A character has just moved into a small room the size of a closet. For added hilarity, it may even be
an actual closet. This person barely has room to stand up in, so what's the first thing that happens? He gets visitors. Lots and lots of visitors. It often climaxes with one last person (preferably the comic foil), as per Margaret Dumont) opening the door and everyone tumbles out.
Originally done by the Marx Brothers
in A Night at the Opera
. All other versions of this gag are most likely an homage to the original, which was developed by Buster Keaton
who reworked a similar sequence from his film, The Cameraman
Compare with Clown Car Base
- A Night at the Opera, of course: Groucho boards a ship and finds he has been booked into a stateroom so tiny that it barely holds him and his luggage. Inside his luggage, however, he finds stowaways Harpo, Chico and the movie's romantic hero. Then in come the maid, the electrician, some waiters with food, a girl looking for her aunt... It ends with Margaret Dumont opening the door and everyone tumbling out.
- The Buster Keaton gag from The Cameraman involves just two people, Buster and a significantly bigger man. But it's a tiny changing room at the pool, so two is enough to make a crowd.
- Done in Brain Donors with Volare's dressing room. Appropriate, given that the movie is a remake of A Night at the Opera.
- Some Like It Hot has a scene aboard a train in which a passel of female musicians cram into Jack Lemmon's sleeping berth for a party, to similar effect.
- The Suite Life of Zack and Cody - Actual Closet variant, completes the homage by having their mother open the door so that everyone tumbles out.
- Seinfeld - Elaine moves into a janitor's closet so she can order food, and Jerry and the gang drop by.
- Done in Yes, Minister with a really small rail carriage and an endless series of visitors, one of whom is very fat.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: a confirmed homage in "The Circle", though it's in Kira's quarters rather than a closet and it's pretty much friends barging in intending to wish farewell privately. All done in one take, though the final cut has reaction shots cut in.
- In an episode of Flight of the Conchords, Jemaine moves into a new apartment, which is really just an empty cleaning supply closet. The first thing he does is invite over everyone he knows for a housewarming party, which naturally spills out into the hallway.
- Mash did this in one episode when everyone had to cram into a two-man tent to conserve heat. Alan Alda's Groucho Marx impression shows up, of course, to quote the original's line "Hello, room service? Send up a larger room!"
- Done in Animaniacs, in "Hercule Yakko". Dot name-drops "Night At the Opera".
- Includes a Visual Pun as well: a map of the continental 48 U.S. states on the door.
- Set up and subverted early on in Futurama. Fry initially stays in Bender's tiny, closet-like apartment (since robots don't need a lot of personal space)... until he finds out that the apartment's "closet" is actually a full-sized apartment.