"From high atop the Benesh Building in beautiful downtown Monroe," The Lotus Ginkgo Show is a comedy/parody talk show seen weekly on Michigan's Monroe Public Access Cable Television. Dubbed "A jaded look at life in the Floral City," the show is hosted by a cynical, self-loathing, irreverent fictional character named Lotus Ginkgo, played by Lee Markham, who also writes and produces the show. Lotus is always trying to be hip but often fails, and despite his cocky façade, his self esteem is so low that he is constantly running himself and the program down. He mockingly declares at the beginning of each show, "This is how we squander your public access cable franchise fee. Now stay tuned for the worst show in television.” The program has been a staple at MPACT since 1993, and is the station’s longest running program.
His name comes from two members of the plant kingdom that have special notoriety in Monroe. Dr. Eduard Dorsch, whose 19th century home in Monroe was willed to become a public library, planted lotus beds in the marshes of Lake Erie. The ginkgo tree that Dr. Dorsch planted in his front yard around 1865 was a gift from the Chinese Ambassador, and each fall drops its foul-smelling fruits in front of Monroe's Dorsch Memorial Library.
The program's “sponsor,” the Zooblot Company, is headquartered in Cheesequake, New Jersey. There actually is such a town, but the fictional company produces numerous useless products including ginkgo cologne, frozen monkey meat, imitation bananas, Can of Worms, and a blank newspaper for the electronic age.
Lotus’ announcer and co-host is Major Vista, played by Tom Gerweck. Major Vista provides the opening and closing announcements, and sits next to Lotus throughout the show, providing his own commentary, and acting as a sounding board for the host. Major Vista wears a quasi-uniform of ambiguous origin.
Lotus’ wife Biloba Sue Ginkgo is played by Faye Markham, and makes occasional supporting appearances on the show.
Recurring themes on the show have included “Real Headlines from the Monroe Evening News,” in which Lotus makes wry comments about headlines from the local newspaper, often misinterpreting their meaning. Lotus’ "Top Eleven List,” does David Letterman one better. Lotus occasionally goes to his mailbox, only to find something shocking and surprising in “Head in the Mailbox,” and it’s always interesting to see whose head will be in there. In “Monroe Monopoly,” Lotus and Major Vista draw Chance and Community Chest cards that reflect local issues. "The Lotus Ginkgo Tabernacle Choir" has appeared twice on the show to sing the theme from Gilligan's Island with mock seriousness. Lotus sometimes expresses his opinion by reading from his column called “What Do I Care?” which he supposedly pens for the Zooblot Enquirer, a fictional newspaper. “Lotus’ Book Club” usually features books supposedly written by Lotus and Major Vista. Lotus often checks the movable letter signs of the Rod Stewart Church of God and the Fifth-Third Presbyterian Church for humorous sermon topics.
General George Armstrong Custer (portrayed by Steve Alexander) has been a frequent guest on the show, occasionally in a straight interview, but more often in a comic skit. One time General Custer mysteriously returned alive to Monroe from the Battle of the Little Big Horn, and another time he and Lotus engaged in a lively debate, running against each other for Mayor of Monroe.
Over the years, other guests have included several Mayors of Monroe, local activist Jeanne Micka, and the late legendary story teller and children’s author Elizabeth “Aunt Bett” McWebb. There are occasional fictional characters appearing as guests as well.
On the serious side, Lotus promotes three causes: blood donation, prostate checkup for men over 40, and colonoscopy for everyone over 50. While Lotus is quite serious about encouraging his viewers to participate in these activities, they of course also lend themselves to humorous comments from time to time.
The Lotus Ginkgo Show is seen at 7:30 pm every Thursday and 11:30 am on Comcast (Channels 21 and 916) and Charter Cable (Channel 95). Current episodes are available online at www.mpact.pegcentral.com. Clips from “The Best of Lotus Ginkgo are available on YouTube.
Any questions or comments on the show may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monroe Public Access Cable Television
20 West Fifth Street
Monroe, MI 48161
Tel. (734) 243-5707
For information regarding the Lotus Ginkgo Show - contact them directly.