Herbie J Pilato: So, you want “funny”? Check out these moments from TV history….

by Herbie J Pilato


THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW   (Season 4, Ep. 7: “A Black Day for Mayberry”)

Written by John Whedon

Andy and Barney have to protect a shipment of gold which will be going through Mayberry on the way to Fort Knox. It’s critical that they keep it a secret, but Barney spills the beans immediately and within minutes all of Mayberry knows. A carnival-like atmosphere soon takes hold. The plot thickens when Barney discovers there’s no gold in the truck.

Writer’s Assistance:  This episode features one of the funniest moments from The Andy Griffith Show in general, and one of the funniest Barney Fife moments in particular…when Barney is in the back of the gold shipment truck, fumbling and out-of-control nervous in a scene with him and a rifle…Don Knotts displays his comic genius.  It’s an unstoppably-funny moment in the series.

THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW   (Season 4, Episode 103:  “Opie’s Ill-Gotten Gain”)

Written by John Whedon

Barney tries to quote the Preamble to the Constitution.

Writer’s Assistance:  The YouTube link to the moment:


THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW (Season 4, Episode 21: “The Case of the Pillow”)

Written by Bill Persky, Sam Denoff and Carl Reiner

Rob and Laura are the plaintiffs in small claims court against the defendant, a man named Wylie. Despite the small amount of money involved, Rob is willing to take the day off work solely as a matter of principle in showing that they’re right and Wylie’s in the wrong. The case… Laura bought four what were listed as eiderdown feather pillows from Wylie. Although the pillows felt like eiderdown, they smelled more like funky chicken feathers. After smelling them himself, Wylie denied smelling anything unusual.

The deal they struck was that Laura and Rob would keep the pillows for a few days, air them out, and after that if they were still unhappy, they’d discuss what to do. After that, they had a difficult time trying to get a hold of Wylie, they believe until their check for payment of the pillows cleared. Millie, Jerry, Buddy and Sally all corroborate the chicken smell. So Rob and Laura decided to take Wylie to court. Rob and Laura’s problem is his word versus theirs, unless… Another problem, at least for the judge, is that Rob has been watching too many legal shows on television.

Writer’s Assistance:  Great lines:  Rob:  If it pleases the court… Judge:  Anything you do to move the proceedings along will THRILL the court!”   And Rob (to Judge):  “Your honor, as you know…my wife sleeps on her back…”

The Judge is MORTIFIED with the assumption – and it’s hilarious!

BEWITCHED (Season 4, Episode 1: “Long Live Queen Samantha”)

Written by Ed Jurist

Samantha is elected Queen of the Witches in this historic episode, and Darrin clearly has a few issues with his wife’s new status.  After she tells him about her new witches’ honor, on the bench in their hallway, he blurts out, “Queen of the Witches?!!  What does that make me – Prince Valiant?!”

Writer’s Assistance:  A genius line made all the funnier by Dick York’s impeccable timing, delivery and famous rubbery expressions.

BEWITCHED (Season 7, Episode 23: “Money happy Returns”)

Written by Milt Rosen

Darrin discovers a money-filled envelope, and a crook threatens the Stephens household.  When Larry pays a visit, and sees a gun, he wigs out, and the criminal (played by Arch Johnson) says to Darrin, “You work for that fruitcake!”

Writer’s Assistance:  One of the countless not-fully-appreciated funny moments in this series.


HERE’S LUCY  (Season 6, Episode 2: “The Big Game”)

Written by Madelyn Pugh Davis and Bob Carroll, Jr.

Although not considered the best of the different “Lucy” shows, “Here’s Lucy” delivers the goods with this segment.  At one point, Lucy is arguing with her brother-in-law Harry (the great Gale Gordon) about the spelling of a banner slogan she is to display at a charity banquet.  The dialogue that ensues is quite risqué for this series in particular (and “Lucy” shows in general), and as a result, only contributes to this stand-out funny moment between Lucy and Harry:

Harry:  “Lucille, ‘Commerce’ is spelt with two ‘M’s.’”

Lucy:  “I know, but I ran out of M’s.”

Harry:  “You ran out of M’s”?

Lucy:  “Yes. A friend of mine is president of the Marymount Mother of the Month Membership Meeting and she borrowed a couple of ‘M’s.’”

Harry:  “She borrowed some ‘M’s’?  Well, you get on the phone and tell those mothers

Lucy (interrupting):  HARRY!

Writer’s Assistance:  WAY risqué for this era, let alone ANY of the “Lucy” shows

THREE’S COMPANY   (Season 1, Episode 4:  “No Children, No Dogs”)

Written by George Burditt and Paul Wayne

Larry introduces Jack, Chrissy and Janet to an adorable puppy, which is against Mr. Roper’s “no pets” rule.  So the gang tries to keep the little dog a secret.

Writer’s Assistance:  An hilarious moment takes places in the trio’s kitchen when Mr. Roper mistakes the gang’s “puppy talk affection” for what he thinks is there all too-human attraction to each other.  As a result, the case of mistaken animal/human identity brings some of the biggest laughs of the entire run of the series.

MAUDE (Season 5, Episode 17:  “Maude’s Desperate Hours”)

Written by Arthur Julian

While Walter is out of town, Maude receives phone calls from someone threatening to kill her. She thinks it’s a painter who she hired to work on the house, and at one point early on she calls the police.  They arrive at the door; she welcomes them in, and eventually cries out, “Oh, I feel like Helen Hayes in a TV-movie.”  She then throws her head down in despair, only to raise it a half-second later to correct herself with, “Make that Elizabeth Montgomery.”

Writer’s Assistance:  A favorite for obvious reasons.

ROSEANNE (Season 5, Episode: “Wait Until Your Father Gets Home”)

Written by Amy Sherman Palladino, Matt Williams and Roseanne Barr

Astoundingly funny moment in this episode featuring Jackie’s famous line: “Dad’s dead!” – see

Helpful Assistance:  YouTube video link to the moment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fDtoSCgNPA

Written by Cherie Steinkellner (as Cherie Eichen) and Bill SteinkellnerCHEERS (Season 5, Episode 9: “Thanksgiving Orphans”)

Writer’s Assistance:  YouTube link to the moment:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF1dfXDsV4s


FRASIER (Season 4, Episode 1: “The Two Mrs. Cranes”)

Written by Joe Keenan

When Daphne’s ex-fiance comes to visit, she tries to let him down easy by pretending to be married to Niles. However, when Frasier, Martin, and Roz get involved in the charade, the evening spirals out of control in several moments (the “bloody baby” moment/line from Daphne is the best – as is an end quote from Frasier (“We’re all good people…but the truth is we’ve been lying to you all night!)

Writer’s Assistance:  One of the funniest episodes in the entire series.

EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND: Season 5, Episode 1: “Italy, Part 1”

Written by Philip Rosenthal

For Marie’s birthday, the family goes to Italy. But Ray gets a cold and becomes miserable and Robert finds the woman of his dreams. But first he has to get past her father.

Writer’s Assistance:  This episode, along with “Italy, Part 2,” is not only one of the funniest in the series, but it is also one of the most beautifully filmed segments in all of television comedy.

Look for this extremely funny moment: Ray in old-fashioned bathtub in Italy, unable to properly work the faucet.  His eccentric elderly Aunt then helps him take a bath with the shower hose – to Debra’s utter hilarity.

Author: Herbie J Pilato

Writer, Author, Producer, Actor, Singer/Songwriter, Lover of Life