Paul Reubens Rides Again in TV on the Radio’s “Happy Idiot”

Lindsay Hood

By Lindsay Hood

on 09.30.14 in News

TV on the Radio’s fifth studio album Seeds is due in November. The follow-up to 2011′s Nine Chronicles of Light will be the first LP that the group has released since the death of their bassist Gerard Smith. While founder and guitarist Dave Sitek took the production helm on Seeds, Funny or Die stepped in to release the new video for single “Happy Idiot” today. Directed by Danny Jelinik and written by comedian Jake Fogelnest, the three minute clip takes you on a bizarre trip through the desert, nodding in tribute to Speed Racer.

The video opens with a monologue from Mr. Pee Wee Herman himself, actor Paul Reubens, before he takes off in a race car and descends into madness. His journey is chronicled by the continued presence of Dr. Who actress Karen Gillian, who keeps appearing on the road side in various mirages to taunt Reubens while singer Tunde Adebimpe stands and croons, “I’m a happy idiot/ to keep my mind off you;” a miraculous vision, dressed all in white.

In a statement regarding the video, Adebimpe said:

I had this idea for the video that I thought would never happen, of Paul Reubens as a race car driver who slowly loses his mind. I took it to Funny or Die and they said, “That’s great, let’s go for that.”

I got to speak with him over the phone about doing it and, in between being blindingly nervous that I was actually talking to an actor who had shaped a LOT of my world view and trying not to freak him out by saying so, he mentioned that he’s been a fan of the band for awhile. He liked the idea, and, somehow, here we are with Paul as a race car driver losing his mind.

Karen Gillan was absolutely great. We were really psyched to work with her, because she’s basically sci-fi royalty, and a great person. Full on geek fest in the desert.
It was really fun to do, love how it came out. I think our fans will like it. I hope so. The cool ones will anyway. The rest can suck it. I don’t exactly know what ‘it’ is. But they can find it. And they can suck it.

Seeds will be released on November 18 via Harvest Records.

Watch the video for “Happy Idiot” below.

Track listing for Seeds:

1. Quartz
2. Careful You
3. Could You
4. Happy Idiot
5. Test Pilot
6. Love Stained
7. Ride
8. Right Now
9. Winter
10. Lazerray
11. Trouble
12. Seeds

TV on the Radio tour dates:

10-17 Santa Barbara, CA – Santa Barbara Bowl *
10-18 Big Sur, CA – Henry Miller Library
10-19 San Francisco, CA – Treasure Island Music Festival
10-22 Los Angeles, CA – Regent
10-24 Joshua Tree, CA – Pappy & Harriets
10-25 Las Vegas, NV – Life is Beautiful
11-12 Toronto, Ontario – Phoenix
11-13 Montreal, Quebec – Corona
11-14 Boston, MA – Paradise
11-16 Washington DC – 9:30 Club
11-17 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
11-18 New York, NY – Apollo
11-21-22 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg

* with Massive Attack