Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Origin of "That's What She Said"

First of all, I'm a big fan of The Office. I have every season on DVD, it holds a position of high priority in my DVR series recordings, and it's the one show that Steve and I never miss watching together. In "Sexual Harrassment" (Season 2, Episode 2), Regional Manager Michael Scott used the double entendre, "That's what she said," and it took America by storm. This joke is basically played-out at this point. When middle schoolers are saying it and teachers are assigning detention for it, you know it's jumped the shark:
Example from The Office:
Jan: "I can't stay on top of you 24/7."
Michael: "That's what she said."

Example from my life:
Nurse [checking my empty IV bag]: "You sucked it dry"
Steve (texting me from across my hospital room): "That's what she said."

In case you've been missing out, or need a giggle, here's a handy video compiling clips of "That's what she said" jokes throughout the series run of The Office
Aside from occasional harmless chuckle (and a sense of pride at a well-placed joke of my own), I had not given "That's what she said" much thought. Maybe the writers of The Office created the phrase, maybe they didn't. The other morning while getting ready for work, Wayne's World (1992) was on television. I've seen it many times, but I guess this line went over my head in the past:

[Wayne and Garth discuss Claudia Schiffer.]

Wayne: She's a babe.
Garth Algar: She's magically babe-a-licious.
Wayne: She tested very high on the stroke-ability scale.
Garth: Hey, are you done yet? I'm getting tired of holding this. (referring to Claudia's picture)
Wayne: Yeah, that's what she said.

Whoa! Has "That's what she said" been hovering around since 1992, waiting until 2005 to blow up? Because I have a healthy curiosity, I decided to seek the answer to this question. Some sources credit Chevy Chase with being the originator of the joke, going all the way back to Saturday Night Live "Weekend Update" in 1975. I combed over transcripts of "Weekend Update" available online (don't make fun of me) and I did not find the joke. Transcripts were only available for half the episodes, so I can't say for sure that Chevy didn't say it first. Apparantly I am not the only person to give too much considerable thought to this subject. Recently, Funny or Die posted this video featuring Megan Mullally as the person who coined the phrase, "That's what she said"

1 comment:

  1. This is really interesting! I love that you researched it. I am the same way, when I'm curious about something, I hop on my laptop and keep searching until I'm satisfied!