Explaining The M.A.S.H. Joke On Last Night’s 30 Rock

Lindsay Robertson | May 15, 2009 - 1:22 pm

Tipster Kevan wrote in about the classic TV origins of one of Alan Alda’s lines on 30 Rock last night:

When Alda comes to the TGS stage looking for Jack and finds Tracy
crying to Kenneth about not being chicken when his teacher told him to
cut open the baby (which was really a frog). Alda says, “What’s all
this crying about babies and chickens? I thought this was supposed to
be a comedy show.”

In the last episode of MASH (most-watched TV episode ever!) Alda’s
character is sent to a psychiatrist after a breakdown. He tells the
doctor that he had been on a bus with other people from the army, and
they had stopped to pick up some Koreans. They found out there were
enemies in the area, so the bus pulled off the road and Alda told
everyone to be quiet so the enemy wouldn’t hear them. One of the
Korean women had a chicken that wouldn’t stop making noise, so Alda
yelled at her, “Shut up that damn chicken!” So the woman killed the
chicken. The doctor can’t understand why this was so traumatic to
Alda, but then finally Alda admits it wasn’t really a chicken — it
was a baby. The baby wouldn’t stop crying and Alda told the mother to
keep it quiet. Rather than risk having the enemy hear them and kill
them all, the mother smothered her own baby.

Hence, “What’s with all the crying about babies and chickens?”!!

They couldn’t have Alan Alda on the show without a M.A.S.H. reference, though it would be even better if they’d saved this for the last episode ever (but thank god it wasn’t.) (Thanks, Kevan!)