Abbot and Costello

RUNE: Ah, methinks you’re right Squire Bracebridge, thus and verily.
JACKSON: And verily thus.
LORELAI: They’re the Old England Abbot and Costello.

Abbot and Costello, comedy duo previously mentioned. They were William “Bud” Abbott (1897-1974) and Louis “Lou” Costello (1906-1959). Their work in radio, film, and television made them the most popular comedy team of the 1940s, and the highest-paid entertainers in the world during World War II. Their popularity waned in the early 1950s and the partnership ended soon afterwards.

Def Jam Comedy

RORY: Grandma and Grandpa.
LORELAI: Ugh, you’ve got to be kidding.
RORY: But this could help to cheer him up.
LORELAI: I’ll send him a Def Jam Comedy tape. That’ll cheer him up.

Def Comedy Jam was a stand-up comedy television series which aired from 1992 to 1997. Inspired by the Uptown Comedy Club in Harlem, it helped to launch the careers of several African-American comedians.

Saint Peter

LORELAI: Okay, clearly this is shaping up to be one of those moments that Saint Peter’s gonna show on the big video screen when I die, and I for one do not wanna see the three of us staggering around with cider ice cream slathered all over our faces while my soul hangs in the balance, so until I can find out who sent this, no one goes near it.

Saint Peter was one of the Twelve Apostles, and a major leader of the early Christian church – by tradition, the first bishop of Rome, or first pope. The Gospel of Matthew speaks of Jesus giving Peter the keys to the kingdom of Heaven. In modern depictions, particularly cartoons and jokes, he is literally the keeper of the gates of Heaven, and responsible for deciding who is allowed in and who isn’t.

Gary Mule Deer

IVY: She’s [Paris] funny?
RORY: Oh yeah. Hilarious. I mean, the times that we have spent laughing together. I tell ya, she’s a regular Gary Mule Deer.

Gary Mule Deer (born Gary Miller, 1939), American comedian and country music singer. In a career spanning over six decades, he has performed major concert stages in the US, including Carnegie Hall and Grand Ole Opry, and made more than 350 television appearances, including on Hee Haw, previously discussed. He entertains regularly at casinos, including in Las Vegas, and for many years has toured in concert as a special guest to Johnny Mathis.

Shecky

LORELAI: Oh Shecky, you kill me.

Shecky Greene (born Fred Sheldon Greenfield in 1926) is an American comedian, known for his headline performances in Las Vegas during the 1950s and ’60s. He also appeared in films and on TV, and made appearances at Carnegie Hall and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Amy Sherman-Palladino became a fan of classic Jewish comedians as a young teenager from listening to her father’s old records. How Lorelai has also gained such knowledge of them is left to the viewer’s imagination.

“Lonely seaman, hello sailor”

MISS PATTY: Now remember, one of the most important things in ballroom dancing is to remember to spot, otherwise you’re gonna get dizzy. So, what you wanna do is you wanna pick out something to focus on. I usually like to find a lonely seaman. Then when turning, whip your head around and find your spot again. [spins around] Hello sailor, hello sailor, hello sailor.

One of the show’s more groan-worthy sexual jokes. Note the reference to “hello sailor”, used again.

“The drummer in Spinal Tap”

RORY: I went out onto the patio.
LORELAI: Ugh, Rory, that’s like accepting the position as the drummer in Spinal Tap.

Spinal Tap is a fictional English heavy metal band created by American comedians and musicians Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer. They first appeared on a 1979 sketch comedy pilot called The TV Show, but are best known from the critically-acclaimed 1984 mockumentary film, This is Spinal Tap, considered one of the best films of the 1980s. The heavy metal fan and comedic Lorelai must surely love it.

Spinal Tap’s fictional history includes a succession of drummers, all of which have died in strange circumstances, such as a “bizarre gardening accident”, “choking on someone else’s vomit”, two suffering spontaneous combustion on stage, and one death a mystery police thought better to leave unsolved.

Lorelai’s saying that Rory was doomed the minute she went out on the patio.

Cream Pies

LORELAI: Ugh. There have been very few moments in my life where I have actually wished I had one of those enormous cream pies you can just smash in someone’s face, but this is definitely one of them.

Cream pie attacks and fights have been a staple of slapstick comedy since the days of the English music hall. English comedian Fred Karno (1866-1941) is credited with popularising the pie-in-the-face gag, and they were often used in films by his proteges, Charlie Chaplin, and Laurel and Hardy. A cream pie in the face is a staple of traditional clowning. The cream pies are, these days, usually canned whipped cream or shaving cream in an aluminium pie plate.

Ba Zing!

MICHEL: It is a weekend, and on the weekend I like to move, and the ladies, they like it too.
LORELAI: Especially when you move out of town. Ba zing!

Lorelai’s comeback to Michel’s statement mimics the one-line quip beloved of classic stage comedians to their “straight man”, even providing her own ba zing in imitation of the cymbal being hit to mark the punch line. Another indication that Michel was originally meant to be heterosexual.

Amy Sherman-Palladino’s father, Don Sherman, was a stand-up comedian in the 1960s, and there are numerous references to classic stage comedy in Gilmore Girls.

Who’s on First?

DEAN: You’re going to build a house?
RORY: It’s for charity and I’m late, and why don’t you go on inside and you and my mother can continue the “Rory’s building a house” routine, and when that gets boring you can move on over to “Who’s on First?”

“Who’s on First?” is a famous comedy routine by Abbott and Costello, in which Abbott is identifying players on a baseball team for Costello. The comedy comes from the fact that their names sound as if they are answers to Costello’s questions. For example, the first player is named Who, thus the answer to “Who’s on first?” is “Who’s on first”, leading to utter confusion.

This was a style of routine very popular in the early twentieth century, and Abbott and Costello had a big hit with “Who’s on First?” in a vaudeville revue in 1937. In was performed on radio in 1938, and copyrighted in 1944. Abbott and Costello performed it numerous times in their careers, rarely the exact same way twice, and performed it for President Franklin D. Roosevelt several times.

Abbott and Costello included a shorter version of their routine for their 1940 film debut One Night in the Tropics, and a longer version for their 1945 film The Naughty Nineties, considered their best recorded version of the routine. The “Who’s on First?” bit they did for their 1950s television program The Abbott and Costello Show is considered the definitive version.