With 130 years of stunning floats and magical marching bands in its storied history, the Rose Parade has built up plenty of hallowed traditions. Among them was the colorful commentary of the hosting duo Bob Eubanks and Stephanie Edwards, who were the main human faces of the parade from 1982 to 2016 in the parade’s main televised coverage on KTLA Channel 5. .
But last year saw some major changes, as Eubanks and Edwards retired from their duties and passed their microphones to the new hosting duo of veteran TV personalities Leeza Gibbons and Mark Steines.
But while that dynamic duo was taking over the serious side of commentary about the parade, new Tournament of Roses CEO David Eads was shaking things up by hiring former “Saturday Night Live” stars Will Ferrell, Molly Shannon and Tim Meadows to provide an outrageously comic perspective on this year’s parade via the mega-website Amazon Prime.
Ferrell and Shannon portrayed the fictional hosting duo of Cord Hosenbeck and Tish Cattigan, who purportedly had provided coverage of the parade for 25 years on lesser LA stations. Meadows played himself as their exasperated field reporter, and the resulting live stream proved so popular and buzzworthy that the trio of comedic superstars are returning for more laughs this year by streaming their coverage on Funny Or Die (funnyordie.com) and Twitch (twitch.com) from 8 to 11 a.m. Tuesday.
The move to Funny Or Die (FOD) makes sense, as last year’s Amazon Prime coverage was written and produced by the site (which was co-founded by Ferrell himself). Eads is thrilled that the admittedly unusual experiment to draw younger viewers has paid off handsomely.
“We’d been in discussions with ‘Funny Or Die’ about doing a broadcast with them as the streaming partner, because the younger demographic views programming a different way than a Baby Boomer does,” Eads explains. “To be able to watch and be entertained in a different way was very important.
“It was very unusual for the Tournament to venture away from just a traditional broadcast partner,” adds Eads. “When my volunteers came to me and said they’d watched the parade on FOD later and loved it, or City Council members came up and said their grandkids loved it and found it so entertaining, I realized that we’d achieved our goal: expand our audience and engage more people.”
On air, Cord notes that he is a “health and wellness expert” while Tish is a “relationship expert and former Miss Arizona.” The two unleashed a nonstop string of humorously bizarre non sequiturs throughout the parade, with Meadows offering a funny counterpoint by trying to just get through the experience with some shred of dignity left.
Cord, Tish and Meadows exchanged some comments on the actual parade itself. Meadows told Tish “it stretches five miles down Colorado Boulevard, and then nobody knows what happens after that,” a “fact” that rendered Tish deeply confused and concerned. Yet they also engaged in wildly off-track discussions of other topics, including Cord’s out-of-body experiences and whether anyone can sing the emotional Farmer’s Insurance commercial jingle without breaking into tears.
Eads makes it clear that the Tournament’s agreement with FOD enables the Tournament of Roses to review the comedic script used in the Cord, Tish and Meadows coverage. While the trio occasionally ad lib throughout their parade comments, Eads notes that the fact that all three became stars on live broadcast television ensures that they know how to keep their comments within the boundaries of good taste.
“Most people were happy with it,” says Eads. “What happened with the FOD stream at first was that people didn’t understand what was going on. They thought Cord and Tish were talking too much, demanded showing more marching bands, and wondered why Cord and Tish were talking about their dogs.
“The young people were making fun of the people who didn’t get it,” Eads continues. “There was a whole viral conversation going on which got the Tournament and parade more publicity. The reactions kept going on for weeks. Many people didn’t even realize it was Will and Molly spoofing the roles of hosts, they were just asking, ‘Who’s this Cord guy? He’s horrible.’ But we have six or seven broadcast partners, so people have many ways to watch.”
“The 2019 Rose Parade Hosted by Cord & Tish” will air on Funny or Die and Twitch (twitch.com) and their respective social media platforms from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday After the initial airing, it will be available for viewing on demand.