Lately I’ve spent a bit of time in front of the computer at home, on the YouTube website. I’ve been looking for some funny highlights from TV shows that are now decades old. You might call it searching for snippets.
My initial goal was to find the “Sis Boom Bah” moment from The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. Featuring the redoubtable Carnak the Magnificent, in what I always thought was one of the best continuing skits on the show, it is arguably one of the funniest single moments on what was a consistently funny show. (You could argue about other Tonight Show moments, like the Ed Ames tomahawk-throwing incident, but I digress.) Sure enough, I found the entire Sis Boom Bah Carnak sketch on YouTube, and I’ve put it above in all of its early ’80s, totally un-PC glory at the top of its post. The Sis Boom Bah moment is still hilarious.
There’s comedy gold to be found just about everywhere on YouTube, but you have to work to find it. In that sense, it’s a lot more interactive than just watching TV and letting the cathode rays wash over you. Let’s say that you thought the “Norm!” one-liners from Cheers were consistently funny, as I do, and just wanted to check out a few of them. A few deft searches, and voila! One example of what I found, with some of Norm’s choicest rejoinders, is below. And whether it’s great moments from Seinfeld, or the title introduction to Hogan’s Heroes, or a favorite scene from The Dick Van Dyke Show, you can probably find it on YouTube.
I was deeply saddened to learn of the death this week of Mary Tyler Moore, at age 80. She was a television icon and, through The Mary Tyler Moore Show, an inspiration to a generation of young women who saw, through her example, that living and working as a single woman in a big city was a viable alternative to more traditional paths.
It’s not a coincidence that Mary Tyler Moore starred in two of the very best situation comedies the small screen has ever produced. I loved her as Laura Petrie in the Dick Van Dyke Show; she was talented and funny and a perfect foil for Van Dyke’s classic brand of physical and facial comedy. (“Oh, Rob!”) But The Mary Tyler Moore Show was also a lasting, brilliant contribution to the medium of television, with one of the greatest ensemble casts ever assembled and some of the greatest comedy writing as well.
In my view, the “Chuckles Bites The Dust” episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show is arguably the funniest single episode of any network sitcom in the history of television, period, and its final scene, shown above, demonstrates Mary Tyler Moore’s enormous range as a comedic actor. For those who haven’t seen the episode, a local TV personality named Chuckles the Clown is killed in a mishap — dressed as his character Peter Peanut, he is brutally shelled by a rogue elephant — and for most of the episode the characters make jokes about Chuckles’ demise while Mary Richards, the soul of rectitude, is offended by their cavalier attitude about Chuckles’ death. In this final scene, though, Mary just can’t hold it in any longer, and the result is one of the great turns by any TV actor, anywhere.
Mary Tyler Moore was one of the giants. She will be missed.
I admit it: I laughed out loud at the Doritos ultrasound commercial during the Super Bowl yesterday. Any guy who’s been to a sonogram appointment would like the set-up, because even the most disheveled slacker would never dream of taking a bag of Doritos to munch on while the doctor is showing you live pictures of the soon-to-be newest member of the family. The idea that the baby was aware of the Doritos and wanted some is just a funny concept. And the ending caught me totally by surprise.
Really, people? Pregnancy and childbirth and new babies used to be the source of a lot of great humor. There was a classic episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show where Rob Petrie is convinced that Baby Petrie wasn’t their child and was switched at birth with Baby Peters — setting up one of the funniest moments in TV sitcom history, shown below. I’d hate to think that political sensibilities are now going to make that area out of bounds.
Sigmund Freud purportedly said “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” C’mon, people — sometimes a funny, silly commercial is just a funny, silly commercial, not some momentous political statement. Can we please lighten up a bit?