For those who are wondering which Jerry Lewis bit Family Guy ripped off paid homage to last night, it’s this scene from The Errand Boy (his second movie as a director), where he does a pantomime set to Count Basie music:
There are already a couple of YouTube comments claiming that Family Guy did it funnier, but, thankfully, not as many as for William Shatner’s “Rocket Man,” where there seems to be a commenter saying “Stewie did it better” virtually every day.
The fact that Family Guy uses a lot of episodic real estate to do exact, shot-by-shot re-creations of old routines is, I guess, a symptom of its laziness. But it’s still a sign of the good side of Seth MacFarlane, that he encourages his audience to seek out pop culture that isn’t “modern” or even from their own lifetimes. A lot of shows are terrified of referring to anything old. But Family Guy assumes that its viewers either know “Shipoopi” from The Music Man or that if they don’t know it, they’ll like it (perhaps ironically).
This is not to be confused with Animaniacs‘ Jerry Lewis ripoff homage, which was based on the typewriter routine from Who’s Minding the Store?
Update: Speaking of pop-culture antecedents, the Brian/Stewie episode was based on an episode of All In the Family called “Two’s a Crowd,” where Archie and Mike are locked in a cellar together, get drunk, and arrive at a greater understanding of each other. (Not to be confused with “Archie in the Cellar,” where Archie got locked in the cellar alone.) The original episode was distressingly free of feces-eating, however.