The episode: “Commando Cody pt. 2,” the short in front of “The Mad Monster,” ep. 103
The riff: Mumbled by Tom as a goofy-looking Moon Man fumbles with a ray gun that looks a lot like a hair dryer.
The explanation: Willard Scott was a radio personality, entertainer and weatherman who was best known as the weather personality for “The Today Show” in the 1980s and 1990s. Before this though, he played Bozo the Clown for a stretch on TV and was also the first person to ever play the “hamburger-happy” Ronald McDonald in a televised ad, which I presume is the source for this riff. He claims to have invented the character of Ronald McDonald, something the burger giant unsurprisingly disputes to this day.
Novelty factor: I’ve never even heard of the guy. When they first said the name, Wilford Brimley popped into my head, so that’s how close I was.
The episode: “The Mad Monster,” ep. 103
The riff: Inserted as dialogue by Tom as the creepy house’s caretaker guy talks to the heroine.
The explanation: In this context, they’re comparing the creepy, ramshackle home in the movie to the home of “The Munsters” patriarch, Herman Munster, who was played by Fred Gwynne. Herman was arguably Gwynn’s most famous role, although he appeared in many other memorable places, from “Car 54, Where Are You?” to “My Cousin Vinny.” My favorite Gwynn appearance by far is his portrayal of the rather odd neighbor in “Pet Sematary” who first introduces the protagonists to the accursed Indian burial ground. This whole segment (and Gwynn’s famously distinctive voice) were parodied brilliantly in this South Park segment.
Novelty factor: I remember enjoying “Munsters” reruns while growing up, and I love that South Park bit, but I have to admit I had forgotten Gwynne’s actual name as the actor behind the roles. Now I remember.