A singular idiom
Along with visual comedy, NewsRadio also featured sparkling verbal comedy. At its very best, such as the office chair gag from "Stocks" [3-9], the two were completely integrated. A shows verbal comedy can be regarded as successfully singular when we begin to encounter idioms and idiosyncratic words. The classic example is the infamous "yada yada yada" of Seinfeld a perfectly meaningless phrase for a show about nothing.
The following is a list of some of the idioms of NewsRadio. The list is not designed to be complete.
1. "Bitchcakes." This is perhaps the most memorable and indestructible neologism of the show, even though it was used only twice (once by Beth and reprised by Jimmy James in "Physical Graffiti" [2-17]). Correct usage of the word would be, "Everyone is going totally bitchcakes today."
"Super Karate Monkey Death Car". You know you are a true
NewsRadio fan when you find delight in the ruinous poetry of those
five words. First used by Lisa in "Negotiation" [2-8], it was
to find definitive use in "Super Karate Monkey Death Car" [4-4]
in Jimmy James autobiography, which, after translation from English
to Japanese and back to English, went from Jimmy James: Capitalist
Lion Tamer to Jimmy James: Macho Business Donkey Wrestler.
3. Any aphorism mentioned by Mr. James. Nothing was more quintessentially Jimmy James than his bizarre aphorisms. In the course of his work Dave became the most accustomed to dealing with them, and Mr. James noted his talent for "R.L.P." (Resolving Logical Paradoxes).13
4. Bills articulateness. One of the charms of the show, as well as one of the defining characteristics of Bill McNeal, was his commanding vocabulary and mellifluous delivery. I particularly enjoyed the aplomb with which he handled lines like "Dont let this nattering nabob of negativity break your spirit"14 and "You barfed in the punch bowl, we all share, and now you expect us to believe its alphabet soup!"15 Our ears have not had it this good since the days of Preston Sturges. In "Halloween" [3-5] a psychic predicts that Bill will die just after his 82nd birthday. Bills sense of mortality results in him picking up an elderly woman at the party. The hilarity of the situation is compounded by the internal dissonance of his dance floor declaration, "Maestro, if you please: Rumpshaker, or some reasonable facsimile!"
5. "Stinkbutt." In the eponymous episode, Beth and Joe paint a mural, and the best they can come up with is "Stinkbutt." Anarchy never had such comically eloquent advertisement.
6. "Gazizza." Catherine and Bills greeting from "Space" [3-24]; also used by Bill in "Office Feud" [3-19].
7. "Evil." The word was used to describe people who were deviously cunning and up to no good see "Pure Evil" [4-6], "Whos the Boss (Part 1)" [4-12], "The Lam" [5-7] and "Clash of the Titans" [5-8] for examples. It was highly significant that "evil" was a comical euphemism, and no true evil existed in the NewsRadio universe. Even the shows darkest villain, Johnny Johnson, was in his own way a warmly charming and sympathetic character.
8. "Bigass." We can justifiably regard this as Jimmy James favorite word.
9. "Inappropriate" is an apt word in the spirit of many of the anarchic goings on at WNYX. In "Inappropriate" [1-2] the word describes Dave and Lisas concerns about embarking on an office romance as well as Matthews mispronunciation of "Buttafuoco."
10. "Taboo" was used in the same vein as "inappropriate." The relationships between the characters were strong enough to overcome several taboos.
11. "Spaz." See Matthew
12. "Bababooey." Catherine scribbles it on Bills bus stop poster in one of the opening credit sequences, Dave says it in "The Public Domain" [3-3], and Lisa exasperatedly uses "Bababooey Jr." in "Pure Evil" [3-6]. (Submitted by Jennifer .)
13. Science fiction references. It seems that there were a lot of science fiction fans on the show (it may have something to do with many of the writers and actors being male and of a certain generation). The best allusions to things Star Wars, Star Trek, Logans Run or generally space-related include: (a) Dave telling Lisa that his deepest, darkest fantasy involves making love to a "space prostitute" ("No, This is Not Based Entirely on Julies Life" [2-1]); (b) Lisa reciting to Joe the biography of Boba Fett, ending the litany with "Ah, just one of the many fascinating tidbits you pick up when you date Dave" ("Presence" [2-19]); (c) Daves imitation of Obi-Wan Kenobi in "Stocks" [3-9]; and (d) Catherines news story on the destruction of the Death Star and Darth Vaders escape in "Space" [3-24].
14. McNealisms: "Kudos," "Anywho," "Delicious," "Good times."
15. Street-smart Catherine. When Bill tries to console Dave after the staff find out that he is really Canadian16, Matthew cluelessly jumps on a statement that Catherine is from Africa. A few years ago a gag like this would have never been aired on network television.
Matthew: "Hey, what part of Africa are you from?"
Catherine: "Shut up."
Matthew: "No, seriously, say something in African."
Catherine: "Shut the ." [Quick edit to outside scene]
13 "Airport" [3-17]
14 "Houses of the Holy" [2-14]
15 "Rose Bowl" [3-15]
16 "The Trainer" [3-11]