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Trend Alert: All Network Comedies Now Required To Make At Least One “Cleanse” Joke

By Lindsay Robertson / October 2, 2008 - 12:44 pm

On last week’s premiere of The Office, Kelly Kapor hilariously talked about her “cleanse” — one of those fasts where you consume only lemon juice, water, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup in an attempt to lose weight, gain “focus,” destroy your closest personal relationships and annoy the shit out of everyone unlucky enough to encounter you. It was funny because the word “cleanse” makes a perfect zeitgeist-based punchline, and a character saying “I’m on a cleanse” will always get a laugh right now the way a character mentioning his or her blog would always get a laugh in 2005 (someone forgot to tell the writers of 90210 that it’s no longer 2005.) Mindy Kaling’s portrayal of a cleanse-addled shell of her former self was funny and original (to me) enough to merit its own post here last Friday. But then something funny happened: the cleanse joke reared its head in not one, but two other major network comedies in the next three days!

First, an otherwise dull sketch starring Anna Faris and Jason Sudeikis as a double-dating couple was momentarily perked up by Anna’s joke about being on a cleanse:

Then, two days later, How I Met Your Mother used the cleanse meme (for I now announce that it is a bona fide meme) to explain why Robin was so hungry in the burger episode!:

But nobody did it better than The Office, so here’s that again:

I have a theory about this CLEANSEPIRACY: during the writer’s strike, a bunch of comedy writers decided to use their free time to get healthy, so they went on the Master Cleanse. Then, they all made jokes about their cleanses to each other at writer’s strike Hollywood drinking parties, and made a secret pact that each of them had to try to work the word “cleanse” into their respective shows when they came back in the fall. It could have happened! Either that, or the word “cleanse” is just going through a phase of being inherently funny.