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Vaudeville Hook

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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 "I 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.
  • Dykes to Watch Out For #378: Then First Lady Laura Bush on TV, after saying that women are miserably oppressed in Saudia Arabia. "I say we go in there and— Gak!"

    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.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, this happens to Donald Duck and Daffy Duck in the Ink-n-Paint Club. After several minutes of trying to sabotage one another's piano playing, Donald fires a cannon at Daffy's piano, flooring his own and destroying Daffy's. Both of them, along with their pianos, are dragged off-stage with hooks.
  • Early in Singin' in the Rain, Don has a flashback to his vaudeville days with Cosmo that includes the two of them getting pulled of the stage by a long hook.
  • Happens to an unfortunate yodeler in ‘‘Howthe Grinch Stole Christmas!’’

  • 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.
  • Happy Days At a stage performance, Al gets one of these!
  • Press Your Luck: A Whammy does a dance routine, then comes back onto the screen only to be hooked off.

    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 
  • In Cuphead, World 2 Boss Baroness Von Bon Bon exits this way in her introduction.
  • The fan game Mega Man Rock Force uses these in Charade Man's stage to try and pull the player into spikes.
  • In Fiendish Freddy's Big Top O'Fun, dropping five objects during the juggling act will have a long hook pull the juggler from the spotlight, ending the stage.
  • Peacock from Skullgirls exits the stage this way when switching out characters. She even does a bit of "softshoe" before getting yanked off-screen.
  • In Atari's arcade version of Tetris, there's an interlude every few levels where a Hopak dancer pops out of a door and starts doing his thing. Pressing any button while he's performing will cause a tiny hook to yank him back inside the door. (And sometimes the hook misses.)
  • Appears in a menu animation for Theme Hospital, for some reason.

    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 James gives her money.
  • In the Barbie Life In The Dream House episode "Trapped in the Dreamhouse", Ryan does an embarrassing dance number at Teresa's fashion show, forcing Ken to yank him offstage with a pink hook.

    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.
  • Freefall: Maxwell Post uses one to pull off Sam from a podium here.

    Western Animation 


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