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Dennis Miller Crib Notes

There has been a lot of hoo-ha about Dennis Miller being on the Monday Night Football announcing team, as though Dennis was going to start speaking his own language and start spouting jokes that would only be understood by less than one percent of the viewing audience. There was also hoo-ha about how Fouts might suddenly get sick of Miller's smugness and snap his neck, but that didn't seem too likely. In fact, the only reason I mention it now is so I can follow up with the observation that "The Waterboy" had Dan Fouts as a football announcer with Kevin Nealon, so he's used to working with ex-SNL guys.

Anyway, it's possible that Miller's range of cultural quotations left some of our readers lost at sea, so here, as a public service, is a quick guide to Dennis's allegedly humorous statements during the Rams-Broncos game. Now when you quote him around the water cooler (do people really do that?), you won't have to fear pop quizzes.

Now, on with the carnage.

Dennis on Kurt Warner moving from Arena Football to the NFL: "I think the compacted nature of that venue must make Warner feel like he's gone from a bumper pool table to a snooker table."

Arena Football is played on a smaller field than the NFL; a snooker table is six feet by twelve feet, while a bumper pool table is 32 inches by 48 inches. I don't guarantee that Dennis knew all that; he might just like saying "snooker". I certainly do.

Dennis on Kurt Warner's rookie year: "His debut was so preternatural last year, one can only assume that he is a latter-day Joe Hardy."

Joe Hardy is not, as I first thought, the one from the Hardy Boys. Instead, he's the character in "Damn Yankees" who sells his soul to the devil to become a great baseball player so his beloved Washington Senators can defeat the New York Yankees. High points for cultural reference here, but Dennis must be docked some points for hipness. If musical theater references are hip, then I'm Juan Peron kicking a hooker out of my home.

On Terrell Davis: "Well, you know, Terrell's used to playing that tight man-to-man from down there in Miami where he was like a latter-day Jimmy Marsalis."

I have no idea what he's talking about here. Marsalis was a defensive back at Tennessee State in the seventies, as far as I can tell.

On Denver coach Mike Shanahan: "Well you knew Shanahan was gonna be ready. The guy's already a genius, now he's a genius with a breather. He's coming out firing."

Wow. Dennis is just spitting our random words, I guess. It's possible that by "with a breather", he's imagining some sort of Darth Vader-like helmet.

On Terrell Davis's ankle being wrapped: "That didn't look like a rewrap. The artist Christo didn't use that much fabric when he enveloped the Pont Neuf."

Hey, now this is more like it! Christo is the conceptual artist (he prefers "environmental artist", much as hillbillies prefer "sons of the soil") who likes to wrap things. Like buildings or mountains. He also put some giant beach umbrellas on a California hillside to brighten it up when viewed from the highway. It was a great idea until the wind caught a couple of them and blew the huge aluminum umbrellas along, killing one woman. Talk all you want about how dangerous Robert Mapplethorpe is to our nation's children, but Christo's art has actually killed people! Anyway, the Pont Neuf is a bridge in Paris that dates from 1606. Christo wrapped it in 1985.

On people's expectations: "Everybody's worried about me usin' profanity and the only F-word I might say a lot this year is 'Faulk!'"

Apparently feeling that he's met his highbrow reference quota for the evening, Dennis retreats to the safer arena of making puns about profanity.

On the stars of Spin City: "Heather used to be married to Tommy Lee. She's used to dealing with incorrigibles. But Charlie's a good kid. I've met him, and let's hope he's the comeback player of the year in the sitcom field."

Heather is Heather Locklear. Tommy Lee is the guy who used to have his name at the end of "Pamela Anderson" (Hey! I haven't been able to use that joke since Lee Majors and Farrah Fawcett!). Charlie is Charlie Sheen, who has never been in a sitcom (although he appeared in one episode of Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories. These aren't references, but I wanted to make fun of Dennis having prepared remarks for the purpose of hyping ABC shows.

On the patch on his coat: "This thing's as big as home plate from old Comiskey. Now here's what I thought about the fir-- hey, Skittles! What were we talkin' about?"

See, he was wearing a yellow coat with the huge ABC Monday Night Football patch on it. Then he decided to act like a stoned yahoo, because that's the way to impress the higher-ups.

On the noise in the Trans World Dome: "I think the reason you're seeing so many flags is everybody's having to communicate in semaphore! That's how loud it is in here!"

Semaphore is a method of communicating from ship to ship by waving flags. It appears to date from around 1904, and came after the railway signalling system also called "semaphore."

On the points the Rams were putting up: "They don't need a football, they need a baton! Or a chackered flag! Just put that Christmas Tree lighting system up on the goalpost. This is the NHRA Winter Nationals and the Rams are staging."

The Christmas Tree lighting system is the counting-down lights they use in drag racing like NHRA. Winter Nationals are in February. I don't know what "staging" means.

On two Rams running down the sideline side-by-side: "Romulus and Remus going down that sideline."

Romulus and Remus were the two brothers who supposedly founded Rome. They were known for how well they got along, until they got into an argument over who got to name the city. Remus won, but Romulus ended up killing him. I don't think Dennis had all that in mind.

On the speed of the St. Louis Rams: "The last time I saw speed like this was John Carlos and Tommie Smith in Mexico City."

In the 1968 Olympic Games, Tommie Smith won gold and John Carlos won bronze in the men's 200-meter. At the awards ceremony, they held up their black-gloved fists as a tribute to their African-American heritage and a protest to the way minorities were treated in the U.S. The U.S. Olympic committee felt that they were giving black power salutes and suspended them. It was quite controversial. Incidentally, this was also the Olympics where Bob Beamon set the long jump world record at 29 feet 2.5 inches (shattering the old mark by an absurd 21.75 inches and setting a record that would stand for 23 years) and Dick Fosbury won the high jump with his revolutionary "Fosbury Flop," which is now the only way to high jump.

On the camerawork: "Who's carryin' the steadicam, Bullet Bob Hayes?"

Bob Hayes won the 100-meter dash (and anchored the gold-winning 4 x 100 relay team) in the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, and later played on the 1971 Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys. There's a lot of Olympic references tonight, aren't there?

And, er, that's all. Most of the obscure lines were sports-related, so Dennis's bosses should be happy with him.


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