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File:Stage hook-thumb 8706.png

Real Vaudeville shows would Drop the Cow on bad or overly long acts with "the hook", a shepherd's crook extended from offstage to pull away the performer. But in cartoons, you don't even need to be on a stage to get the hook. Any bad performance can get the hook, even if you're performing on top of a fence - it just reaches out from Behind the Black and drags you offscreen. Wearing a red-and-white vertically striped shirt and a straw boater makes you especially susceptible to this, as does dancing while holding a cane. Spending a while dodging the hook, continuing to perform all the while, before eventually getting snared is a common feature.

Though he didn't originate it, the hook is forever associated with "Sandman" Sims, a tap dancer who would use the hook on bad acts at the Apollo Theatre.

Examples of Vaudeville Hook include:



  • A vaudeville performer (complete with fez and revolving bowtie) gets pulled off of an illustration by a vaudeville hook in the Murderous Maths book Desperate Measures for the joke "Why isn't my nose twelve inches long? Because if it was it would be a foot.".

Live Action Television

  • The Muppet Show: Deployed in several episodes, including multiple times during the episode that showed the audition process for the show.
  • Referred to on The Daily Show in 2004 when, after winning the Oklahoma primary, Wesley Clark said, "Oklahoma is OK by me!"

 Jon Stewart: Clark then added, "Idaho, Alaska!" before becoming the first candidate in history to be yanked off stage with a cane.

  • Whose Line Is It Anyway? (the American version) has a slight Running Gag of Colin Mochrie carrying a joke for "Scenes from a Hat" a little too long, at which point Ryan Styles will come over and gently usher him off center stage.

Newspaper Comics

  • Garfield: Garfield sometimes gets the hook when he's doing his fence act.
  • One Farley strip, when Bruin Hilda was running for mayor of San Francisco, had the beaver sing a campaign song (to the tune of "Saw Her Standing There". Hilda is thinking "Get the hook".

Video Games

  • Fiendish Freddy's Big Top O'Fun, when five objects are dropped during the juggling act.

Western Animation

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