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tv   History of the Sitcom  CNN  November 27, 2021 9:00pm-10:00pm PST

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>> you start off with beds that had to be separate and you could not say the word pregnant. >> i had a lot of sex outside marriage. >> fast forward to now when we celebrated love and we'll give you an award for it. . you guys are working hard for once. the american workplace is our home in many ways. >> the american office is iconic. >> how many people can i fire?
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>>. >> you got spunked. >> terrible work mates. >> are you kidding? >> everybody trying to get along. >> one problem with hiring women is that they're frail and breakable. >> is it possibly you are thinking of lightbulbs or your hips? >> hilarious. >> what do you say to that ? >> let's talk about earning a living. >> have you done it? >> no, i could. lucille ball with the chocolates, it's funny. all the writers needed to say that lucy had a conveyer bell, you are good .
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>> you are you are doing splendedly. for years that was all there was. then we metrove into the 1960s, start to see more people moving into an officer than a factory line. >> a majority of all workers are in white collar jobs. you were spending time getting to know your colleagues. >> you are ready? >> i am ready. zplo >> q th"the dick van dyke show" was laugh out loud funny. >> that's what got me into
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sitcoms. carl ryaner got his start on your show of shows. it was a variety of show. >> it's supposed to be taped. >> the writers room. that's a place of a gold mind. i remember talking to myself on the way home, what piece of ground that i stand on that nobody stands on. i will write about the writer's life. >> writers are lazy, people write what they know. there is nothing to worry about. i have got an idea. we'll play the part of a talking bowling pin. >> i thought it was a good idea because in those sitcoms you didn't know what the husband did for a living. >> gee, i don't know. >> i like it. >> now i like it. >> me, too.
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>> i like it, too. >> what do you know? look at the tie you are wearing. >> it was a glimpse into the writer's room just seeing how shows work was so fascinating to me. >> tyler moore, how could you not fall in love with her? >> it's years old. yeah, but it still works. >> give me a kiss. i have seen about 30 girms and when he came into the room, she says hello, her name was and i heard a ping in the voice. >> if it makes you feel any better if i tell you how really sorry i am. >> the original intent was mostly for it to take place in the workplace. >> three, two, one, zero. well, we did it. >> what did we do? >> we wasted a whole day. >> audiences were used to the big family sitcom and didn't take to "the dick van dyke
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show." grant tanker helped save the show by pushing mary tyler moore to the forefront. >> for instance, i think you will look very nice without your -- >> hair? >> common workplace always results in something tasty. >> i am not saying this because i am in trouble. >> what do you suggest i do with all of these now? >> well. there must be some needy bald people. >> needy bald people? >> it became a rating sensation. >> that's the best five years of my life. >> i don't believe this. the best thing i have ever done, hands down no question about it. i was 19 in 1967 and it was
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"dick van dyke" made a huge impression on me. the mary tyler moore was clearly one of the biggest stars in america. they laid that ground work for their company. >> mary tyler moore, a woman whose name is on this. i don't need to be this roaring and macho presence. you have important messages about women in the workplace and those politics appear on broadcast televisions and comedies like "the mary tyler moore show." she moves to minnesota and start working at wtm. >> you are not allowed to ask that when someone is applying
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for a job. >> you want to call a cop? >> it did represent what women were going through in the species 70s. they were standing up and say i must be heard. >> sitcoms used to be about the wives are at home doing dishes and this woman who had a job and often the smartest person there. it was sort of liberating. >> you got spunked. >> i want to correct something right now, i don't hate spunk, i love spunk. >> it was a total shift in gender roles, she's a single working woman, living in a building with other single women. >> how would you love to help abolish capital punishment. >> well, there is no capital
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pus p punishment in the state. >> it's creating this uncomfortable dynamic. >> i was right, right? >> i was right, you were wrong. >> the ted baxter. >> you were wrong. >> yes, all right, all right. >> let's not dwell on it. i think television needs bright young women. >> look at me. >> that's what i love about workplace comedies. people have to live with human more on a day-to-day basis to get through it. >> the funeral of chuckle, the clown is one of the great moments in comedy. he went to the parade dressed as peter the peanut and an elephant tried to show him.
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everybody was making fun of it other than mary. >> i wonder which ones are the other clown. they're going to jump at a little -- >> the end of the day, all these comedies are about a crazy dysfunctional family, gathered together in a workplace. >>. >> it's so relatable. >> go ahead, laugh or chuckle. what does the future of strength look like?
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i wanted abby to do the show for eight years because i love the job so much. marion grant had to send the show while it was still good. >> the television station where mary works is bought out and everyone is fired. >> we all need some kleenex. >> how do we leave this room?
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>> we were saying good-bye to the show and to each other. >> it's still emotional after all these years. because that was a family. "the mary tyler moore show," the mte enterprises were really powerful. the baby boom generations had not settled into the domestic life young professionals but have not yet started their families. >> i didn't want to do the standard family show. >> i am sure he has girlfriends but he denies it. >> well, of course, todd's 13 now. [ laughter ] >> the fact that so many people in hollywood were hitting the couch, probably opens the doors for setting up the show. >> i audity for the
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people. >> you have no idea what it's like to be incredibly good-looking. [ laughter ] >> going to my office and there is that. >> the show is kind of a model how to do a workplace comedy and you bring together all these types and it works so brandon rittim so brilliantly. >> are you going ask me if you can eat in front of the television set? >> eventually i was going to ask you. >> i think it was the beginning of a really smart sophisticated
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ensemble type of comedy. >> a workplace where the chaos of the war makes their work so intense "mash," we were set in korea but at that time the show aired, the vietnam war was going on so people equated it. >> those helicopters you are about to hear is going to be filled with canadians going to a different party tonight. without us, those kids are not getting home from that party. >> all personnel report immediately. >> we were people who were flawed doing their best work in an impossible situation. >> on "mash," i was drawn to off beat characters who looked at things differently. >> if you say no, we'll tell everybody that you're brother is in jail. >> my brother is a wharton. >> the center of the show, he
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was that pivot and it was hawkeye and trapper john flipping the bird to the establishment to get one up on hot lips and frank. >> i have always said it. behind every great man there is a woman with a vibrator. >> they onerun the camp that colonel blake thought he was running. >> there were also this constant debate about morality. why are we here? how are we treating these people and how are we treating each other? >> this guy does not mind ignoring orders by living. >> at the end of the third season. >> great, i will put a mask on. >> gary byrd walks in and says -- >> henry blake is fine. >> we are shot down. over the sea of japan.
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there were no survivors. >> that moment is pure honesty. >> i have trouble telling that story four years later. >> i just never really think of it as a sitcom. it was "mash." >> "mash" really blew up what a workplace sitcom could be. it was the first dramaty in prime tim television. >> it's gunfire. it's 2:30 in the morning. "mash" lasted 11 seasons. >> we didn't have such a terrific union here, i would put in my two weeks notice. >> february 28th, 1983, the war
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is over and the show is over. it's the most organically perfect finale. >> you boys always manage to give me a good laugh when i needed it most. i was laughing -- >> until this day, we are the highest rated tv show, 125 billion people watched that last episode. so many of us could not get through the good-byes, we kept on crying. >> i turned to my dad and he was crying. >> it hits me that you can make people laugh for half an hour but you can also in an instant because they care twist a knife that can last forever.
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the economy was in the ktan and you see american workers reflected in workplace sitcoms.
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>> that's no longer a problem. >> something is wrong with your lights. if you look at the precincts. >> oh well, what are you doing here? >> real cops dealing with funny situations. >> get out of my way. i am going to kill everybody if you don't get out of here. >> boy, do i hate to start a day like this. >> how lyndon is basically the bob newhart of that office. surrounded by all the craziness. >> lenny is my other personality. >> you go t the same address? >> the workplace comedy is great because all the characters come in and they're not related and so they don't have something in common. turned out to be a diverse.
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>> which is different in those days. jack sue and ron glass, that was pretty unusual and revol revolutionary. i believe when the '70s happen, it was fall-out of the '60s. they who may have had a dream about how america would be a completely different place than all of a sudden how to get a job. >> we are all part time, i only work 60 hours a week. >> we had a bunch of people in the garage, we had dreams, we are going to stick in the garage forever. the dream was what it was about. >> great news, i just called the gym. >> danny davito's character on "taxi" got to be the top five
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greatest sitcom characters of all time. >> he's terrified. >> once a bum always a bum. >> i know tony got a good chance. >> want to bet? >> well, the friendship they had in "taxi" was what going to get them through. that's what made it all okay. >> there is only one person you can trust. >> i do trust you. >> not me, damn it. >> on that show people from completely different backgrounds created a dysfunctional family and that to me is always so exciting for comedy because you get to bounce those people off of each other. >> and now, here he's arlene. much like "taxi," a staff of working people who are doing their best and not always the best is coming from it.
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>> cincinnati, wkrp. >> "wkrp" was about a low-rated station. >> what do we have helicopter reports? >> that's just me. i get on the air and i do this. >> you know the workplace is wonderful setting for so many comedies because it's a refuge. you get away from the kids and you get away from your wife. >> the moon is high and so am i. >> you are in this environment with people that you get to know probably a little closer than you should know. out of that is going to come conflicts. >> i don't take dictations. >> i don't know how jennifer ended up as a receptionist. >> why don't you get coffee for the guys here? >> i don't get coffee. my mother was a '50s housewife so she was not in the
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workplace. >> will there be anything else i can do? >> jennifer was so popular because girls are going like yeah, you can be just as cute as you want to be and be smart and you don't have to do what you don't want. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> how did you get away with that? >> are you kidding? >> i love wkrp and cincinnati. that turkey episode was one of the funniest things i have sen in my life. >> every thanksgiving where ever i am in the world, somebody will bring up turkeys away. >> it's classic. >> somebody came out from the helicopter. it's a dark object. oh my god, it's a turkey. they're trying to do a special event for thanksgiving and they drop live turkeys out of a helicopter. i don't know how much longer.
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turkeys are exploding all over the parking lot. i don't know how much longer i can hold my position here. people yell it to me at the airport. >> god is my witness. as god is my witness. >> i thought turkeys can fly. >> they can't. ♪ ♪ this is how we shine. ♪ find the perfect gift at zales. the diamond store. ♪ ♪ grandma, how wide are two reindeer? twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine... ♪ ♪
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it was a perfect launch in history. in the '80s there was a third way of feminism, it was transforming opportunities for women. >> i will do my best to serve the court and this nation. and so the networks, mantra became you target the up scale professional women and market researchers found that women really responded positively to men performing domestic tasks. >> i am here about the job. >> oh, sorry, there must be a mistake. this job is for a housekeeper.
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>> that's me. mr. angela. >> tony danza plays the failed baseball mayor. >> this is the best i have ever t tasted. >> it's soup, angela. >> when women perform it, it's just the duties of love that you under take as a wife and mother. >> tony, you are the housekeeper. the private chamber is mine but the dust is yours. >> "who's the boss" was a huge hit where the woman who was the one wearing the pants. >> good morning. s listen to the way she does that. angela is an advertising executive on "who's the boss" leash what keaton who's an architect. >> they have professional up scale careers rather than just jobs. those are powerful fantasies for
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women in the '80s. >> i would like to think that i am a little cog in a big machine. a very little cog. >> in 1986, linda thompson went to cbs and said i just want to say what all women are about, opinionated and successful when given opportunities. >> linda wrote for "mash" and created an all-female workplace comedy we had not seen before. ♪ >> i am going to do what i always wanted to do. start my own decorating business and no matter how tight it is, it has no intention ongoing under. >> it was a great cast and writing. >> i can't seem to find any of my alimony checks. >> excuse me, they're right here
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in order of alphabetical husbands. >> i love the outrageousness of those women. >> they had an intelligence which was refreshing to see on television. >> y'all watching? >> they're just about to vote. >> in 1991, designing women takes on the clearance thomas hearings with anita hill. >> i deny each and every single alle allegation. >> they were tackling the me too movement before there was a name for it. >> this name does not belong in the supreme court. he belongs in the national repertory theater. [ applause ] >> we were at a point in history where women felt like they had some power and i thought why i would create a show around the woman who was a force of nature in a workplace that had
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traditionally been a man's world and that's very different from what you called have written in the early 1970s. >> i am barbara walter. >> i am murphy brown. ♪ >> i remember pitching the show in a very cold room in the cbs building, and when i got to the point where she had just come back from betty ford. you can hear the breaks screeching in the room. you were fondling while i was gone. >> could she be 30 and played by heather locklear and i explained why. when you shave down the rough edges of a character and you bland it out. this is why you have not had a hit for seven years so -- >> murphy was defined by being excellent in her career.
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>> the justice department shuts you down from 15 counts of fraud. she didn't care what people thought of her. >> you are the most bull-headed person i have ever met. >> you are elitist. >> you always have to make a point, don't you? >> yes, i do. here is another point. >> murphy brown hit big and drew 20 to 25 million viewers a week and murphy had a baby. >> if i don't come up a name for him in a year, is that is a bad thing? >> she's a single working mother. it got under people's skin. >> the break down of american families in part on the program "murphy brown." >> bearing baby is simply wrong. >> i am trading one liner with the vice president of the united states. >> in a recent speech vice president quayle used me as the
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property value of this country. >> female show runner in a totally male-dominated industry. the show is a breakthrough. >> we can use to blame the media or congress or an administration that's in power for 12 years or we could blame me. with voltaren arthritis pain gel. my husband's got his moves back. an alternative to pills, voltaren is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory gel for powerful arthritis pain relief. voltaren, the joy of movement.
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we don't want to work, it's not fair to these people. these people are my friends and i care about them. >> from the 1990s or definitely working more than before and as a result of that you start to see more workplace settings may have been possible previously. >> we are superstar short. did we have any luck on gjim ca carey. >> larry sanders on hbo broke in workplace comedy. >> the larry sanders show is the most realistic show ever written about television. >> um -- how would you like to
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come on my show tomorrow night just to say a little to me. at the end of the whole thing tomorrow night. >> good-bye. >> capturing how broken and low-functioning the people are. >> it's a little unethical, don't you think? >> don't pull at that thread, the whole world will unravel. >> mary tyler moore did not work in a newsroom and bob newhart was not a psychiatrist but gary had been a talk show host. >> see you tomorrow night, sleep well and we'll all see you at the same time. >> he signals that you can mind your life and make a show out of that. >> just up pretend you are talking to me until we are off the air. >> the larry sanders show gave hbo their voice. that was on paid cable. we spent ten years doing these
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hang out shows and everyone realize like there is not going to be another "friends" and so we kind of returned to this notion they're hanging out because they work together and they don't have a choice. >> by the time you get to the 2000s, "scrubs" are a good example of that. my pitch was a broad silly co comedy. >> oh, thanks, a brother finally can breathe. you are inside of a young doctor's head. >> death is always hanging around this hospital. >> morning. >> "mask" was an influence on me because i was drawn to a comedy somehow still about something. >> this was not what i expected. >> most of my patients are checked out mentally. >> pumpkin. >> advances that keep people
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alive should have died a long time ago. for the love of god, what? >> do you this i we should be tact talking about it in front of her? >> her? >> she's dead. >> nbc decided to take a chance on a u.k. hit called "the office." >> that's good news. the bad news is some of you will lose your jobs until the end. >> i know, gutting. i was so emprimpressed by that . this is not like anything on tv right now. the good news is i have been promoted. i had this dream i was on this comedy court and they were all taking me to task for ruining the british show. ♪ and graeg daniels was like, hey you like the british office,
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let's stay close to their pilot. >> this is from corporate. >> how many times i told you this special filing cabinet is by the waste filing basket. >> there are so many reasons for it to have fail. documentary, weird looking actors, you know -- anyway, are we rolling? > the first season ends and no one likes it. it's too close to the british show. then the big thing was okay now we are going to write all our own stories and i was like i want michael to be an optimistic, his intentions had to be good even when he was doing terrible things. >> nobody leaves until we work this out. cage match. >> american shows justless
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cynical. >> do i have a special someone? >> yeah, of course. >> a bunch of them. my employees. >> i wrote a christmas episode where michael had bought ryan a video ipod which had just come out. >> oh. wow, j. about four days later apple announced it had made content deals with nbc. >> i would like to show you the tv show here. this is an episode from "the office." >> no! >> you will thank me later. >> the first episode back was the highly rated episode because everyone spent weeks doing nothing but watching "the office" on the video ipod. this was astounding to the people at nbc. these are high school and college kids watching the show in droves and they never set foot in an office and eventually i realized okay this is because their experience in school. >> everything dwight does annoys
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me. >> did you get your tickets? >> to what? >> the gun show. >> you know they're put at a d dec desk next to another kid who they may or may not like. >> i manage my department and i have been doing that for several years, god, i have learned a lot of life lessons along the way. >> your department is just you, right? >> yes, jim, ifrs am not easy t manage. >> nbc was sold on these quirky workplace sitcoms. >> with "30 rock," i want to see how far you can push a premise you can trace back to mary taylor moore. >> the first i was pitched and set in a news environment. nbc passed on it, no, write more of what you know.
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we were there for "30 rock." >> let's get >> let's get into the first commercial parody. we were trying to think of a funnier cereal name. the favorite options so far include honey bunches of sadness, oat bung, and swastikos. >> fruit lupus. >> fart nuggets. >> "30 rock" is about a woman who ends up being a kind of a caretaker for an egomaniacal performer. >> your job is to protect me from embarrassment. >> grizz had to go to the optometrist. >> and her mentor who tries to teach her how to live. >> i can't fire rosemary. >> yes, you can. it's easy. observe. jonathan, you're fired. >> no, no, god no! >> the workplace setting is great for comedy because you have all kinds of different people. >> listen, i understand this is tough for you, but what did i tell you? >> not to freak out. >> right. and what else? >> stop falling in love with gay guys?
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>> in the summer of 2008, the economy had collapsed. barack obama was running for president, and the government was going to be playing a much more active role in people's lives. "parks and rec" is actually called "public service" at one point. we liked the idea of going for a boring title like "the office". >> we're just taking the sell plate of "the office," but the office takes place in one of three rooms in the same dreary building. suddenly it was like, now the world's our oyster. >> here we go. wake up. out of the slide. >> leslie knope had ambitions, very optimistic. which was big for comedy. >> we did it! you know, i like to tell people, get on board and buckle up, because my ride's going to be a big one. leslie knope is stopping for no one. >> we thought it was important for the main character to be a woman because we wanted it to be
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a show about a trailblazer in many ways. >> excuse me, ma'am. do you mind if i borrow your hat? i just want to throw it up in the air victoriously. >> a realistic look at a fictional version of an experience we've all had because there were people of all different shapes and sizes and ethnicities all mingling together. >> you have qualified for the chris traeger management training seminar. >> can you get me out of it? >> yes. >> normally if given a choice between doing something and nothing, i'd choose to do nothing. but i will do something if it helps someone else do nothing. >> when "parks and rec" ended, dan gore and i landed on a joint respect for "barney miller." and the reason was that most life as an officer is not chasing bad guys through the streets, it's sitting around in the precinct and killing time. because it's an office. >> what the hell's going on around here? >> fire extinguisher roller chair derby. >> okay. >> and go!
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>> the show started off as pretty silly. but one of the tricky things about a show lasting for a really long time is that attitudes change. and in this case, there was no version of telling a bunch of stories about a police precinct that could run from all of the issues about policing that the whole country is talking about. >> i got stopped by a cop last night. >> stopped for what? >> stopped for walking. >> that makes zero sense, unless -- >> what are you doing? >> i live here. >> put your hands on your head. turn around. don't make any sudden moves. >> i didn't do anything. >> it is a remarkable achievement to take a social issue that is so serious, something like racial profiling, and not only find the humor in it but find the humanity in it. >> i was right outside my home. >> i can't believe this. nothing like that has ever happened to me, and i've done some pretty suspicious things in the street. >> hey, hey, there, what are you doing? >> i'm just playing a prank on my buddy. >> sounds fun. carry on. >> after the re-election of president obama, there is no
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longer much room for hope in politics as much as there was division, which meant it was the perfect time for a show like "veep." >> i cannot [ bleep ] believe how terrible you are at your job. what are you, running on a platform of higher taxes and episiotomies? >> if a bomb went off in that white house, i wouldn't care. those are the worst people on earth. >> where were you, by the way? >> you said you had it covered. >> no, i didn't have it covered. it's your job to know if i say i have it covered, i don't have it covered and you cover me. >> i think we like workplace sitcoms because we identify with them, with even these unlikable people in this unlikable world. >> they seem very excited about the possibility of a woman becoming president. >> not necessarily you. >> every generation gets the political satire it deserves. and "veep" is ours. >> nevada is my state. i'm going to be president. >> but it's tough to compete with reality, you know. the trump administration.
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>> i'll have a lovely inauguration. billy joel is going to sing. so you guys have to stop the recount. >> any show that's about a workplace or a group of people, they eventually migrate into, well, who's the dad, who's the mom, who's the crazy uncle? they kind of fit into a family circumstance. >> i mean, anywhere can be a workplace. >> morning. >> morning. >> morning. >> you do realize i'm lost, right? >> oh, it's this way, sir. >> and it can be an american coach being dropped into a british premier league football team. >> look at isaac. he looks like a rodin sculpture in cleats. >> boots. >> hm? >> they call cleats boots. >> i thought you said the trunk of a car was a boot. >> also a boot. >> the workplace is endlessly fertile, yeah. >> reflecting society, reflecting all of our faults, and yet being able to laugh at ourselves.
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>> whether it's "30 rock" doing a tv show or on a moon base -- >> do not take off your seat belt. >> i forget about my bird. >> oh my god, i'll feed your bird, what's your bird's name? >> these workplace comedies, they hit us in a very deep place. >> next stop, the moon. and so it has come to this. >> i thought that johnny carson came with the tv set. >> what the hell were you thinking? >> dave was the new johnny, for me. >> i'm not exactly a computer, slow down. >> it felt edgy before i was probably old enough to appreciate what edgy was. >> you better be as good as letterman! >> i'll give it a

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