20 Inside Jokes from Community


Tonight, Community returns for its fifth season, with Dan Harmon back on board as showrunner after he was fired in 2012. Prepare with a look back at the show's many self-referential and pop culture jokes, Easter eggs, and callbacks.

1. Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice

This was a sight gag three years in the making. Once a season, a character from Community would mention the character Beetlejuice from the Tim Burton film. In the third season, when Annie mentions the name, you can see Beetlejuice in the background passing through the frame.

2. Abed Delivers a Baby

In season two, Abed is rarely featured in the episode “The Psychology of Letting Go”: We see him only in the background in a story arc that involves a couple. First, Abed first meets a pregnant woman; then, the father of the unborn child confronts Abed thinking that his girlfriend is having an affair. Later, Abed is seen in a pickup truck helping to deliver a baby. 

The couple having the baby was first seen during season one in “The Politics of Human Sexuality,” where you can see a couple in the background throwing away a condom before having sex. More than nine months later, in season two, Abed helps deliver their baby. 

Later in season two, Shirley goes into labor and the study group has no idea what to do—except for Abed, who says he has experience delivering babies.

3. Abed’s Visit to Cougar Town

Abed’s favorite TV show is Cougar Town: In the episode “Critical Film Studies,” he mentions to Jeff that he was invited to visit the set of the TV comedy. In the Cougar Town episode “Something Good Coming - Part 1,” you can see Abed in the background.

Later in season two, Cougar Town's Busy Phillips and Dan Byrd make a cameo appearance in Community.

4. Apartment 303 

In the episode “Remedial Chaos Theory,” Troy and Abed are having a dinner party at their new apartment. Britta and Annie show up first and comment on whether the party is in apartment number 304 or 303.

TV episodes are numbered with the number of the season first and then followed by the episode number itself, so season 3, episode 3 is 303. While the episode was aired as the third season’s fourth episode, it was originally supposed to air as its third, thus the 303 and 304 confusion.

5. Gwynnifer

Series creator Dan Harmon is very active on Twitter and will actually reply to users if they have a question or comment. But when Twitter user @Gwynnifer called him a fat bigot, Harmon used her name as a punching bag on the TV show. The name Gwynnifer is also used as a secret code between Britta and Jeff’s secret relationship. Their love affair was later revealed in the episode “Paradigms of Human Memory.”

6. Rowboat Cop 

In the episode “Aerodynamics of Gender,” Shirley, Annie, and Britta use Abed’s eerie attention to detail to be ruthlessly honest with the girls of Greendale. Abed compares his gift to Robocop, which Britta mistakes for Rowboat Cop.

In Abed’s heads up robot display, he has a list of events that foreshadow future episodes like “build a blanket fort,” “call mom for Christmas,” and a reminder for Troy’s birthday.

7. Latvian Independence Parade

In the episode “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design,” Troy and Abed make a giant blanket fort throughout most of Greendale Community College. A small Latvian Independence Parade marches through the massive blanket fort. The episode originally aired on November 18, 2010, which is the same date as Latvian Independence Day.

8. Annie’s Boobs Steals The Pen

At the very beginning of the episode, unbeknownst to the characters, we very briefly see that Troy’s pet monkey Annie’s Boobs stole Annie’s pen. The whole episode is spent trying to figure out who was the culprit. 

9. Mad Men 

The study group finds out that a student at Greendale has a crush on Abed. To see if he has the ability to flirt with women, Abed and Annie role-play a casual encounter as Abed channels Don Draper from Mad Men to seduce Annie. Actor Alison Brie plays both Annie Edison on Community and Trudy Campbell on Mad Men.

10. Daybreak

Multiple characters through season three of Community hum musician Michael Haggins’ smooth jazz tune “Daybreak.” It starts with Abed in season three’s Halloween episode “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps,” then continues with Troy in “Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism,” and then later with Annie in “Contemporary Impressionists.” 

11. Shirley’s Friend Gary

Gary was Shirley’s unseen Finnish friend at Greendale before she met the study group. During the show's first season, she tries to introduce him to the study group, but they are not keen on the idea of Gary joining. Britta calls him a boring buzz kill, while Shirley continues to defend her friend. Later in season one, Gary transfers to another school. 

12. Derrick Comedy

In season two, Abed arranges a wedding ceremony for Jeff and Britta. The people Abed hired for the wedding ceremony are some of the members of the sketch comedy group Derrick Comedy; Donald Glover was a former member. 

13. Britta’s Dinosaur

Much like the other members of the study group, Britta has psychological trauma that she’s repressed from her memory. Britta’s trauma comes in the form of dinosaurs. It's first discussed in the season one finale by Professor Duncan, then re-occurred as a sight gag in season two’s Halloween episode where Britta dressed as a T-Rex, and later in season three, when evil Abed psychoanalyzed Britta’s state of mind.

14. Theo Huxtable

Malcolm-Jamal Warner played Shirley’s estranged husband Andre on Community. In his first appearance, Jeff compliments Andre’s sweater as Andre mentions that his father gave it to him. The sweater is a reference to Bill Cosby, Malcolm-Jamal Warner’s TV dad on The Cosby Show.

15. Colonel Sanders

When the study group is trapped in the Kentucky Fried Chicken spaceflight simulator in season two, Pierce has a panic attack and hallucinates that Colonel Sanders is trying to kill him. Pierce screams out “Get off my mommy, I’m her man” when he destroys the simulator display.

Later in season three, we’re introduced to Pierce’s father Cornelius Hawthorne, who looks exactly like Colonel Sanders.

16. 1980s Martin Scorsese

In the episode “Physical Education,” Jeff takes a billiards class where he gets into a heated confrontation with his instructor. During the episode’s climax, there’s a cutaway to a man who looks like a young Martin Scorsese from the 1980s. The episode is a parody of the movie The Color of Money directed by Martin Scorsese.

17. Fletch Lives!

On the official Greendale Community College website, Pierce Hawthorne is listed in the Student Spotlight section. In his bio, the movie Fletch is listed as one of his favorite movies. Of course, the actor who plays Pierce is Chevy Chase, who played the character Irwin M. “Fletch” Fletcher.

18. All Tomato

In the episode “Studies in Modern Movement,” Annie moves into Troy and Abed’s new apartment. As the only adult, when she gets annoyed with their childish behavior she threatens them with an ultimatum. A few episodes later, in “Pillows and Blankets,” Troy and Abed fight over territory for their respective forts, so Troy threatens Abed with an “all tomato” to take down Pillow Town. Troy doesn’t know how to pronounce the word “ultimatum.” 

19. Danielle Harmon

In the first season's finale, Greendale’s annual Transfer Dance is renamed to the Tranny Dance. Dean Pelton reads off the runners up for the Tranny Queen contest. One of the names he reads is the feminine version of Dan Harmon’s name, Danielle.

20. Donald Glover as Spider-Man

In the episode “Anthropology 101,” the opening shot features the members of the study group waking up for the first day of school. Troy is visibly wearing Spider-Man pajamas. During the summer of 2010, Donald Glover campaigned to audition for the role of Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man reboot film.

Hulton Archive, Getty Images
15 Funny Quips from Great American Humorists
Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

The art of social satire is a tough one, but a great humorist's keen observations, witticisms, and turns of phrase continue to ring true even decades later. "Humor is something that thrives between man's aspirations and his limitations," the musical comedian Victor Borge once noted. "There is more logic in humor than in anything else. Because, you see, humor is truth." (In other words, it's funny 'cause it's true.) Here are 15 more quips from some of America's most astute commentators.

1. MARK TWAIN (1835-1910)

Mark Twain
Rischgitz, Getty Images

"Familiarity breeds contempt—and children."

2. DOROTHY PARKER (1893-1967)

Dorothy Parker looks at the camera. There is a man in a tuxedo and wine bottles in the background.
Evening Standard, Getty Images

"That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment."

3. JAMES THURBER (1894-1961)

James Thurber smokes a cigarette sitting in an armchair.
Fred Palumbo, Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

"Last night I dreamed of a small consolation enjoyed only by the blind: Nobody knows the trouble I've not seen!"

4. NORA EPHRON (1941-2012)

Nora Ephron smiles for press at an event.
Stephen Lovekin, Getty Images

"Summer bachelors, like summer breezes, are never as cool as they pretend to be."

5. GORE VIDAL (1925-2012)

Gore Vidal
Central Press, Getty Images

"The four most beautiful words in our common language: I told you so."

6. ARTEMUS WARD (1834-1867)

A sepia-toned cabinet card of Artemus Ward
TCS 1.3788, Harvard Theatre Collection, Harvard University, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

"They drink with impunity, or anybody who invites them."

7. GERTRUDE STEIN (1874-1946)

Gertrude Stein sits at a desk with a pen in her hand.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

"The thing that differentiates man from animals is money."


Franklin Pierce Adams sits at a desk that's covered in papers.
Harris & Ewing Collection, Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

"Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory."

9. ETHEL WATERS (1896-1977)

Ethel Waters leans in a doorway.
William P. Gottlieb, Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

"All the men in my life have been two things: an epic and an epidemic."

10. ROBERT BENCHLEY (1889-1945)

Robert Benchley sits at a desk in a scene from 'Foreign Correspondent.'
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

"Drinking makes such fools of people, and people are such fools to begin with that it's compounding a felony."

11. AMBROSE BIERCE (1842-1914)

A seated portrait of Ambrose Bierce
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

"Saint: A dead sinner revised and edited."

12. MAE WEST (1893-1980)

A portrait of Mae West
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

"When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before."

13. GEORGE S. KAUFMAN (1889-1961)

A seated portrait of George S. Kaufman
The Theatre Magazine Company, photograph by Vandamm, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

"At dramatic rehearsals, the only author that's better than an absent one is a dead one."

14. VICTOR BORGE (1909-2000)

Victor Borge plays the piano.
Keystone, Getty Images

"Santa Claus has the right idea—visit people only once a year."

15. GEORGE CARLIN (1937-2008)

George Carlin doing a stand-up set
Ken Howard, Getty Images

"Atheism is a non-prophet organization."

Mad Magazine
12 Things You Might Not Know About MAD Magazine
Mad Magazine
Mad Magazine

As fast as popular culture could erect wholesome depictions of American life in comics, television, or movies, MAD Magazine was there to tear them all down. A near-instant success for EC Comics upon its debut in 1952, the magazine has inspired generations of comedians for its pioneering satirical attitude and tasteful booger jokes. This month, DC Entertainment is relaunching an "all new" MAD, skewering pop culture on a bimonthly basis and in full color. To fill the gaps in your knowledge, take a look at these facts about the Usual Gang of Idiots.


Jamie, Flickr (L) // Boston Public Library, Flickr (R) // CC BY 2.0

MAD creator Harvey Kurtzman was in the offices of a Ballantine Books editor discussing reprints for the fledgling publication when he noticed a grinning, gap-toothed imbecile staring back at him from a bulletin board. The unnamed figure was ubiquitous in the early 20th century, appearing in everything from dentistry ads to depictions of diseases. A charmed Kurtzman adopted him as MAD’s mascot beginning in 1954. Neuman later become so recognizable that a letter was delivered from New Zealand to MAD’s New York offices without an address: The envelope simply had a drawing of Alfred.


MAD was conceived during a particularly sensitive time for the comics industry, with parents and watchdog groups concerned over content. (It didn't switch to a magazine format until issue #24.) Kurtzman usually knew where the line was, but when he was laid up with acute hepatitis in 1952, publisher William Gaines and others had to step in for him. Gaines thought it would be funny to offer a fictional biography of himself that detailed his father’s Communist leanings, his past as a dope dealer “near nursery schools,” and bouts of pyromania. When wholesalers were shocked at the content and threatened to boycott all of his titles, Gaines was forced to write a letter of apology.


But it was a cheat. In the run-up to the 1960 Presidential election, MAD printed a cover that featured Neuman congratulating Kennedy on his victory with a caption that read, “We were with you all the way, Jack!” But the issue was shipped long before votes had been tabulated. The secret? It was a dual cover. Flip it over and Neuman is celebrating Richard Nixon’s appointment to office. Stores were told to display the “right” side of the magazine depending on the outcome.


MAD Magazine

A character named Moxie Cowznofski was introduced in the late 1950s as a female companion for Alfred. She made only a handful of cover appearances, possibly due to the fact she looked alarmingly like her significant other.


From the beginning, Gaines felt that printing actual advertisements next to the products they were lampooning would not only dilute their edge but seem more than a little hypocritical. After some back-and-forth, MAD cut ads starting in 1957. The decision was a costly one—most print publications survive on such revenue—but led to the magazine’s keeping a sharp knife against the throat of seductive advertising, including cigarettes. Faced with dwindling circulation in 2001, MAD finally relented and began taking ads to help pay for a switch to color printing.


Cuban cartoonist Antonio Prohias was disenchanted with the regime under Fidel Castro when he began working on what would become “Spy vs. Spy.” Because Prohias’s other newspaper illustrations were critical of Castro, the Cuban government suspected him of working for the CIA. He wasn’t, but the perception had him worried harm might come to his co-workers. To get out of the situation, Prohias came to America in 1960. With his daughter helping translate, he stopped by MAD’s New York offices and submitted his work; his sneaky, triangle-headed spies became regulars.


Artist Al Jaffee, now 94, has been with MAD almost from the beginning. He created the famous Fold-In—the back cover that reveals a new picture when doubled over—in 1964 after seeing the fold-outs in magazines like National Geographic, Playboy, and Life. Jaffee has rarely missed an issue since—but editors backtracked on one of Jaffee’s works that referenced a mass shooting in 2013. Citing poor taste, they destroyed over 600,000 copies.


With the exception of Fox’s successful sketch series, 1994’s MAD TV, attempts to translate the MAD brand into other media have been underwhelming: A 1974 animated special didn’t even make it on air. But a 1980 film venture, a military school spoof directed by Robert Downey, Sr. titled Mad Presents Up the Academy, was so awful William Gaines demanded to have their name taken off of it. (Renamed Up the Academy, the DVD release of the movie still features someone sporting an Alfred E. Neuman mask; MAD parodied it in a spoof titled “Throw Up the Academy.”)


MAD Magazine

MAD has never made a habit of good taste, but a depiction of a raised middle finger for one issue in the mid-’70s caused a huge stir. Many stores wouldn’t stock it for fear of offending customers, and the company ended up accepting an irregular number of returns. Gaines took to his typewriter to write a letter of apology. Again. The relaunched #1, out in April 2018, pays homage to this cover, though it's slightly more tasteful: Neuman is picking his nose with his middle finger.


MAD writer Tom Koch was amused by the convoluted rules of sports and attempted to one-up them in 43-Man Squamish, a game he invented for the April 1965 issue. Koch and artist George Woodbridge (“MAD’s Athletic Council”) prepared a guide that was utterly incomprehensible—the field was to have five sides, positions included Deep Brooders and Dummies, “interfering with the Wicket Men” constituted a penalty—but it amused high school and college readers enough to try and mount their own games. (Short on players? Try 2-Man Squamish: “The rules are identical,” Koch wrote, “except the object of the game is to lose.”) For the less physically inclined, MAD also issued a board game in which the goal is to lose all of your money.


In what must be some kind of fulfilled prophecy, lyrical satirist “Weird” Al Yankovic was named as a guest editor—their first—for the magazine’s May 2015 issue. Yankovic told Entertainment Weekly that MAD had put him on “the dark, twisted path to becoming who I am today … I needed to pollute my mind with that kind of stuff.” In addition to his collaborations with the staff, Yankovic enlisted Patton Oswalt, Seth Green, and Chris Hardwick to contribute.


In a scene so surreal even MAD’s irreverent editors would have had trouble dreaming it up, Fred Astaire decided to sport an Alfred E. Neuman mask for a dance number in his 1959 television special, Another Evening with Fred Astaire. No one seems to recall why exactly Astaire would do this—he may have just wanted to include a popular cultural reference—but it was no off-the-cuff decision. Astaire hired movie make-up veteran John Chambers (Planet of the Apes) to craft a credible mask of Neuman. The result is … well, kind of disturbing. But it’s a fitting addition to a long tradition of people going completely MAD.

Additional Sources:
Harvey Kurtzman: The Man Who Created Mad and Revolutionized Humor in America.


More from mental floss studios