A number of years ago, I had a cushy and surprisingly well-paid data entry job during which, once we reached a certain level of so-called proficiency, we were allowed to listen to headphones while we typed away. Many of us listened to NPR and audio books, and many of us also became hooked on the radio show LoveLine.
A handful of us were undeniable super fans, and we would go home and record the show for posterity. I taped it for years, as a matter of fact, and I still have a box of cassettes floating around that one day may find its way to one of the many online archivers. One of my fellow super fans (we’re still close friends) and I recently sent off a bunch of tapes to the proprietors of one such site, so we did our part to give back to the LoveLine community that had done so much for us.
If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s basically a relationship and medical advice show, with a comedy format. Dr. Drew Pinsky is a board-certified physician and an addiction medicine specialist (and probably has acquired more titles since then), and Adam Carolla is a comedian and television writer with many years of psychotherapy under his belt. LoveLine was where Adam got his start, actually, and in the early years of his tenure on the show, he was very hungry and eager to become a presence in the entertainment world. These were some of my (and many other peoples’ as well) favorite years of LoveLine. There have been other hosts before and since Adam, but his perfect blend of comedy, street smarts, and actual therapeutic experience brought a level of depth to the show that I’ve found lacking in the other hosts the show has had, who are comedians but who lack psychological knowledge, so they have to make their wisecracks and then metaphorically hand the microphone back over to Dr. Drew, who will dole out the ‘serious’ advice. To be fair to the show’s current incarnation and co-host, I haven’t listened with any regularity for a while now, so it’s entirely possible that the show is back on a stellar track again and I’m just unaware of it.
The great thing about Adam and Drew’s dynamic was the fact that they came from completely opposite backgrounds; Dr. Drew from a life of privilege and prep school to an Ivy League education and a residency program at USC, and Adam from an unhappy home life and a string of construction jobs while attempting to break into the stand-up comedy arena. Adam had even listened to Loveline as a younger adult, because Drew had co-hosted the show with other people since 1984 or something, so Adam was already very familiar with it by the time he joined the show in 1995, when it went national.
The format of LoveLine is that in addition to advice, they will invite celebrities to be on the show to promote their current endeavors, as well as to join in and give (hopefully) good advice. It was always especially good when the guests were either insightful and genuine, funny and quick-witted, or just plain outrageous. Some of my favorite guests include the masterful David Alan Grier, the talented and hilarious Zappa brothers, the punk band Pennywise (one of the members got drunk and projectile-vomited all around the studio), and I seem to remember a band called Orbit (where are they now?) who were particularly good on the show, and the band Better Than Ezra were even repeat guests.
This is all well and good, I can feel you thinking, but what does it have to do with the Holocaust?
Well, funny you should ask.
Actor and comedian Tom Arnold was a regular guest on the show, and during one of his visits a girl called in who was a phone-sex operator. The problem she was having is that her callers were ‘getting off’ too quickly, thereby ending the call, and she wasn’t making as much money as she would if the calls were longer, so she was looking for advice on how to steer the calls to stretch them out. Adam suggested that during her conversations, she should attempt to work in references to war atrocities, or terminal diseases, and that should do the trick. He led her through a role-playing scenario in which she played herself and he played the caller. After a rocky start, they decided how the the conversation should flow, and it went something like this:
“Hi, I’m Sugar.”
“Hey there, Sugar, this is Ace.”
“What are you wearing?”
She delivered the coup de grace in her sultriest voice. “Oh, I’m wearing a nice black lace bra and panties. Oooohhh. I’m just sitting here thinking about the Holocaust right now.”
Everyone in the studio fell over laughing, and Adam continued to riff on the joke, purring in his own ‘sexy’ voice, “Oh yeaaaah. Burn those Jews. . .gas ‘em in the showers, baby, yeah.”
It was such a brilliant and funny call, and has gone down as one of the all-time classics of the LoveLine lexicon. The laughter that follows it, which is so out of control that they decide to halt the show and take a commercial break while they regain their composure, is really infectious too. The phrase “I’m just sitting here thinking about the Holocaust” has become a staple answer between myself and a handful of friends who are in the know, whenever one of us will ask what the other is up to.
If you’re interested, I actually found an mp3 of the call in question and you can listen to it here. There is also a huge and well-organized online LoveLine archive which you can find and enjoy here. Another great one is located here.