Thursday, June 25, 2015

Striving for the BIGGEST laugh

The biggest laugh I think I ever had was from a joke on THE HONEYMOONERS. I must’ve rolled on the floor for five minutes straight.   If LMFAO is bigger than LOL, what is bigger than LMFAO because that's what I did?

THE HONEYMOONERS, for many of my younger readers (and hopefully I have more than six), was a 1950’s sitcom starring Jackie Gleason (who was a guy) as Ralph Kramden, a New York bus driver who was always looking to get rich.

In one episode, called “The $99,000 Answer” Ralph goes on a live national game show (very much like 500 QUESTIONS). He has to identify songs. At any time he could stop and keep the money he’s earned, or risk it all for more money if he answers the next question. You know the drill. He enlists the help of his best friend, Ed Norton (no, not the actor – the character played brilliantly by Art Carney) to prepare for the show. He rents a piano, gathers sheet music, and Norton tests him by playing various songs. All well and good but Norton has a quirk. He starts every song with the opening riff of “Suwannee River.” It drives Ralph insane.

By the time he has to go on the show he knows every song ever written. Now the joke. 60 YEAR OLD SPOILER ALERT. The very first song they give him is “Suwannee River” and he doesn’t know it. Maybe because I was like eleven at the time but I didn’t see it coming. That joke utterly killed me.

Today we are more savvy. We’ve all seen a billion more sitcom episodes. It’s hard to imagine an audience not anticipating this punch line.

But I always loved it, and I always admired the courage of building an entire episode around one payoff. Talk about all or nothing. Plus, like I said, it’s harder to pull off today because audiences are more sophisticated to sitcom-plotting-ways.

Still, as a comedy writer, it’s something I always wanted to do. On CHEERS I got my chance. David Isaacs and I had an idea – what if Frasier and Lilith are worried because their toddler Frederick still hasn’t spoken? Lilith questions her own parenting skills. So Frasier takes over as primary care-giver. Frasier, of course, brings little Freddy to the bar every day. And this is what happens. (They won’t let me embed it so you’ll have to click on the link.)

Happily, the studio audience did not see it coming and erupted in huge prolonged laughter. It was both a rush and a major relief.

Writing it proved to be a bitch, but not for the reason we expected. We had to somehow set up the joke without telegraphing it.  That part we knew.  To do that we established that parking meters were now installed on the nearby streets and Norm had to feed the meter every couple of hours. That way he could enter the bar four or five times and Frederick could learn the pattern. But what it meant for me and David was that we had to write four or five Norm entrances. At that point in the series run writing one was a bitch. We kept grumbling through the entire first draft, “We are such schmucks! We did this to ourselves!”

Ultimately, the show worked like a charm. The episode title, by the way, is “Breaking In Is Hard To Do” and it’s available on Hulu Plus if you want to watch it. I can’t embed that either.

But I owe it all to THE HONEYMOONERS and writers Leonard Stern & Sydney Zelinka. Another great example of an entire episode based on one gigantic payoff is the “That’s My Boy” installment of THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW. I won’t spoil that if you haven’t seen it (I gave you sixty years to see “the $99,000 Answer”), but thanks to writers Bill Persky & Sam Denoff.


Anna said...

ROTFLMAO is the superlative of LMFAO. You're welcome.

HikenFan said...

It's also on Netflix (along with every other wonderful CHEERS episode.)

RockGolf said...

The Dick Van Dyke episode is also on Netflix. And yes, it still holds up.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ken,

The only, somewhat recent episode I can think of like this, is when Seinfeld yells: "DOLORES!"

Tobi said...

My favorite sustained hysteria came at the end of the Dick Van Dyke show when Laura is exposed as a "pathological snoopy-nose". You have to see the entire episode to appreciate the payoff, but it is a classic.

Bryan said...

I was also 11 years old when I had the biggest LMFAO occasion of my life. It was the classic "What does a yellow light mean?" scene from TAXI. I don't know how I ever stopped laughing. Thank you Glen and Les Charles.

Michael said...

Tobi, I'm with you, although my laughter when Rob meets Ritchie's "real" parents came close.

LouOCNY said...

Two words: Mooshy Mooshy

Thank you Tom Reeder

Diane said...

Season 9, episode 7. I know I've seen them all, but based on that brief clip, I don't remember the episode! I'll have a Manhattan, too!

AlaskaRay said...

Haven't seen that one in years. It still makes me LOL. Ray

Justin Russo said...

I still laugh aloud at most "I Love Lucy" jokes, particularly the final episode of Season 1, the quick change sequence once Ricky is fired from The Tropicana.

The Golden Girls for me is so sharp and well written, but it was always the delivery. The Season 4 episode "Till Death Do We Volley," Sophia is regaling the other girls about a trip she made to Sardinia, prompting Blanche to say 'Sophia, I thought all these stories of yours took place in Sicily?', Sophia quipping back, 'Can't a person go away for the weekend?!' was something about Estelle Getty's quick tongue that just hit me and still does every time I watch this episode.

Douglas Trapasso said...

Another Cheers scene that comes to mind in this category is the one where a date with Woody is auctioned off. It builds up to one killer surprise laugh, that is totally built on what we already know about the characters.

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem today is they would use that joke in the promos.

Igor said...

Ken, I so love that "bit" in that episode. And I love that kind of setup...payoff. It's not just magical; it's really like magic. Or even a con. It's doing a setup the audience thinks is already paid off, or at least that has its own reason for being. And the payoff has to be funny even if they forget the setup... but then, either a millisecond or two seconds later, we realize it's also a payoff for that extended setup and so laugh even more.

IOW, seems to me the TV audience would laugh even if we tuned in just before Norm's last entrance. It's just that it's so much sweeter if we've gotten all the stuff that came before.

I think what makes an audience love that payoff is we feel smart for getting it. Yes, Frederick's line is funny on its own, but we're proud of ourselves for seeing how it ties all together, as if we've solved a riddle.

Jorge González B. said...

Hi, Ken. I'm a young reader of your blog (I'm 21).

My biggest laugh from a sitcom joke was with the 11th season episode of Frasier where Nanny G. comes back one last time. I won't spoil the joke (I mean, it's just 11 years old), but it made me laugh so hard that I had to pause the episode for about 5 minutes before I could calm down and not miss anything that came after.

There are episodes that I liked more overall, but that one stands out as the biggest laugh from a single joke in an episode.

ScottyB said...

And that't the thing, the difference between way back then and now. Practically half the show was a setup for THE biggest laugh. There were chuckles along the way, but there always seemed to be the one huge-ass blockbuster laugh that would make people piss their pants. That doesn't seem to happen these days.

Which I guess begs a Friday Question: Why?

BTW, thanks to Ken for mentioning Persky & Denoff. 'That Girl' wasn't kick-ass funny, but Marlo Thomas was my equivalent to Ken's Natalie Wood when I was like 7 years old. Especially when they redid the opening theme sequence and she was wearing that little sundress thing while holding a parasol. Hubba hubba.

MikeN said...

That clip appears to have an edited laugh track. Is that how it was when it first ran, or is this a syndication version?

Anonymous said...

Breaking in is hard to do' while checking the parking meters suggests another plot entirely.

Richard Rothrock said...

I totally agree about the TAXI episode where Reverend Jim takes his driving test. One of the funniest moment of my life. I showed it to my 18 year old son a couple weeks ago and he (knowing nothing else about the show) thought it was hysterical too. So it holds up.

My longest sustained bit of hilarity where I thought I was going to die laughing was also from TAXI. The episode where the cab company closed down and they had to get other jobs. Reverend Jim as a door to door salesman had me rolling on the floor, literally.

DetroitGuy said...

Also from "Taxi" when they reveal how Jim went from uptight Harvard student to drugged-out freak with one puff of pot.

Basil the Rat said...

The last second of the "Hotel Inspectors" episode of "Fawlty Towers" (and again, it's entirely due to a half hour's build, as well as the editing choice) is the funniest 1 second in sitcoms.

Diane D. said...

A similarly hilarious Frasier episode is the one where every member of the cast is at a ski cabin along with Nile's lawyer, a girlfriend of Daphne and a gay ski instructor. It is an uproariously funny night of men and women chasing each other, misunderstandings, jumping into the wrong beds and not one correct pairing all night. The next morning when things are clearing up, after a sudden realization, Frasier says (very indignantly), "Am I to understand that with all the hormones flying around this cabin last night, NOT ONE person was chasing ME!"

Cap'n Bob said...

I well remember that Honeymooners episode and didn't see the punchline coming. Gleason's face when they started playing Swanee River was priceless.

Unknown said...

The baby's first words in Cheers is the first funny thing I think of when thinking of Cheers. GREAT job with that. I say that to babies all the time.
Frasier's funniest line is the Christmas episode where Niles is dressed as Jesus, and Frasier is trying to hide him, but he runs buy, and he screams JESUS. That and when Daphene kills the eel in the restaurant.
There are numerous shows that have those one moments when it is the first thing that pops into your head when the show is mentioned. "As god is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly"

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I think one reason that HONEYMOONERS episode worked was that Art Carney's hand and arm movements every time he got ready to start playing were priceless. I actually enjoyed watching him more than the final punchline.

I prefer FOOCL as the upper limit of LMFAO.

Ken: you probably don't know this but a couple of days ago when I was out of the office I discovered that for some reason OpenDNS had your site blocked as containing nudity and pornography. It's fixed now (I tweeted to them). It must be in the subtext.


Rod said...

Friday Question--

Have you watched Jerry Seinfeld's web series "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee?" I find that each episode is short as to not be too boring, and the concept of watching Jerry and his guest tool around town in an interesting car just talking about whatever comes to mind as entertaining. Do you consider this a vanity project, or is this actually entertaining and interesting to you?

Igor said...

@Wendy M. Grossman

About OpenDNS - That's part hilarious, part troubling. Anyway, well done by you.

Unknown said...

Bill Persky

always feel like I made it when I get a mention from Ken

YEKIMI said...

I think the funniest line that I never saw coming was a Rodney Dangerfield special on cable. If I remember correctly, he was doing a segment like he was on The Tonight Show and the line he said "I make my wife scream during sex. I get up and wipe my dick on the curtain!" Never saw it coming and was on the floor for 10 minutes laughing so hard.

Leon said...

I'm assuming, that in the great tradition of lack-of-continuity in sitcoms, that these parking meters and the necessity of Norm having to go out and add time to his every so often all vanished after this episode, never to be heard about or referenced again.

Chester said...

Wow! A personal note from Bill Persky! How cool is that!
So many wonderful shows he's written with Sam Denoff. Two of my all time favourites are Dick Van Dyke episodes. "That's My Boy??" (mentioned in Ken's article) and "100 Terrible Hours" -- both made especially memorable by Mister Van Dyke's incredible gift for physical comedy.

By Ken Levine said...

Bill Persky,

I would like to talk to you about something. Could you contact me at Your biggest fan, Ken

Igor said...

Ken wrote: "Another great example of an entire episode based on one gigantic payoff is the 'That’s My Boy' installment of THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW. I won’t spoil that if you haven’t seen it..."

I took a "history of film" class in college. One week the film was "Citizen Kane", and before the screening the prof said, "Of course, all of you've seen it, so let's talk about 'Rosebud'."

And, of course, I had NOT seen it... And so now I'll never really know how that ending played. Pissed me off then. Pisses me off now every time I even just hear that film mentioned.

Igor said...

... and that was a helluva lot less than 60 years after Citizen Kane was released.

- said...

The wonderful character actor Patrick Macnee has sadly passed away. He was in one of my favourite Frasier episodes, The Show Must Go Off.

DBenson said...

A few nights ago Larry Wilmore was talking about anchorman Dan Lemon holding up a placard with the N word to begin a segment. He said something like "I feel sorry for the poor CNN intern who had to go to the copy place . . . ", which got a huge laugh.

That led into a skit showing exactly that: an embarrassed white schlub trying to give his order to the black clerk ("The word that sounds like Winnie the Pooh's friend . . . T-igger . . ."). It was amusing, but actually a letdown after the setup line.

Mary Tyler Moore had an episode where anchorman Ted begins to take commercial jobs, to Lou's increasing fury. At one point Ted is talking to his agent on the phone about a dog food commercial, and finds out it's not an announcer gig. After listening for a moment, Ted looks around and barks into the phone. Okay, joke delivered. Much later, a spooked Lou enters the office. He fears the wave of cheap commercials featuring Ted is getting to him. "Last night I was watching a late movie . . . and a dog food commercial came on . . . " There was a line about hallucinating the dog sounding like Ted, but the big laugh was on "dog food commercial."

There's a Friday question: Do you ever cut jokes because the straight line turned out to be the laugh?

MikeK.Pa. said...

So many great episodes from DICK VAN DYKE SHOW that still stand up, which is a testament to the great writing. I can still hear the long sustained laughter from the audience on the visual payoff of that episode. Classic.

RockGolf said...

@Igor: I still vividly remember how I got spoiled on Citizen Kane. Me and probably 30,000,000 other people at the same time.

Igor said...

@RockGolf That is so cold. Selfish, really. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

The $99,000 Question is priceless. And those people who mentioned Norton's windup and Kramden's double take are spot-on.
Part of Gleason's reaction was set up by how cocky he was and how dismissive he was of Alice. No one since has surpassed Carney and Gleason in terms of comic acting ability for television.
Klugman and Randall do deserve a special mention for the Odd Couple episode where Felix is afraid to fly.

Klee said...

My biggest Cheers laugh was from the episode when Diane loses it while Sam was eating spaghetti with her best friend Heather (Markie Post. A classic.

Andrew said...

My favorite build up and pay off was in the Frasier finale:
Niles walking out of a vet's office feeding milk to a baby monkey, which the other characters think is Niles and Daphne's child.

Kevin Gossett said...


(Rolling on the floor laughing both cheeks of my ass off).

I don't remember seeing that one, but even though I knew the payoff was coming, I STILL laughed out loud. Hard. That's quality writing!

Buttermilk Sky said...

"A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants." Who expected Mary to lose her composure at Chuckles's funeral? Still great.

Mitt Romney said...

As for Comedians in Cars... Jerry's webseries is starting to leave a bad aftertaste for me... It feels a little elitist, especially in this era of 1% vs. 99%. Insanely rich people tooling around in different cars every week, ruminating about how special their craft is and how few can do it, letting the little people wait on them in coffee shops. Jerry seems a bit cavalier if not dismissive re: the nobodies. The other week, he and Steve Harvey wrapped it up by going to a cigar bar, lighting up, kicking back - "Ah, the good life. We're a rarefied breed." I'm not quoting specific remarks. I'm talking about the underlying vibe I at least got from it. As for the conversations, some are okay. But a large percent aren't nearly as strong as the coffee or Jerry's laughs imply.

Canda said...

For lowbrow comedy biggest laugh, I remember being in an audience of 200 at the Beverly Theater watching a Three Stooges short, where the boys were scouts for the US Cavalry. Moe said that you could tell a wagon was coming in the distance by putting your ear to the ground and listening. Moe, Larry and Curley each put their ear to the ground, and one second later a wagon wheel drove over their heads. The audience screamed for a minute.

cadavra said...

Hate to be a pedant, but if memory serves, Ralph blows it on the last question, not the first--he could have quit at any time, but his ego wouldn't allow it.

But the real Hall of Game Grand Prize Winner for sustained joke was on a radio show, not TV. It was an episode of "The Jack Benny Show," set entirely on of of those "stars' homes" tours. The bus driver would say, here's the home of Dennis Day, and there would be a scene inside the house with Dennis, then on to the next home and another scene; this was repeated for the entire show. Finally, at the end of the episode, the driver says, "And here is the home of Jack Benny." And a familiar voice shouts, "Driver, this is my stop!" The only line Benny spoke in the entire half hour. Only someone with both the genius AND modesty of Jack Benny could get away with something like that.

DwWashburn said...

Mitt Romney -- 100% true and to the point.

Loosehead said...

Niles with the parrot on his head, under a tea towel. My wife actually had a pmsl over that.

Anonymous said...

No, he blows it on the first question for $100 after telling the announcer he plans to go all the way. He has also made a big deal of telling Alice at home he won't stop until the $99,000 question despite her warnings that it won't be as easy as he thinks.
That's part of what makes it so funny. He does know an incredible number of songs but he never gets to show how much he knows. Wouldn't be as funny if he got every song before that.
The take on his face from supreme confidence to total surprise to abject terror in about 10 seconds- and then of course the famous "homina, homina, homina, Ed Norton". All his efforts thwarted at the start. From hubris to nemesis.
then of course as he's dragged off every time the announcer consoles him he mentions a song title and who wrote it to something the announcer has said. But he's in another universe at that point.
They couldn't have written it better and he couldn't have performed it better.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Rod: I don't know what Ken thinks, but a number of the episodes I've watched were really good. I loved the one with Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner, and Seinfeld's interiew with Sarah Silverman was really excellent - two comedians with different sensibilities discussing as fellow professionals how they do what they do.


Tobi said...

Best for Last!!!!
You've obviously hit a nerve with this post. Lots of great memories. I was sharing them with my husband and he reminded me of the biggest sustained laugh at the end of a half hour comedy show EVER!!!
It's one of the great Jack Benny Show TV episodes when the entire crew decides to go off to Palm Springs for the weekend. Jack warns them not to mention the name of their destination in front of his pet parrot, who he plans to leave at home on this trip. It seems the bird behaved badly on a previous visit and was banned. He will be terribly disappointed if he misses out.
All through the show, everyone who pops into the house (the whole cast) goes to great pains to spell out the location: P-A-L-M -S-P-R-I-N-G-S while the bird sits on his perch, observing, grooming its claws, picking at nits.
He casually repeats the spelling in his shrill parrot-y voice, as only the great Mel Blanc could do.
They all talk about what a great time they're going to have in P-A-L-M-S-P-R-I-N-G-S.
At the end of the half hour, they all go off with their suitcases, leaving the poor bird all alone with the radio on for company. On comes a commercial for the Palm Springs Funeral Home, at the end of which the announcer says:
"So remember the Palm Springs Funeral Home....P-A-L-M S-P-R-I-N-G-S...PALM SPRINGS!"
The bird repeats the spelling, as usual...thusly:
"P-A-L-M S-P-R-I-N-G-S."....(and suddenly makes the connection)
"PALM SPRINGS????!!!!!!!!"
Ya hadda be there....
Nobody in our family has ever said Palm Springs without this intonation in over 50 years. That's a sustained laugh!
(My husband is chortling away even now, as I remind him of this.)

Pat Reeder said...

I thought the longest sustained laugh in comedy history was when the armed robber told Jack Benny, "Your money or your life!" After a good two minutes of silence from Benny and rising hysteria from the studio audience, the crook repeats the line, and Benny says, "I'm thinking it over!!" Which gooses the wave of laughter even higher.

I also really like "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee." Why do some people have to view the entire world through their narrow political mindset of "us vs. them?" When Jerry puffed a cigar and said that comics are a rarefied breed, I took it as a self-deprecating joke about how pompous they must look, puffing expensive cigars on a weekday afternoon. As for the historic cars (and some are far from luxury models), that's a big part of the appeal. If you'd read the credits (see how reading helps?), you'd learn that the cars are borrowed from various collectors. They're not all Jerry's. Of course, they could all be from Jay Leno's car collection, but if he wants to spend the money he earned on preserving automotive history, then more power to him. Here's a phrase that must sting some people to the bone: "It's HIS money!"

Terry said...

I thought the longest sustained laugh in comedy history was when the armed robber told Jack Benny, "Your money or your life!" After a good two minutes of silence from Benny and rising hysteria from the studio audience, the crook repeats the line, and Benny says, "I'm thinking it over!!" Which gooses the wave of laughter even higher

This bit is from the Benny broadcast of March 28, 1948. The laugh it got has been exaggerated far beyond anything reasonable or believable, as it has been here.

It goes like this:

CROOK: Hey bud, bud.

JACK: Huh?

CROOK: Got a match?

JACK: Match? Yes, I have one right here.

CROOK: Don't make a move. This is a stick-up.

JACK: What?

CROOK: You heard me.

JACK: Mister, mister, put down that gun.

CROOK: Shut up. Now come on. Your money or your life.


CROOK: Look, bud, I said your money or your life.

JACK: I'm thinking it over!

Jack's silent reaction to the crook's initial demand and the laugh that follows that silence all last about ten seconds, total. That's all. A good, solid laugh, but nothing extraordinary. The reaction to Jack's "I'm thinking it over" lasts a little over five seconds.

The routine was repeated the following week, as a "flashback," and the reaction times are about the same.

Jack recycled the routine on his television series on January 15, 1956, and there, the reactions are quite a bit longer. Unfortunately, they're coming from Charley Douglass's "laff box," as Jack was doing his filmed shows without an audience at that point to accommodate his wife, Mary Livingstone, who, despite her years in broadcasting, had become quite uncomfortable working in front of live audiences.

Just about the longest laugh I've heard on a Benny show was from the radio broadcast of May 16, 1954. The first half of the show has to do with Jack getting a massage and discovering that the reason his masseuse works so cheaply is that he uses rancid chicken fat instead of oil.

In the second half of the show, Jack and his date are driving to a restaurant, and they have this exchange:

GERTRUDE (Bea Benaderet): Say, did you notice a little bump a minute ago?


GERTRUDE: Neither did I, but it smells like we ran over a chicken.

Gertrude's line gets a very solid, unbroken laugh that runs about thirty seconds. Maybe it's Benaderet's delivery. I don't know. On paper, the line doesn't sound particularly funny. It sure as hell gets a huge reaction from the audience, though.

I love Jack Benny. He's my favorite of the old comedians and I get a great deal of pleasure from his radio shows. Honestly, I've never understood why the reaction to the "Your Money or Your Life" routine has been so wildly exaggerated over the years. It's very far from the biggest laugh Jack ever got.

Jabroniville said...

My personal favourite is the FRASIER line when Frasier & Roz are arguing about Bebe.

Roz: "Oh lay off, Frasier- it's not like she worships the DEVIL!"
Frasier: "She doesn't HAVE to! HE worships HER!"

Just the kind of visual that inspires is hilarious, but Kelsey Grammer's trademark over-the-top delivery makes it.

Johnny Walker said...

So many great laughs over the years. As a kid I remember my sides hurting at Mel Brooks's simple observation that a TV cowboy's diet would have a side effect that was never explored on Bonanza.

Older still, I could believe how funny MONTY PYTHON were when I first saw them. It just didn't seem possible for something to be THAT funny -- the opening credits to HOLY GRAIL, in particular.

I'm sure there were some amazing laughs every Friday night at 9pm, when I insisted we watched CHEERS.

The memorable laughs really are something special, though. I can't even remember the last time my sides hurt from laughing. Yikes.

RCP said...

Reading about Jack Benny, I can't resist mentioning one of my favorite Benny bits - despite the fact that I know my description won't do it justice:

Benny - who was as famously age-conscious as he was cheap, and remained 'age 39' all of his life - is sitting in a restaurant and orders a drink. The waiter asks for his ID. As only Benny can, he milks what he's just heard with growing delight, 'You want to see my ID?'... 'Now let me get this want to check my ID?' - then as he sits there gloating, the waiter says something like, "Yes, sir. We're having a special for Seniors and I wanted to make certain you're as old as you look."

cadavra said...

Anonymous: Okay, thanks. Guess my memory isn't as good as it used to be. :-(

Jake Mabe said...

I laughed -- for quite awhile -- at that payoff "NORM!" line the first time I saw it. And at half the things written for Coach.

SAM MALONE: I'm having blackouts, Coach.
COACH: Kind of a nice break in the day, aren't they, Sam?

Speaking of "The Honeymooners," I watched the episode fairly recently in which Ralph convinces his boss he can play golf (but, of course, he can't). It has something to do with a promotion he thinks he's going to get.

The scenes in which Ralph and Norton are practicing in the apartment are some of the funniest moments in American TV comedy.

And, like other posters, I've had some good laughs at Jack Benny. I think the hardest I ever laughed at him was on one of his TV specials when he had this prolonged stare of astonishment after Gregory Peck agreed to be on Jack's show. (It even broke up Peck.)

Unknown said...

Good show, old chap. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

One great sitcom line years in the making you all overlooked came from a scene in CHEERS, where Sam has discovered that Rebecca's tycoon boss, Robin Colcourt, has been using their relationship to get her corporate computer system password in order to hack the system to get inside information with which to mount a hostile takeover of her company. This was during the 1980's when these kinds of illegal activities were all the rage in the business news and Sam is trying to get Rebecca to report him to the appropriate authorities, while Rebecca doesn't want him to because she understands this will mean that he'll be sent to prison. In resisting Sam's entreaties she says, "but Sam, I can't, I can't, he's my sweet baby! You know what it's like to be in love -- you had that Diane person" to which Sam replies, "Sweetheart, sweetheart, don't you think for a minute that if I could have put Diane in jail, I would have!" LOL. I did not see that coming and it about killed me. Until the Nanny G. line on Frasier years later I thought it was the best set-up joke I'd ever heard, one you wouldn't even get unless you had digested at least an entire season (at least!) of CHEERS.

WB Jax said...

Hi, Ken. This is my second night going through the blog in it's entirety. Though there have been shows that have given me a great deal of pleasure (including many, many episodes of "Frasier"), hands down, the biggest, most prolonged laugh spasm I've experienced came as a result of first discovering "Car 54" (I think on Me-TV). In this one episode, called "The Biggest Day of the Year," Toddy becomes upset with Muldoon when he (Muldoon) can't remember a special thing that happened on this particular day. One by one everyone in the precinct feigns knowledge of the event and a big celebration is planned despite the fact none of the officers knows what the event is, where the celebration for it is to take place (and they all get dressed in tuxedos for this!)

I remember Glen and Les Charles appearing on Bob Costas' "Later" (years ago, NBC) talking about "Car 54" and expressing their admiration for Nat Hiken, mentioning that Hiken was the mind behind "The Phil Silvers Show." The Charles' were right: "Car 54" is a gem, Hiken, was one remarkable, original, comedic mind (though he's not the credited writer for this particular ep I understand he "polished" everything on his shows).

Thanks for the blog. Has been well worth the time spent perusing it.