"I'm not a doctor but I play one on TV"

victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 17 20:14:59 UTC 2010

Although I was not around in the seventies to see the commercials by
Robert Young (location, not age), I do wonder if this would have been
a comment actually used in an ad. It stands to reason that it would be
jokes and criticism of the campaign that would include the phrase "I'm
not a doctor, but I play one on TV"--sounds like something for Police
Squad! or Kentucky Fried Movie humor. I'll check KFM later, along with
Amazon Women on the Moon. Given the topic of the parody in these two,
it sounds like an ideal environment for precisely this kind of humor.
Another source to check would be SNL, as its early period coincides
precisely with early Young ad campaigns. This is a resource someone
else will have to review--I have KFM and AWM on disk, but not SNL.


> On Wed, Nov 17, 2010 at 1:10 PM, Garson O'Toole
> <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>wrote:
>> Thanks to Jon for mentioning this template, and thanks to Arnold for
>> pointing to the four Language Log posts. The first instance I could
>> locate of a near-match for the template and the idea that animates the
>> template is dated 1981. The wording employed here differs from the
>> common template: "I'm only an actor but I play a doctor on TV". This
>> phrase occurs in the tabloid Weekly World News in a scenario that
>> attempts to humorously contrast an actor with a real doctor:
>> Cite: 1981 March 31, Weekly World News, "Has-been athletes commit a
>> foul by becoming sports announcers on TV" by Rex Winston, Page 30,
>> Published by Weekly World News. (Google Books full view)
>> How'd you like to be wheeled into surgery and look up to find Jack
>> Klugman sharpening his scalpel?
>> "Hey, you're only an actor you aren't a doctor," you would scream.
>> "Yeah. I'm only an actor but I play a doctor on TV," comes Klugman's
>> reply. "So just lie there quietly and let me take out your appendix."
>> Anybody in his right mind would agree that playing a doctor on TV
>> doesn't make someone a qualified surgeon, right?
>> http://books.google.com/books?id=3DiO8DAAAAMBAJ&q=3Dappendix#v=3Dsnippet&
>> Several individuals mentioned in the Language Log posts contend that
>> the template was used in the 1960s or 1970s, and some specifically
>> point to the actor Robert Young who played Marcus Welby as an early
>> wielder of the nascent snowclone.
> ...

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