Jimmy the Cab Driver was a fixture on MTV in the Nineties — and he was the first time the world ever got a dose of Donal Logue. Long before Logue was Detective Harvey Bullock on Gotham, long before he was digging bullets out of his victims’ skulls on Sons of Anarchy, before he was on Terriers or ER or Vikings, he was Jimmy McBride — a Boston taxi driver with greasy hair, thick glasses, a cigarette and an obsession with MTV.
Every passenger in Jimmy’s cab gets treated to his demented rants about the glories of music videos, from Green Day to Snoop Dogg to the Breeders. The passengers stare out the window and pray for him to shut up. “Jimmy is a real innocent character,” Logue says now. “Total enthusiasm, but zero circumspection.”
At a time when American youth culture was saturated with music video, when every second of the latest Beastie Boys clip was seared into everyone’s brain, Jimmy the Cab Driver became an instant folk hero. He was up there with Beavis & Butt-head, Daria or The State. “That’s what MTV was like back then,” Logue says. There was no YouTube then. MTV was the only place you could do shit like a 30-second improvised comedy bit.”
The brilliance of the Jimmy rants is that he was the prototypical grunge-era MTV fantatic — he was just slightly more extreme than most of us. The cheapskate production values just added to the fun. As Logue remembers, “I did those bits with Clay Tarver and Jesse Peretz — friends of mine from the Boston punk scene. They both went on to be writers and directors. We were just trying to do goofy shit we thought was funny. We didn’t know how to go big, go pro, go union. That wasn’t important back then. And MTV would just go with it.”
Here are 5 of Jimmy the Cab Driver’s greatest hits. Long may he ride. (And as a bonus: a clip from Donal Logue’s spectacularly chaotic 1994 guest-host gig on 120 Minutes, with the Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli.)
1. THE BREEDERS, “CANNONBALL”
Jimmy breaks down the the Breeders’ 1993 hit for his trapped passenger. Fun fact: the Deal sisters are actual twins.
Jimmy Says: “So these two gals, they’re the spitting image of one another, you know? And they’re going, ‘A-OOO-ah! A-OO-ah!’ The whole time, okay, there’s this cannonball running down the street!”
2. THE BEASTIE BOYS, “SABOTAGE”
Ill communication: Jimmy thinks the 1994 Beasties clip is a real cop show.
Jimmy Says: “It’s called Sabotage. I keep seeing the commercial for it, but I’ve never seen the show itself. It looks like a hell of a show — talk about action!”
3. SMASHING PUMPKINS, “TODAY”
As a man who spends all day behind the wheel, Jimmy can appreciate the ice-cream truck video for the Smashing Pumpkins hit.
Jimmy Says: “The ice cream probably melted–they didn’t care, they were having a great time singing and dancing with the ice cream and the paints.
4. ALANIS MORISSETTE, “IRONIC”
Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think? Jimmy remakes Alanis’ most famous video, with poetic musings (“It’s like going crazy when you’re already nuts”) and Alanis-like multiple identities.
Jimmy Says: “It’s like meeting the girl of your dreams and finding out she’s five!
5. GREEN DAY, “BASKET CASE”
A passenger with a broken leg reminds Jimmy of the Green Day video where they’re locked up in a hospital.
Jimmy Says: “I’ll be honest, my buttock doesn’t shift from one inch to the left or right the whole day, maybe 18 hours a day in the cab, you know what? But I’m free. I’m a free thinker, I go everywhere with my brain. Spaceship Brain!”
BONUS: DONAL LOGUE HOSTS 120 MINUTES
At the height of Jimmy the Cab Driver-mania, Logue was the guest host on MTV’s Sunday-night 120 Minutes, alongside his pal Greg Dulli from the Afghan Whigs. It’s a mess, to say the least, as they riff on everything from Masterpiece Theater to Lynyrd Skynyrd. All of us who watched this live at the time were asking ourselves, “How the hell is MTV letting this happen?”
“I found that on YouTube and watched it,” Logue says. “When I see it now, I just think: Who are these smug motherfuckers? And look how much we got to smoke on TV!”