CTVW: How much do plotholes matter in comedy? How far can you go in a comic situation before you lose the audience? What determines how far you can go?
KL: Well, this is a judgment call based on the show and its tone. Will and Grace
is bordering on burlesque and seems to work. Raymond
couldn't go that far -- the audience would go, whoa, what are you doing?
When I was on Cheers
in the later years, we'd have this discussion a lot. I would fight some of the story turns, maybe because I was there from the beginning. For example, there was an ep where where Rebecca decides to make the back room a tea room, and I'm thinking, this is brain dead. Yes, it's funny, but...
CTVW: ... it's out of character.
CTVW: Tell me about the squeaky shoes. What was so brilliant about that is all the stories felt distinct, but they all wound up culminating in this one moment when Sammy is the only
possible date for Rebecca.
KL: I don't remember exactly who in the room pitched the squeaky shoes. We didn't think it was special, we were all incredibly surprised when it received as much attention and as many accolades as it did. We were just happy it worked -- We were just trying to get something that'd work.
David and I did an ep ... "Breaking In Is Hard to Do." One of the premises was that Frasier and Lilith's baby hadn't spoken yet. Frasier was taking care of the kid, and he'd bring the kid into the bar every day. We set up this situation where there were now parking meters, so Norm had to refeed the meter every couple of hours. Which means we had to do five separate Norm entrances. Finally at the end of the show Lilith comes to the bar and discovers that Frasier is there with the baby. She's furious, Frasier's a horrible influence, a terrible father ... and the baby opens its mouth and its first word is "Norm." Got a huge
laugh. A three minute laugh.
But when we wrote the episode, we didn't know that. And the whole episode was leading up to that. We were thinking: if this doesn't work, we are f****d
. We have spent the entire show setting up one joke. All we did was hold our breath.
CTVW: John Rogers was talking about the "Nakamora" --
KL: I think that was on Taxi
-- the name of the guy was supposed to be funny, and it wasn't, and you had six or seven Nakamora callbacks, and none of them worked, and you know you have four more coming, and they're
not going to work. And you're dying.