(art by Aireen Arellano - to view larger version, click here)
EPISODE: “On the Job” parts 1 & 2
FIRST AIRED: May 07 & 14, 1981
Sadness. Despair. Dashed hopes. Broken dreams. Jokes about suicide. Welcome to the nonstop party room that is Taxi!
All sitcoms necessarily operate under the same mission statement: make them laugh, the end. Comedy writers deploy an array of tools at their disposal to get the job done. Pratfalls, double entendres, acidic insults, sight gags, sex, horrifying social situations, and bad behavior are the usual order of the day. And then there’s Taxi, the rare sitcom to have its feet planted firmly in melancholy.
Musings on regret, failure, and hardship are one of the richest wellsprings for laughter, yet not many studio sitcoms have really bothered to have their characters stare deep into the void of their own lives. Sure, most modern sitcoms have come to embrace the intertwining of comedy and tragedy with such fervor that the beloved term ‘dramedy’ has stayed in vogue for the past couple of decades. But unlike The Office or Weeds, Taxi’s brand of everyday bleakness was shot in front of a live studio audience. Weekly, the writers had enough honest chutzpah to take grounded and downright bummer situations and move a whole live audience to laughter.
Season Three’s “On the Job” gives our fearless crew of forlorn cabbies a new reason to laugh in the dark: they no longer have jobs.