Two days ago David Poland referred to columnists who’d been fed certain argument points in the Scott Rudin-Harvey Weinstein tussle over The Reader as “typing monkeys.” I laughed out loud (which I almost never do, being a LQTM type) because the term has personal meaning.
The term “typing monkeys” refers to a Paleolithic Bob Newhart joke about a theory that “if you take an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite number of typewriters, sooner or later they would write all the great books.” But if this theory were put to a literal test “they’d have to hire guys…you know, to check on whether they were turning out anything worthwhile.” Newhart then became one of them as he reads a line that one of the simians has just typed. “I think this is famous or something,” the guy says. “To be or not to be, that is the gzorninplatt.”
For years I’ve used a variation of Newhart’s “gzorninplatt” (using a crucial spelling difference that I’m not going to reveal here) as a secondary username or password. So there’s your testament to the power of Newhart as well as a minor parable about degrees of separation.