John Cleese

RORY: [follows him] Please don’t walk away like that.
DEAN: Sorry, I’d do a silly walk but I’m not feeling very John Cleese right now.

John Cleese (born 1939), British actor, comedian, screenwriter, and comedian. He is most famous for being a founding member of Monty Python, the comedy troupe responsible for the surreal comedy sketch show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, initially broadcast on BBC1 from 1969 to 1974.

Although Monty Python had little success in the US during their first American tour, Monty Python’s Flying Circus began airing on the PBS station KERA Dallas in 1974; other PBS stations followed and by 1975 it was the most popular show on these stations. It helped open the door for other British comedies in the US. Monty Python’s Flying Circus also aired on MTV in 1988.

Dean is referring to one of Cleese’s most famous sketches, “The Ministry of Silly Walks”, in series 2, episode 1, entitled “Face the Press”. In the sketch, John Cleese plays a civil servant responsible for developing silly walks, and spends the sketch walking in various silly ways in a thoroughly serious and determined manner.

Rory and Dean may have watched a DVD of the original show, or of the 1982 documentary, Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl, where the Monty Python team performed both classic sketches and new material. It was the last time the “Ministry of Silly Walks” sketch was performed in public. John Cleese had a hip and knee replacement in 2010, so that he was unable to perform the silly walks again.

Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy

DEAN: She’s not going with you.
JESS: Really, is that true?
DEAN: Yes, it’s true.
JESS: Excuse me Edgar Bergen, I think I’d like Charlie McCarthy to answer now.

Edgar Bergen, born Edgar Berggren (1903-1978), actor, comedian, vaudeville star, and radio performer. He was best known as a highly skilled and successful ventriloquist, working with a dummy called Charlie McCarthy. Their routines were very witty, and rather cheeky, with Charlie getting away with saying things that a person never could. Incidentally, Edgar was the father of actress Candice Bergen.

Jess is obviously saying that Dean is speaking for Rory, as if she is his puppet.

Lenny Bruce

DEAN: You think this is funny.
JESS: Well, it’s no Lenny Bruce routine but it has its moments.

Lenny Bruce, born Leonard Schneider (1925-1966), stand-up comedian, social critic, and satirist. He was known for his open, freestyle, and critical comedy, containing satire, politics, religion, sex, and vulgarity. His 1964 conviction in an obscenity trial was followed by a posthumous pardon, the first in New York state.

Lenny Bruce paved the way for counterculture era comedians, and his trial was a landmark for freedom of speech. He is considered one of the greatest American comedians of all time.

It makes perfect sense for bad boy Jess to be a Lenny Bruce fan. Lenny Bruce also appears as a character in Amy Sherman-Palladino’s television show, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, played by Luke Kirby.

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.


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.