Can you believe it’s been five years since Archer first aired? Yes, it’s true: Archer‘s sneak peek of the pilot aired in September 2009, marking a half-decade since ISIS and the shenanigans of the Archer family established itself as one of the funniest, most intelligent comedies on TV, animated or otherwise. Here are five jokes we’re still laughing at from Archer season 1 episode 1:
Archer’s “Mexican standoff”
In the episode’s climatic moment, the Russian mole Krenshaw (or Kreminski; per Archer, it’s Russian and possibly Jewish) grabs Malory Archer and holds a gun to her head. In response, Archer grabs his ex-girlfriend and fellow agent Lana and holds her hostage, creating what he believes is a Mexican standoff. Unfortunately, Kreminski doesn’t care if he shoots Lana – but when he describes life without Malory to Archer, Sterling can’t help but get a little…. excited, opening a window for Archer to shoot the mole down. Not only is it a hilarious moment to cap the episode, but puts on display just how deep Archer’s mommy problems run, one of the show’s most important and consistently funny running gags.
Lana and Archer’s break-up
Without getting into the NSFW details of this brief cutaway (like what Lana is watching on TV), Lana and Archer’s break-up is one that hilariously captures the dynamics between ISIS’s star agents. When Archer takes a phone call from his mother at an inopportune time in bed, Lana gets angry and demands he get off the phone with his mother (who has presumably called him many, many times in this position before). Does Archer listen? Of course not: instead he tells Lana he “can do both”, which not only speaks to the nature of his relationship with his mother, but also acts as the catalyst to eventually bring Lana to date Archer’s polar opposite, Cyril Figgis.
Arguably the funniest part about Archer‘s pilot is the irony of a spy organization with inexplicably bad security. After detailing a long, dramatic-sounding plan to break in and fix his expense account, Archer tries to convince the other employees around the office to disable ISIS’s security measures so he can access the mainframe at night. Of course, nobody wants to help him (especially Pam, still reeling from the traumatic therapy session she shared with Archer), so he has to break-in alone, in a $900 sweater: and quickly realizes that breaking into ISIS is the easiest thing he’s ever done as a spy. Even the password to access the mainframe is a joke: it takes all of four seconds before Archer types in ‘guest’ and realizes he’s gained access.
Barry gets shot for the first time
One of our favorite running gags on Archer, the first time Barry gets shot, we don’t even see him. As Archer is demonstrating to the audience (and himself, presumably) how difficult it is to break into the ISIS mainframe, he shoots the bulletproof door a number of times to illustrate his point. One of those bullets ricochets and hits poor Barry, who screams off-screen, eliciting a chuckle from Archer. Not a joke that necessarily shines through in the pilot, but one that kicks off one of the show’s funniest traditions.
“Because that’s how you get ants!”
For my money, this is the best joke of the pilot: introduced when Krenshaw is walking by Archer with coffee in his hand, Archer’s repeated exclamations about ants through the episode seemingly exists as a repeated throwaway joke. However, when Archer’s mother exclaims “Because that’s how you get ants!” at the end of the episode, it completely changes the tambor of the joke: it’s one of the many connections drawn between Malory and Sterling, a final reminder in the pilot of just how much of momma’s boy Sterling is, giving instant depth to their relationship through a singular, presumed pointless joke. Like many of the show’s best jokes, the “ants” is more than a punchline: it’s an important bit of character relayed through comedy, a fantastic device Archer has utilized with every character since.
Photo via FX