Thursday, May 28, 2009

They're Not All Funny & They're Not All Catchphrases

I hate it when there is an article, particularly a list, the purports to give you a compilation of the X-number of Best/Funniest/Worst/Saddest/etc. blank of All Time/X-Year/Decade/Century/etc., but then gets it horribly, horribly wrong all the way through. It's even worse when the error riddled and poorly conceived list really had potential to be an excellent piece of journalistic brilliance. Instead it ends up being pretty crappy and really disappointing. The list of TVs 50 Funniest Catchphrases is an example of that sort of abomination.

Compiled by The Paley Center and NBC, "TV's 50 Funniest Phrases" aired on Wednesday and what you got was a list of catchphrases that are a) not always funny, and b) not always catchphrases. As you can expect (as is the case with any crappy list), the collection seemed to be heavily weighed down by NBC shows. Shocking, I know!

First of all, the list gets one of the 'catchphrases' completely wrong when it lists number 8 as "Lucy, you've got some splainin' to do" from I Love Lucy as supposedly said by Ricky Ricardo. Ricky never said, "Lucy, you've got some splainin' to do." Ricky said, "Lucy! Splain!" Or "All right...start splainin!" (For those of you unversed in Ricardo-ese, 'splain' is Ricardo-ese for 'explain'.) And really...number eight? For reals? It's funny, I'll totally give it that, but I don't know if it's Number Eight funny. At Number TWO they have "D'oh!" from The Simpsons. Again, while funny, I'm not sure it's Number Two funny.

The other Simpsons catchphrase that made it on the list is "Eat my shorts" at Number 17. Noticeably absent from the list was "Don't have a cow, man." I think I'd rank "Don't have a cow, man" instead of "Eat my shorts." This list IS titled Funniest catchphrases. "Don't have a cow" is funnier than eating ones shorts. And for that matter, so is "Aye, caramba!" But if you're going to leave out Mr. Burns sneering, "Excellent", you're going to have some splainin' to do. (Speaking of Mr. Burns (who looks strikingly like Prince Philip), "Release the hounds!" is one that I'd love to be able to say should be included in the Top 50, but for some reason, I know that it can't be. I don't know why that is, but I do know it to be true...funny as it may be and it certainly is!)

They've got "Nanu-nanu" from Mork and Mindy clocking in at Number 24. I don't know that "Nanu-nanu" is funny. I watched Mork and Mindy! I thought it was quite funny! (But even as a child, I knew that when they brought in Jonathan Winters to play Mork and Mindy's baby that hatched out of a giant egg (the laying of which was never fully explained) and then aged backwards, that was the time that the show had jumped the yet-to-be proverbial shark.) But what I don't understand is why-oh-why, as kids, that nanu-nanu handshake was so damn hard to do!! Are children's small little hands unable to easily part fingers between the F-U finger and the ring finger due to lack of full development or what? When we finally mastered that, we thought we were the coolest! (You find lots of things to do when growing up without the Internet, lemme tell ya.)

"I'm Larry, this is my brother Darryl and this is my other brother Darryl" from Newhart came in at Number 35, which is a shame because just reading that made me laugh! Granted, that might be because my Dad had a stepbrother and both of their names were Larry, so the humor I find in it might have something to do with that, but I still find it funnier than Number-35-funny.

"Sock it to me" from Laugh In was Number Fourteen. I'll give that one catchphrase status, but I don't know if it qualifies for 'funny catchphrase' status. If you're going to include Laugh In (and you have to when talking about the 'Funniest' of something. It's right there in the name: LAUGH In! Its name denotes the funny!), why not go with Artie Johnson as a one German soldier Wolfgang, from behind some object, usually foliage, saying, "Veeeerrrrryyyyy interesting."? Why not that one?!

There were seven, yes seven, SEVEN 'funny catchphrases' from Saturday Night Live origins. Ahem...

48. "Yeah, that's the ticket."
39. "Jane, you ignorant slut."
30. "You look mah-velous."
22. "I'm Gumby, dammit."
15. "Well isn't that special?!"
9. "Excuuuuuuse me!"
5. "We are two wild and crazy guys!"

Now, I'm not too sure how I feel about having SNL quotes included in this list in the first place. I mean, it's a TV show, but it's a variety show. I differentiate between SNL and Laugh In because with the Laugh In phrase "Sock it to me", it was heard by a variety of people on various episodes. With SNL, the phrases were gone when the characters were gone. NOT that they're not funny. "Jane, you ignorant slut" is one of the funniest things I've ever heard. But I just don't know if they go in this list. (But if you are going to include SNL quotes, I would have chosen "Could it be...Satan?!" over the other Church Lady saying, "Well isn't that special?!") And I would not have included the Gumby quote on this list at all.)

But left out of the already questionable SNL section would be "Schwing!" and "Not!" "Not!" really caught on in mainstream dialog and is still popular to this day. "Schwing!" really caught on too, but then our parents figured out what it meant and that sort of hampered it from getting deeply embedded in culture-speak (though it is loosely embedded and will continue to be so).

There are some that are noticeably and inexcusably absent from this list. Where, may I ask, is "Dy-no-mite!"? Huh?! "Dy-no-mite!" is nowhere to be found. That was, for some inexplicable reason, extremely funny. Nope. Not there. Another noticeably absent catchphrase is "Whachoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" Gone! Not there! Not included! IM-possible! How can you leave that one out?? And you're going to have "Hello, Newman" come in at Number Fifty, but you're not going to include "Hello!" as said by Squiggy on Laverne and Shirley?! Oh, the humanity! Someone has some splainin' to do.

But seriously, how on earth can you be talking 'catchphrases' and the funniest ones at that, and leave out Janice Litman. Actually, Janice Litman Goralnik (née Hosenstein). Are you asking who? Trust me. You know who she is. And her catchphrase was actually that. A catchphrase. And every episode that she was on, you could count on her saying it in her high pitched, nasally, oh-so-annoying way that she did and it would make you laugh EVERY TIME. Come on! Janice! From 'Friends'! "Oh. My. God." EVERY. Time. Still funny. Still. Funny. I am glad that they did get the other catchphrases from 'Friends' right, those being Ross and his constant bemoaning that "We were on a break!" And Joey's timeless pickup line (which would work on me) of "How YOU doin'?" Both excellent. Both funny. Very. Funny.

But here's the main problem with I have with this list: The Number One Funniest Catchphrase is "Yada, yada, yada" from Seinfeld. I watched Seinfeld. I loved Seinfeld. "Yada, yada, yada" was NOT, repeat, NOT a catchphrase. It made an appearance ONCE! ONE time! In ONE show! It wasn't said on any other episodes (with the possible exception of the final episode in which they brought back every character that ever stepped foot on Seinfeld set, so it's possible they brought back every one liner that managed to catch on in pop culture as well). You can't call something a "catchphrase" if it's only said in ONE episode! That's NOT a catchphrase! It's FUNNY, but not a catchphrase! You know what it IS?! That's right! A PHRASE! Just a phrase!

For those of you unfamiliar with the Seinfeld-ism, what are you? Living under a rock? Basically, it's an off shoot or a synonym for blah-blah-blah, a phrase used to indicate that someone said something, but the content of what they said is unimportant to the story being told, so blah-blah-blah is inserted where the insignificant dialogue would have been. Personally, I prefer wah-wah-wah over blah-blah-blah and yada, yada, yada. (And no, I don't know why I hyphenate two of those and comma-ize the other, so just hold your emails, people.)

You know, what I find hilarious about the phrase "yada, yada, yada" is that people will shorten it to "yada, yada" when talking ABOUT the phrase, but when actually USING the phrase, the third "yada" is necessary. How weird is that? Like in the ONE Seinfeld episode which showcased "yada, yada, yada", George said, "You can't yada yada sex." To which Elaine replied, "I've yada yada'ed sex." I just find it odd, is all. Very odd.

And they had a 2-hour 'special' on NBC to fill air time with this crap? The list itself was painful enough just reading, I can't imagine having to watch this atrocity take shape. To watch it would have been akin to waterboarding! (All right, maybe not THAT bad. Oh, FINE! It's not even CLOSE to waterboarding! It's nothing like it! There! Happy?!) I don't know who the tool was who came up with this list, but you can't have the Number One thing on a list not even be one of the things the list is about! Everyone knows THAT!!

Well, almost everyone.

The entire list can be viewed in the post following this one. I'm sure that I left out some of the ones that were noticeably left out, so feel free to let me know which ones those were. Also included, as a completely idiotic bonus, will be the other inane lists (which consist of THREE each) of top reality TV, game show, science-fiction and action-adventure catchphrases. They got those wrong too.

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Anonymous said...

crackheads u better watch sienfeld again

Mare said...

Tell you what, Einstein, you learn how to spell Seinfeld and then you can start dispensing advice to the crackheads.