Joe Bob Briggs
Briggs in 2018
John Irving Bloom
January 27, 1953
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
|Occupation||Film critic, writer, actor|
John Irving Bloom (born January 27, 1953), known by the stage name Joe Bob Briggs, is an American syndicated film critic, writer, and comic performer. He is known for having hosted the TNT television series MonsterVision from 1996 to 2000, and The Last Drive-In on Shudder from 2018-present.
He was raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, and attended Vanderbilt University on a sports-writing scholarship. He began his writing career at Texas Monthly and Dallas Times Herald. While a movie reviewer at the Herald, he created the humorous persona of "Joe Bob Briggs" to review exploitation films and other genre films.
Briggs's acting persona is that of an unapologetic redneck Texan with an avowed love of the drive-in theater. He specializes in humorous but appreciative reviews of B-movies and cult films, which he calls "drive-in movies" (as distinguished from "indoor bullstuff"). In addition to his usual parody of urbane, high-brow movie criticism, his columns characteristically include colorful tales of woman-troubles and high-spirited brushes with the law, tales which inevitably conclude with his rush to catch a movie at a local drive-in, usually with female companionship. Briggs revealed in an interview with James Rolfe that he intended the character to have an ambiguous sounding name and initially thought of calling himself "Bubba Rodriguez", but was told that the name Rodriguez would be perceived as racist and decided to go with "The whitest name I could come up with."
The reviews typically end with a brief rating of the movie in question's "high points", including the types of action (represented by nouns naming objects used in fight scenes suffixed with "-fu"), the number of bodies, number of female breasts bared, the notional number of total pints of blood spilt, and for appropriately untoward movies, a "vomit meter".
A typical summarisation would read, "no dead bodies. One hundred seventeen breasts. Multiple aardvarking. Lap dancing. Cage dancing. Convenience-store dancing. Blindfold aardvarking. Blind-MAN aardvarking. Lesbo Fu. Pool cue-fu. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Tane McClure. Joe Bob says check it out."[a]
Originally, Briggs's film reviews were limited to pictures shown at local drive-ins. Later, after a tongue-in-cheek 'battle' with his own convictions, he also began reviewing films released on VHS and DVD.
During the early 1980s when New York City was in the planning stages of redeveloping its run-down 42nd Street, Times Square area, which included closing many grindhouses showing B-movies on double and triple bills around the clock, as well as many porn theatres, Joe Bob expressed great opposition. He encouraged a "postcard-fu" campaign, i.e., encouraging film fans to write to New York City officials and pressure them into saving "the one place in New York City you could see a decent drive-in movie." He felt the 42nd Street movie houses rightfully belonged to all Americans and should be preserved as places where "Charles Bronson can be seen thirty feet high, as God intended".
In 1985, "Briggs" wrote a column about the "We Are the World" video, in which he wrote a mocking description of starving African children, and made derogatory comments about the American Negro College Fund. The resulting controversy ended Bloom's position at the Dallas Times Herald, though his syndicated column merely changed distributors.
In July 1985, Joe Bob's one-man show, An Evening with Joe Bob Briggs, debuted in Cleveland, Ohio. Later re-titled Joe Bob Dead in Concert for home release, the show evolved into a theatrical piece involving storytelling, comedy and music. The show was performed in more than 50 venues over the next two years, including Carolines in New York and regular engagements at Wolfgang's and the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, as well as convention centers, theaters, music clubs and other comedy clubs. In 2019, Joe Bob began performing a new one-man show, How Rednecks Saved Hollywood, at genre film festivals and revival movie houses across the United States.
In 1986, as a result of the stage show, Joe Bob was asked to be a guest host on Drive-In Theater, a late- night B-movie show on The Movie Channel (TMC), related network of Showtime. Briggs went over so well that he was eventually signed to a long-term contract. Joe Bob's Drive-In Theater became the network's highest-rated show and ran for almost ten years, and was twice nominated for the industry's Cable ACE Award. He appeared on some 50 talk shows, including The Tonight Show (twice) and Larry King Live. He was also a commentator for a Fox TV news magazine for two seasons. He also appeared in episodes of the eighth season of Married... with Children as Billy Ray Wet Nap, co-owner of Pest Boys Pest Control.
Joe Bob's Drive-In Theater ended when TMC changed its format in early 1996. He was off the air for only four months before joining the TNT network, where he hosted MonsterVision for four years. That show ended in July 2000, when TNT likewise changed format. In 2011, the most definitive account of the MonsterVision series (including interviews with Briggs and series mailgirl Honey Gregory) appeared on the cult movie website, Mondo Video. In the late '90s he also spent two seasons as a commentator on Comedy Central's The Daily Show (under his given name John Bloom), with a recurring segment called "God stuff" beginning on the 2nd ever episode in 1996. He starred in Frank Henenlotter's documentary Herschell Gordon Lewis - Godfather of Gore.
In 2018, the horror-themed subscription video on demand service Shudder, owned and operated by AMC, signed Joe Bob for a new series The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs, which premiered as a 13-film marathon on July 13, 2018. During the premiere, Shudder's servers crashed as a result of an overwhelming amount of subscribers attempting to access the service's new Live Stream feature. Despite the server errors, the series received critical acclaim from critics and horror fans alike. On July 20, Shudder announced on social media that Joe Bob would return, which was realized as two shorter marathons on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Beginning on March 29, The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs marked the return to his double feature format, streaming live on Friday nights, and streaming on-demand on Shudder after the live streaming premieres. With the final episode of the first season of The Last Drive-In airing on May 24, social media posts on May 22 confirmed that the series would be returning for a second season.
During these TV years, Briggs remained active as a writer, working as a contributing editor to the National Lampoon, freelancing for Rolling Stone, Playboy, The Village Voice, and Interview. He was the regular humor columnist and theater critic at National Review, and he published five books of satire--Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In, A Guide to Western Civilization, or My Story, Joe Bob Goes Back to the Drive-In, The Cosmic Wisdom of Joe Bob Briggs, and Iron Joe Bob, his homage to the men's movement. He also wrote and performed in special shows for Fox and Showtime, and collaborated with veteran comedy writer Norman Steinberg on an NBC sitcom that remains unproduced. His two syndicated newspaper columns, "Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In" and "Joe Bob's America," were picked up by The New York Times Syndicate in the '90s, and he continued to write both until putting the columns on hiatus in 1998. For one year he wrote a humorous sex advice column in Penthouse. In November 2000 he started writing the "Drive-In" column again, this time for United Press International, along with a second column, "The Vegas Guy", which chronicles Joe Bob's weekly forays into the casinos of America. In 2003, Briggs delivered Profoundly Disturbing: Shocking Movies That Changed History.
In 1998, Bloom retired from writing newspaper reviews, only to return two years later due to popular demand[failed verification] and continue his column as Joe Bob with UPI. Bloom has also appeared on television as a host of TNT's MonsterVision horror movie marathons, and has an internet website, The Joe Bob Report, with collections of movie reviews and other articles.
Briggs was president of the Trinity Foundation of Dallas, Texas, a non-denominational, non-profit public foundation that serves as a religious watchdog group and publishes The Door, a Christian satire magazine, of which Briggs was a regular columnist and investigative reporter. Some of the efforts of Bloom's religious watchdog reporting and satire were featured (under his given name John Bloom) in God Stuff, a regular segment in the first two seasons of The Daily Show.
Joe Bob Briggs' movie reviews are collected in the now out-of-print books Joe Bob Goes to the Drive In and Joe Bob Goes Back to the Drive In. His most recent books, Profoundly Erotic: Sexy Movies that Changed History and Profoundly Disturbing: Shocking Movies that Changed History, contain all-new material. Recently, Briggs has contributed audio commentaries to DVDs released by Media Blasters and Elite Entertainment including Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter, The Double-D Avenger, Blood Sisters, Warlock Moon, Samurai Cop, I Spit on Your Grave, and several Ray Dennis Steckler films including The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies and Blood Shack.
Joe Bob Briggs appeared as himself in the 2008 novel Bad Moon Rising by Jonathan Maberry. Joe Bob is one of several real-world horror celebrities who are in the fictional town of Pine Deep when monsters attack. Other celebrities include Tom Savini, Jim O'Rear, Brinke Stevens, Ken Foree, Stephen Susco, Debbie Rochon, James Gunn and blues man Mem Shannon.
Under his given name, John Bloom, he also co-wrote the nonfiction book Evidence of Love: The Candy Montgomery Story (1984). The book recounts the 1980 Wylie, Texas, murder case in which Montgomery killed her ex-lover's wife, Betty Gore, by striking her a total of 41 times with an ax and whose highly publicized trial ended in an unexpected "not guilty" verdict. The book was made into the CBS television film A Killing in a Small Town (1990), starring Barbara Hershey.
In 2016, also under his given name, he wrote the nonfiction book Eccentric Orbits: The Iridium Story in which he traces the conception, development, and launching of the Iridium satellite constellation and the race to save it from destruction.
|1986||The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2||Gonzo Moviegoer||Scenes deleted|
|1989||Great Balls of Fire!||Dewey "Daddy-O" Phillips|
|1999||The Storytellers||Scrappy the Janitor|
|2004||All That You Love Will Be Carried Away||Alfie Zimmer|
|2006||Evil Ever After||Marvin||Direct-to-DVD release|
|2007||Ghosts of Goldfield||Clancy||Direct-to-DVD release|
|Hogzilla||Andy McGraw||Direct-to-DVD release|
|2012||The Sleeper||Doctor Briggs||"Special Guest"|
|2016||The Ghosts of Johnson Woods||Warren|
|2019||In Search of Darkness||Himself||Documentary film|
|2019||Scare Package||Himself||segment "Horror Hypothesis"|
|TBA||Cryptids||Major Harlan Dean|||
|1980||Hello, Larry||Big Guy||1 episode|
|1986||Ed Busch Show||Self/Guest||2nd episode - recorded live at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas|
|1993-1994||Married... with Children||Billy Ray Wetnap||2 episodes|
|1994||The Stand||Deputy Joe-Bob Brentwood||Miniseries|
|2018-present||The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs||Himself||9 episodes, 3 specials|
"Briggs" appeared on Ken Reid's TV Guidance Counselor podcast on June 16, 2016, as well as the podcasts Frightday on July 11, 2018,Astonishing Legends Podcast on December 9, 2018, and The Last Podcast on the Left on March 28, 2019.