The 1981 HBO special that introduced the nation to Pee-wee Herman

In honor of the passing of Paul Reubens, here is the full Pee-wee Herman Show HBO special from 1981.

The great 1985 movie Pee-wee's Big Adventure made him a star, but this special made him a cult hero to comedy fans. Reubens had created the Pee-wee Herman character in 1977 as a member of The Groundlings improv comedy team, and then launched a live comedy show in Los Angeles in 1980, featuring Pee-wee as the host of a low-budget kids TV show. It became so successful, HBO filmed it for its "On Location" series in 1981.

It's a hilarious and imaginative show, and the nation's introduction to an absolutely original character. And watch for a pre-Saturday Night Live Phil Hartman, as Captain Carl.

By the way, this is a parody in the form of a children's show, but was is not at all for children. It was late night alternative comedy.