Revisiting 31: That’s Good / That’s Bad

My 7/22 posting “Oh that’s good” looked at Archie Campbell’s That’s Good / That’s Bad joke routine from the tv show Hee Haw. Now Tim Evanson points out a somewhat later appearance of the routine, in an episode of The Simpsons.

(#1) From “Treehouse of Horror III”, The Simpsons S4 E5 (first aired 10/29/92)

At the House of Evil “YOUR ONE STOP EVIL SHOP”, the set-up for the routine:

Homer: Do you sell toys?

Owner: We sell forbidden objects from places men fear to tread. We also sell frozen yogurt, which I call “Frogurt”.

And then the routine:

Owner: Take this object [a Krusty the Clown doll], but beware it carries a terrible curse…

Homer: [worried] Ooooh, that’s bad.

Owner: But it comes with a free Frogurt!

Homer: [relieved] That’s good.

Owner: The Frogurt is also cursed.

Homer: [worried] That’s bad.

Owner: But you get your choice of topping!

Homer: [relieved] That’s good.

Owner: The toppings contains [the food preservative] potassium benzoate. [Homer stares, confused] That’s bad.

Homer: [worried] Can I go now?

In a flickr illustration:


The joke routine has then been popularized twice so far in American popular culture. It almost surely had some history in the US before Archie Campbell, probably in vaudeville, but I don’t know anything about it. Nor do I know anything about appearances of the routine (or close analogues of it) in other English-speaking cultures, or in other languages. (Just to remind you that this routine is distinct from the Good News / Bad News routine.)

Bonus: the wily Chinese ancient. A complex stereotype, realized in popular culture in many forms — Fu Manchu and Charlie Chan, in particular. And now the wily and ominous House of Evil shopkeeper:


Some features to note: long hair, drooping mustache, pointed beard, and bushy eyebrows, all white with age; yellow eyes; nearly toothless (only a few yellowed teeth remaining); long pointed fingernails, like claws; a noble hat resembling Qing Dynasty headgear, with a gold button on top; traditional jacket and trousers, in Chinese red; socks and sandals. Missing from this image: the long pipe — presumably an opium pipe — that the shopkeeper is smoking in the video clip.

As for the pale blue skin tone, I don’t know — maybe a signal that he’s a cartoon character and not a representation of a real person. Like having four cartoon fingers on each hand instead of five.

One Response to “Revisiting 31: That’s Good / That’s Bad”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    5/2/91: Larry Horn writes to say that there’s a musical version of the Archie Campbell/Roy Clark routine, Joe Crookston’s folk guitar “Good Luck John”:

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