The episode: “Jack Frost,” ep. 813
The riff: Solemnly uttered by Mike as a herd of Russian grannies in colorful rags glide into frame and fill the screen.
The explanation: The old women resemble the traditional Matryoshka doll, which is better known in English as a Russian “nesting” doll. You’ve probably seen them before–they’re those wooden Russian dolls where progressively smaller ones fit inside larger ones, typically with family members painted on them. The largest of the dolls is usually a grandmotherly type figure. “Matryoshka” apparently means “little maiden,” although I have a friend who is a Russian language expert who might want to chime in on this one…
Novelty factor: I had no idea what Mike was talking about when he said the line–which he pronounced closer to “matrushka,” by the way. I am familiar with Russian nesting dolls–I remember my grandmother had some–but I never knew they were known as “Matryoshka” in their native tongue. It makes me wonder how the writers were aware of the terminology. Because when you think about it, this is a linguistics joke first and foremost.