How a running sitcom joke saved a singer’s career

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One of Night Court’s best-known running gags regarding Harry Stone’s love of an acclaimed jazz singer gave the entertainer a late-career resurgence.

A recurring joke in the NBC sitcom night yard may have given a once-famous singer a late-career resurgence. In night yardIn the pilot episode, protagonist Judge Harry Stone (played by Harry Anderson) was revealed to be a huge fan of jazz singer Mel Tormé, perhaps best known for composing the tune to “The Christmas Song”, sometimes known as “Chestnuts”. Roast over an open fire. This single reference in the pilot eventually became a recurring gag in the series and may even have helped increase Tormé’s popularity.

night yard, which is to be rebooted by NBC, followed the antics of a Manhattan night court led by judge Harry T. Stone, obsessed with singer Mel Tormé. Eventually, Judge Harry Stone’s love of the crooner led to Tormé making repeat appearances on the show. He went on to appear on the sitcom as himself multiple times. Tormé even appeared as Harry’s guardian angel in a parody episode of It’s a wonderful life, in which he shows Harry what the world would be like if he had never become a judge.

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These appearances, along with Judge Stone’s many references to the late singer, contributed to a late resurgence for Tormé. Tormé himself even believed he had found connections with a new audience through his multiple cameos on the long-running series. Tormé may also owe some of his career-ending success to actor Harry Anderson’s shared obsession with the famous singer, underscoring how intertwined the ensemble is. night yard the installation was with the musician.


Before night yard a somewhat unresolved ending, the show steadily attracted large audiences over its nine years. Meanwhile, Tormé references and appearances often reached a very different audience, much younger than the original Tormé fans who knew him from his early jazz hits in the 1940s and 1950s. young, in addition to the resurgence of vocal jazz in the 70s and 80s, created a significant acceleration in Tormé’s career in the years to come.


Additionally, Harry Anderson, who played Judge Stone, was also a fan of Tormé. Because of this, his appearances on the show often featured taunting Tormé or otherwise clashing with Judge Stone, in order to play the inside joke of Stone’s bigotry towards the singer. And, although Tormé was sometimes called less warm than other contemporaries of the crooner like Tony Bennett, these comedic appearances alongside sometimes problematic characters like Dan Fielding, won over many viewers for the personality and the sense of Tormé’s humor later in his career.

As a whole, the NBC series was known for taking a vaudevillian or wacky style approach to its comedy. Both grotesque and sometimes whimsical appearances by Tormé (as is the case in the It’s a wonderful life parody episode), introduced Tormé’s work to a whole new generation. Even after his death in 1999, Tormé may owe much of his longevity to night yardbizarre references to the singer’s work.


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