“Some Buddy to Love: The True Unadulterated Behind-the-Scenes Story of Me & My Buddy,” by Robert Gomez

Jun 15th, 2022 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

Puppets, pandemonium, and perseverance on the set of a small screen classic.

As we near the 25th anniversary of the last episode of Me & Buddy, it’s still impossible to forget its infectious theme (“My buddy, my buddy / Just hanging out with my buddy!”) that played ad nauseum during its opening, transitions, commercial break intros and outros, credits, and often a few times during show, too. Many also remember that the silly though heavy-hearted tone—stemming from the natural chemistry between host, Alan “Bud” Pastoria, and his real-life infant son, Alan “Buddy” Pastoria II—shifted dramatically between the first and second seasons.

As Buddy aged into toddlerhood, the duo’s go-to gags—which heavily relied on Buddy’s mute or babbled improv responses to straight-man Bud’s set-ups—lacked the bite that made them an early ratings darling. Production’s decision to re-cast Buddy only three episodes into season two remains one of the gutsiest casting decisions in TV history. Whether it paid off remains hotly debated to this day.

“Puppet Buddy” as he would be referred to by the crew, was not an immediate hit with audiences, who were confused by the unannounced personnel change. The network received hundreds of calls and letters from concerned fans who speculated that Buddy’s fuzzier, rounder look was due him being “sick” or “riding black beauty.” Eventually, the show came clean: Buddy was a hand-puppet, operated by Bud and voiced off-stage by what would become a cursed carousel of vocal actors. By the time the shock of this revelation wore off, with the set was now kid-free, Me & My Buddy’s writers were able to pursue more risqué material, ultimately finding its groove with crude language and gross-out humor. But even as it continued to draw viewers in droves, behind the camera, the show couldn’t stay out of its own way.

“It was hard, you know?” said Bud Pastoria from his lightly-renovated tract home in Antelope Valley. “Buddy—the real buddy—was my son. This was his first acting gig, and also the first time he got fired from a gig. That’s hard on any actor. I was worried my decision to stay on would affect our relationship, but he was a true pro about it. I wish I could say the same of his replacements.”

The first “Puppet Buddy” was voiced by an assistant stage manager looking for her big break. Marian Eddy, the daughter of off-Broadway dancers, aspired to make her own name in entertainment. Incorporating off-color humor and a Brooklyn-bred vernacular, Eddy, as Buddy, was well on her way. However, while the decision to cast a woman as a young male character was not unique, the role wound up having a profound and unforeseen impact on Eddy.

“Marian was a sweet girl,” remembered Pastoria, sipping on a bottle of Topo Chico. “But she grew up in an era where sexual identity wasn’t talked about openly. And her parents, from what I gather, were not the open-minded sort. Apparently, playing a different gender from her biology awakened some latent feelings. But this was the late-1980s,” he continued, smacking his lips as the full tartness of the grapefruit flavoring stimulated his taste buds, “and you have to remember ‘gay’ meant AIDS, and that was a scary thing. I only wish Marian would’ve felt comfortable opening up to me. I would’ve been there for her. Told her ‘there-there’ or something.”

Instead, ludes and Zima were there for Marian Eddy—lots of Zima.

“We used to joke they discontinued Zima because they couldn’t keep up with Marian,” chuckled Pastoria, turning his bottle over to shake out the last drop. “I now realize that was inappropriate.”

Eddy checked into rehab after production of Me & My Buddy season 2 wrapped. She relapsed a month after completing her initial program. Eddy would never stay clean for more than a few months at a time, and left Hollywood for good in the mid-1990s.

The show would go on, though, and next up was Penn Hoke. Having cut his teeth in English-language dubbings of straight-to-video Israeli cartoons, Hoke was a master of sound effects. The “brrbs” and “vroo-vroo-vroofs” that became a Buddy staple can all be credited to Hoke. Although, that might be the highest praise the cast and crew would give.

“I didn’t like him,” said Pastoria curtly, straining while unsuccessfully wringing the glass neck of his empty Topo Chico.

“It was no secret that Bud and Penn didn’t get along,” said a former production assistant who asked to remain anonymous. “Some say it was an ego thing, but all I know is that the fights were constant. I remember one time Bud asked me to get him a cappuccino. He said ‘Dalton Rawls, get me one of them fancy coffees I like from that Seattle coffee place with the unabashed siren logo.’ Penn jumped all over Bud thinking he was getting special treatment. I tried to offer Penn coffee, too, but Penn’s arms were already around Bud’s neck. Bud was a pacifist above the waist, but not below, so he started kicking Penn’s shins, both feet at the same time, until the crew managed to separate them. This was daily.”

Somehow, Pastoria and Hoke remained co-stars for three seasons before the talented, short-tempered voice actor went off on his own. After a decade of unsuccessfully peddling his Howdy Doody reboot, Hoke retired from performing and settled into a career as a middling voiceover coach.

But for all of the turmoil with Eddy and Hoke, rumors of “the Buddy curse” only started with Puppet Buddy III: Manny Kent. Brought on per a recommendation from longtime pal Bud, the show seemed to have finally found its Buddy in Kent. He was professional, popular with the entire crew, and a true gross-out gag master—Buddy’s vom-o-rama and snotscapade bits both originated with Kent. He was also, as the world would learn together, an anti-Semite.

[The following excerpt is from the 1994 episode of Me & My Buddy “Prom Night”]

“Do you know why I love prom night, Bud?”

“No, why is that, Buddy?”

“Because you can get drunk underneath the bleachers until you’re yellow then make all of the little [uh-ohs] bleed!” 


When the network cut the telecast on Bud Pastoria’s wide-eyed reaction, that would be the last time TV viewers would see the fabled episode until the series was picked up by Tubi in 2020, who clumsily cut down Kent’s infamous line to “Because you can—yell—hi!”

After the on-air tirade, the network was applauded for its swift termination of Manny Kent. Bud Pastoria’s raw interview with Peter Jennings, which revealed a hurt and embarrassed star who had no obligation to feel either, was another PR victory. Still, caught midseason without an obvious replacement, Pastoria struggled to carry what was suddenly a one-man show.

The ratings plummeted.

The week before the season finale, it was announced that it would be Me & My Buddy’s series finale. While a sad fizzle seemed to be its fate, with no more puppet covering it, there was still one more trick up Pastoria’s sleeve …

“My buddy, my buddy / Just hanging out with my buddy!”

“My buddy, MY buddy / Hanging out with my buddy!”

When the camera panned away from the elder Pastoria during the second half of the iconic ear worm chorus to reveal the original Buddy, now a bonafide grade schooler, hitting the signature squeaky second “MY” a coordinated shriek blasted from living rooms across the country. Meanwhile, bug-eyed leading man Bud belted out another round of the chorus, harmonizing with his original co-star with tears sparkling in his eyes.

The finale’s fun was just getting started.

Gone was Marian Eddy’s cursing, Penn Hoke’s impossible sound effects, and Manny Kent’s physical potty humor, and in their place was Alan Pastoria II’s mesmerizing deadpan (with a few thirst-trap coos mixed in for his fangirls). It was the Hollywood ending for a show that, despite its successes, finally caught a break.

But to this day the question remains—did Bud Pastoria know his son would be on the finale?

“I can say with absolute definitiveness,” teased Buddy Pastoria from the steam room of his West Hollywood townhome, “that my dad had no idea … that I used to top off his good bourbon with cheap rye. I’m kidding! I did used to do that, actually, but in terms of the finale, yes, he did know I’d be there. But dad was a pro. He knew how to tug viewers’ heartstrings. Was it a genuinely emotional moment for him? Yeah, I think so, but he knew it would be for our fans, too, so he played it up.”

So, the record has been set straight … or has it?

“He said that?” grinned Bud, blowing at the top of his empty Topo Chico bottle until he hit it at just the right angle. “That sounds pretty good, I guess.”

Ever the showman, even if he’s just hanging out.


Robert Gomez is a comedy writer and performer who is originally from Detroit and now based in Los Angeles. Currently, when he’s not writing, he can be found perfecting his annual Christmas song and music video with his band the Submarine Racers. He has previously published articles in Points In Case, Frazzled, Slackjaw, and Little Old Lady Comedy.

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