The Dirty Joke
Air date: November 2, 1999
Summary/Review by Josh Bermont

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Julie celebrities go, she's an unlikely target for bitterness or venom. But as Ally and Renee relax in front of the television one night, it's revealed that she's hated the actress ever since her high school class voted her "Most Likely to Become Julie Andrews" and she feels that it's a level of perkiness she couldn't possibly live up to. She feels like people see her as a prude - - when men are telling a dirty joke in the unisex and she walks in, they stop, as though they think her "delicate virgin ears" couldn't handle it. Renee gives her sagelike advice, saying, "If you want in on the club, just tell a dirty joke. They'll hand you a cigar!" Excited at the prospect of being in on the fun, Allys asks Renee to tell her one. Hesitant at first, Renee finally agrees, providing her with a classic: A man is walking down the beach under a beautiful romantic sunset, when he sees a woman with no arms or legs, crying her eyes out. He asks her what's wrong, and she says, "I'm twenty-one years old, I've got no arms and no legs...and I've never been kissed!" So he leans down, and he gives her a soft, sweet little kiss on the lips. She stops crying, and he starts to walk away, when he hears her crying again.He asks her again what the trouble is, and she says, "I'm twenty-one years old, I have no arms and no legs...and I've never been screwed!" So the man thinks for a moment, picks her up, and tosses her into the ocean, yelling, "You're screwed now!"

Ally is disgusted. "A woman has no arms and legs, and you're making fun of her sex life?" she says, scowling at the insensitivity. Renee starts to follow her around the apartment, taunting her by singing "These Are a Few of My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music.

Ally seeks a second opinion at the office next day. When she asks her co-workers if they think it's a sick story, Billy says, "Dirty jokes are supposed to be sick! That's the point!" She asks him if he thought it was funny, and he tells her that she's not supposed to think about it. "How am I not supposed to think about it? A woman is born basically a stump! Imagine what her life must have been like growing up! I mean, kids picking on her, she never made it to the prom, and now she's on a beach and some guy picks her up and throws her into the ocean!" Everyone in the room laughs, leaving Ally confused and frustrated.

Later, Ally and Renee are shopping for clothes for the upcoming date with the rabbi and Renee suggests that she tells him the joke on the date to loosen him up. Ally says the joke is not funny, and Renee tells her that if she were to tell the joke in a room full of people, Ally would be the only one who wasn't laughing. Ally bets otherwise, daring Renee to tell the joke at the bar that night - - Renee agrees to the challenge, stipulating that, if she gets a real laugh from the room, Ally will get up in front of everyone the next night and tell her "flea joke." They shake hands, and the wager is on.

That night, Renee comes prepared with a ten-minute warm up to the actual joke. The familiar gang from Cage/Fish is there to support Ally (or at least, to watch the wager unfold out of morbid curiosity). Between songs, Vonda stops to introduce Renee, whose showmanship never disappoints - - she practically grabs the microphone out of the singer's hands and proceeds to work the audience expertly until they're in the palm of her hand. By the time she tells the joke, the entire bar is in stitches...except for Ally, whose expression resembles a small child who has just been slapped by the boogeyman.

At the apartment, Ally becomes very serious and intense with Renee. She takes her by the hands, looks her in the eye and says quietly, "Part of being a best, best, best friend is not making your best friend do something that you know would be very painful." She then proceeds to beg Renee earnestly to let her pay off the debt some other way, ANY way that doesn't involve her getting up in front of everyone to tell that joke. But a deal is a deal, and Renee won't let Ally squirm out of her part of the agreement.

The next night, it's Ally's turn to face the music, and once more the Cage/Fish crew are there to watch the show. She takes her place at the microphone and, trying to get the audience to warm up, she reminds them of how great Renee was and asks them to give her a hand. Rather than accomodate her, Renee disappears from view, leaving her twisting in the wind alone. Ally tells them that Renee didn't think she could tell a dirty joke, asking them if they think she can do it...they respond in the resounding negative. Thrown off, she says she's glad she has the opportunity to prove their gender expectations wrong, and tells her joke, another classic: Two fleas meet at a bar in Florida, and one of them is freezing cold. The other asks why, and the first flea says, "To get here, I had to ride all the way from New Jersey on the mustache of some biker and I'm frozen solid!" The other flea gives him advice on how to avoid such discomfort. "Next time," he says, "just hang out in an airport ladies' room and wait for a stewardess to come in. You can snuggle up between her legs where it's nice and warm, get some sleep, and when you wake up you'll be in Florida!" The first flea says he will try it. The next time they meet, the flea is once again shivering and cold. "Didn't you do what I told you?" his friend chided. "Yes!" the flea said. "I waited in the bathroom, I curled up between a stewardess' legs...and the next thing I knew, I was riding on some biker's mustache again!"


She leaves the stage, fidgeting uncomfortably. However, the ultimate embarrassment is yet to come... she spots the rabbi in the audience, watching.

At the office the next day, the rabbi is waiting for Ally in her office. He tells her that Elaine gave him the entire story about the situation, and that he even thought the joke was funny...he enjoys dirty jokes, seeing them as ways to release repressed instincts, and he even wrote a thesis on it in school. He explains to her that the reason everyone thought Renee's joke was funnier than hers is because in it, someone got victimized. "Did you hear about the cross-dresser who got fired from his job?" he demonstrates. "They handed him his pink slip and he tried it on. Funny? Not too. Now, you tell the same joke, except: You hear about when NBC gave Marv Albert the pink slip? He tried it on!...It's a little meaner, it plays on somebody's pain."

Later that evening, at the bar, Ally talks to Billy. "I think I'm ready to be released into the real now, aren't I?" she asks him. "I'm...hardening up." He agrees, smiling, and they drink a toast to the newer, "harder" Ally McBeal before she goes to meet Renee.


* Not much to say here. Actually, believe it or not, I really enjoyed this show. I think the story was very well-written, it flowed somewhat smoothly, and it explored aspects of Ally and Renee's personalities that were fairly interesting (if not too surprising).

* Is it me, or was this episode extremely short? Probably just as well, though...I mean, it wasn't exactly a situation that needed much more time dedicated to it, just a little side-story that wasn't too significant but was still a nice accessory to the overall mythos.

* I didn't comment on this before, but whoever that guy is who plays Rabbi Stern, he's absolutely fantastic! He's got all the right mannerisms, his speech is perfect - - he does the very subtle accent and inflections flawlessly without overdoing it (which is extremely difficult) - - and he has a real appeal to him. He's a very talented young man, and I'd like to see him get more work.

* Yes, by the way, it's very true...guys who have a sense of manners take care about telling dirty jokes around women until they're shown it's okay. Tell a guy a dirty joke, just one, and prepare to laugh yourself sick for the next two hours 'cause he'll probably have a whole slew to share with you!

* Well, that about does it. See you next week, folks!

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