The episode: “The Castle of Fu Manchu,” ep. 323
The riff: Offered as an explanation by Dr. Forrester for the week’s invention exchange, a bomb that transforms the holder into the actor Joe Besser.
The explanation: A weirdly specific riff, no? Joe Besser was a character actor who was known for his comedy playing one specific type of whiny, effeminate character. As TV’s Frank puts it, “that lovable buffoon who was a lisping manchild long before it became fashionable.” On the Abbot and Costello Show, his character was named Stinky, an “impish, bratty man” who acted like a large child. Besser was also briefly one of the members of The Three Stooges after the passing of Shemp Howard, making them “Moe, Larry and Joe.” He wasn’t popular in this role, and was soon replaced by “Curly Joe.”
Novelty factor: I’ve always wondered where some of these catchphrases come from, such as “I’ll harm you!” Now I know. Did he also originate “I’ll give you such a pinch!“?