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Animaniacs' Pinky And The Brain Actors On Their Favorite Jokes, And How They'd Try To Take Over The World

For more than 25 years now, Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche have portrayed two of the most important and game-changing mice in the history of animation. What? No, this isn’t about anybody named Mickey and/or Minnie (or Mortimer). They’re fine, too, but I’m talking about Pinky and the Brain (brain brain brain) from Warner Bros’ always clever and timeless  Animaniacs, which unveiled plenty of world-takeover plans in Season 2 on Hulu earlier in November, with a third season on the way. 

CinemaBlend spoke with Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche to promote the stellar second season of Animaniacs, as seen in the video above, and when I asked the two comedic voice-acting veterans what their favorite kinds of jokes were, I should have expected a punchline would come first. As Paulsen put it:

I like the funny jokes, myself.

Rimshots for the room! Before he offered up his legitimate answer, though, LaMarche spoke up with both an answer for Pinky and the Brain-related jokes and the kind of humor he personally enjoys, saying:

Well, Pinky, I think that my favorite funny Pinky and the Brain joke is the one where you say 'Fun, fun, silly Willy.' I love, seriously just in my life, I love humor that's short, to the point, with a tremendous surprise. Or I love a good shaggy dog story. I mean, when I first heard The Aristocrats joke, which was told me...I got it from Gordon Bressack, who was one of the OG writers on the first run. Yeah, and he told it great. . . . But there's a joke Ray Romano told me that I can't repeat here, but it's two lines long, and it never fails to get a laugh. It's the perfect joke. But it's not appropriate here. Because I don't want to be cancelled!

As awesome as it would have been to hear the voice of Futurama’s Hedonismbot and Looney Tunes’ Yosemite Sam telling a downright filthy joke that could never be told in the world of Animaniacs, so be it. There are more than enough family-friendly jokes to go around, I suppose, even though sometimes adult humor makes it past the censors.

Speaking of, here’s what Rob Paulsen offered up regarding  what his actual favorite Pinky and the Brain gags are (and note that I spent several minutes wondering what an ape-whip was before realizing he was actually saying an acronym):

I'll tell you, what I really do love though, Nick, and a lot of people I think share it, is they love the responses to, as Maurice calls them, the AYPWIPs. The 'Are you pondering what I'm pondering?' You know, non-sequitur responses. Like, 'I think so, Brain but me and Pippi Longstocking? What would the children look like?' And they're just so bizarre, and the writers are so solid, and they come up with such good ones. And when we did the first go-round, we'd just roll the tape, and people would come out and just say the most bizarre things, some of which made it, some of which didn't. But it was all about just the joy of creating and being right in the middle of it, man. It's fantastic.

Earlier in the interview, when I asked about how much they’ve learned from the musically education-friendly Animnaniacs, Rob Paulsen mentioned that it wasn’t just school-ish subjects like history and geography he’d picked up on, but also meme culture and other topics. For a very specific instance, Paulen recalled not knowing who World of Warcraft’s Leeroy Jenkins is for a certain scene, nor why the joke was funny, until someone explained it to him. Countering that with his own example, Maurice LaMarche shared that he was completely oblivious to the cannibalistic reference being made during the animated series’ original run. In his words:

My version of the Leeroy Jenkins joke came in the original series, in the Christmas special. I had no idea what the Donner party was. I said, 'Why is that a joke?' . . . Which just goes to show you don't necessarily have to know what the joke means as long as you know how to do the music of a joke. Because that's what sold the joke. I had no idea why it was funny.

Also a situation where something that’s funny now 100% was not a humorous ordeal for anyone at the time. Humor, as it goes with everything, is usually subjective, especially when it comes to pop culture references

Pinky and the Brain smashed together in Animaniacs Season 2

(Image credit: Hulu)

But I think I can say with objectivity intact that taking over the world would be the coolest thing ever, especially if one was a talking mouse, and had another talking mouse as a partner in crime. When I asked how the two stars would go about taking over the world, either as themselves or their rodent counterparts, Maurice LaMarche went into Brain-mode and offered up:

We are already doing it, my friend. We're gonna star in a rebooted Hulu show that is winning the world over through humor. Soon, you'll all be so helpless with laughter that we will step into the breach and take over the world. Get everybody to stream it all at once.

Followed by Rob Paulsen turning the Pinky up to 11 in saying:

And then you will have no choice but to say 'Narf!' as loud as you can all day long, you can't help yourself.

And I think they’ve pretty much succeeded in their global takeover. Even if Pinky and the Brain themselves aren’t currently our overlords, their attention-drawing antics on Animaniacs should be enough to distract everyone while Yakko, Wakko and Dot truly begin to conquer the Earth. At least until the point when LaMarche can tell his filthy Ray Ramano joke, and it all comes crashing down.

Be sure to check out both seasons of Animaniacs’ current run streaming on Hulu, and when that’s done, be sure and check out the original series’ run, as well as the O.G. Pinky and the Brain series!

Nick Venable

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.