When it comes to describing actions and states of being, there’s nothing quite like verbs to get the job done. They really help a predicate come together and make it possible for people, both real and fictional, to express complete, coherent thoughts. Maybe that’s why situation comedies have been freely using verbs since the earliest days of the television medium. Without verbs, for example, I Love Lucy would just have been I Lucy. Would shows called Father Best or It To Beaver have captured America’s hearts? Breaking with decades of show business tradition, The A.V. Club’s sister site, ClickHole, has decided to perform a drastic linguistic experiment on a quartet of beloved 1990s sitcoms by editing out all the verbs. The nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, and prepositions have been left perfectly intact, however.
The test subjects here include Friends, Full House, The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, and Frasier, suggesting that these series were perhaps chosen due to their alphabetic proximity as well as their popularity during the Bill Clinton years. In any event, the removal of verbs from these programs does have a radical effect. The characters now sound a bit like cartoon cavemen or even the imperfect Bizarro clones from the Superman mythos. What was once an example of snappy repartee between Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc is rendered as a nearly incomprehensible word salad somehow vaguely related to clothing. A farcical Frasier becomes dense and unknowable. A confrontation over authenticity on The Fresh Prince is left similarly obscure. A Full House sequence involving the Olsen siblings, meanwhile, is absolutely unfollowable in this version, far more cryptic than anything from Lost or Twin Peaks.
[via Laughing Squid]