• Justin L. Redman

Recollections Of A Mad Scientist

I rarely use the phrase “a once in a lifetime event,” but it is the only way to describe An Evening with Sid Noel: Recollections of a Mad Scientist.

The show was a chance for Morgus fans to see the the New Orleans icon one last time. The show also was a fund raising event for the Alzheimer's Association. All the proceeds from the show was donated to the association to help find a cure for Alzheimer's.

Sid Noel is the creator of Morgus the Magnificent. A scientist of the Higher Order. He is a New Orleans pop culture icon, who was a part of my childhood in the late 80s, early 90s.

Sid said "Morgus was too smart for his own good, and it was his intelligence that often led to his mishaps."

Every weekend I would try my best to stay awake as Morgus and his assistant Chopsley would perform experiments in his laboratory above the Old Ice House in New Orleans.

The experiments usually included some invention of Morgus and according to Sid, they were designed to “elevate” the city of New Orleans. One such invention was intended to reduce the crime in New Orleans but things did not go according to plan.

Morgus also was a horror movie host. His movies were usually campy b-rated movies with horrible scripts, cringe worthy acting and laughable special effects.

It was those movies and his experiments that made this show amazing. No matter if the movie was giant rabbits attacking a small Texas town or giant ants on a tropical island, I could not get enough of Morgus.

Morgus broadcasted live from a parade route during Mardi Gras. He performed an experiment outside the New Orleans Aquarium as a part of their grand opening event.

His experiments never went according to plan but it did not stop him from becoming a prominent figure in New Orleans. Prominent figures that include Louis Armstrong, Aaron Neville, Dr. John, Fats Domino, Allen Toussaint and Pete Fountain.

Morgus was also there to help New Orleans recover after Katrina. Sid said the city posted billboards of Morgus all over the city. The billboards featured Morgus’ picture and said “Our City Will Be Magnificent Again.”

His New Orleans icon status was further solidified in the Times Picayune. During the city’s tricentinal Morgus was featured as influential person in New Orleans History.

It has been almost a decade since I last saw Morgus on television. Even though the episodes were edited sitcom style it was great to see him on television again. The promos made it seem that Morgus had created new episodes, and I was excited.

However, they were old episodes edited together without the movie, but they were still fun to watch. I enjoyed the old episodes and unlike my childhood I did not worry about missing an episode, I recorded them.

I thought for sure this would be the last time I would ever see Morgus, that was until Sid’s event on October 13, 2019. The night of An Evening with Sid Noel: Recollections of a Mad Scientist at the Orpheum Theatre.

After squeezing into the small seats of the Orpheum, I watched as the house filled with people. From my floor seat, I could see people filling up both balconies.

The people around me were all discussing their memories of Morgus. People who watched him since his humble beginnings to the people like myself who watched him in the 80s.

I don't think I fully understood how much of a cultural icon he was until this evening. Three generations under one roof sharing their fondest memories. There also happened to be three generations of cell phone technology present. I saw flip phones, a Black Berry, and several iterations of iPhones and Samsungs. The only phones missing were the old bricks and bag phones.

As we shared our memories there was some music in the background. It was difficult to distinguish some of the music. There was too much crowd noise for me to Shazam the music, but whatever was playing felt like it would belong on Morgus’ show. However, I did hear the theme song for The Addams Family and The Munsters.

As we got closer to show time, the lights dimmed to green and eerily familiar sound played. Everyone stopped talking and began to clap in rhythm. As if our clapping would summon the "Master" himself.

Michael Ziants, the emcee walked onto the stage. Ziants has worked with Sid since

1986. The two recorded audio elements for Morgus Presents in Ziant's tiny apartment. Read that story and how the pair planned this event in Ziant's blog.

As Mike quickly walked off stage, the curtain started to rise. We all held our breath as we hoped Sid would be behind the curtain. Instead, we were greeted by a huge screen. Deep within the bowels of the Orpheum, Morgus threw a switch and a compilation of his best experiments began to play.

​ Some of them I didn't quite remember, probably because I was 11 when Morgus resumed his transmissions from the Old City Icehouse. Others I knew far too well from when I talked about Morgus on a flashback segment on my podcast.

However, there was one episode that I really stuck in my mind. It was the episode where his "students" received their Morgus University diploma. I kept thinking to myself, I need one of those to go next to my degree.

After the final video was shown, Sid walked onto the stage. After a standing ovation, Sid said the words we were all waiting to hear, Hello friends of science… The crowd erupted in applause, and whistles.

He then proceeded to tell us about his early beginnings. How he wanted to be in radio, how he fooled a director and told them Nikita Khrushchev was going to call the station. Sid assured the old Soviet Premier that we had enough exterminators hear in New Orleans to crush any bugs.

Then he moved on to his audition to host a show for some recent horror movies that were acquired by WWL. He said Morgus was developed after he got the part. He said he originally did not have a set and traded out with surrounding colleges and his set just materialized.

Sid then told of how he left for Detroit, came back, and then went on an 18-year sabbatical, and finally, his return in 1987.

The best moments of his show was when Ziants, the modern day Chopsley, wheeled E.R.I.C. on stage. He asked E.R.I.C. a series of questions and he replied with his typical "Yes Master", well that was until Sid asked E.R.I.C if he would like to help entertain the crowd. E.R.I.C.'s reply was "No master."

Another great moment was when Morgus appeared on a radio show in the last few years. I think he said the show was Coast to Coast. Morgus answered a few scientific questions. Sid they were trying to stump the Master.

One caller asked Morgus what would happen if he turned on his headlights while traveling at light speed. Morgus replied with get this guy off the radio and let him freeze in space.

Overall, a truly great show. I needed the laugh.When I am 89, I hope that I am as sharp as Sid. I hope I can still tell stories with such clarity and comedic timing. The show was also inspirational in a creative way.

I have wrestled with the idea of a horror movie host for a couple of years now. I have an idea of what he would look like and how I would introduce him. Sid’s insight into the creative process behind Morgus was the spark I needed for my character.

Reminiscing about my memories of Morgus with other fans, seeing Sid Noel on stage, and finding a creative spark truly made An Evening with Sid Noel: Recollections of a Mad Scientist a once in a lifetime event.

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