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Tipster Kevan wrote in about the classic TV origins of one of Alan Alda’s lines on 30 Rock last night:

When Alda comes to the TGS stage looking for Jack and finds Tracy
crying to Kenneth about not being chicken when his teacher told him to
cut open the baby (which was really a frog). Alda says, “What’s all
this crying about babies and chickens? I thought this was supposed to
be a comedy show.”

In the last episode of MASH (most-watched TV episode ever!) Alda’s
character is sent to a psychiatrist after a breakdown. He tells the
doctor that he had been on a bus with other people from the army, and
they had stopped to pick up some Koreans. They found out there were
enemies in the area, so the bus pulled off the road and Alda told
everyone to be quiet so the enemy wouldn’t hear them. One of the
Korean women had a chicken that wouldn’t stop making noise, so Alda
yelled at her, “Shut up that damn chicken!” So the woman killed the
chicken. The doctor can’t understand why this was so traumatic to
Alda, but then finally Alda admits it wasn’t really a chicken — it
was a baby. The baby wouldn’t stop crying and Alda told the mother to
keep it quiet. Rather than risk having the enemy hear them and kill
them all, the mother smothered her own baby.

Hence, “What’s with all the crying about babies and chickens?”!!

They couldn’t have Alan Alda on the show without a M.A.S.H. reference, though it would be even better if they’d saved this for the last episode ever (but thank god it wasn’t.) (Thanks, Kevan!)

Comments (11)
  1. wow. i am half in awe that the jokes go that deep and half in shame for laughing last night in my pre-baby-killing ignorance

  2. why do people get so upset about dead babies anyway. they’re so easy to replace!

    • I know! It’s not like they’re even real people with real personalities or characteristics that you might miss once they’re dead. They’re all basically the same. Just poop out another one and move on.

  3. Baby-smothering is jacked!

  4. I loved last night’s episode.
    “It’s been a great year hasn’t it?”
    “What are you talking about? It’s still May.”

  5. CincyKurt  |   Posted on May 15th, 2009 -2

    I wondered if anyone else caught that reference besides me!!!

  6. Mark  |   Posted on May 15th, 2009 -1

    Haha i thought that line was a little strange when i first saw it and now it makes sense! Tada! Thats how being self-referential works!

  7. Thank you! I had to explain that to my husband last night, and for a second it crossed my mind that 30 Rock had been cancelled and this was the last every episode, Scary.

  8. not only easy – also fun

  9. Kurt  |   Posted on May 16th, 2009 +1

    Another MASH connection: one of Jack’s three possible fathers was played by Stuart Margolin, who was a bit player on MASH (and was also Angel on The Rockford Files). The third possible father could also have been from MASH (he was Korean, after all), but I didn’t recognize him.

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