Ish Kabiddle

RORY: Ish Kabibble.

Ish Kabibble, born Merwyn Bogue (1908-1994), comedian and cornet player. He appeared in ten films between 1939 and 1950, and although his stage persona was a gangly goofball, he was also a notable cornet player. He performed with bandleader Kay Kyser, and was the manager for the Kay Kyser Orchestra. After the band broke up in 1950, he worked as a solo act until 1961, when he became a real estate agent. He has become an icon of American comedy, often referenced in popular culture.

His stage name came from the lyrics to one of his comic songs, “Isch ga-bibble.” It’s a mock-Yiddish expression, supposedly meaning, “I should worry?”. In fact, it isn’t Yiddish at all, although there’s a Yiddish phrase nisht gefidlt meaning “it doesn’t matter to me,” from which the term “isch ga-bibble” may have been derived.

I’m not sure if Rory is simply answering one name from Jewish culture with another, or if she is literally saying, “I’m not worried”, or “It doesn’t matter right now”.

Danny Gans

LORELAI: My mother will be there, too. She’s terrific . . . All right, I’ll see you this weekend . . . Mm, bye. [hangs up]

RORY: You’re no Danny Gans.

Daniel “Danny” Gans (1956-2009), singer, comedian, and vocal impressionist. He was a performer in Las Vegas since 1996, billed as “The Man of Many Voices”, and was named Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year for ten years in a row until 2008.

Faulkner and Sylvia Plath

LORELAI: Or one of your authors, Faulkner or . . .

RORY: Or Sylvia Plath.

LORELAI: Hm, might send the wrong message.

RORY: The sticking her head in the oven thing?

LORELAI: Yeah. Although she did make her kids a snack first, shows a certain maternal instinct.

William Faulkner (1897-1962), previously mentioned, writer known for his novels and short stories set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County of Mississippi, based on the real Lafayette County of that state. William Faulkner spent most of his life in Oxford, Mississippi, which in his works is renamed Jefferson. The winner of the 1949 Nobel Prize for Literature, he is one of the most celebrated American authors, and widely considered the greatest writer of Southern Literature.

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) [pictured], previously mentioned several times, poet, novelist, and short-story writer, best known for her confessional poetry, as well as her 1963 novel The Bell Jar, previously discussed. Her posthumous 1982 Collected Poems won the Pulitzer Prize. Clinically depressed for most of her life, she killed herself by gassing herself in the oven. Before she did so, she made her sleeping children (two year old Frieda and one year old Nicholas) a snack of bread and butter, opened their bedroom window, and put tape and towels around the door in an effort to protect them from the fumes. Sadly, her suicide seems to have often become a punchline in television comedy, as with this example.

“Toga!”

PARIS: Look, let’s face it, the last administration might have just as well been running around yelling ‘Toga!’ for all the brilliant things they accomplished.”

Paris references the 1978 comedy film National Lampoon’s Animal House, directed by John Landis, produced by Ivan Reitman, and written by Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney, and Chris Miller. It was inspired by stories written by Miller and published in humour magazine National Lampoon. The stories were based on Ramis’s experience in the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity at Washington University in St. Louis, Miller’s Alpha Delta Phi experiences at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, and producer Reitman’s at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

The film, starring John Belushi in his first screen role, is about a trouble-making under-performing fraternity called Delta Tau Chi whose members challenge the authority of the dean of the fictional Faber College. The film received mixed reviews upon its release, but was a huge commercial hit, becoming the #3 film of 1978 at the box office, and the highest grossing comedy of its time. The film almost single-handedly launched the gross-out comedy genre which became a Hollywood staple, and it is regarded as one of the greatest comedies (or even the greatest comedy), and one of the best films of all time.

The toga party, a staple of college life, is immortalised in Animal House. Whenever the guys at Delta House decide to have a toga party, they start mindlessly chanting, “Toga! Toga! Toga!”. Paris is saying that the previous student government were a bunch of idiots who were only interested in partying.

Oscar Wilde

SOOKIE: What do you think, manly [holding up statue]?

LORELAI: In an Oscar Wilde sort of way, absolutely.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), Irish poet and playwright, and one of the most popular playwrights in London in the early 1890s. Best remembered for his sparkling comedies, witty epigrams, and his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890).

At the height of his fame and success, while his play The Importance of Being Ernest (1895) was still being performed in London, Wilde prosecuted the Marquess of Queensberry (the father of Wilde’s lover, Lord Alfred Douglas) for libel, but the trial unearthed evidence that led to Wilde’s arrest for indecency with men and boys. He was convicted and sentenced to two years’ hard labour, and imprisoned from 1895 to 1897. On his release, he left for France, and never returned to Ireland or Britain.

The statue that Sookie holds up appears to be a cherub or some other sort of nude small boy. It certainly doesn’t look butch, but Lorelai seems to be saying, not so much that the statue seems “gay”, as slightly paedophilic, because of the subject matter.

Oscar Wilde did take teenagers as young as fourteen as his lover, although to my knowledge, not small children like the statue seems to be (Wilde’s trial was based on his activities with males because of their gender, not specifically with their ages). The full details of Wilde’s case had been published in 2001, with many people shocked, or at least uncomfortable, with how extensive Wilde’s interest in much younger males had been – something which would have seen Wilde imprisoned in our time as well. This may be what Amy Sherman-Palladino had in mind when she wrote this scene.

Bill Maher

LORELAI: You’re gone and the house is quiet and Bill Maher’s canceled. The name of the show was Politically Incorrect for God’s sake. Didn’t anybody read the title? He was supposed to say those things, dammit!

William “Bill” Maher (born 1956), comedian, actor, political commentator, and television host. He is known for his political satire and sociopolitical commentary, and his activism in support of animal rights and the legalisation of cannabis.

He hosted the award-winning late-night political talk show Politically Incorrect from 1993 to 2002; it was cancelled in June, with the final episode airing on July 5th. Many traced the show’s demise to comments Maher had made about the 9/11 attacks, where he disputed President George W. Bush’s claim that the attackers were cowards. Maher suggested that it was rather US policymakers who were the cowards. After this the show struggled to gain sponsorship. The show was replaced with Live! With Jimmy Kimmel.

In February 2003, Bill Maher began hosting a similar late-night show called Real Time with Bill Maher, which is still ongoing, so Lorelai only has six months before she can start watching this show instead.

“Oy with the poodles already”

LORELAI: Huh. You know what I just realized? Oy is the funniest word in the entire world … I mean, think about it. You never hear the word oy and not smile. Impossible. Funny, funny word.

Oy, a Yiddish interjection expressing surprise and dismay. Often combined with vey, an interjection expressing distress or grief, to make oy vey (“oh no, woe is me”, more or less).

With the, a characteristic in Ashkenazi Jewish mode of speech in the US, meaning “in regard to, about, in the manner of”, generally in a disapproving tone to suggest that it’s too much or too often eg “You’re always with the jokes”, “Enough with the new house talk”.

Poodle, a curly-coated game dog which probably originated in Germany, first bred to retrieve wildfowl from water after hunting. It’s German name Pudel means “splash”, and it’s related to the English word puddle.

Already, a characteristic in Ashkenazi Jewish mode of speech in the US. At the end of a sentence, it expresses a frustrated impatience with a situation which should have been dealt with long ago eg “Will you two stop fighting and get a divorce already?”.

So Lorelai’s catchphrase means (roughly translated), “Oh no, there is a surfeit of poodles – this situation needs to be dealt with immediately, as it should have been rectified a long time ago!”.

Fans are divided as to whether Lorelai’s off-the-cuff catchphrase is actually funny. It’s certainly very Jewish.

“Hey, is Jackson in the house?”

LORELAI: Hey, is Jackson in the house? Let me hear you say “unh”.

JACKSON: Unh.

“Jerome is in the house” is a catchphrase from the sitcom Martin (1992-1997), starring comedian Martin Lawrence in the title role as a free-spirited radio DJ in Detroit, and also as a host of supporting characters, including his own mother Edna, an annoying neighbourhood child named Roscoe, and a stereotypical white surfer-redneck named Bob (performed in whiteface with a blond wig).

Jerome was another of Lawrence’s characters, a loudmouth, once-flashy, now aging pimp who runs an illegal casino and sports a gold tooth. His signature spiel and personal theme song was, “Ooh, I say, Jerome is in the house … I say, watch your mouth!”. The catchphrase “in the house” quickly became highly popular.

Martin won numerous awards and was one of the highest-rated shows on the Fox Network at the time. It went into syndication, and is still on cable television and streaming services.

“I can’t believe I ate the whole thing”

[Jackson moans]

LORELAI: Now say, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing”.

A reference to a 1970 Alka-Seltzer commercial, shown on television. It shows a newly-wed couple (played by Alice Playten and Terry Kiser) in the bedroom where the wife has served her husband a giant dumpling. The husband says, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!”, which becomes the commercial’s tagline. He quickly and secretly takes some Alka-Seltzer antacids so his wife won’t know how indigestible her cooking is.

The commercial was created by Howie Cohen, who was inspired by a real life incident where he ate everything he was given at a photo shoot out of politeness. When he said to his wife, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing”, she replied, “There’s your next Alka-Seltzer commercial”.

The commercial won a CLIO Award, and its tagline quickly became a popular catchphrase.

One of Terry Kiser’s acting roles was playing comedian Vic Hitler in the television series Hill Street Blues. Vic was known as “Vic the Narcoleptic Comic”, which seems a bit similar to Jackson being “Narcoleptic Nate”. Lorelai nicknamed Dean “Narcolepsy Boy” after he fell asleep with Rory at Miss Patty’s, so it seems like an insult she likes to dish out.