(watch the video below)

(listen to the podcast below)

Dr. Demento, the man who brought comedic novelty music to the masses for 40 years disappeared from the airwaves in the year 2010 and has not been heard on terrestrial radio in over a decade since.

neil dandy with scary clownsneil dandy with funny monksneil dandy with funny aliensneil dandy with the dandy fun house logo

Was he abducted by bloodthirsty clowns? Did he join a monastery? Did he move to the planet Meep Morp? In this episode of the Dandy Fun House I’m going to attempt to answer the question on nobody’s mind…

neil dandy screaming to the sky

WHERE IS DR. DEMENTO!!!!!????? …Let’s step into the fun house!

neil dandy with picture of ray stevens

Ray Stevens


neil dandy with picture of jimmy durante

Jimmy Durante


neil dandy with picture of spike jones

Spike Jones


neil dandy with picture of judy tenuda

Judy Tenuta


neil dandy with picture of weird al yankovic

Weird Al Yankovic


neil dandy with picture of dr. demento

Dr. Demento

Dr. Demento, the maniacal force for all things musically absurd commanded the terrestrial radio airwaves for 40 nonstop years from 1970 through 2010. He helped bring much-deserved attention to such iconic artists as Ray Stevens (who still performs regularly at his own dinner theater, the Caba-Ray in Nashville), Jimmy Durante, Spike Jones, Judy Tenuta and of course the notorious Weird Al Yankovic among countless others. He suddenly and mysteriously disappeared from the airwaves in the year 2010 and I did promise in the show opening that I would attempt to uncover where he went. But before we get into all that, I think some back history on the good doctor is in order. Because you might think of him as just a nasally-voiced, horn-honking, slide-whistling disc jockey. But I can assure you, there’s more than meets the eye to Dr. Demento. MUCH… MORE…!!!!!!!! (Sherman, ignite the Wayback Machine!)

neil dandy disappearing into spiralsneil dandy inside of a kaleidoscope

Let’s go all the way back to 1941… April 2nd, 1941 to be exact. Minneapolis, Minnesota’s very own Barret Eugene Hansen (whom the world will eventually know as Dr. Demento) comes kicking and screaming into the world although he hasn’t yet been weaned on slide whistles and bicycle horns. There was nothing really unusual or noteworthy about his midwestern upbringing at least until the age of 12 when in 1953 Barret stumbles across a treasure trove of thousands of 78 RPM records at a local thrift store for a nickel apiece, starts spending all his allowance and becomes raptured in music from across the ages falling deeply in love with the recorded art form. He spends the next 7 years immersing himself in sounds transcending cultures and genres straight through his high school years.


neil dandy with picture of reed college

Reed College, Portland, Oregon

neil dandy with promo graphic for krrc

neil dandy with picture of ucla

UCLA, Los Angeles, California

Then in 1960 while attending Reed College in Portland Oregon, he was presented with an opportunity to work at the school’s station, KRRC and earned his way up to becoming Program Director and eventually General Manager. While at Reed, he studied classical music and then after graduation, went on to UCLA earning a masters degree in folklore and ethnomusicology.

neil dandy with picture of dr. demento

neil dandy with picture of the band spirit



neil dandy with picture of canned heat

Canned Heat

neil dandy with specialty records logoneil dandy with kppc logoneil dandy with picture of dr. demento in a bathtub covered up by 45 rpm recordsneil dandy with warner brothers music bugs bunny graphicneil dandy with picture of barret hansen reading

And like every young adult who spends a fortune in time, energy and money to get through college, he put these degrees to very good use by hanging out with rock and roll hippies and becoming a roadie for the legendary bands Spirit and also Canned Heat. But Barret DID put the relationships he built during this time to very good use and parlayed them into becoming a talent scout for the record label, Specialty Records. He also took a job at the radio station KPPC-FM in Pasadena, California where he began broadcasting his own weekly oldies radio show. As his music industry connections build, Barret Hansen finds himself putting together compilation albums for Warner Brothers as well as writing articles for music magazines like Rolling Stone and Hit Parader. Barret was a very, very busy guy!


neil dandy with early picture of dr. demento

neil dandy with picture of barret hansen in his young adult yearsneil dandy with picture of nervous norvus

neil dandy with picture of obscene steven clean

Obscene Steven Clean

Then one day in 1970 while doing his show at KPPC-FM, Barret played one song that would change the course of his life forever. It was “Transfusion” by Nervous Norvus. (I actually had that record when I was a kid. Put a gallon in me Allan!) Another DJ going by “Obscene Steven Clean” called Barret “Demented” for playing it. Somehow the “Demented” label stuck, wouldn’t unstick and eventually morphed into his now iconic nomenclature of “Dr. Demento!”

neil dandy with plain clothes picture of dr. demento presumably late 70s / early 80sneil dandy with westwood one logo

Barret Eugene Hansen embraced his new handle wholeheartedly and began seeking out and playing the most absurd music on the planet, incorporating them into his oldies show and destiny was set into motion as he officially changed the title of his show to the Dr. Demento Show. The offbeat novelties became so popular with listeners that he altered his format completely to solely concentrate on bringing wacky tunes to the airwaves. Within a few short years, popularity grew and he was picked up and syndicated across America by the Westwood One Radio Network airing mainly late Sunday evenings on FM rock stations.


neil dandy with picture of producer robert youngneil dandy with picture of producer robert young posing with dr. demento and weird al yankovic

In 1982, production of the Dr. Demento Show was taken over by a journalist named Robert Young who oversaw what most consider to be Dr. Demento’s heyday. Under Young’s guidance, stronger relationships were forged with national media outlets and live appearances and interviews across the United States became part of normal promotion.

neil dandy with picture of frank zappa

Frank Zappa


neil dandy with picture of richard cheese

Richard Cheese


neil dandy with picture of weird al yankovic

Weird Al Yankovic

During the course of the 80’s under Young’s watch, The Dr. Demento Show brought exposure and acclaim to novelty music artists from bygone eras like Spike Jones and Jimmy Durante, mainstays of the time including Frank Zappa and Ray Stevens and also up-and comers like Judy Tenuta, Richard Cheese and we can’t understate his contribution to breaking the career of easily the most successful novelty music artist of all time, Weird Al Yankovic.

neil dandy with picture of whimsical will

Whimsical Will

It was also during this era that a character named Whimsical Will was introduced to the show who hosted a segment called “Demented News.” But Whimsical Will was unfortunately not included in the nationally syndicated version of the show and was relegated only to the longer 4-hour show on their Los Angeles flagship station.

Producer, Robert Young parted ways with the Westwood One Radio Network in 1990 and along with it, his production time with the Dr. Demento Show. He did later release a book in 2014 about his time with the show entitled “Producing Demento.


neil dandy with picture of dr. demento
After the departure of proucer Robert Young, Barret Hansen himself took over the production and management in 1992 and cut a syndication deal with On the Radio Broadcasting which allowed him greater freedom of song and segment choices that wouldn’t have been approved under Westwood One and also allowed for bringing Whimsical Will onto the nationally-syndicated broadcast! Yay Whimsical Will! Syndication continued with On The Radio Broadcasting for the remainder of the 90’s until…


neil dandy with picture of dr. dementoneil dandy with later-years picture of dr. dementoneil dandy with picture of dr. demento dressed up for hall of fame inductionneil dandy with picture of dr. demento disappearing
In the year 2000, Hansen Barret forms “Talonian Productions” and personally takes over syndication of the Dr. Demento Show. One of the hardest-working men in the funny business, he produces 52 shows per year almost never running a repeat. In 2005 Dr. Demento is inducted into the Comedy Music Hall of Fame and in 2009, the National Radio Hall of Fame. He continues bringing dementia to the airwaves for the next decade until 2010 when he mysteriously disappears from terrestrial radio airwaves entirely! Which brings us to the question posed at the start of this show…

closeup of neil dandy's mouth screaming


neil dandy with screenshot of dr. demento's website home page

He took his show online and broadcasts on the internet now. Find him at drdemento.com . What did you think I was going to say? While you’re there, you can also become a card-carrying member of Dr. Demento’s fan club otherwise known as “The Demento Society.” He also has a merchandise store which surprisingly does not sell top hats, but does sell the usual t-shirts and ball caps. But there are also much more interesting items for sale such as skull caps, turntable slip mats, autographed photos, a balsa wood glider, frisbees, a ruler that says something on it I’m not going to repeat here and a blue ribbon which I’m having trouble comprehending who or why anyone would buy a Dr. Demento blue ribbon unless the were… demented!

neil dandy with demento society logo

neil dandy with picture of senior dr. demento walking down hallway filled with his vast record collection

(Dr. Demento’s personal vinyl music collection is rumored to be greater than 85,000 records!)

neil dandy with picture of dr. demento

And now you know! Dr. Demento. Where he came from, how he got here, where he went and where you can find him now! What else you want from me? I’m just a poor, pitiful show host over here! Gimme a break already!

neil dandy with dandy dj logo and website address

And if you’d REALLY like to give me a break, please consider contributing to the production of future episodes here at the Dandy Fun House by visiting the patronage page at www.dandyfunhouse.com

Supporters gain access to exclusive bonus content and super supporters also gain access to that exact same bonus content PLUS I’ll personally mail you something really dandy from right here at the Dandy Fun House Studios IF you provide me with your mailing address!

That does it for this episode! Come back soon to the Dandy Fun House where everything is always… FUN AND DANDY!

And as the good doctor says at the close of every show… “Stay Demented!”

Neil Dandy is the creator of The Dandy Fun House and the alter-ego of Neil Smith, the Big Cheese at Neil Smith Entertainment and Productions, musician, DJ, Emcee and author. Aren’t you impressed?