How a common sitcom joke saved a singer’s career

One of Night Court’s most well-known running gags regarding Harry Stone’s love for an acclaimed jazz singer gave the artist a late-career resurgence.

A recurring joke on the NBC sitcom Night court perhaps in fact given a once famous singer a late career resurgence. In Night courtIn the pilot episode of, protagonist Judge Harry Stone (played by Harry Anderson) was revealed to be a huge fan of jazz singer Mel Tormé, perhaps best known for composing the melody for “The Christmas Song” , sometimes known as “Chestnuts Roasting over an Open Fire. This unique reference in the pilot eventually became a running gag in the series and perhaps even helped fuel Tormé’s rise in popularity.

Night court, set to be rebooted by NBC, followed the antics of a Manhattan night court run by Judge Harry T. Stone, who was obsessed with singer Mel Tormé. Ultimately, Judge Harry Stone’s love for the crooner led Tormé to make repeated appearances on the show. He then appeared several times on the sitcom as himself. Tormé even appeared as Harry’s Guardian Angel in a parody episode of It’s a wonderful life, in which he showed Harry what the world would be like if he had never become a judge.


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These appearances, along with Judge Stone’s many references to the late singer, contributed to a late resurgence of Tormé. Tormé himself even believed he had found connections with a new audience thanks to his multiple cameos on the long series. Tormé may also owe part of his late-career success to actor Harry Anderson’s shared obsession with the famous singer, highlighting how closely the whole is connected. Night court the installation was with the musician.

Before Night court A somewhat unresolved ending, the show has steadily grown a large following over its nine years. During this time, Tormé’s references and appearances often reached a very different audience, much younger than the original Tormé fans who had known him from his early jazz hits in the 1940s and 1950s. His exposure to a larger audience young, in addition to the resurgence of vocal jazz in the 70s and 80s, created a significant acceleration in Tormé’s career in the years to come.

Additionally, Harry Anderson, who played Judge Stone, was also a Tormé fan. For this reason, his appearances on the series often featured Tormé mocking or conflicting with Judge Stone, in order to showcase Stone’s inner fanaticism joke about the singer. And, although Tormé has at times been referred to as less warm-hearted than other contemporary crooners like Tony Bennett, these comedic appearances alongside sometimes problematic characters like Dan Fielding have drawn many viewers towards the personality and sense of humor. de Tormé later in his career.

Overall, the NBC series was known to take a vaudevillian or ridiculous style approach to its comedy. Tormé’s appearances, both ridiculous and sometimes fanciful (as is the case in the It’s a wonderful life parody episode), introduced Tormé’s work to a whole new generation. Even after his death in 1999, Tormé may owe much of his longevity to Night courtstrange references to the singer’s work.

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