Vaudeville Hook

Even a Large Ham can be cured.

Real Vaudeville shows would Drop the Cow on bad or overly long acts with "the hook", a shepherd's crook extended from offstage to pull away the performer. Oftentimes by the neck. But in cartoons, you don't even need to be on a stage to get the hook. Any bad performance can get the hook, even if you're performing on top of a fence - it just reaches out from Behind the Black and drags you offscreen. Wearing a red-and-white vertically striped shirt and a straw boater makes you especially susceptible to this, as does dancing while holding a cane. Spending a while dodging the hook, continuing to perform all the while, before eventually getting snared is a common feature.

Though he didn't originate it, the hook is forever associated with Howard "Sandman" Sims, a tap dancer who would use the hook on bad acts at the Apollo Theatre.


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    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield: Garfield sometimes gets the hook when he's doing his fence act. Once, when he gave a Christmas Special, a candy cane was used.
  • One Farley strip, when Bruin Hilda was running for mayor of San Francisco, had the beaver sing a campaign song (to the tune of "Saw Her Standing There". Hilda is thinking "Get the hook".
  • The page image comes from a political cartoon, where Uncle Sam is obliviously showing off America's status as a world power while China calmly watches in the shadows, with a "Your fifteen minutes are almost up, Sammy..."
  • In one of Father Justin McCarthy's Brother Juniper comics the title character uses a candle lighter to hook a small dog that wandered into the church.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Used in one of Hal Roach's Our Gang comedies, in which one of the mothers tried to drag her boy offstage with the hook... but kept missing him, first popping a couple of stage lights, then badly electrocuting herself when the metal crook got caught in the live socket.

  • A vaudeville performer (complete with fez and revolving bowtie) gets pulled off of an illustration by a vaudeville hook in the Murderous Maths book Desperate Measures for the joke "Why isn't my nose twelve inches long? Because if it was it would be a foot.".

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Gong Show: One of several methods for ejecting horrendously bad acts from the stage. These were, of course, non-scoring, comedy relief acts that performed in between scoring acts.
  • Referred to on The Daily Show in 2004 when, after winning the Oklahoma primary, Wesley Clark said, "Oklahoma is OK by me!"
    Jon Stewart: Clark then added, "Idaho, Alaska!" before becoming the first candidate in history to be yanked off stage with a cane.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway? (the American version) has a slight Running Gag of Colin Mochrie carrying a joke for "Scenes from a Hat" a little too long (generally because Drew "forgets" to buzz him out), at which point Ryan Stiles, or occasionally Brad Sherwood, will come over and gently usher him off center stage.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppet Show: Deployed in several episodes, including multiple times during the episode that showed the audition process for the show. Listed on the Muppet Wiki.
  • In the new The Muppets movie, one of these is used to grab most of the other Muppets during the montage.
  • Sesame Street: The "Cast of charactors" segment used this on the number 6.

    Video Games 
  • The fan game Mega Man Rock Force uses these in Charade Man's stage to try and pull the player into spikes.
  • Fiendish Freddy's Big Top O'Fun, when five objects are dropped during the juggling act.
  • Peacock from Skullgirls exits the stage this way when switching out characters. She even does a bit of "softshoe" before getting yanked off-screen.

    Web Animation 
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic PMV "Beat It" features one in the post-music video part, when Animated James's OC asks Flash Sentry if he doesn't mind not being included in the video, because... nobody likes him. Cue Flash struck speechless, and a vaudeville hook slowly reaches for the pegasus before pulling him offstage. Then Ms. Harshwhinny walks in, carrying the hook, and Animated James gives her money.

    Web Comics 
  • Referenced in Basic Instructions, when Mullet Boss says that his great-aunt was a professional vaudeville "hook-dodger" — "she started as a bad singer, and the act evolved from there".
  • Other uses of this trope are discussed in a strip of Bug Martini.

    Western Animation