Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Princeton Woman And A Cornell Guy?

One of TigerBlog's favorite television shows of all time is "Taxi," which for those who've never heard of it was a comedy about cab drivers in New York City.

"Taxi" ran from 1978-83, and it holds the rare distinction of having been picked up by one network (NBC) after it was canceled by another (ABC).

As an aside, the opening theme for the show was actually a piece called "Angela," which was played by TB's high school jazz band as well and for which TB had a trumpet solo. A few months ago, TB received an mp4 version of the high school jazz band version from his friend Corey; TB has no idea how Corey came up with this.

One of the reasons that TB loved the show "Taxi" so much was that it had some of the greatest characters in American TV sitcom history. Alex Rieger, Elaine Nardo, Bobby Wheeler, Tony Banta - these were epic characters, and they weren't even in the show's top three. Those three would be Reverend Jim and the two greatest, Latka Gravas (played by the late Andy Kaufman) and Louie De Palma (Danny DeVito's breakthrough-to-stardom role after "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest).

For veteran "Taxi" fans, it's hard to beat the episode "Memories of Cab 804," especially the part with Tom Selleck.

Great characters are what make a great TV show, especially a sitcom, and the characters from "Taxi" are among the best TB has ever seen. What? You want others?

Oscar and Felix. Fish, Yemana and Harris. Kramer. Norm. Cliff (Huxtable and Clavin). Dan Fielding. Of course Archie and the Meathead. Dr. Johnny Fever. Venus Flytrap. The Beaver. Henry Blake. Richie Cunningham. Kevin Arnold. Buddy and Sally. Ted Baxter. Bob Newhart from any of his shows. There are dozens.

The one who leaps out at TB from contemporary times is Dwight Schrute, from the NBC show "The Office." As much as the show is about Michael, it's really Dwight who has made it a classic.

He is the perfect sitcom character, one who will say anything crazy and off the wall and make it funny. He alone makes the show worth watching.

As an aside, "The Office" runs Thursdays at 9, and while TB has seen every episode of the show, he has almost never watched it on a Thursday at 9. Instead, he's watched almost all of them Friday on his computer. This isn't something you could have done with, say, "Happy Days." If you missed one, you had to wait until the repeats in the summer.

Anyway, what does "The Office" have to do with Princeton? Until last week, TB had no idea.

As it turns out, the answer is plenty.

Last week, TigerBlog got a voicemail from someone named Derek who works on the Jay Leno show. His message said that a former Princeton field hockey player from 1998 was going to be on the show that night, and they were hoping to get a picture of her.

As another aside, TB once had a call transferred to him, and when he picked it up, the voice on the other end said he was calling for Bill Cosby and could TigerBlog hold for Mr. Cosby. In the next second, the unmistakable voice of Bill Cosby was on the phone, explaining how he wanted to wear a Princeton sweatshirt on his show and to the Penn-Princeton basketball game, which he would attend with Penn alum Ed Rendell.

It didn't say why she was going to be on, and TB had no idea. When he called back, he found out that the person was the woman who plays Erin the receptionist on "The Office."

TigerBlog has had a lot of phone calls through the years from people (potential employers, even potential boyfriends/girlfriends) who were checking to see if the person that recently said they were a Princeton athlete really was. One of the these calls started out as "I met a guy in a bar last night, and he said he was a fencing All-America at Princeton." It turned out not to be true.

TB has also heard David Duchovny say that he played basketball and baseball at Princeton. He may have been on the jayvee teams, for which no records exist, but he definitely was not a varsity player in either.

So, when Derek from Leno's show said that Erin, whose real name is Ellie Kemper, played field hockey at Princeton, TB's reaction was "no way; how would TB not already know that?"

Turns out, this time it was true. Erin/Ellie in fact was on the field hockey team in 1998. That season, in which Princeton reached the NCAA final, was her only one on the team, as she gave up the sport to concentrate on theater.

On the show, Erin is sort of in and out of love with Andy Bernard. While they're currently on the outs, TB is pretty sure that they'll work it out eventually and probably get married.

Andy, of course, is a proud Cornell alum. Erin is a Princeton alum.

TB will be on the bride's side of that marriage.


Jon Solomon said...

As a fan of The Office, I'm surprised you didn't take notice when PAW named Ellie Kemper as its "Tiger of the Week" in April of last year!


Anonymous said...

She's MUCH cuter now!