My teen years involved some very rudimentary daily rituals. Although most were common to anyone in my age group, the one ritual I seemed to look forward to most was coming home from school every day to watch Animimaniacs. It was the first cartoon that I really felt fed my child instinct to like cartoons, and fed my adult instinct to like slightly inappropriate comedy and pop culture references. That is primarily what made up Animaniacs. Awesome, retro style animation ala Looney Tunes, and insane, joke-a-minute references that were definitely aimed over the heads of most children.
Animanniacs also did something that many cartoons have tried, but very few have pulled off successfully. It made learning fun and funny. For those reasons alone, it is clear to me this list is long overdue. From the educational to the inappropriate, here are eight utterly awesome Animaniacs moments (with video to back it up).
Nations of the World
What might be the best and most memorable moments of this amazing show was when they used their gifts to teach. I know that sounds silly, but I am serious.
A perfect example of this was Yakko’s world, when Yakko sang, well, all the nations of the world. Do you understand that if a rapper did this people would think he was a “Rap God”? That’s a reference within a reference, people. The Animaniacs writers would be proud. Seriously, though, someone needs to put a chunky beat to this and release it as a single. Becoming smarter has never been more catchy.
Seriously, this moment made me smarter. Thank you, Animaniacs.
Pinky and the Brain Get Meta
Tell me there were a better comic due outside Pinky and the Brain (and Ren N’ Stimpy) in the 90’s, and I will punch your throat. This was voice acting, animation, and writing all gelling with perfection.
Perhaps no moment was more perfect than when Pinky and the Brain waxed philosophical about why old school cartoons were better than new ones. Again, holy Meta, Batman!
Oh, I see what they did there.
Wakko States and Capitals
Wakko was obviously my favorite Animaniac. He was insane, which I can relate to, and he had a certain, undeniable charisma to him. Plus, he loved the ladies. So in essence, he set the tone for my whole life. But it was pretty clear he was far better than me at geography.
Again, I was made slightly wiser by a cartoon. Take that, shitty educational TV!
Goodfeathers: Boids in the Hood
Do you understand how many cylinders this is firing off from at once? I bet you don’t. Let it write it out for you.
First off, Birdfeathers. A cartoon based on Goodfella’s, only done with birds. so basically, old school gangster references, and on a kid’s show. Second, Boids in the Hood. A reference to the movie Boyz n the Hood, an entirely new school genre of gangster film. Last, Ride of the Valkyrie is used to GREAT effect in this scene. I ask of thee, when was the last time your easter eggs were served with a side of easter eggs, with easter egg sauce on top? Exactly my point, and exactly why I loved this show.
The voice over is what really sold the whole thing. Little touches like that are why this show is unforgettable.
Did you missed this is when it happened? don’t worry, many of us did.
Most of us honestly missed this joke when we watched the show was kids. That is because the basic concept of “fingering” may have been lost on us at the time. That said, holy crap! This shows us just how far Animaniacs were willing to push the limits, and just how much they got away with when the censors weren’t paying attention.
Again, a joke about fingering pop star Prince. On a kid’s show.
This is the high water mark for what can be done when not enough people are paying attention. Check and mate, Animaniacs.
Dot the Macadamia Nut
Again, I can’t even be mad at this. I mean, watch it and try not to laugh. What you need to understand is, this hit when Macarena was a HUGE hit, and the song was haunting and ruining everyone. Along come the Animaniacs to stick a pop culture spear right through its gut. “Every line sounds the same-ia, OH, Macadamia!” Yes, it’s stupid. But also, very self aware and spot on.
Also, the opening with the guard in the belly shirt? Come on, how did they even get away with this stuff? Don’t get me wrong. I am SO glad they did. But HOW?
The bad news? Believe it or not, you’ll be singing this all day now.
Beethoven is a Pianist
So maybe this is a joke everyone has scoffed at for ages, but the fact that they got away with it on an animated show that aired weekdays at 2:30 is nothing short of ballsy. I mean, you guys all know the joke and how it works. Pianist sounds like penis. Pretty simple stuff, but still, they were grabbing low hanging fruit when no one was paying attention, and set me up for a life of penis and fingering jokes.
Believe it or not, I am really grateful for that.
Here, have a whole episode. The joke is in there, you wont miss it. Also note how otherwise educational and awesome this is for kids who may have had no concept or idea of who Beethoven was and what he did. Also, when Yakko tells him the name isn’t familiar, but “hum a few bars”, that kills me every time. The Warner Bros and sister Dot were trolling people long before trolling became cool.
The Greatest Homage to the Burp Ever Made
Okay, I know, I know. This is such a baseline moment. It is toilet humor, and doesn’t mask itself as anything else. Yes, that’s true. But take a moment to look at all the above examples. Notice how there was a trend of education? Notice how there was a trend of sly humor slipped right by the censors and children? Don’t you think that Animaniacs kind of earned this? Don’t you think, for one moment, Animaniacs can just go for the easy joke? I say yes, and I can also admit, I clearly remember laughing way harder to this than any sane human should.
Did I mention that this was right around the same time I discovered drugs? They might not be related, but they really might be.
Hell, even when Animaniacs resorted to toilet humor, they still used classical music as the backing. That kind of says it all and sums up exactly why I loved this show. It was the tasteless nerd. Brilliant, yet not afraid to pander from time to time. Oh, and I still say “Helllooooo Nurse” when I see someone really attractive.
Not sure I should be bragging about that, but it sums up the impact this show had on my life.