The Deep Cut 'Animaniacs' Joke That Went Over Kids' Heads

In case you didn't hear, there's a new rebooted Animaniacs show out now, delighting both adult fans and children who are being forced to watch it by said adult fans. Of course, the beloved cartoon has always featured mature references and subversive humor -- lest we forget the time Yakko and Dot Warner slipped a joke about fingering Prince's butthole past the censors. But one episode features a remarkably deep cut joke, even by Animaniacs standards; the segment Yes, Always inexplicably featured Pinky and the Brain, not attempting to take over the world, but recording a voiceover for ... a frozen pea commercial?

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This was an almost word for word recreation of the infamous Orson Welles frozen pea commercial outtake. In it, the genius behind Citizen Kane gloriously melts down during a recording session, berating his director and criticizing the quality of the prose he was given to properly illustrate the picturesque backstory of these chilled vegetables.

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Which is an insanely obscure reference for a show that preceded the internet and was ostensibly for children. There's even an extra layer of self-reference at play here because voice actor Maurice Lamarche's Brain is clearly patterned off of his Welles impression, and Lamarche would routinely perform the frozen pea rant as a mic check before recording sessions. According to Rob Paulsen, the voice of Pinky, the episode was a "$300,000 in-joke." Touchingly, the writers created the scene purely as a gift to Lamarche after his friend, comedian Sam Kinison, tragically died. Hopefully, the new season of Animaniacs will find the Brain drunkenly ruining a champagne commercial. 

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter! And check out the podcast Rewatchability.

Top Image: Warner Bros.

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