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Series / Pardon the Interruption

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"Pardon the interruption, but I'm Mike Wilbon. Tony, we're on TV Tropes now! Does that make us notable?"
"I'm Tony Kornheiser. Do you think they'll put me under Magnificent Bastard?"

Pardon the Interruption is the last half-hour of ESPN's afternoon block of "journalists yell about sports" shows (along with NBA-focused The Jump, Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable, and Around the Horn). The show debuted in October 2001 and is still ongoing. Hosted by former Washington Post sportswriter Tony Kornheiser and sportswriter Michael Wilbon (also formerly of the Post), the show has the duo discuss a variety of daily sports topics, which are generally timed to keep the show moving.

The show's content is built around a set format of segments:

  • Headlines — dedicated to current sports headlines.
  • Five Good Minutes — an interview with an athlete, coach, or sportscaster. During the NFL season, former player and current commentator Ron "Jaws" Jaworski is a staple for the segment.
  • Games:
    • Mail Time — four questions sent in by "e-mailers" (see Fourth-Wall Mail Slot below) are discussed.
    • Role Play — Korneheiser and Wilbon take turns answering questions as if they were sports figures, holding up faces on signposts.
    • Over/Under — A possible stat is given for an upcoming event, and Kornheiser and Wilbon guess that the actual result will be over or under the predicted stat.
    • Odds Makers — Kornheiser and Wilbon are given a "What are the chances [something sports-related]?" question, and give the odds of it happening.
    • Toss-Up — The producer gives a "what's more likely to happen?" question with two answers, and Kornheiser and Wilbon make their picks.
    • What's the Word? — Kornheiser and Wilbon are asked to come up with a single word that describes a recent sports-related event.
  • Happy Time - Kornheiser gives a Happy Birthday to a sports figure or celebrity, a Happy Anniversary to something memorable, and a Happy Trails to something that's coming to an end. These can also be for bad things; major screw-ups are generally announced as "Not-so-Happy Anniversary" and deaths are announced as "A melancholy Happy Trails to..."
  • Errors — Corrections are given for anything that was goofed, and things that happened but weren't talked about.
  • The Big Finish — A 5- to 7-question rapid-fire discussion crammed into the last half-minute to minute of the show.

Prior to early 2014, the show started with Headlines, then after the first ad break either had another Headlines or Five Good Minutes. The third segment was one of the games, and the show concluded with Happy Time, Errors, and The Big Finish. From early 2014 on, the format was changed to three segments, with the first now a longer Headlines segment (about 12 minutes, compared to 8 before the change), the second being Five Good Minutes or any of the game segments, and the final being Happy Time, Errors, and The Big Finish.

Along with Kornheiser and Wilbon, for most of its run the show also featured Tony "Stat Boy" Reali, who played the "host" for several of the games and gave the errors to Kornheiser and Wilbon in addition to hosting Around the Horn. However, Reali left the show on September 5th, 2014, due to a new job in New York City with Good Morning America, although the satellite format of Around the Horn will allow him to continue his hosting duties for that show.

This series provides examples of:

  • Acting for Two: In-Universe, Mike would often treat the Mail Box Voice with utter contempt — the joke being that it's Mike's voice.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Reali got his start on this show before replacing Max Kellerman as host of Around the Horn. Also within the show, most of the more-recently-introduced games tended to involve him; the reason why Toss-Up involves "the producer over the loudspeaker" instead of Reali is that it, Mail Time, and Role Play are the only regular games from the early days of the show to remain so now.
    • Frequent guest co-host Dan LeBatard got his own show, Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable, in Summer 2011.
  • April Fools' Day:
    • Every April 1st (if it's a weekday), the duo will open the show with some breaking news that is completely made-up. Since there's no indicationnote  that this is a joke (both hosts discuss it earnestly as if true), a viewer can be forgiven for being had by the story until the topic bell goes off, causing them to break out the party favors and yell "April Fools!"
    • Once or twice, the show went backwards, starting with "Happy Trails" and going backwards in topics to the main stories.
  • Author Appeal: Wilbon tends to favor teams from Chicago, where he is from, and Kornheiser favors teams from Washington (where he lives) or New York (where he's from). Also, since they're both basketball writers, they prefer basketball over other sports.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Anybody but Wilbon criticizing Kornheiser will make him mad.
    • Early in the series run, Tony Reali would get angry when Dan LeBatard would ruin Oddsmakers with bizarre odds on purpose.
      Tony: (with barely contained rage) Dan, there's a reason why we get emails calling you Le Bafart, Le Baturd, Le Bajerk...
  • Breakout Character:
    • Tony Reali started on the show as a fresh-faced 22-year-old statistician intern who just corrected the factual errors for the hosts at the close of the show; he eventually got popular enough with his screen presence that he took over as host of Around the Horn when Max Kellerman left, and got so popular there that ABC offered him a daily correspondent job for their flagship morning show, Good Morning America, which ended Reali's tenure on PTI after 13 years.
    • Regular fill-in Host Dan LeBatard could also be seen as one. He got a show on ESPN Radio and on ESPN 2 (Highly Questionable), which he hosts with Bomani Jones and his own father.
  • Butt-Monkey: Dan LeBatard is frequently the target of jibes from...well, pretty much everyone on the show (see Replacement Scrappy on the YMMV page for more details).
    Dan: Pardon the interruption, but I'm Dan LeBatard. Tony, an IBM computer was one of the three contestants on Jeopardy last night. What could be more annoying than a computer on a TV show?
    Tony: Hello, Dan.
  • Catchphrase: The show has run for decades, and there have been many repeated phrases.
    • The show always opens with Wilbon (or whoever's subbing for him) saying "Pardon the interruption, but I'm [name]". The Big Finish closes with:
      *buzzer as the clock runs out*
      Tony: We're out of time, we'll try to do better the next time. I'm Tony Kornheiser.
      Mike: And I'm Mike Wilbon. Same time tomorrow, knuckleheadsnote . Make sure to check out our podcast on iTunes. Let's go back to Bristol.
      Tony: Good night, Canada.
    • "BALL NIGHT!" on a day with a slate of pro or college hoops.
    • "Let's go back to Bristol" and "Good night, Canada" are both something of The Artifact from when the last segment of the show aired as part of SportsCenter, hence why Wilbon is throwing it back to Bristol; see Credits Gag and Executive Meddling below.
    • Tony and Mike saying, "Your boy [insert sports personality here]..."
    • Tony's "It's a gots-to-go situation."
  • Couch Gag: The show will always open with a bit of back and forth in the style that the page quote parodies.
  • Credits Gag: In Canada, ESPN-owned sports network TSN also airs the show, but when the last portion of PTI was delayed to the SportsCenter that follows the show, TSN didn't air that part. After a snarky comment from Reali about Canadians, Kornheiser now closes the portion that kicks off SportsCenter in the U.S. (which would be the cut-off point for Canadian viewers) by waving a tiny Canadian flag and saying "Good night, Canada!"
  • Crossover: Several panelists from Around the Horn have been involved with the show, usually as Guest Hosts.
    • After J.A. Adande won what Reali called "the worst Odds Makers ever," Reali said "Let's go to the lounge!" Adande then said he wanted this win to be added to his ATH win count.
    • A SportsNation Halloween episode involved SportsNation's set being dressed up to look like the PTI set. Kornheiser appeared on the show to demand that the SportsNation's hosts "stop stealing [their] stuff!"
    • ATH panelist Pablo Torre filled in for Reali in August 2014 while Reali was on leave with his wife and newborn daughter.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Reali did this a lot during Odds Makers.
  • Dirty Old Man: The show usually opens with Wilbon mentioning an interesting news story (sometimes non-sports related) and asks Kornheiser a relative question about it tying into his personal life ("Have YOU ever..."), usually resulting in Kornheiser giving an easy, innuendo-filled answer.
  • Droste Image: An unintentional example happened when the show cut to Reali's errors rundown. The monitor at Reali's desk showed the camera feed, and that screen has a smaller version of the camera feed, and so on and so on.
  • Fan Disservice: LeBatard. Chest hair. 'nuff said. Lampshaded by the reaction of whoever's hosting with him.
  • Fat and Skinny: Mike and Tony, of course, though Tony's not exactly slim.
  • Fourth-Wall Mail Slot: Used in the "Mail Time" segment; the letters originally came from the viewers, but are now made by the producers.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum:
    • Whenever Reali appeared for the "Odds Maker" segment, he was introduced as "Anthony Joseph [topical nickname] Reali." Sometimes, the nickname was long enough to make it an Overly Long Name gag as well.
    • Averted with Kornheiser and the title: He has never referred to the title in full in the show's history, stemming from the fact he dislikes it.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Of a different sort. It's highlighted in the title.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: When Bob Ryan's hosting and in Kornheiser's slot, he likes to end the show with "Au revoir, Canada." (pronounced Cana DAH).
  • Guest Host: Dan LeBatard was a frequent guest for Wilbon until he got his own show, and Bob Ryan would fill in for Tony. Around the Horn's J.A. Adande and Pablo Torre are also recurring fill-ins, and Jason Whitlock is a guest-host of choice whenever he's employed by the company.note 
  • Halloween Episode: Once a year, along with the other shows in that block. Kornheiser frequently dresses in drag for Halloween, as seen in 2013 when he was Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn, and in 2014 when he was former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's mistress, "V. Stiviano."note 
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Kornheiser and Wilbon's chemistry and years of running the show have proved them one of ESPN's few examples of this trope. It's hard to think of one of them without the other. Listening to Kornheiser's radio show, it sometimes seems likely that Wilbon is Kornheiser's only friend.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Kornheiser has been suspended from PTI numerous times for making inappropriate comments on his radio show, usually about his other ESPN colleagues.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Tony tends to go ape over animal-related clips, such as Trampoline Bear, and for months would go on about such shows as Sharknado and Man Vs. Beast (such as Shawn Crawford racing a zebra).
  • Large Ham: Both hosts, as well as most of the guest hosts, especially LeBatard.
  • Last-Name Basis: Both Tonys always refer to Mike Wilbon by his surname. Justified in that most ESPN personalities named Mike don't use their first name in order to avoid confusion amongst the company (the radio hosts of Mike & Mike in the Morning go by their surnames; Mike Ditka goes by 'Coach', etc). Tony Reali was likewise on a last-name basis (even his Around The Horn panelists will address him as such sometimes), since PTI already stars a Tony.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Tony and Michael have been best buds for over 35 years, according to the former, and it shows.
  • Likes Older Women: One of the show's running gags is Kornheiser's outspoken attraction to older women; since he's in his 60s, this turns out to be women like Bea Arthur and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
  • Long Runner: Has been airing daily for twenty years and remains as popular as ever. Has also averted Long-Runner Cast Turnover; Tony, Wilbon, and Reali were there from its inception until 9/5/14, which was Reali's last show as the statistician/moderator, as he moved to NYC for his new gig on Good Morning America, although he continues to host Around the Horn from a virtual set. Tony and Wilbon are still yapping together two decades later.
  • Loophole Abuse: Kornheiser will often duck the one-word rule for "What's the Word" by using multiple words and claiming that they're connected by hyphens, therefore, they only count as one word.
  • One-Steve Limit: Played with Tony Kornheiser and Tony Reali; Reali was usually referred to by his last name instead.
  • Orphaned Punchline: A running gag used for a while in 2010 and infrequently thereafter. When the show comes back from its final commercial break for the "Happy Time" segment, it comes back to Kornheiser in the midst of an odd or innuendous story to Wilbon, "unaware" that they're live until Reali yells from off-camera that they're on.
    Kornheiser: So I've only dated one Canadian—Margot Kidder. Let me tell ya, I Superman'd — oh, we're on, how bout that?
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: What's the Word is bound to have these.
  • Podcast: The show offers a podcast version, which Wilbon always mentions as part of the show's outro.
  • Road Trip Plot: During Kornheiser's brief tenure as a color commentator for Monday Night Football, PTI would go on the road on Mondays and broadcast from the stadium where Tony was working the show that night.
  • Rimshot: All the games that involve Reali had one when he was introduced.
  • Running Gag:
    • So many that the show once had a Wikipedia page on them.
    • LeBatard has his own "running joke" that he would exclaim "BAM!" at the start of each episode. When Kornheiser was suspended (again) for saying something stupid on his radio show, the audience was treated to a week of variations on:
      Wilbon: Pardon the Interuption, I'm Michael Wilbon, and when I made my lunch today, I ate a sandwich with some
      LeBatard: HAM!
  • Spin-Off: Kornheiser and Wilbon got their TV start on Redskins Report, a Washington, D.C. show hosted by legendary sportscaster George Michael. Later Dick Schaap tapped them for ESPN's Sunday morning show Sports Reporters before getting their own show.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • The show is the sports equivalent of Siskel & Ebert
    • Kornheiser inspired a short-lived CBS sitcom, Listen Up, which featured a version of the show. The Wilbon expy, played by Malcolm Jamal Warner, instead of being bald/shaved, instead sported a full head of dreadlocks.
  • Stealth Pun: Pardon them interrupting their sponsors, as ESPN does a quick cut back to their studio after the first commercial of every break.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Bald, black, opinionated Northwestern graduate Kevin Blackistone sometimes fills in for bald, black, opinionated Northwestern graduate Michael Wilbon.
  • Take a Third Option: Sometimes, during Over/Under segments, Wilbon will instead choose "push", much to the annoyance of Kornheiser and Reali. The game now usually features a spread with a .5 attached to make a "push" impossible. Wilbon did manage to get in one last "push" during Odds Makers on Reali's last show.
  • Thanksgiving Episode: Every year on the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving (depending on ESPN's live-sport slate), PTI will dedicate a segment to the "Turkeys of the Year", a five-minute tribute of the funniest bloopers and What the Hell, Hero? moments of the year.
  • Title Drop: Twice, to open and close the show. The show opens with Wilbon dropping the full title (see the page quote). When the show closes after the Big Finish, Kornheiser holds a PTI logo sign over his face; after a Fade to Black, the show's logo is shown while an offscreen voice whispers "PTI."
  • Uranus Is Showing: If Wilbon brings up an astronomy-related story in the show's opening, it's pretty much guaranteed to be a setup for Kornheiser to make one of these. Like the Penguin Dance, this doesn't amuse Wilbon in the least.
  • [Verb] This!: The third question for "Mail Time" begins with "Mail this!"
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Kornheiser and Wilbon love to argue both on and off screen. The main difference, according to Kornheiser, is that off air, there's a lot more profanity involved.

"We're out of time, we'll try to do better the next time, I'm Tony Kornheiser."
"And I'm Mike Wilbon. Same time tomorrow, knuckleheads!"
"Good night, Canada!"