When the company enters the bar for Lorelai’s bachelorette party, a drag queen dressed as Judy Garland is lip-synching on stage to this song.
Get Happy is a song written by Harold Arlen, with lyrics by Ted Koehler; the lyrics mimic gospel and evangelical songs. It was first performed by Ruth Etting in the 1930 Broadway show Nine-Fifteen Revue, and although the musical was a disastrous flop, Get Happy was successful and recorded several times, including by both Benny Goodman and Charlie Parker.
Judy Garland sang the song in the 1950 musical film Summer Stock, her last movie for MGM. In a let’s-put-on-a-show plotline, Garland performs the number wearing a tuxedo jacket, fedora, and stockings and high heels in the movie’s most iconic scene, often copied by other singers and dancers.
Judy Garland had been a gay icon since The Wizard of Oz became popular TV viewing, so having this song playing as they enter is a stereotypical way to signal it’s a gay club.
MAX: We’re coming out of the restaurant and we’re heading toward our next stop when my brother decides to leap frog over a parking meter.
LORELAI: Why did he do that?
MAX: Middle child.
LORELAI: Poor Jan.
Lorelai is referring to Jan Brady, played by Eve Plumb, a character from the sitcom The Brady Bunch, which showed the daily lives of a large blended family. In the show, Jan was the middle of three girls, and often portrayed as being jealous of her popular older sister Marcia (Maureen McCormick), or otherwise worried about her awkward position as the middle daughter, which sometimes led her into attention-seeking behaviour.
The Brady Bunch originally aired from 1969 to 1974. It was never a big success during its original run, but became a popular staple when it went into syndication, especially among children and teenaged viewers. This success led to several TV reunion movies, and two satirical comedy films in the 1990s. It is now seen as a cultural icon, and is still on American TV in reruns.
LORELAI: We wore him out.
RORY: We tend to do that.
LORELAI: Well, we are ElectraWoman and DynaGirl.
ElectraWoman and DynaGirl is a live action children’s science fiction television show, a female version and parody of Batman and Robin, with Deirdre Hall playing caped crusader ElectraWoman, and Judy Strangis playing her teenaged sidekick DynaGirl. It aired as part of The Krofft Supershow in 1976-77, when Lorelai was aged 8 to 9. ElectraWoman’s real name was Lori, similar to Lorelai (DynaGirl’s was Judy).
RORY: Funny. I never pictured you as a Bob Vila kind of girl.
PARIS: Rebuilding Together is an extremely prestigious and respected organization. I’ve been volunteering for them for years.
Robert “Bob” Vila (born 1946) is an American home improvement television host. He was the host of This Old House, previously mentioned, from 1979 to 1989, and hosted Home Again With Bob Vila from 1990 to 2005.
Paris seems to have been volunteering for Rebuilding Together since she was at least 14, quite possibly younger.
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.
LORELAI: Call me when you get home, and please be careful.
RORY: I will.
LORELAI: I mean it Timmy, no falling down the well.
Lorelai is referencing an old joke relating to the television show Lassie, earlier discussed.
In the show, Lassie would bark to give warning of danger, with her human friends apparently understanding exactly what she was saying. Thus it was parodied as, “Woof, woof!”, “What’s that, Lassie? Timmy’s fallen down the well?”. The joke relates to the 1957-1964 period, when the little boy on the show was Timmy Martin, played by Jon Provost (who called his memoirs Timmy’s in the Well: The Jon Provost Story).
In actuality, Timmy never fell down a well, although he suffered a number of similar situations, such as falling in a lake and getting trapped in an old mine, a pipe, and down a badger hole. The list of Timmy’s perils is very long, and includes wandering onto a minefield and being exposed to radiation, not to mention more mundane concerns like tigers and bears. Lassie did once get stuck down a well herself, though.
RORY: You’re hungry.
LORELAI: No, I’m not.
RORY: Well, you didn’t eat any of your dinner.
LORELAI: Yeah, well, by the time I could get my jaw off the ground, Speed Racer had taken my plate.
Speed Racer (in Japanese, Mach Go Go Go!) is a Japanese animated media franchise based on a manga about car racing, which began showing on TV in 1967, and was one of the first Japanese cartoons to be localised in English for US television.
The eponymous Speed Racer is a young racing car driver with a deep love of family, and a dizzying array of gadgets to help him defeat the bad guys. It has a goofy over-the-top style and cornball dubbing which almost defined Japanese anime for an entire generation.
The original series was shown in reruns on MTV in 1993, when Rory was nine, and she and Lorelai may have watched it together. There was an American-made The New Adventures of Speed Racer the same year, but it was short-lived, and I feel Rory and Lorelai would have considered it greatly inferior to the 1960s original.