Coffee Talk

I don’t know how many of you remember “Coffee Talk with Linda Richman,” but it was a sketch performed by Mike Myers on  Saturday Night Live. It ran from October 12, 1991, until October 15, 1994, although Myers (who had since left the show) reprised the role once more on March 22, 1997.

In the sketches, Myers plays a stereotypical Jewish middle-aged woman named Linda Richman with an exaggerated New York accent who sports long, painted fake nails; lots of gold jewelry; gaudy sweaters; large dark glasses; and big hair, which she constantly adjusts. This character was a spoof on his real-life mother-in-law, Linda Richman.  The above clip is a classic skit with Mike Myers, Madonna and Roseanne Barr as their characters.

Richman’s hero was Barbra Streisand. She constantly “dedicated” the show to her, often claiming her to be the greatest actress in all of history.

In what could be considered to be the sketch’s most memorable moment, Myers was joined on February 22, 1992, by special guests Madonna and Roseanne Barr as other stereotypical Jewish women. Madonna also lampooned herself by having her character attack Madonna as a bad example for teenage Jewish girls (“She is such a tramp. Please! Every week with the different boyfriend already!”). They discussed Streisand’s film The Prince of Tides (1991) on the show.

Whenever Richman would get upset, she would put her hand on her chest and say “I’m all verklempt” or “I’m a little verklempt.” Then she would say, “Talk amongst yourselves,” sometimes waving her hand in a dismissive gesture toward the audience. She would often follow this with an example by saying, “I’ll give you a topic.” The topic would usually follow this format: “[two- or three-part phrase] is neither [first part] nor [second part] (nor [occasional third part]). Discuss.” (Or: “Discuss amooangst yooaselves”).

The one that I will always remember is “The Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire. Discuss.” (This quote is based on a famous comment by Voltaire.)  By the way, I always use this in class when I discuss the Holy Roman Empire, but few of my students ever get the reference, because they are too young to remember Mike Myers on SNL.

This is a roundabout way of doing what started as a short post, but believe it or not there was a point, and it had nothing to do with cross-dressing comedians, gay icons Barbara Streisand or Madonna.  By the way, I never understood Streisand as a gay icon. I, personally, never liked her that much, to which some of you might get upset about and get “all verklempt”  in which case I am going to give you the following quote (the real reason I started this post before I decided that I might need to explain Coffee Talk):

These names: gay, queer, homosexual are limiting. I would love to finish with them. We’re going to have to decide which terms to use and where we use them. For me to use the word “queer” is a liberation; it was a word that frightened me, but no longer.
Derek Jarman

Discuss amooangst yooaselves.
By the way, as a post that started out as a way of just have a discussion about a quote, I think I have made a darn good post, LOL–not to brag on myself or anything.  Y’all might think this is a crappy post. 

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

9 responses to “Coffee Talk

  • tamayn

    Know Linda Richman? My brother dressed as her for Halloween his senior year of high school! I loved when she would start putting in Yiddish randomly. I think the best word I ever heard though was genechtagazoink. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=genechtagazoink

  • P

    Queer is strange or not the norm and any man that can crack a fat looking at another mans arse deserves to be called queer. It is correct, it is not as nature intended it is QUEER.Gay disturbs me more. How could so nice an old fashioned word come to be used to describe homosexuals or worse still be used as a form of insult.BTW before you scream homophobe I am bisexual so shove that up your ass (not literally)

  • Jay M.

    Yeah, I loved that character! Used to watch every week so I wouldn't miss her (and many others, those were the second round of golden days for SNL). I, too, hate the term "queer". Gay doesn't make a lot of sense either. I guess "homo" works are well as anything, since we seldom call straights "heterosexual", it's always "hetero". By the way, who came up with AC/DC for bi's? AC current "swings" both ways, DC is one way only! How weird!Peace <3Jay

  • Coop

    We're going to have to decide which terms to use and where we use them."mmmkayy… who's WE? is their going to be a committee of homosexuals that will decide for all of us? My point is I don't think there will ever be complete agreement. And the world has enough jargon as is. Too much in my never humble opinion. If the Patriots lose on Sunday I'll still be homosexual but I won't be gay. So there.

  • P

    @Jay MAC/DC is both alternatives so if you are bi you do both, like the best of both worlds, swinging both ways, or batting for both sides. I doubt it actually relates to electricity.@CoopI agree. The solution is just don't talk about the queer, limp wristed, poo pushers 😛

  • Dave

    I hate all those words. None of them fit those of us (most of us?) who are not effeminate, giddy, or pierced with various pieces of metal. The men of ancient Greece got along fine loving each other without a special word identifying the nature of the affection in question as different from what a man might feel for someone of another sex, and the same verbs are used for emotions and actions between males as for male-female relationship. (See Dover's "Greek Homosexuality and Initiation", pp. 19-20.) But then it seems scarcely to have occurred to them that a man would want to forever exclude himself from sex with women. Nor does such an approach make any sense to me. Genitals exist primarily to generate new life. If they are never so used, that's a waste.

  • P

    @DaveActually the ancient Greeks did have special words identifying the nature of the affection. There was the eros love which was spiritual and could be physical but not necessarily so and the philia love which was physical but not necessarily spiritual.There was a third but I'm a bit rusty on ancient Greece, perhaps you should read that book again.

  • Coop

    I identify as "Queer" sometimes but I also use "gay".The way I see it the word "gay" has baggage. It goes beyond attraction to a person of the same sex. A gay guy likes musical theater, hate sports and a million other things that are attached to the meaning of the word. It's a stigma, profiling maybe.

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