The figures are rolling in, and they’re not pretty. Humorologists around the world are concerned that, ever since Steve Carell left “The Office,” a disturbing trend has developed: the number of times someone delivers the punchline “That’s what she said” is off by about 80% from just last year. “That’s what she said,” also know by its acronym TWSS, has been a very popular “go-to” line at parties and social gatherings throughout the world, ever since the debut of the NBC TV show “The Office.” Steve Carell starred as the inept manager Michael Scott, and he would liberally sprinkle his discourse with the line, whenever an irresistible “double entendre” would pop up in the show’s dialogue. The TWSS would often fall flat, or be considered “wildly inappropriate” in a business context, which would only add to the “awkward moment,” a mainstay of the show’s humor. This endearing quality of the TWSS, that it doesn’t necessarily have to be traditionally “funny,” gave hope to would-be comedians everywhere, that they too might one day “get a laugh” from their friends and co-workers.
But Steve Carell did not return to The Office this past season, effectively “retiring” his signature line from the show. That has apparently produced a “domino” effect among the viewing audience, which has carried over into their personal lives, away from the couch or the beanbag in front of their television sets. “Folks are no longer delivering TWSSs with any regularity,” says distinguished laughmetician Bob Kazamakis. “Never mind the completely uncalled for, perplexingly unfunny TWSSs, unpoetically launched by drunken dullards; Even the drop-dead, slam-dunk double entendres are going untouched, by seasoned jokesters with finely honed senses of humor. This is tragic.”
To provide proof, Professor Kazamakis has been doing exhaustive undercover field research, which mostly involves walking around aimlessly, and listening in on whatever conversation he happens to intrude upon. Recently, he was snooping at a hotel lounge. As he explains: “I was sitting at the bar eavesdropping on a guest, who asked the bartender to mix her drink with ‘Sprite Zero.’ The bartender said that he had no ‘Sprite Zero’ behind the bar, but he would go to Room Service to see if they had cans of that particular soda. The lady shook her head and whined, ‘I’ve never had it in the can.’” At that point, according to Professor K, the bartender would normally interject with a jaunty “That’s what she said.” But instead… he let it drop, and sadly, a TWSS was missed.
In another instance, Professor Kazamakis was standing in the checkout line at a discount department store. The elderly gentleman ahead of him was attempting to pay for his purchases with a credit card, and he kept unsuccessfully swiping the card briskly downward through the machine. The pert and perky clerk patiently told the man “Try sliding it up… slowly.” Then she looked back at the professor, and instead of delivering the expected zinger, she sheepishly grinned and said “Good thing we’re all adults here, huh?” This was yet another missed TWSS.
Humorological researchers, dressed in their white lab coats, and armed with Giggle-o-meters, are quick to point out that there still might be a little life left in “That’s what she said.” For one thing, people will always need a familiar punchline to get them through all the never-ending wedding speeches, testimonials, toasts and roasts. And so far, no other catchphrase has stepped up to capture the world’s attention. The predecessor of TWSS (“… said the actress to the Bishop”) was too esoteric, and the second attempt by “The Office” (“Why don’t you shove it up your butt?”) was soundly rejected by grade school children the world over as being too “childish.” Professor Kazamakis summed it up: “‘That’s what she said’ has been the top “go-to” punchline for quite some time now. And it maintains that position on top because it is so satisfying.” Then, as a distracted afterthought following a long pause, he added “Oh yeah, right, that’s what, uh… she said, as they say.”