I look like and argue like my dad. But I laugh like my mother. That woman can laugh. She can really get going. It’s fun to experience. And I am thrilled I inherited it from her.
There’s nothing quite like laughing so hard you fall out of your seat and start rolling on the ground, fully incapacitated. I could probably name 50 times it has happened in my life. Many of my closest friends and relatives know me for those moments. It is quite a spectacle. It is when life is at its emotional perfection.
It’s special. And the moments that cause it will always be special to me. Today I relive five moments from watching TV that caused me to live out the ROTFL acronym quite literally.
The Episode: “The Fire” (Season 5, Episode 19)
The moment: Kramer recounts how he saved the pinky toe.
The first time I can recall that I fell on the floor laughing at a TV show. I can take you to the spot in my parents’ living room in Tookeydoo, SC where the magic happened.
Kramer is dating an annoying woman, Toby, who according to Elaine is like “a contestant on the Price is Right”. Kramer takes her to see Jerry do his stand up and she heckles him. Jerry gets flustered as a result and gets a bad review by a magazine. With George as his guide, he decides to get the ultimate comedian’s revenge by going to Toby’s workplace and heckling her. She, in turn, gets upset, leaves in a huff and loses her pinky toe to a street sweeper.
Kramer saving the toe is not seen on camera. But him telling the story of how he saved it—by hopping on an NYC bus that was about to be hijacked—is. The scene is all Kramer. Pure, unadulterated, 100% Kramer. Using his whole body to tell a story with more twists than an Oceans 11 movie. By the time he gets to the part where he had to drive the bus because the driver passed out, I was on the ground, convulsing with laughter, begging for mercy.
True story: I once told this as close to how Kramer tells it as I could for a sermon illustration at my church in Chicago. And when I brought it home with, ‘You kept making all the stops?” “PEOPLE KEPT RINGING THE BELL!” two people in the audience nearly had a ROTFL moment. That’s how funny it is.
King of Queens
The Episode: “Name Dropper” (Season 7, Episode 5)
The moment: Doug fakes a heart attack when he can’t remember Carrie’s co-worker’s name.
I fell on the floor for this moment but I must add that my roommate at the time, Chris, laughed harder than I did. Which is saying something. In fact, he laughed longer and harder at this than anyone I’ve ever seen.
Carrie had already reprimanded Doug in the episode for not paying attention and learning names of people at work. So at a work gathering, Doug finds himself alone for a minute and one of Carrie’s coworkers flags him down. Doug refuses to acknowledge that he doesn’t know her name so he, in classic Doug fashion, begins interacting with her like they’re best friends. Then Arthur, who invited himself for the free shrimp, shows up and asked to be introduced. Doug is trapped. Carrie is still gone. So in a move of utter desperation, he fakes a heart attack.
We were both on the floor. Chris laughed at least 15 minutes, uninterrupted. By the time he stopped it was the end of the episode when Doug fakes another heart attack in a similar situation causing the laughter to start over.
The episode: “Contemporary American Poultry” (Season 1, Episode 21)
The moment: Pierce goes toe-to-toe with a lunch server after they run out of chicken fingers.
I doubt anyone, even the staunchest Community fans, laughed at this scene quite like I did. My wife videoed the second half of it and just that much was several minutes of uncontrollable laughter.
The Greendale Cafeteria serves the most streets ahead chicken fingers and when everyone knows it’s Chicken Finger Day, there is a race to the cafeteria to get them because they always run out. This day, Pierce and Jeff are next in line and at that very moment, they run out again. They express their outrage. The server says nothing. Pierce calls her a “mute idiot”. She hands Pierce a note that he reads and then responds, “Well throat surgery may humanize you but *this* [pointing to the empty chicken finger tray] is still unacceptable.”
So that exchange got me going. For a long time. When I finally got it together, I rewound it because we missed about half the episode at that point. I started at the beginning of the scene with Jeff saying, disgusted, as they realize there is no more chicken: “Again?!?!” And then Pierce adds directly to the lunch server, “At least apologize!” And that got me going again.
I bet I lost five pounds laughing that day. And Kayla started holding the remote.
The Episode: “Good Grief” (Season 2, Episode 5)
The moment: Gob’s burial “illusion” falls through
Arrested Development delivered jokes like a machine gun and while laughing at one you may miss three. This episode is no different. George Sr. has reportedly died in Mexico so now they have to plan a wake for him. They don’t tell Buster, who has been faking being in the army, because he can’t handle that kind of information (evidenced by his lost parakeet when he was a child). Gob offers to be buried in a coffin in his father’s stead, since they don’t have a body, as one of his “illusions”. And during the wake, Gob keeps Buster distracted with getting the illusion set up so he doesn’t find out the news.
At the climax of the episode Buster (who is wearing a magicians army outfit Gob lent him, since, you know, he’s not really in Army) and Gob get ready to perform. The Final Countdown begins to play, setting the mood. And while Gob is getting in the coffin he lets it slip about George Sr. and Buster freaks out and abandons his duty. Gob then falls through the coffin trap door, into the grave, the coffin falls on top of him and the bulldozer driver begins to put dirt on him as the audience politely claps as though they were at a golf match and not at a magic trick during a wake. Which, BTW, is something you will only experience in the Bluth family.
The Episode: “True Grits” (Season 6, Episode 15)
The moment: Shawn and Gus decide to “Fight the Power” with Thane
A man named Thane approaches the Psych private detective duo because he was falsely imprisoned for two years and eight months and released through the Innocence Project. He gets restitution if they can find the real thief and, being wary of the police for messing up in the first place, solicits the help of Shawn and Gus.
At first, they reject him. But in a fine bit of acting by Anthony Anderson, Thane appeals to the heart of justice: he lost everything during those 32 months, including his woman. Shawn and Gus converge again to reconsider. Moved to tears by his impassioned speech and especially the loss of his woman (“He set her free, like a hurricane” “She got married quick”), they decide to help him. Shawn gets worked up into a tizzy–“Fight the power! Together!”–and as Gus tells him to not go all Spike Lee in Do the Right Thing Shawn goes all Spike Lee in Do the Right Thing by throwing the trash can against the window.
Shawn and Gus are the standard for comedic duos to me as far as timing, chemistry, and banter. And this scene is as good as it gets.
I fell on the floor again a couple of minutes later when Juliet informs them that she is the one who put Thane away in the first place, meaning Shawn and Gus will be going against her police work. And it becomes such an awkward moment that Gus flees the scene, peeling out in his car, screeching the tires along the way.
So, that’s my list. Have you ever had a ROTFL moment while watching TV?