407: The Killer Shrews
by Wyn Hilty
He’s doing a nickel up at Attica.
Attica Correctional Facility is a prison in western New York state; in 1971, it was the site of the deadliest prison riot in American history.
It’s the gom jabbar!
A reference to Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel Dune. In the book, the gom jabbar is a poisoned needle used in a test to see whether a person is a reasoning human being or an instinctive animal; the young hero, Paul Atreides, is tested at the beginning of the book.
Jim Henson’s Misfit Babies.
Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies was an animated television series that aired from 1984-1991. The Misfits was a 1961 film about a hunt for wild horses; it starred Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable.
“Bobby’s taking the low road and Mike’s taking the high road.” And they’ll get to Scotland before ye.
A paraphrase of the traditional Scottish song “Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond.” Actual lyrics: “Oh! ye'll take the high road/And I'll take the low road/And I'll be in Scotland afore ye/But me and my true love/Will never meet again/On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.”
Looks like the kids in the stall.
A reference to Canadian comedy troupe the Kids in the Hall. (Thanks to Marcus Burkhard for this reference.)
Out you pixies go, through the barn or through the hayloft.
From the MST3K Amazing Colossal Episode Guide: “Sheldon Leonard from It’s a Wonderful Life.” (The actual line: “That’s it, out you two pixies go, out the door or through the window.”)
Hey, kids, you ever read The Ox-Bow Incident?
The Ox-Bow Incident is a 1940 novel by Walter Van Tilburg Clark. Set in 1885, it focuses on the lynching of three innocent men in the American West.
"You know, he told Bobby and Mike ..." If I like the girl, who cares what I like?
A paraphrased line from the 1984 New Edition song "Cool It Now": "Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike/If I like the girl, who cares who you like?" (Thanks to Marcus Burkhard for this reference.)
Sissy Spacek is an actress who has appeared in such movies as Carrie (1976) and Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980), for which she won an Oscar for Best Actress.
Jim Henson’s Last Picture Show Babies.
See note on Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies, above. The Last Picture Show is a 1971 film about two teenagers in a small, dying Texas town after World War II.
Hey, Mustang Sally!
A reference to the Wilson Pickett song “Mustang Sally.” Sample lyrics: “Mustang Sally, now, baby, oh, Lord, guess you better slow your mustang down, oh, yeah/You've been running all over the town now/Oh! I guess I'll have to put your flat feet on the ground.”
Ah, rodeo’s wasted on the young.
“Youth is wasted on the young” is a quip by playwright, essayist, and critic George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950).
You know I see somethin' subliminal in this here poster.
In 1957, market researcher James Vicary announced he had developed a new method of advertising: subliminal messages, or messages flashed on a screen too quickly for the conscious mind to perceive them but still capable of subconsciously influencing a viewer’s actions. A public uproar followed, fueled by the publication of Vance Packard’s book The Hidden Persuaders, which argued that advertisers were deliberately inserting hidden sexual images into their ads. Despite subsequent experiments showing that subliminal advertising simply didn’t work, television networks banned it from the airwaves the following year.
"There's Hank Evans's Angus bulls all slicked up for the rodeo." Heh. Everybody digs Hank Evans.
A reference to the 1958 album Everybody Digs Bill Evans, featuring the American jazz pianist.
[Imitating.] Animals are to be bred and slaughtered!
A paraphrase of a line from the 1964 movie Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The actual line, spoken by Peter Sellers in the title role: “Nuclear reactors could provide power almost indefinitely. Greenhouses could maintain plant life. Animals could be bred and slaughtered.”
Hey, Billy, I’ll buy that Rolling Rock from you.
Rolling Rock is a beer manufactured by the Latrobe Brewing Company of Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
Ah, café society.
The phrase "Café society" was coined by journalist Maury Henry Biddle Paul to describe the Bright Young Things who assembled in cafes in London, Paris, and New York in the late 19th century to see and be seen.(Thanks to Sarah McKinney for this reference.)
I can’t stop 'em, I don’t know how it works. Goodbye, folks!
A paraphrase of a line from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, spoken by the Wizard as he’s carried off in a hot-air balloon: “I can’t come back! I don’t know how it works! Goodbye, folks!”
I think maybe rodeos are the opiate of the masses.
"Religion ... is the opium of the people"—often rendered as "opiate of the masses"—is a famous quotation by philosopher Karl Marx (1818-1883). (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
And the crowd goes wild! –Yay.
The cartoon Tom Slick, along with Dudley Do-Right and George of the Jungle, was part of the Rocky & Bullwinkle series—Rocky and His Friends, later called The Bullwinkle Show (ABC/NBC, 1959-1964). Tom Slick was an auto racer, and a recurring gag in the cartoons had the announcer/narrator declaring, “And the crowd goes wild!” followed by a shot of a very lackluster crowd, giving a half-hearted, “Yay.”
A reference to singer/actor Al Jolson (1886-1950). Specifically, an imitation of his performance of his signature song, “My Mammy.” (Thanks to Erik Topp for pointing out this reference.)
[Imitating.] Come on, move it, move it, move it!
Another George C. Scott as Patton riff (see above note). A scene in the movie depicts a massive traffic jam of military vehicles and personnel, prompting Patton, at the time a three-star general, to jump out of a jeep and begin directing traffic himself.
“Show ‘em, cowgirl.” In the sand.
A reference to the Neil Young song “Cowgirl in the Sand.” Sample lyrics: “Hello cowgirl in the sand/Is this place at your command/Can I stay here for a while/Can I see your sweet sweet smile.”
"Sixteen seconds." What do you get?
A paraphrase of the song "Sixteen Tons" by Tennessee Ernie Ford. Actual lyrics: "You load sixteen tons, and what do you get/Another day older and deeper in debt ..." (Thanks to Marcus Burkhard for this reference.)
And the crowd goes wild! –Yay.
See above note.
Why can’t Johnny ride?
“Why can’t Johnny read?” was a catch phrase in the 1970s designed to evoke the image of a failed public education system, adopted during one of America’s periodic orgies of national hand wringing over the ignorance of its children.
Like my friend Nietzsche said, that which does not kill ya makes ya stronger.
“That which does not kill me makes me stronger” (sometimes rendered simply as “What does not kill me makes me stronger”) is a line from the 1889 book Twilight of the Idols by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900).
See note on Wilford Brimley, above.
And the crowd goes wild! –Yay.
See above note.
Now, it’s garbage.
A line from the 1968 film The Odd Couple, starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. The full exchange:
Felix: That’s not spaghetti!.It's linguini.
Oscar [throws plate across room]: Now it’s garbage.
He’s a moveable feast.
A Moveable Feast is a book by Ernest Hemingway, a memoir of his years in Paris as a struggling writer in the 1920s. The “moveable feast” of the title refers to the city of Paris, taken from a letter to a friend written years earlier: "If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast."
Here comes the last surviving castrati!
Castrati were opera singers: adult male singers who had been castrated before puberty, which produced a voice somewhat like an extremely powerful, rich soprano. The practice began in the 16th century, and by the 18th century most male opera singers were castrati. The last castrati, a man named Alessandro Moreschi, died in 1922.
“Just six seconds.” Over Tokyo.
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo is a 1944 film about a bombing raid into Japan during World War II.
That horse has got Air Jordans on!
Air Jordan is a line of athletic shoes manufactured by Nike; they are named after legendary basketball player Michael Jordan.
And the crowd goes wild! –Yay.
See above note.
[Imitating.] I am not an animal!
A line from the 1980 film The Elephant Man, about Joseph Merrick, a horrifically deformed man in Victorian England. The complete line: “I am not an animal! I am a human being! I am a man!”
Even George S. Kaufman won a prize.
George S. Kaufman (1889-1961) was an American playwright and drama critic whose works include You Can’t Take It With You and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. He won the Pulitzer Prize twice.
It’s Hayley Mills! –Sure loved you in The Parent Trap.
Hayley Mills appeared in a long string of films for Disney in the 1960s. Of these, the best known is The Parent Trap (1961), in which Mills played a dual role as twins scheming to reunite their divorced parents.
[Sung.] And the guys are not clowning all day.
A paraphrase of the song “Home on the Range,” the official state song of Kansas. Actual lyrics: “And the skies are not cloudy all day.”
“He must eat his own body weight every few hours.” Plus a delicious shake.
A paraphrase of the ad campaign for the Slim-Fast diet plan, which instructed participants to consume two Slim-Fast shakes plus a “sensible dinner” every day.
Starring Joan Collins and Jackie Collins.
Joan Collins is an actress who is best known for her role as Alexis Morrell Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan on the TV prime time soap opera Dynasty, which aired from 1981-1989. Jackie Collins (1937-2015), her younger sister, was a novelist of the “sex-and-shopping” variety; her best known work is Hollywood Wives.
Based on a novel by William Shatner. Spock!
An imitation of actor William Shatner, who played Captain James Tiberius Kirk on the TV series Star Trek and in the series of movies based on the show. Shatner is also the author (with veteran author Ron Goulart) of the TekWar series of novels. Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy) was Kirk’s second-in-command.
[Imitating.] Matthew, if you ain’t the orneriest sprout that ever ...
An imitation of Festus Haggen, deputy to Marshal Matt Dillon on the TV western Gunsmoke (CBS, 1955-1975); actor Ken Curtis (Jerry Farrell in The Killer Shrews) played the part from 1964-1975.
Hey, Ray Kellogg—he directed The Giant Gila Monster!
Show 402, The Giant Gila Monster and The Killer Shrews were both directed by Ray Kellogg, and both were produced by Ken Curtis (see previous note). The two movies were filmed back-to-back outside of Dallas, Texas, and were distributed as a double bill in 1959.
Oh, it’s Robert Maxwell’s boat. Mr. Maxwell! Oh, Mr. Maxwell!
Robert Maxwell (1923-1991) was a British publishing tycoon. At one point he owned several book publishing companies, a string of British tabloids, the New York Daily News, and many more companies. However, by the 1990s he was in shaky financial circumstances and used $1.2 billion he secretly siphoned off from employee pension funds and other sources in an attempt to keep his empire from crumbling. On November 5, 1991, he disappeared off his yacht, and his body was recovered from the Atlantic some time later. The official cause of death was a heart attack plus accidental drowning.
It’s PT 90210—check it out.
PT 109 is a 1963 dramatization of President John F. Kennedy’s experiences serving in the military during World War II. Beverly Hills 90210 was a prime time teen drama about a group of high schoolers in Beverly Hills; it ran from 1990-2000; there was a short-lived reboot with the original cast in 2019.
Yeah, wait till the whip comes down, white boy.
There is a 1978 Rolling Stones song titled “When the Whip Comes Down,” but its lyrics are from the point of view of a gay prostitute, not about racial emancipation.
Oh, yeah, it’s Gilligan’s Island, the headhunter episode.
Gilligan’s Island was a TV sitcom about a group of castaways; it ran from 1964-1967. The third-season episode “Topsy-Turvy” featured an invasion of the island by headhunters, who capture all the castaways except Gilligan.
Mrs. Lovey Wentworth Howell was one of the castaways on Gilligan’s Island; she was played by Natalie Schafer (1900-1991).
Yeah, but a heavy weather hook can’t play Dixieland jazz ...
Dixieland jazz is a style of jazz music that developed in the early part of the 20th century in New Orleans and has enjoyed multiple revivals over the decades. Also called “hot jazz,” the Dixieland sound involves one lead instrument, usually a trumpet, playing a melody, and the other instruments improvising around it. Louis Armstrong, Al Hirt, and Steamboat Willie are considered masters of the form.
Hey, say, like Robinson Crusoe, this is primitive as can be. –Bet Robinson Crusoe can’t play Dixieland jazz. –Would you knock it off about Dixieland jazz?!
A paraphrase of a line from the theme song to Gilligan’s Island: “No phone, no lights, no motorcars, not a single luxury/Like Robinson Crusoe, it's primitive as can be.” See also previous note on Dixieland jazz.
Oh, I know this—this is the famous dock-walking scene. You know, this whole take was done in one shot. It’s a planned sequence, like the opening of Touch of Evil and the Copacabana scene in Goodfellas. This is virtuoso filmmaking, fellas. You’ve got to see it to believe it. You know, Brian de Palma used this in Bonfire of the Vanities. It’s really exciting; it's just splendiferous.
The opening shot of the 1958 Orson Welles film Touch of Evil is one long tracking shot following a car with a bomb in its trunk through the streets of a Mexican town; the shot ends with the car exploding. The scene has become “the one to top,” with various directors trying their hands at outdoing Welles. Martin Scorsese took his shot in Goodfellas, in which a single shot following aspiring mobster Henry Hill into the Copacabana nightclub lasts 184 seconds. In Bonfire of the Vanities, director de Palma uses a similar shot to follow Bruce Willis as he arrives drunk at a party; de Palma would repeat the effect in his later film Snake Eyes.
Well, we’ve covered the waterfront.
I Cover the Waterfront began as a 1932 novel by Max Miller, about a hard-boiled reporter who becomes entangled in intrigue and romance while ... covering the waterfront. The novel inspired a 1933 jazz standard song composed by Johnny Green and Edward Heyman that was an instant hit, with recordings by Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, and many others. Also in 1933, a movie based on the novel, and including the song, enjoyed modest box office success.
“Looks like somebody’s getting rid of somebody.” Sometime.
Riffing on the song “Everybody Loves Somebody,” which was a #1 hit for crooner Dean Martin in 1964, and became one of his signature songs. Though it was written in 1947 (by Sam Coslow, Irving Taylor and pianist Ken Lane) and had been recorded multiple times by many artists, including Frank Sinatra, the song was never a hit until Dean Martin’s version, which knocked The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” off the #1 spot. Martin hated The Beatles, and had told his 12-year-old son Dean Paul Martin “I’m gonna knock your pallies off the charts.” Dean Martin’s grave marker bears the words “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime.” Sample lyrics: “Everybody loves somebody sometime/Everybody falls in love somehow/Something in your kiss just told me/My sometime is now.”
I bet they can’t play Dixieland jazz like…
See above note on Dixieland jazz.
Like Columbus, we claim this island for ... oh, hi.
Explorer Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) is popularly considered the discoverer of North America. On his first voyage, however, he did not actually set foot on the mainland; rather, he landed on several islands in the Caribbean, claiming them for Spain. These included Cuba, Haiti, and San Salvador Island in the Bahamas, generally considered the first landing site.
Ever heard of Slim-Fast?
See note on Slim-Fast, above.
“Here’s the manifest.” Destiny.
Manifest destiny was the doctrine expounded in the 19th century that the United States had a God-given right to expand all the way across the North American continent; the doctrine, first expressed in 1845, was used to justify a number of instances of territorial aggression, including illegal seizures of land ceded to Indian tribes by treaties and the annexation of Texas, California, New Mexico, and Hawaii, among others.
Can you play Dixieland jazz?
See above note on Dixieland jazz.
And if you go to San Francisco, wear some flowers in your hair.
A reference to the 1967 song “San Francisco(Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” written by John Phillips (of The Mamas & the Papas) and sung by Scott McKenzie. Sample lyrics: “If you're going to San Francisco/Be sure to wear/Some flowers in your hair ...”
Oh, he must be scouting locations for Dukes of Hazzard.
The Dukes of Hazzard was a TV show about two “good old boys” in the South; it aired from 1979-1985. James Best, who plays Thorne Sherman in The Killer Shrews, played Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on the show.
Boss Hogg’ll love this place!
Jefferson Davis “Boss” Hogg was the chief villain on The Dukes of Hazzard (see previous note). The part was played by Sorrell Booke (1930-1994).
Rubin “Hurricane” Carter (1937-2014) was a rapidly rising professional boxer when, in 1966, he and a friend (both Black) were charged with murdering three white men in Carter’s hometown of Paterson, New Jersey. Carter was twice tried and convicted of the crimes and spent a total of two decades behind bars until a federal judge, saying the convictions had been “based on racism rather than reason,” freed him in 1985.
Jerry Farrell? Hey, did he go to Harelson Elementary School?
There are a couple of Harelson Elementary Schools—one in Tucson, Arizona, and another in Puryear, Tennessee. Crow stammers a bit on this line, so he may have meant to say "Harrison"; while there are roughly a billion Harrison Elementary Schools in the United States, I’m willing to take an educated guess that the writers would have been referring to the one in Brainerd, Minnesota.
Hey, Freddy Fender.
Freddy Fender (1937-2006) was a Hispanic guitarist who started out singing Spanish pop in the 1950s, moved to a wider audience by performing in English in the 1970s, and later played in the band Texas Tornados.
Nixon, please? What’s he talking about?
Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994) was the 37th president of the United States, from 1969-1974. He resigned on August 9, 1974, rather than face almost certain impeachment by the House of Representatives over his role in the Watergate scandal.
Check your gun at the door, Festus.
See note on Festus, above.
Sounds like Flash Gordon.
Flash Gordon is the space-adventuring hero of what originated as a 1934 comic strip designed to compete with the already popular Buck Rogers comic strip. The character moved on to a wide variety of other media: film serials, feature motion pictures, and at least half a dozen TV series.
What a dump! Who said that, George?
A reference to a line in the Edward Albee play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: “What a dump! Hey, what's that from? ‘What a dump’?” To answer the question, it was Bette Davis who said “What a dump,” in the 1949 film noir movie Beyond the Forest; Davis revisited the line in the 1964 thriller Dead Ringer. The line came in at #62 on the American Film Institute’s list of “100 Years ... 100 Movie Quotes.” (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
Bob Clampett (1913-1984) was an animator and puppeteer who is known for the cartoons he made for Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes, but even more as the creator of the children’s TV show Time for Beany, for which he won three Emmys.
“Do you know there’s a hurricane coming?” No, but if you hum a few bars ...
This is a very, very old joke dating back roughly to the Pleistocene era. The full joke: “Do you know ________? No, but if you hum a few bars, I can fake it.”
Could you get me a few Denver Pyle autographs?
Denver Pyle (1920-1997) was a character actor who appeared in more than a hundred films and television shows. He is best known for his role as Uncle Jesse on the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard (see above note).
“What’s his field?” Of dreams.
Field of Dreams is a 1989 movie starring Kevin Costner as a Midwestern farmer who hears a mysterious voice instructing him to build a baseball diamond in his field.
Hey, it’s Cousin Marilyn from The Munsters.
Cousin Marilyn was the only normal member of the family on The Munsters, a TV sitcom that aired from 1964-1966. She was played first by Beverley Owen and later by Pat Priest.
Mmm-hmm, that’s good booze, mmm-hmm!
An imitation of Art Fern, an unctuous character created by Johnny Carson during his tenure as host of the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (NBC, 1962-1992). The Art Fern character eventually settled into a lighthearted homage to TV pioneer Jackie Gleason's similarly smarmy character, Reginald Van Gleason III. (Thanks to Scot Penslar for the Jackie Gleason reference.)
“Tell me something, doctor.” Why do fools fall in love?
“Why Do Fools Fall in Love” is a song that has been recorded by the Supremes, Frankie Lymon, and others. Sample lyrics: “Why does the rain fall from up above/Why do fools fall in love, why do they fall in love ...”
“Well, have you ever been through one?” Have you ever been mellow?
“Have You Never Been Mellow” is a 1975 song written by John Farrar that became a #1 hit for Olivia Newton-John. Sample lyrics: “Have you never been mellow?/Have you never tried...to find a comfort from inside...you?/Have you never been happy...just to hear your song?”
“Oh, I see.” London, I see France ...
This is the beginning of an old schoolyard chant designed to embarrass and humiliate the unwary victim: “I see London, I see France, I see [insert victim’s name here]’s underpants.”
[Sung.] Happy birthday to you ...
This song, which has become the standard for birthday parties, was written (albeit with different lyrics) in the 1890s by two sisters, Mildred and Patty Hill, under the title “Good Morning to You.” It was the most widely performed song of the 20th century.
That’s the guy who taught LBJ how to hold dogs.
Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) was president of the United States from 1963-1968. He provoked a nationwide controversy when, in order to give a photographer a good shot of his two beagles Him and Her, he picked the dogs up by their ears. (It is relevant to note that Johnson was not dangling them in midair by their ears—he merely lifted their front legs off the ground—and that the dogs did not seem to mind, but none of this appeased outraged animal lovers.)
This guy makes Al Lewis look handsome.
Al Lewis (1910-2006) is an actor who is best known for his portrayal of Grandpa Munster on the TV show The Munsters, which aired from 1964 to 1966. (Thanks to Mike Stubbs for this reference.)
Oh, Archie ...
An imitation of Jean Stapleton as the frazzled housewife Edith Bunker on the TV sitcom All in the Family, which ran from 1971-1979.
“Does that scare you?” Does that bug you?
“Does this bug you? I’m not touching you,” is a frequent MST3K catchphrase, possibly originating in one of U2 lead singer Bono’s remarks in the 1988 concert film Rattle and Hum: “Am I bugging you? I don’t mean to bug ya.”
Like LT. Lawrence Taylor.
Lawrence Taylor, a.k.a. LT, was a linebacker with the New York Giants, playing in two victorious Super Bowl games and ten Pro Bowls before retiring in 1993.
I call ‘em cheddarwurst.
Cheddarwurst is a variety of smoked sausage that has cheddar cheese mixed into the sausage. Hillshire Farms holds the copyright to the term "cheddarwurst," but other companies make a similar product.
Yes, Mr. Benny!
An imitation of Jack Benny’s long-suffering valet Rochester, played by Eddie Anderson (1905-1977) on both the radio and television versions of The Jack Benny Program, one of the most popular shows of the radio era and an early blueprint for the modern sitcom. Anderson was the first Black performer to have a regular role on a national radio show, and his popularity on the program eventually rivaled that of Benny himself.
Well, this in here is the Caveman Room, you’ll really enjoy it.
A riff on FantaSuites, a former chain of “theme room” hotels in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Indiana; you could check into the Caesar room, the Space Odyssey room, the Jungle room, and so forth. The only one left is in Greenwood, Indiana. The MST3K Amazing Colossal Episode Guide's comment: “Bring your own sheets.”
Charles Bukowski was here before you—sorry about the mess.
Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) was a Los Angeles poet and novelist who specialized in tales of alcoholics, gamblers, hookers, and similarly down-on-their-luck folk.
Sanitized for my protection, huh?
Some motels and hotels put a strip of paper across the toilet seat with the words “Sanitized for your protection” or a similar phrase written on it—the idea being to reassure you that the toilet has been cleaned since the previous occupant used it.
Regular Walt Whitman, aren’t you?
Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was a American poet whose collection Leaves of Grass is considered one of the seminal poetic works of the 19th century. He celebrated the power of natural beauty to regenerate the human spirit.
Aw, someone left the cake out in the rain!
Riffing on the 1968 song “MacArthur Park”, written by Jimmy Webb and first recorded by Irish actor and singer Richard Harris–it became a #1 single and won a Grammy Award. Donna Summer’s 1978 disco version also became a #1 hit. The song’s somewhat odd lyrics, and the dramatic arrangement of the Harris version, have led to a fair amount of eye-rolling. Sample lyrics: “MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark/All the sweet, green icing flowing down/Someone left the cake out in the rain/I don't think that I can take it/'Cause it took so long to bake it/And I'll never have that recipe again/Oh no!” (Thanks to Fresh Step for help with this reference.)
Oh, I get it! This is Knots Landing!
Knots Landing was a prime time soap opera, a spin-off of Dallas; it followed the melodramatic antics of a California family and their friends. It ran from 1979-1993.
Now, Miss Kitty ...
Kitty Russell, or Miss Kitty, was the saloon owner on the TV series Gunsmoke (see above note). She was played by Amanda Blake.
Oh, he’s Adam Ant.
Adam Ant is a new wave musician and actor who first made it big in 1980 with the release of his album Kings of the Wild Frontier; his biggest hit was 1982’s “Goody Two Shoes.”
A line from The Wizard of Oz, spoken by Auntie Em as the tornado is approaching the Gale farm at the beginning of the film.
Hey, that sounds like a Dixieland jazz band …
See above note on Dixieland jazz.
Hi there, I’m Curt Gowdy. We’re out hunting with George Kirby from Big Texas Shrew, and it’s really not going that well.
Curt Gowdy (1919-2006) was a sports broadcaster who for years acted as the host of American Sportsman, a TV fishing show. George Kirby (1923-1995) was a Black song-and-dance man who appeared regularly on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Ren! Stimpy! No!
An imitation of the tightly wound Chihuahua Ren Höek from the animated TV series The Ren and Stimpy Show, which aired from 1991-1995. The character was voiced first by series creator John Kricfalusi and later by veteran voice actor Billy West, who also provided the voice of the slow-witted cat Stimpy.
Go away! Go away! I’ll harm you!
“I’ll harm you!” is a line uttered by comedian Joe Besser (1907-1988) in his persona of Oswald, a bratty character he portrayed on The Abbott and Costello Show (1952-1953).
Wait till I finish my Saratoga.
“Wait till I finish my Saratoga” was an old advertising slogan for Saratoga cigarettes.
Meanwhile, back at the branch ...
Variations of this phrase originated with cards inserted in silent films of the early 20th century. In westerns, this was often “Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...” Once audio became a common component, the phrase was still used by narrators for films, radio, and television shows. Most recently, it was used in the various Superfriends animated series of the late 1970s. Narrator Ted Knight would say, “Meanwhile, back at the Hall of Justice ...” or “Meanwhile, at the Legion of Doom ...”
Hang in there, baby! Friday’s coming!
“Hang on, baby, Friday’s coming” is the caption of a popular poster dating back to the 1970s that showed a kitten dangling by its front paws from a tree.
A little roscoe for you, shrew!
“Roscoe” was a slang term for a gun used in hardboiled detective fiction written during the first half of the 20th century.
Shaking the bush, boss!
A reference to the famous line “Yeah, I’m here, boss. Shakin’ it up here.” from the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, starring Paul Newman as a loner on a chain gang. During a bathroom break, Newman’s character is allowed some privacy, but only if he shakes the bushes while he urinates so the guards don’t think he’s making a break for it.
How about my friend Roscoe?
See previous note on roscoes.
Pick another category, please—still your turn.
A reference to the TV game show Jeopardy!, which requires contestants to choose from among a selection of categories; the show has been on the air in various incarnations since 1964.
She’s got a real Hawaii Five-O hairdo there.
See note on Hawaii Five-O, above.
Well now, Matthew, I sure could use a giblet.
An imitation of Festus from TV’s Gunsmoke (see above note).
Now it’s like an Agatha Christie novel.
Agatha Christie (1890-1976) was a British detective novelist known for her “puzzle” mysteries—bodies sprawled in locked rooms, narrators who turn out to be the murderer, and suchlike. She is the creator of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.
Did you try Roach Motel?
Black Flag Roach Motels are a line of household cockroach traps; the brand is owned by Spectrum Brands.
From the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide: “This is a reference to a bit from The Jack Benny Show, performed by Jack and Mel Blanc. ... It would go a little something like this: ‘What’s your name?’ ‘Sy.’ ‘Sy?’ ‘Sí.’ ‘What do you do?’ ‘Sew.’ ‘Sew?’ ‘Sí.’” By the way, it was The Jack Benny Program (see above note).
“Light all the candles you can find!” And curse the darkness!
“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness” is a well-known saying adapted from a traditional Chinese proverb.
This is like a bad production of a Chekhov play. –The wild geese.
Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) was a Russian playwright and short-story writer, known especially for his plays Uncle Vanya and Three Sisters. His plays tended to be very talky, drawing room dramas. While Chekhov didn’t write anything titled The Wild Geese, in his 1900 play Three Sisters a character says “The migrant birds are already on the wing ... Swans or geese ... My dear, happy things ...”
This may be a reference to Steve Martin’s wonderful performance as sadistic dentist Orin Scrivello in Little Shop of Horrors, or it may simply be a comment on dentists in general.
Maybe the FantaSuites.
See above note on FantaSuites.
No, not Fury!
Fury was a TV series that aired from 1955-1960. It starred Peter Graves as a rancher who adopts an orphaned boy that manages to tame an unbreakable horse named Fury.
[Imitating.] The biggest shrew of all!
Spoken in the voice of Mister Ed, the star of a TV sitcom about a talking horse that ran from 1961 to 1966, and has enjoyed a robust afterlife on cable and streaming services. Mister Ed's distinctive voice was provided by former western star Allan Lane, who went uncredited for the entire length of the series.
Wheat. Nothing but miles of wheat.
A riff on Woody Allen’s 1975 movie Love and Death, his comedic take on the epic 1869 novel War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and its ilk. The relevant lines: “To die ... before the harvest. The crops, the grains, fields of rippling wheat. Wheat. All there is in life is wheat. Oh, wheat! Lots of wheat! Fields of wheat! A tremendous amount of wheat. Yellow wheat. Red wheat. Wheat with feathers. Cream of wheat.”
Tell me about your homeworld, Usul.
A paraphrased line from the 1984 film Dune, based on the Frank Herbert novel (see above note). The actual line: “Tell me of your homeworld, Usul.”
You’re a queer duck.
The term “queer duck,” to describe someone who doesn’t fit in with the crowd, dates back to the 1940s. More recently, there was a gay cartoon character named Queer Duck in a Showtime series (2002-2004) and a feature film, Queer Duck: The Movie (2006).
“Aren’t you the least bit curious?” Yellow?
I Am Curious (Yellow) is a Swedish movie from 1967 that became notorious for being the first mainstream movie released in the U.S. to show people having sex.
Believe it ... or not.
Most likely an imitation of actor Jack Palance, who hosted the television show Ripley’s Believe It Or Not from 1982-1986.
Did you say Frau Blücher?
Frau Blücher, as played by Cloris Leachman, is the sinister housekeeper in the 1974 horror spoof Young Frankenstein. A running gag in the movie has horses, even ones that are not particularly close by, panicking whenever her name is spoken.
[Sung.] He was Mister Ed.
An imitation of the theme song to Mister Ed, a sitcom about a talking horse that aired from 1961-1966. The horse was played by a palomino named Bamboo Harvester; his voice was provided by Allan Lane.
Ken Curtis and Ken Curtis in Double Impact.
Double Impact is a 1991 film that starred Jean Claude Van Damme in a dual role as twins separated at birth. The phrasing of the quip is based on an old tagline that the writers were particularly fond of: “It’s Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills in The Parent Trap!” (See above note on Hayley Mills.)
My mouth’s bleeding, Bert!
A line from It’s a Wonderful Life (1946).
[Sung.] Booze, glorious booze ...
A take on the song “Food, Glorious Food” from the musical Oliver! Sample lyrics: “Food, glorious food!/Hot sausage and mustard!/While we're in the mood/Cold jelly and custard!”
What about a bar mitzvah?
A bar mitzvah is a Jewish religious ceremony welcoming a boy to adulthood on his 13th birthday.
Miles O’Keeffe in every direction.
Miles O’Keeffe is a buff actor who has appeared in a fair number of Conan the Barbarian type movies, usually wearing a loincloth, a sword, and little else. He starred in Show 301, Cave Dwellers.
Here comes Art Buchwald again.
Art Buchwald (1925-2007) was a newspaper columnist who was syndicated around the globe. He won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1982.
“This island is their world.” And welcome to it.
My World and Welcome to It was a short-lived 1969 TV series based on the work of cartoonist and humorist James Thurber.
“Very soon, right here, on this island ...” Appearing will be Don Ho!
A riff on TV pioneer and entertainment impresario Ed Sullivan (1901-1974), host of The Ed Sullivan Show, a vaudeville-like showcase that was must-see TV from 1948 to 1971 (though it was titled Toast of the Town until 1955) on CBS. A former entertainment columnist, Sullivan was notably lacking in charisma or stage presence, and along with poor posture (“What the hell is wrong with his neck?” was a common question), he had a bunch of stilted and hackneyed phrases he used to promote or introduce acts. Among them: “Right here, on this stage …” Don Ho (1930-2007) was a Hawaiian singer familiar to many through his regular gig at Duke’s nightclub in Waikiki, although he also appeared in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, and elsewhere and released a number of albums. He was also a frequent guest on The Ed Sullivan Show.
“What I’m concerned about is our lives.” And my Rob Roy.
A Rob Roy is a cocktail consisting of Scotch whisky, vermouth, and bitters, often topped with a maraschino cherry.
[Sung.] Yes, say yes to Martini & Rossi.
This is an old advertising jingle for Martini & Rossi dry vermouth, from an era when booze could still be advertised on the tube. The jingle was written and performed by Burt Bacharach; he and his then-wife Angie Dickinsen appeared in the commercials.
Well, we need more brandy. Need more Scotch. We’re out of vanilla extract. Mmmm, gin…Michelob…Mickey’s Big Mouth…Michelob is a pale lager beer developed in 1896 by Adolphus Busch and first sold nationally by Anheuser-Busch in 1961. It used to come in a distinctive teardrop shaped bottle. Mickey’s is a brand of malt liquor originally introduced by Sterling Brewery in Indiana in 1962; it’s now made by Miller Brewing Company. Mickey’s was a popular party beer, back when 5.6% alcohol content was novel, and nicknamed “Big Mouth” thanks to the wide mouth on its distinctive green, barrel shaped 12 oz. bottles.
“The walls aren’t, doctor. They’re adobe.” Gillis.
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis was a TV sitcom about the romantic ups and downs of a young man, played by Dwayne Hickman; it aired from 1959-1963.
“You may be right.” I may be crazy.
A reference to the Billy Joel song “You May Be Right.” Sample lyrics: “You may be right/I may be crazy/But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for.”
Oop, oop oop...[Sung drunkenly] People...
Possibly riffing on the song "People" by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill from the 1964 Broadway musical Funny Girl starring Barbra Streisand. Her recording of it became Streisand's first Top 40 hit. Sample lyrics: "People/People who need people/Are the luckiest people in the world."
Maybe the next day, someday, and soon.
A possible riff on some classic dialogue from the 1942 movie Casablanca. As Rick (Humphrey Bogart) is urging Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) to board a plane and leave, he says, “If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life.”
They’re setting up a quarters game.
Quarters is a drinking game in which players take turns seeing who can bounce a quarter off the table and into a glass—sometimes a beer mug, sometimes a shot glass; whoever makes the shot gets to choose someone at the table to consume the drink.
And roll the BrewMaster in here so it’s closer.
The BrewMaster is a refrigerated beer dispenser manufactured by Haier. (Thanks to Tom Carberry for this reference.)
[Spanish accent.] Eees difficult.
An imitation of Manuel (Andrew Sachs), the Spanish waiter in the Torquay, England, hotel Fawlty Towers in the classic BBC sitcom of the same name. Thanks to language and culture clashes, Manuel frequently became flustered, saying "Eees difficult."
“That’s why thinking about you and me.” And Bobby McGee?
A reference to the song “Me and Bobby McGee,” written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster and originally recorded by Roger Miller in 1969, but recorded most famously by Janis Joplin the following year, shortly before her death. Released posthumously, it was her only number-one single. Sample lyrics: “You know feeling good was good enough for me/Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee.” (Thanks to Fresh Step for the Roger Miller reference.)
I’m not Lisa, my name is Mario.
“I’m Not Lisa” is a 1975 country song written and recorded by Jessi Colter; it became a top-ten single, hitting number one on the country charts. Sample lyrics: “I'm not Lisa, my name is Julie/Lisa left you years ago/My eyes are not blue/But mine won’t leave you/Till the sunlight has touched your face.”
Let’s get out of here, Scooby!
An imitation of Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, the scruffy, cowardly, and eternally hungry human companion of anthropomorphic Great Dane Scooby-Doo in the Scooby-Doo franchise of animated TV series, direct-to-video movies, and feature films, beginning in 1969 with Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! on CBS. Originally voiced by radio host Casey Kasem, the role has been voiced by several others, including Matthew Lillard, who portrayed Shaggy in two Scooby-Doo live-action feature films.
He’s having his blood replaced.
There is a durable urban legend that Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards beat a heroin addiction by having all of his drug-addicted blood replaced with clean blood at a mysterious clinic somewhere in Switzerland. Richards himself got the rumor started in 1971 when he was, in fact, heading to Switzerland to kick heroin, and was hounded by reporters at the airport, telling them “I’m going to have me blood changed.” Richards later wrote “After that, it’s like it’s in the Bible or something. I just said it to fob them off.” The truth: Richards did indeed undergo an unconventional, accelerated therapy for heroin withdrawal that involved a blood cleansing process similar to dialysis, but he didn’t have his blood “replaced.”
Hmm. Let’s see, I want bacon. I want some bacon here. Love bacon.
Riffing on a 1990s series of TV commercials for Beggin’ Strips dog snacks, now made by Nestlé Purina Petcare. The ads featured a point of view perspective of an energetic dog (or dogs) excitedly sniffing around for a bacon treat, while a doggy-voiceover expressed a breathless love for bacon.
Meester Fawlty? Meester Fawlty? Polly?
Another impression of Manuel (see previous note), the flustered Spanish waiter from the BBC sitcom Fawlty Towers (1975, 1979). The series starred Monty Python alum John Cleese as hotel owner Basil Fawlty, and (Cleese’s then-wife and co-writer) Connie Booth as waitress and chambermaid Polly Sherman. Manuel was played by Andrew Sachs.
No, no. You did a granny knot.
The granny knot is the knot generally used to tie shoelaces. It is held in some contempt among knot aficionados due to its tendency to come untied.
What was that about cojones?
“Cojones” is Spanish for balls, as in testicles, as in “He’s got a lot of cojones …”
It’s Dave Lennox and Dave Lennox in The Lint Trap!
Dave Lennox (1855-1947) was an inventor and entrepreneur who founded the furnace and air conditioning manufacturing business Lennox International in 1895. Actor Bill Tracy portrayed Lennox in advertising campaigns from 1972 until 1986, followed by Bob Tibbets through 2016. See note on The Parent Trap, above.
I don’t mean to be rude, but your eyes look like two pee-holes in the snow.
“Eyes like piss-holes in the snow” is a euphemism for having a hangover.
Okay, anybody can open the door when you tell me … but, wait, wait, I wasn’t awake enough, what did you say?
A riff on a scene in the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, in which a dimwitted castle guard struggles to grasp a simple set of instructions:
King of Swamp Castle: Look, it’s quite simple. You just stay here, and make sure he doesn’t leave the room. All right?
Guard: Oh, I remember. Uh, can he leave the room with us?
King of Swamp Castle: No, no, no, you just keep him in here, and make sure ...
Guard: Oh yes, we’ll keep him in here, obviously, but if he had to leave, and we were with him ...
King of Swamp Castle: No, just keep him in here ...
Guard: Until you, or anyone else ...
King of Swamp Castle: No, not anyone else. Just me.
Guard: Just you.
King of Swamp Castle: Get back.
Guard: Get back.
This is just like Aliens! Except without the underwear. –I like the underwear.
Crow clearly says Aliens, the James Cameron-directed 1986 sequel to Alien, but chances are he’s referring to a famous scene in the original 1979 horror/sci-fi classic Alien, directed by Ridley Scott. Though Aliens does manage to briefly show Sigourney Weaver’s character Ripley in her underwear (twice), a climactic scene in Alien finds Ripley stripping down to her skivvies preparing for hibernation when she discovers that the rampaging—and peckish—alien isn’t quite dead yet. A final battle ensues. The consensus among film critics is that having Ripley in her underwear was meant to show vulnerability. And underwear.
This is just like that Happy Days or Perfect Strangers or Full House or Empty Nest or Just the Ten of Us episode when they got stuck in the basement.
Happy Days was a sitcom set in the 1950s that aired from 1974-1984. Perfect Strangers was a sitcom about a straight-laced guy and his wacky immigrant cousin; it ran from 1986-1993. Full House was a sitcom about a talk-show host and his three daughters that ran from 1987-1995. Empty Nest was a sitcom about a widowed pediatrician in Miami that aired from 1988-1995. And Just the Ten of Us was a sitcom about a sports coach who moves to California, where his daughters are forced to attend an all-boys school; it ran from 1988-1990.
Oh, no, there’s a Teddy Roosevelt costume and some graves down here!
A reference to the play Arsenic and Old Lace, about a pair of old ladies who poison their “gentleman callers.” One member of the family, Teddy, believes himself to be Teddy Roosevelt and is attempting to excavate the Panama Canal in their basement—thus conveniently supplying the two elderly sisters, Martha and Abby, with ready-made graves.
Aaah! There’s a Muppet behind the stairs!
The Muppets are the half-puppet, half-marionette creatures featured on the TV shows Sesame Street (PBS/HBO, 1969-present) and The Muppet Show (syndication, 1976-1981), and in eight feature films (as of 2016). Created by Jim Henson (1936-1990), famous Muppets include Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and Grover. The People Under the Stairs is a 1991 horror film written and directed by Wes Craven.
S’allright under the stairs? –S’allright.
An imitation of Señor Wences (real name Wenceslao Moreno), a Spanish ventriloquist who made frequent appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. He was known for his comic banter with a hand puppet named Johnny and a puppet hidden in a box who went by the name of Pedro. A typical exchange with Pedro: "S'allright in the box?" "S'allright." He died in 1999 at the age of 103.
Tasty Milk-Bones ... rawhide chew toys ...
Milk-Bone is a brand of dog biscuit now made by J.M. Smucker Co.
Weasels ripped my flesh! –Rzzzzz!
Weasels Ripped My Flesh is a 1970 album by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. The cover art features a 1950s-stylized cartoon of a man shaving with a weasel/electric razor hybrid, which is tearing a gash in his face, as the man says "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" and "Rzzzzz!"
[Imitating Peter Sellers.] I thought you said your dog does not bite. –It’s not my dog.
A line from The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976), starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Jacques Clouseau, the bumbling protagonist. The full exchange:
Clouseau: Does your dog bite?
Hotel Clerk: No.
Clouseau [bending down to pet the dog]: Nice doggie.
[The dog barks and bites Clouseau’s hand.]
Clouseau: I thought you said your dog did not bite!
Hotel Clerk: That is not my dog.
It’s the booze brothers to the rescue.
Probably a play on the Blues Brothers, two R&B musician characters played by John Belushi (Jake Blues) and Dan Aykroyd (Elwood Blues). The pair started out as a running series of performances on Saturday Night Live; they later starred in the 1980 feature film The Blues Brothers and a 1998 sequel.
Beware the dwarf.
A line from the 1978 movie Foul Play, starring Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase.
What is it, boy?
Riffing on the television show Lassie, which aired from 1954-1974. Lassie, the hyperintelligent collie, was constantly hastening to warn her owners that various family members had fallen down wells or been trapped in cave-ins or pinned under tractors. Lassie appears in Show 510, The Painted Hills.
Where’d you hide the Cuervo?
Jose Cuervo is a brand of tequila.
Oh, well, he’s got rat scratch fever.
“Cat Scratch Fever” is a song by Ted Nugent, off the 1977 album of the same name.
Sounds like a Ludlum book.
Robert Ludlum (1927-2001) was a widely successful suspense author, selling more than 200 million books over the course of his career. Some of his better-known titles are The Osterman Weekend and The Bourne Identity.
“They are mutants.” Ted Mu...gents. –oh, that’s a stretch.
See previous note on Ted Nugent.
Tonight: All Dogs Go to Hell.
All Dogs Go to Heaven is a 1989 animated film about a dog who comes back from Heaven to get revenge on his killer. The possibility of going to Hell is part of the story, too.
Turns out it needs more vermouth. Taste it, see what you think.
Vermouth is a fortified wine flavored with various roots, herbs, and spices. It is a key ingredient in many classic cocktails, especially martinis, where the amount of vermouth used, and various ways of ensuring the “right” amount is introduced, is a hotly debated topic.
If I had a hammer?
A reference to the song “If I Had a Hammer” by The Weavers, a folk music quartet headed by Pete Seeger (who also co-wrote the song). The song has also been covered by Peter, Paul and Mary and Trini Lopez; both cover versions were more commercially successful than the original. Sample lyrics: “If I had a hammer/I'd hammer in the morning/I'd hammer in the evening/All over this land ...” (Thanks to Fresh Step for The Weavers reference.)
I like you. You're nice. You're pretty. But you're just a summer thing.
Possibly a reference to the 1978 movie Grease. (Thanks to Jim Cox for this reference.)
Storm the beache at Normandy?
On June 6, 1944, a massive Allied invasion landed at Normandy, on the northern coast of France. It was the beginning of the final push to defeat the German forces in World War II.
He’s dead. As dead as vaudeville.
The earliest use of this phrase I could find was in the pulp detective story “Brunette Bump-Off,” by Robert Bellem, featuring the very hard-boiled Dan Turner, which was published in May 1938.
I hate snakes.
A line from the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark. The full line: “I hate snakes, Jock! I hate ‘em!”
Lionel, stop trilling! Diana, stop trilling!
Lionel Trilling (1905-1975) was a literary critic; his wife, Diana Trilling (1905-1996), was a cultural and social critic.
[Sung.] How deadly is that doggie in the window ...
A paraphrase of the song “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” Sample lyrics: “How much is that doggie in the window/The one with the waggly tail ...”
[Sung.] Mission: Impossible theme.
This is the theme to the television show Mission: Impossible, which aired from 1966-1973. Created by Argentinian composer Lalo Schifrin, it won the Best Instrumental Theme and Best Original Score for a Motion Picture or TV Show Grammy Awards in 1967, and is notable for being in the fairly unusual 5/4 time signature.
“It’s gonna be daylight soon.” And me wanna go home.
This is a paraphrase of the “Banana Boat” song, made famous by Harry Belafonte: “Day-o, day-ay-ay-o/Daylight come and me wan´ go home.”
Starsky & Hutch was a TV cop show that ran from 1975-1979.
[Sung.] I am sixteen, going on seventeen ...
A line from the song “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” from the 1959 musical The Sound of Music, and its 1965 film adaptation. Sample lyrics: “I am sixteen, going on seventeen/I know that I’m naive ...”
I’ve got to go make some raisin mash.
Raisin mash seems to be a type of homemade liquor; news stories from Prohibition mention agents seizing barrels of the stuff during raids on bootleggers’ stills.
The music sounds like Popeye.
Popeye was a series of short cartoons starring a diminutive sailor with a jones for spinach, his skinny girlfriend Olive Oyl, and his arch-nemesis, alternately called Brutus and Bluto.
Say, Jerry, I’ve been meaning to ask you: that coat, is it leather or vinyl? –Pleather, actually.
Pleather is a polyurethane fabric used as a sort of artificial leather in clothing. It has been around since the 1970s, but it became trendy in the 1990s.
.A bona-fide MST3K catchphrase with origins in Show 104, Women of the Prehistoric Planet, where a character exclaims it while (badly) demontrating a martial arts move.
Wow, that must be how Festus got his voice and his limp.
While Ken Curtis did adopt a twangy, nasal voice for his role as Festus on Gunsmoke (see above note), he did not walk with a limp; that was Dennis Weaver, who played deputy Chester Goode.
Snag on him! Snicker-snag on him!
The Urban Dictionary website actually credits MST3K with bringing the phrase “snicker-snag,” meaning to hold someone down and dangle spit above their face, into the popular vernacular.
See note on Festus, above.
[Sung.] Gilligan’s Island incidental music.
See above note on Gilligan’s Island.
Are they doing their vaudeville act again? –[Rimshot.]
What’s called a rimshot, but is actually a “sting,” is a drumming technique involving two fast snare drum hits and a cymbal hit. It has a long history of being used to accent the punchline of a joke: “Take my wife … please! (bah-dum, chee!).” An actual rimshot employs a quick, simultaneous hit on both the head and rim of a snare drum.
Well, either he’s dead or they found Amelia Earhart’s stuff.
Amelia Earhart (1897-1937?) was a world-renowned aviator; in 1932 she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Three years later she became the first person to successfully fly from Hawaii to California. In 1937 she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, set out on an attempt to fly around the world. Their plane disappeared in the central Pacific after completing two-thirds of the journey; any remains found have yet to be positively identified.
Oh, a Dick Tracy cap gun.
Dick Tracy was the square-jawed hero detective of the comic strip by the same name, created by Chester Gould. They did actually make Dick Tracy cap guns; they were made of metal and used a paper roll of caps.
“They’re coming!” To take me away! –Ha ha!
Riffing on the 1966 novelty hit song “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!” by Napoleon XIV. Sample lyrics: “And they're coming to take me away ha ha/They're coming to take me away ho ho hee hee ha ha/To the funny farm/Where life is beautiful all the time ...”
Here comes the Rat Pack! –Frank! Sammy! Dean! Joey!
The Rat Pack was a group of singers and actors in the 1960s who performed in Vegas, wore snappy clothes, gambled, drank, and womanized together, and when they had a spare moment, made movies like Ocean’s 11. The Pack consisted of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford.
Mannix! –[Sung.] Theme from Mannix.
Mannix was a television series starring Mike Connors (1925-2017), a.k.a. “Touch Connors” in Show 503, Swamp Diamonds, as Joe Mannix, a private eye in Los Angeles who indulges in frequent car chases, shootouts, and fistfights. It aired from 1967-1975 on CBS. The opening credits feature a fast-paced, split-screen collection of the above-mentioned chases and fisticuffs, over a theme song composed by Lalo Schifrin played in triple time, unusual for TV theme music.
Hey, it’s Laugh-In, look!
Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In was a sketch comedy series that ran on NBC from 1968-1973. One of the regular features on Laugh-In was the “joke wall,” a wall with small windows cut into it. At the end of the show, the cast members would swing open the doors covering the windows and tell quick one-liners and jokes through the openings.
Hey, looky, I found Ken Curtis, TV’s lovable Festus. Can I keep him?
See note on Festus, above.
Now Phyllis George is going to make 'em hug.
Phyllis George (1949-2020) was a former Miss Texas, Miss America, and First Lady of Kentucky. As a television personality, she was a sportscaster for CBS Sports, and a co-anchor of the CBS Morning News in the mid 1980s, where she gained a reputation as being more focused on airheaded celebrity than hard-hitting journalism. In 1985 she sparked outrage when, after interviewing a man who’d served prison time for a rape he didn’t commit and the woman who’d wrongly accused him, George invited the two to hug. They declined. (Thanks to Craig Davis for the hug incident.)
Twenty lashes with a wet noodle.
This phrase (more commonly rendered as “a hundred lashes with a wet noodle”), indicating that the person being addressed is deserving of chastisement, entered popular parlance courtesy of newspaper advice columnist Ann Landers.
The Shmoo? The great Shmoo?
The Shmoo was a creature that appeared periodically in the Al Capp comic strip “Li'l Abner”; its first appearance was in 1948. The Shmoo (plural: Shmoon) loved being eaten and tasted like whatever people wanted. But paradoxically, their ready availability caused society to break down because people stopped working, and they were hunted almost to extinction. Shmoo merchandise was popular in the 1950s.
Enjoy in moderation, my ass!
“Enjoy in moderation” is a slogan often used by beer, wine, and liquor marketers to dodge accusations that they are promoting irresponsible behavior—while their ads show people whooping it up like there’s no tomorrow.
My hair I leave to Steve Allen, my sport coat I leave to Bob Newhart ...
Steve Allen (1921-2000) was the original host of the Tonight Show, from 1954-1957. Bob Newhart is an American comedian and actor. His career began in the 1960s with nightclub appearances and a series of best-selling comedy albums, including The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart, which won the Album of the Year Grammy Award in 1961 and was the first comedy album to hit number one on the Billboard charts. He went on to star in two successful sitcoms in the 1970s and 1980s.
Wow, he really cruised those five stages.
In 1969 psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross published her book On Death and Dying, in which she postulated that terminal patients pass through five separate stages when coming to grips with their mortality: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance.
She’s my sister! She’s my daughter!
A reference to the climactic scene of the 1974 film Chinatown, in which Jack Nicholson learns that thanks to an incestuous liaison, Faye Dunaway is both sister and mother to Katherine Cross.
Well, somebody’s going to jail, and it’s not gonna be me.
A line from It’s a Wonderful Life, after George Bailey discovers his S&L has lost eight grand due to the bungling of his uncle.
[Imitating.] Hello, Lavoine. Hello, Shoil.
An imitation of the distintive, nasally voice of the character Squiggy (played by David Lander [1947-2020]) on the TV sitcom Laverne and Shirley (ABC, 1976-1983.)
The animated Saturday morning TV series George of the Jungle (ABC, 1967) featured the Tarzan-like George and his jungle animal companions. Among them was George’s faithful Toucan bird messenger, Tookie Tookie, known for his call “Ahh-ahh! Eee-eee! Tookie-Tookie!”
Hey, I found a wheat penny!
The wheat penny is a U.S. coin featuring Abraham Lincoln on the front and a sheaf of wheat on the back. They were minted from 1909-1958, when the wheat was replaced with a depiction of the Lincoln Memorial.
Oh, he must be the Dr. Smith of this movie. –Oh, William ...
Dr. Zachary Smith, as played by Jonathan Harris (191-2002), was the mincing, villainous stowaway/saboteur on the TV series Lost in Space, which aired from 1965-1968. Dr. Smith’s relentless cowardice resulted in frequent emotional breakdowns, wherein he would either confess his shortcomings and moan, “Oh, the shame, the pain …” or hide behind other characters, such as plucky pre-teen Will Robinson, and whimper in fear.
Sort of like a Personal Pan Pizza!
Personal Pan Pizzas are individual-sized pizzas served at Pizza Hut. They were introduced, with much fanfare and a five-minute guarantee, in 1983.
Shrew-B-Gon! Hey, we’re saved!
Bug-B-Gone is an insecticide that is spread in granules on lawns; it is made by Ortho.
Oh, it’s Flashdance, he’s an exotic dancer at night. –He’s a maniac.
Flashdance is a 1983 movie starring Jennifer Beals as a steelworker by day, exotic dancer by night, who nurtures dreams of becoming a ballerina. You know, that old story. The synth-pop song “Maniac,” written and performed by Michael Sembello, became a hit thanks to its use in the movie. Sample lyrics: “It can cut you like a knife, if the gift becomes the fire/On a wire between will and what will be/She's a maniac, maniac on the floor/And she's dancin’ like she’s never danced before.”
It’s all the same to Mary-Lou, calf riding, beauty contests, escaping killer shrews.
A riff on a line from the short Junior Rodeo Daredevils, which begins this particular experiment.
[Imitates.] How about a little fire, doggie?
Riffing on a classic line from the Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz: "How about a little fire, Scarecrow?" (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
So what we’re doing here, Bob, is this ...
An imitation of Norm Abram, the master carpenter on the home-improvement TV show This Old House, which first aired in 1979. “Bob” refers to Bob Vila, who was the host of the show from 1979-1989.
When bad dogs happen to good people. On Geraldo.
When Bad Things Happen to Good People is a book by Harold Kushner that examines the age-old question of why God allows good people to suffer. Geraldo was a syndicated daytime TV talk show hosted by Geraldo Rivera from 1987-1998. Very often, the show’s topics were salacious and on one occasion led to a well-publicized brawl between white supremacists and Black activists that left Rivera with a broken nose.
“We should be able to duck-walk to the beach.” Oh, get Chuck Berry.
Chuck Berry is an R&B singer/songwriter/guitarist whose songs like “Maybelline” and “Johnny B. Goode” helped usher in the era of rock & roll. One of his signature moves was to "duck-walk" across the stage.
[Irish accent.] Jerry, this is Father O’Malley, boy. Get down from there, will ya?
Possibly a reference to the Bing Crosby character Father O’Malley, who appeared in the movies Going My Way (1944) and The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945), though there is also a series of jokes featuring a Father O’Malley.
Hey, we’ve got some Cutty down here—nummy nummy, Jerry.
Cutty Sark is a brand of Scotch whisky.
A fiddler on the roof—how fortunate.
An imitation of Bela Lugosi from the short The Phantom Creeps – Chapter 1: The Menacing Power (Show 203, Jungle Goddess), in which Bela utters the immortal line “How fortunate! This simplifies everything!” which quickly became an MST3K catchphrase. Fiddler on the Roof is a musical set in a small Jewish village in 1905 Russia, revolving around a man and his three marriageable daughters. It opened on Broadway in 1964 and ran for more than three thousand performances; it was made into a movie in 1971.
[Whistled.] “Prologue: Tradition” from Fiddler on the Roof.
This is the “Main Title,” written by Jerry Bock, from the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof (see previous note).
“Here they come!” [Sung.] Walking down the street/Get the funniest …
The theme to The Monkees TV show, which aired from 1966-1968. Sample lyrics: “Here we come/Walking down the street/We get the funniest looks from/Everyone we meet/Hey, hey we're the Monkees …”
Regrets? I’ve had a few.
A line from Frank Sinatra’s signature tune “My Way.” Sample lyrics: “Regrets, I've had a few/But then again, too few to mention ...”
[Imitating.] Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.
This line was how syndicated DJ Casey Kasem (1932-2014) signed off his American Top 40 radio show every week.
“I’m huge!” is a long-running riff on MST3K, dating back to Show 207, Wild Rebels. In a 2009 online forum, Joel Hodgson said the phrase originally came from the comic Jimbo, Adventures in Paradise, by illustrator and Emmy Award–winning Pee-wee’s Playhouse set designer Gary Panter.
[Imitating.] Sure wish I had one of them anti-shrew barrels.
An imitation of actor George C. Scott (1927-1999) in his role as General Buck Turgidson in the 1964 Stanley Kubrick dark comedy Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Upon learning the Russians have a “doomsday machine,” Turgidson growls “Gee, I wish we had one of them doomsday machines.”
Nice socks. You know, even as Festus I admired his hosiery.
See note on Festus, above.
Well, I’ll need this ... I better take this …
A possible riff on a scene in The Jerk. The Jerk (1979) was standup comic Steve Martin’s first starring film role, in which he played a rags-to-riches-back-to-rags character named Navin Johnson. In his fall from wealth, he becomes a drunk and staggers out of his opulent home, taking with him various items such as a chair, an ashtray, and a remote control, which he randomly selects while narrating his actions.
It’s Festus buffet!
See note on Festus, above.
Meanwhile, on the Merrimack here.
The Merrimack was an ironclad warship for the Confederacy in the American Civil War. On March 9, 1862, it fought a famous battle against the Union ship Monitor; the battle was indecisive, but it is generally considered the start of the era of modern naval warfare.
Hey, it’s a portable confessional. –Te absolvo.
A number of religions have a tradition of verbally confessing one’s sins, or sinfulness. In the Catholic Church, the ritual of confession traditionally takes place in a cabinet-like structure, where the priest typically sits inside and listens to confessions through a small screened window. “Ergo te absolvo” is Latin for “I absolve you,” and is typically spoken by a priest to the faithful at the end of confession.
“In twenty-four hours there’ll be one shrew left on the island.” [Sung.] To carry on, to carry on ...
A reference to the song “And When I Die” by Blood, Sweat and Tears. Sample lyrics: “And when I die, and when I’m gone/There’ll be one child born in this world/To carry on, to carry on.”