Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Vanity cards, anyone?

Ever watched Dharma and Greg? It used to be one of my favorite shows on TV. Even back then, I used to dig the infinite comedic potential of living with someone, anyone, full time. (The other classic of the genre, one of my favorite shows of all time - Mad About You)

I was reminded of Dharma and Greg recently by my wife, who insisted (despite my many disbelieving protestations) that the lead woman in the newly piloted CBS sitcom Accidentally on Purpose is none other than a much older Dharma. So finally I went to that Delphi of the film and TV world - IMDB. And what do you know? My wife is right. Again. Billie in Accidentally on Purpose is indeed Jenna Elfman, also known lovingly to many as Dharma Montgomery.

Which is all well and good, but only vaguely related to what I have on my mind. The fall TV season is upon us. And in TV, my taste is ... shall we say, plebian. I go for the simple, mindless sitcom routine. Serve me up my Friends in many different forms, and I sleep easy. Over the last year, this has meant a lot of CBS sitcoms. In particular, I have found myself to be a fan of Chuck Lorre. Yes, indeed the same Chuck Lorre who was the creator of Dharma and Greg, and is currently writing The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men. Mindlessly hilarious shows that I shamelessly enjoy.

If you have ever watched one of these Chuck Lorre productions, you are probably familiar with his 'Vanity Cards'. Funny little things these. After (almost) every episode of one his shows, Chuck Lorre has a little message ... a witty observation, a silly joke, a dig at the expense of the network currently airing his show ... it could be anything. This thing stays on the screen for barely two seconds and is then gone. If you want to read it, you either need to TiVo the show and freeze on that pane, or go to his website.

My wife and I have had differing opinions on these vanity cards. I think they are hilarious. She thinks I am crazy. (Though to be fair, she has her reasons.) You judge for yourself. They are all stored here.

I have spent a good bit of time looking these up recently, and thought Brick and Rope readers might enjoy at least some of them. They started appearing on TV maybe around 2003, and start out very tentative, almost apologetic. See #1 for instance (scroll down on the page). They slowly gain self assurance, with some good ones about being a TV writer - like # 31, #59 and #109. Thrown in somewhere are the truly heartfelt ones, like the card after the last Dharma and Greg episode- #107.

Once Two and a Half Men started, Chuck Lorre's vanity cards got increasingly edgy, clearly testing the patience of network executives. You can see a bunch of them getting censored out of the show (the site has the uncensored version as well as the censored one that was actually telecast). Some of these are the most hilarious - See #171, and #251.

You might read these and wonder about my sophomoric taste in TV humor. I grant you, this isn't exactly high brow literature. By hey, it makes me laugh. And from my idiot box, I don't ask for more.


  1. Why? Why? Why? Why would you spend your time reading all of these? And where do you get this time? I actually read the highlighted ones thinking "well, he's prioritized the best ones, maybe i'll find some humour in the best of the best". But, alas, no - they are just as inexplicablly non-humourous as all the others. I seriously don't understand how I find his sitcoms so funny, but, his vanity cards so bizzare as to be a positive and absolute time waste.

  2. Three observations -
    1) You definitely have loads of free time, can I also join your organisation please ?
    2) Agree with you on 'Friends'. Totally love it.
    3) Why didn't you mention 'Seinfeld' ?

    Actually, a fourth too. What about the British comedies ? They are absolutely brilliant, though you probably saw more of those on DD as a kid that you do now.


  3. p.s. Loved the 'Two and a half men' pledge.

    Wonder what sort of pledge Ekta Kapoor (think Balaji Telefilms, all the saas-bahu weepies) would write for her serials. It's a scary thought.

  4. OMG! I knew you had some pop culture in you- even though you think you are too good for Twilight! I love Dharma and Greg and yes, I watchted the new show this week bc of Jenna. I like the vanity cards too! I really miss you as a manager now. One of my Indian peeps was hoping America would be like his fav TV show- Friends! He now who lives in Greenwich Village and is looking for his own Central Perk. :)

  5. And you know- Chuck Lorre was way ahead of his time. He was blogging before anyone had even heard of that. You just needed a pause button.

  6. @Z:
    1. Yes, I do have a load of free time, though I might have jinxed it by saying that out loud. (does writing count as saying it out loud?)
    2. I like Seinfeld too, especially now. It took a while to grow on me.

    @Christine - (Anonymous my foot!)
    How did you like Accidentally on Purpose? I thought it was OK. Probably worth a few more visits, but the need to step it up. You know what both my wife and I LOVED in the new fall season? This new show called Modern Family. Saw the pilot episode yesterday. Hilarious!

    ... and it is still a No on Twilight!

  7. I am not registered so I have to log in as anon. I liked Modern Family and Accidentally on Purpose. I think AonP needs a few more episodes to get the story going but I did like it.