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We'll Always Have Cody

It's been two weeks since Kathie Lee Gifford shocked the millions of curious onlookers who tune in just to see if she'll finally drive Regis Philbin to kill by announcing her retirement from the most inexplicably popular daytime this side of Rosie O'Donnell -- Live With Regis and Kathie Lee. And only now have we been able to pull ourselves together and end our week-long crying jag.

We're not ashamed to admit it: We're going to miss the dickens out of Kathie Lee.

Oh, it's not that we like her. Goodness, no. Five minutes into her morning cloyfest, and we're bellowing at the TV for Regis to belt her one or, by God, we're hopping the red-eye to New York and doing the deed ourselves. We hate the too-cute stories about her spawn. We hate the musical numbers and the Christmas specials and the Carnival Cruise Lines ads. We've even grown to hate her enabler, Frank -- Frank Gifford, who has committed no previous wrong against humanity, save for not strangling Howard Cosell with his own toupee when he had the chance.

And yet, we're still going to miss Kathie Lee. We're going to miss her because she's an easy punch line.

This comedy business... it's not always heart-felt guffaws and back rubs from groupies. Sometimes -- and I swear this almost never happens to me -- the wit well runs dry and you find yourself starring at a blank screen for hours trying to think up a clever way to say that Boy Meets World just isn't that good of a show.

Where does a would-be satirist such as myself turn to in this, my darkest hour of need? To the manna from heaven that is Kathie Lee Gifford -- God's greatest gift to hack comedy writers.

I would rather be locked in a piano bar with Kathie Lee Gifford then spend another minute watching Boy Meets World.

Presto. Instant funny.

Afraid that your sly references to Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man might sail over your readers' heads? Don't know enough opera to make a real kick-ass Puccini riff? Are you just plain lazy? Then tap into the vein of gold ore that is the random Kathie Lee Gifford joke -- the gag writer's best friend.

Only a few human beings -- Mussolini, J. Edgar Hoover, Bill Gates, Emmanuel Lewis -- have become so universally reviled that a simple disparaging remark can reduce your audience to howls of derisive laughter. And when it comes to generating nuclear levels of unrequited hate, Kathie Lee trumps them all.

Knock knock.

Who's there?

Kathie Lee.

Kathie Lee who?

Kathie Lee and six underage Guatemalan sweatshop workers.


And soon, that'll all be gone. Kathie Lee Gifford jokes -- perhaps our most precious natural resource after soybeans -- will soon be as topical and with-it as Vanilla Ice putdowns. We can't help but face the future with a little fear, a little uncertainty, a little trepidation about where our next punch line will come from.

All we can say is, thank God CBS has signed Tony Danza to a sitcom deal for this fall.


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