The Illustrious Origins of “That’s What She Said” (with bonus varations!)by Scott Alden on November 11, 2011
You’re on a crowded subway. A passenger has been pushed to the middle of the car and seems to be having a tough time keeping his footing as the train lurches forward. Embarrassed, he attempts to explain: “It’s too tight in here for me to reach the pole.” There are really only four words that you could be thinking at this point and you know just what they are: That’s. What. She. Said.
There is much debate as to the origin of this joke — which is now so deeply embedded in the lexicon that you’d scarcely be surprised to hear your grandmother use it — but most agree that Wayne’s World can be held responsible for TWSS’s initial popularity, and that The Office later made it a household phrase.
Some speculate that TWSS in its current usage may date as far back as the 1950′s. While there is no available proof of this assertion, variations of the joke were documented as early as 1929! The Moviefone blog- Cinematical - reports an instance of a TWSS-esque quip in a sound test for the 1929 Hitchcock film, Blackmail. Hitchcock’s version? “As the girl said to the soldier.”
The discovery of this early twist on TWSS begs the question — might there be others? Here’s a couple that we’re aware of.
“I hardly even know ‘er!”
This one can be used any time anyone uses a word ending in “er” in conversation. Extra points for doubles ie. “Quarter Pounder? I hardly even know ‘er!”
“I’ve got a [NOUN] you can [VERB]!”
Suppose a friend asks “Can you hold on to my keys for me?” You say “I’ve got a KEY you can HOLD ON TO!” Better yet, your poor friend naively suggests that the two of you “Squeeze in a few rounds of golf after work.” You say “I’ve got SOMETHING ROUND you can SQUEEZE after work.” Genius!
Know of other variations on “That’s what she said?” Post them here!
Originally published in January 2011.