Comedy fans catch the phrase
The funny shows are laughing off old language, writes the
Jerry Seinfeld and the cast of the sitcom couple of years, and they had a very specific language for the way Barney talked – that kind of bro-talk (‘‘Suit up’’). That show was on the leading edge of that.’’
Much of the new TV-speak is a reflection of modern colloquial shorthand in a generation that is encouraged to communicate in 140 characters or less.
The tendency to combine words – think Brangelina – ‘‘is a zeitgeisty thing that everyone seems to do,’’ says Groff.
‘‘Suddenly, quicksand becomes chicksand,’’ he says.
Community derives many of its laughs from a rhyming gag.
‘‘We will say something like ‘What do you know, Henry David Thoreau?’ or ‘Nice try, Steven Fry’,’’ Ganz says. ‘‘It invites fans to make up their own little versions of that.’’
Dropping terms like ‘‘streets ahead’’ and ‘‘pop pop’’ is also a way for Community fans to identify themselves on social networks like Twitter and Reddit.
‘‘It is a way of letting other people know ‘I watch this show and I, too, know everything about it’,’’ Ganz says.
‘‘I think our fans are so hungry for catch phrases, that even if we didn’t put any in our show they would find them. Just so they could identify with each other.’’
The use of show-specific language goes as far back as Happy Days, but Groff credits Seinfeld (‘‘yada yada’’) with starting the trend among modern-day writers.
One of the sitcom’s most popular gags was to turn nouns into verbs: ‘‘Throw me a towel, let’s bagel’’ and ‘‘The woman she’s lesbianing with? Susan told me she’s never been with a guy.’’
‘‘If you look at shows about close-knit groups of people, those characters develop their own back and forth,’’ Groff says.
‘‘On single camera shows you try to depict real character interactions a little bit. So for us it is less an attempt to coin a catch phrase and more of an attempt to coin language they would use with each other.’’
Mondays to Saturdays, TV1.
Joe McHale and Chevy Chase in a scene from