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.