Almost anyone who’s a Gen X’er or Millennial spent some significant time in Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Time Theatre during the 1980s, 1990s and today. That sounded like an advertisement for a mix radio station, didn’t it?
It was a place that reflected the rise of video games and a nation’s love affair with pizza. They had the best birthday cakes, too. Yep, they were even better than McDonald’s cakes. There were rides, slides and ball baths that provided ample opportunity to pelt unsuspecting friends and siblings. It was like an over-aggressive eigh-year-old’s dream.
It was where a kid could be a kid, but never really feel like it at any other time in their lives.
For a blue collar kid like me, though, Chuck E. Cheese brought a little of Disney World to Maryland. I realize how sad that is to read. Stick with me, though. Established characters dressed in costumes and came to your table to say hello! Or, they just stood there and waved while a teenaged-worker awkwardly waited a few feet away and acted as a bouncer in case a kid hugged Chuck E. too much.
Then, creepy animatronic versions of those characters stood on stage and sang “Feliz Navidad” and Elvis songs. I remember back in the 1980s when Showbiz Pizza came along and it seemed like I was torn. I waited for the day when I would go to one place and there was going to be a rumble with Fatz Geronimo’s Rock-afire Explosion and Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time band over who would get my attention. Yes, I had a hyper-active imagination.
Chuck E. was almost like a Vegas entertainer and even had a cigar at one point. He sounded like a big talker and his bandmates called him “Big C.” He had a bow-tie and vest. Wait a second, who thought this guy was appropriate for kids again?
By the the mid-1990s, he got a skateboard and a hat, but still looked like Chuck E. I was a teen at this point, so I thought his renovation came off as a desperate attempt to make him hip. But, kids came to accept that version of him. During the 1990s, a guy most people would never know – Duncan Brennan – began to voice Chuck E. He voiced the character until the last month, when he was replaced for a completely redesigned version of Chuck E., one who enjoys rock and/or roll and is voiced by Bowling For Soup’s Jaret Reddick. He looks like Stuart Little went to the guitar shop.
Anyway, at this point, you’re probably wondering why I’m writing about Chuck E. Cheese on this blog. It comes down to Jesus. Well, it comes down to Brennan, the oustered voice of Chuck E. Cheese, and Jesus.
Brennan wrote a statement that said: “What it was about, what my sincere hope is that you–you Fans, you parents, and all you kids who have loved Chuck E. Cheese over the years–have seen, heard, or experienced Jesus Christ in and through my life in some way. For He is all that matters, now and for all eternity. I hope that you have seen Christ in me. I hope that He touched your life through mine in some special way and, if that happened, then I was doing my one true real job, which is sharing Him with all of you.”
Well, that was unexpected.
It leaves me curious, though, if anyone really did feel the way Brennan intended. Did you, in the middle of plunking down quarters to play bubble hockey, feel closer to Jesus?