconds in. Thanks John.
  • Rockafire fandom is wild. Before COVID, I visited an existing Rockafire show at a small regional amusement park in Korea. To this day I still get comments and messages about the footage I took there, which if the fan communities are to be believed is the "only known footage" of that unit😂
  • I have a picture of me when I was 5 at Chuck e Cheese on one of their “rides”. It was a single chair mini ferris wheel made to look like a pizza. Spinning vertically against the wall. The exhilaration on my face, the adrenaline rush, I loved that ride.
  • @KedgeDragon
    I'm 72. I'm watching it because I hate to miss anything from this English Toucan. I LOVE you Olivar.
  • Alright, “Love in this club” totally HAD me. That was the best anyone could ever do in their mom’s basement.
  • @FIZZGIG-RARF
    There's no better animatronic band than the Rock-afire Explosion. Legendary! The nightmare fuel for every child who curiously peeked behind the curtains post performance 😂😂😂
  • @bubbles4769
    I practically grew up at Chuck E. Cheese. My father worked for the company at a fairly high level back in the mid-to-late 80’s, so we would go there… a lot. We didn’t go there on just occasions for birthdays. No no, we went there just for the fun of it. At least that’s what my 5 year old self thought. In retrospect it was probably because we got to eat free and got free tokens, or at least a discount or something.

    It was always dark in Chuck E. Cheese back then. Not like modern Chuck E. Cheese’s where it’s flooded with natural light. No, back in the 80’s it was more like a dive bar or that strip club on the crappy side of town. You basically were in a cramped place with black carpet, long picnic-style tables covered with black pleather table cloths. The carpets weren’t even that stereotypical black carpet with the stars and comets on them that glowed under a black light. It was just like black/grey mud carpet throughout. You couldn’t actually tell what color anything was because it was so dark. Everything was all cast in a dim, orange glow from the ceiling lights. They usually had very dim yellow or warm lightbulbs. many of the lights hung from the ceiling by chains, and had these red stained glass fixtures around them, making the already dim bulbs even less effective.

    Clearly they were trying to go for that intimate Italian restaurant feel, but it never came across.

    To top it all off, it always smelled dingy, and like a little bit like grandma and grandpa’s house… so like cigarettes. But that made me feel comfortable because I loved by grandparents. Going to Chuck E. Cheese was sort of like going to grandma and grandpa’s house. It activated the same areas of delight in my little brain.

    These places were always cramped too. Right when you entered, it wasn’t like today where you’re in a giant room. No, you walked down a narrow hallway that was maybe 20-30 feet long and it opened into the seating and eating area. There wasn’t exactly a ton of room to run around. When you saw Chuck E. Cheese walking around, you had to kind of squeeze in to get to him between the tables and the poorly laid out corridors.

    The only place you could run around was the arcade section. It was usually laid out in like a big room. Most cabinets were just along the walls, with a handful in the middle of the room. The light was a little better because sometimes they used fluorescent lighting in the arcade and video game areas. And also there would be a door to the outside that would open and flood the place with daylight momentarily. I’m not sure who opened those doors. Probably employees. If I was about 5 years older I probably would have hated it every time the door opened.

    Also, maybe it was after the acquisition, but they all had these wall art things that were like hand and arms playing random instruments like cymbals and banjos and such. They’d kind of randomly start playing. It honestly felt like some haunted horror art from hell to my 5 year old self. The dark, dingy light didn’t help.

    And the people in the costumes, they never spoke. Except when they did. They weren’t supposed to talk, my mother always told me. But they did sometimes. When they did, it was just a disembodied, muffled voice. Oh, it was unsettling to a small child.

    15:30 ish
    What you’re missing when you play these clips is the piss poor audio quality that came from these animatronics. Part of the nightmare was the sound they made you know. Those slightly off-kilter, staticky sounds. They sounded so loud, yet also distant and soulless. Maybe it was just the building acoustics though.

    But on the plus side we always got to play a lot of video games and skeeball. Although half the time the skeeball machines didn’t have numbers on the circles. The balls were red, and they kind of looked like hearts or some other internal organ. The balls had 3 grooves/ridges through the center of them. I don’t know why I remember that detail.

    Anyway we went there almost every weekend or so and I turned out fine, aside from the crippling anxiety.
  • @finalfreak56
    As someone who watch Chuck E Cheese in the Galaxy 5000 live with Saberspark at a con last year, I am OVERJOYED you brought it up. I still get the songs stuck in my head, not gonna lie.
  • @hlillianesq
    I remember Showtime Pizza and how it shut down and reopened as Chuck E Cheese and my parents were rather annoyed about that. I didn't care as long as I could play skeeball. Thanks for the 80s childhood nostalgia!
  • Adults fighting at Chuck E. cheese is crazy
  • @JasonDenzel
    I grew up in San Jose and have childhood memories of the original Chuck E Cheese from the early 80's. This segment seemed produced for me. Thanks John and team! 🤣🐭