Tag Archives: Taxi

It’s Classic Clip Friday: Taxi – Jim The Travelling Salesman; Latka On Friendship

For this week’s Classic TV Scene, we return to New York’s Sunshine Cab Company.

You may remember earlier in the year, the Choob featured the all-time best scene from the 1970s/80s sitcom TaxiJim’s Driving Test.

However, it had plenty of other memorable scenes and great performances, so here are another couple of great clips.

First, another tour de force from Christopher Lloyd as “reverend” Jim Ignatowski who, having lost his job as a cabbie, has become a door-to-door salesman:

And here is the late, great Andy Kaufman as mechanic Latka Gravas, sharing his views on the importance of friendship:

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Top Of The Pops Thursday: REM (Featuring Bruce Springsteen) – Man On The Moon

I have to admit that while I certainly don’t dislike R.E.M., the band has never been one of my favourites.

However, their 1992 song Man On The Moon is second only to The Who’s Pinball Wizard on my list of all-time favourite songs.

If you’ve been paying attention to previous Choob posts, you’ll also know that I am a fan of 70s/80s sitcom Taxi (having featured Jim’s Driving Test as a Classic Clip and the show’s theme tune in Tuesday Is Theme Tunes Day).

As such, I was aware of Andy Kaufman, who played foreign mechanic Latka Gravas on Taxi, from an early age.

However, after hearing so many stories about him over the years, it was only about a decade ago, not that long before the Kaufman biopic Man On The Moon came out, that I really got interested in him and learned the fascinating story of the man behind the character of Latka, his extraordinary life and his death from cancer in 1984 at the tragically young age of 35.

The reason, of course, that I mention all this is that the R.E.M. song Man On The Moon – which also lent its title to the movie, for which the band provided the music – was inspired by Kaufman’s life. Even before I knew that, the song was a favourite but knowing the story of the man who inspired it somehow gave it a whole new level of resonance for me.

Anyway, here is R.E.M. performing the song live on October 11, 2004 at the MCI Centre in Washington D.C., on the Vote For Change tour, with special guest Bruce Springsteen on guitar and dueting with singer Michael Stipe.


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Tuesday Is Theme Tunes Day – Taxi

The Choob has already featured Jim’s driving test scene from the 70s/80s sitcom Taxi in Classic Clip Friday.

It’s one of my all-time favourite comedies and had a fantastic theme tune, so it was only a matter of time before the show also turned up on Theme Tune Tuesday.

The music was written by Bob James and is actually called Angela. It’s named after a character that cabbie Alex Reiger (Judd Hirsch) dates in the third episode of the show’s first season and was originally just a part of the incidental score for that episode but the producers liked it so much they decided to use it as the theme music for the show instead of their original choice (which was another piece of music written by James, called Touchdown).

Here are are the show’s opening titles (with the season one cast listing):

Here are the closing titles (from the season one episode which introduced guest star Christopher Lloyd as Jim Ignatowski, who would return as a regular character in season two):

And finally, here is James performing the full version of Angela live in Korea:


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It’s Classic Clip Friday: WKRP In Cincinnati – Turkey Drop

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A couple of weeks ago on Classic Clip Friday, we featured Jim’s driving test scene from 70s US sitcom Taxi.

This week’s classic clip comes from one of Taxi’s contemporary comedies, but one that is even less well-remembered and more under-appreciated by modern audiences – WKRP In Cincinnati.

Yet the show, about a struggling radio station, featured some great characters, including Howard Hesseman‘s Dr. Johnny Fever (he wasn’t a real doctor…) and Les Nessman (Richard Sanders), a somewhat less than worldly-wise news reporter, whose serious, professional demeanour belied the fact that he was utterly useless.

Les gave us the show’s single best, most-memorable scene. To set it up, you should know that the station manager, Arthur Carlson (Gordon Jump) had decided to organise a special Thanksgiving promotion to try and boost the radio station’s profile, but hadn’t told anyone what it was – just that he needed 20 live turkeys.

(Incidentally, check out this post for a few more classic TV show Thanksgiving clips.)

Les is sent to a shopping mall to cover the event:

“Oh the humanity!”

A brilliant performance by Sanders, parodying Herbert Morrison’s famous coverage of the Hindenburg disaster.


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It’s Classic Clip Friday: Taxi – Jim’s Driving Test

These days, Taxi, which ran for five seasons between 1978 and 83, is somewhat overshadowed in the annals of TV history by Cheers, which took Taxi’s structure of an ensemble comedy based almost exclusively around a single location to even greater heights.

Nonetheless, Taxi remains one of the great American sitcoms. Its greatest strength was the fantastic mix of characters, played by an extremely eclectic and talented cast.

I’m a big fan of the late, great Andy Kaufman, who played innocent and naive foreign mechanic Latka Gravas on the show – but much as I admire his exceptional talent, for me the show’s scene-stealing star was “reverend” Jim Ignatowski, played by Christopher Lloyd (who would later find even greater fame as Doc Brown in the Back to The Future movies).

Jim was one of TV’s great creations. A permanently bemused and befuddled spaced-out relic of the drug-fuelled counter-culture – “the living embodiment of the 60s”, as he once described himself. Yet, over the course of the series, an intriguing back-story emerged for Jim which, combined with Lloyd’s masterful performance in the role, provided the character with, arguably more depth and charm than any other on the show. And, more importantly, he got most of the funniest scenes.

 Yet Jim was not even  in the original cast. He appeared as a guest star in one episode of the first season and made such an impression that the producers bought him back full time in the second season. And the rest is history.

When they brought him back, they were faced with the problem of how to integrate him into the cast given that his character was clearly not someone you would consider a suitable taxi driver. The resultant scene as the gang try to help him get his cab driver’s licence is one of the greatest sitcom scenes ever.

Oh-okey doke! Enjoy!


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