Mongo Like Awards

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Paul Douglas doesn't stop. Looking through his black duffel bag for a camera, he plays dumb as he pulls out trophy after trophy. One. Two. Three. Four."

I don't know how these got in here," he deadpans, leaving them on a table in the Weekly Planet conference room, which has been turned into a theater for a viewing of Mongo Like Candy. Douglas, who drives a limo for Super Shuttle, has arrived at the office a half an hour early, even though he was contacted for the interview only a few hours before.

The guy's psyched — and he should be.

His sketch comedy show — make that the only episode ever done of his sketch comedy show — cleaned house at Pinellas' Suncoast Access Awards on Oct. 2.

With its catchy Blazing Saddles reference, Mongo has also won the all-important public access game of coming up with the most attention-getting title. But more than the awards or the name, Douglas is proud of the show's content.

"It's a clean show," he says. "Too much on TV goes towards sex."

Most of the skits spoof TV staples like newscasts and talk shows, but the best is a take off on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in which Leatherface (played by Douglas) can't get his chainsaw working. There's no dialogue, just grainy black-and-white shots of Leatherface and his victim heading back to the garage to fix the thing, and then ditching it for a weed whacker. It's Douglas' kind of humor — watching himself trip over the whacker's extension cord still cracks him up more than a year after the film was shot.

Douglas is Mongo's Lorne Michaels. He buys the pizza for the brainstorming sessions, brings people into the group and ultimately decides what will air. Any cast member can pitch an idea, and once the skit is OK'd it's up to that person to make it happen. "I wanted this to be a creative outlet for these guys," Douglas says.

But sometimes it's tough to get everything together. There are different work schedules to contend with, and the group has to look for locations and rent the equipment.

"We got all kinds o' ideas," Douglas says. "But it's about getting them from the head, to the group, to the screen."

That takes time — more than a year after the first episode hit the air, Mongo Like Candy is still working on the second one. And they're going to have to wait even longer to capitalize on their newfound glory as award winners. Douglas is about to head to Colorado to drive there for 15 weeks.

But he's got plans for Mongo, too. He'd like to get the group a space where they could perform live, and he'd like to get the show on the Bright House channel. "If something happened," he says, "if someone came by with some money, I'd put my Colorado plans on hold."

But until that happens, the show will have to take a back seat.

During November, Mongo Like Candy will be shown on Access Pinellas Tuesdays at 3 p.m.; Thursdays at 12:30 a.m.; and Fridays at 9:30 p.m.

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