164. “It’s Koo-Koo the Bird Girl.”

The episode:Jungle Goddess,” ep. 203

The riff: Inferred by Tom as we see a young woman with a feathered hat creep down past a window to avoid detection.

The explanation: He is referring to a real person who was named Minnie Woolsley, but better known by the title she was billed as, Koo-Koo the Bird Girl. An American side show/freak show performer, she suffered from a rare disorder called Seckel syndrome, also known as “bird-headed dwarfism.” Indeed, her head was unusually small, with a pointed, beak-like nose, receding jaw and mild mental retardation. She is remembered publicly because of an appearance in the infamous pre-code Hollywood exploitation film “Freaks,” which cast real freak show performers in all the main roles. She is particularly remembered for an awkward and harrowing scene of table dancing.

Novelty factor: I’ve never really watched all of “Freaks,” finding it pretty distasteful, and didn’t remember it well enough anyone to recall poor Koo-Koo until I looked it up. I think it’s safe to say this is one of their more obscure riffs. Even someone who has seen “Freaks” would be likely to miss it.


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