60 Minutes

Mike Wallace.....Harry Shearer
Herb Minkman.....Christopher Guest
Al Minkman.....Billy Crystal
Nathan Thurm.....Martin Short



[ open on Mike Wallace sitting in front of chromascreen reading "Laughter May Be Hazardous To Your Health" ]
Mike Wallace: I'm Mike Wallace. The novelty shop, or joke store, may seem like the home of innocent fun. But according to the Consumer Product Safety Commissioner, it may more often be the cause of serious, even permanent, injury. Defective novelties are showing up on American shelves in ever-increasing numbers. But not only does that worry federal regulators, it has two American businessmen fighting for their lives. Almost literally.

[ cut to Mike Wallace interviewing Herb and Al Minkman in their offices ]

Herb Minkman: Today, if you go to a party, and you see, you know, a whoopie cushion, or a plastic lost lunch, or the..

Al Minkman: Phony doggie doodie.

Herb Minkman: Yeah. And, if it doesn't look good, it's probably not a Minkman. And that makes us look bad.

Mike Wallace Voiceover: Herb and Al Minkman are third generation jokemakers. They grew up in a world of dribble glasses and Chinese finger prisons. But they're growing old in a very different world - one overrun by pirate novelties.

Herb Minkman: [ holds Chinese finger prison ] This is a cheap imitation of a Minkman Chinese finger prison. Try it.

Mike Wallace: Alright. [ tries it, but his fingers come right out ] Nothing happened.

Al Minkman: Of course nothing happened! What should happen: you put your individual fingers in there, and then the circulation would be cut off..

Herb Minkman: Temporarily.

Al Minkman: Temporarily. And then, panic would ensue, and everybody would have a good laugh. But if your fingers aren't trapped, then the joke is not on you.

Herb Minkman: By the way, Mike, I think you spilled your coffee. [ points to turned-over coffee cup ]

Mike Wallace: [ eyes grow wide with embarrassment ] Oh.. I'm sorry..

Herb Minkman: It's only a joke. And you believed it, because it's a Minkman product.

Mike Wallace: Alright, that's very.. believeable.. spilled coffee.. But, why should anyone watching care whether their $5.95 dribble glass is the best in the world.

Herb Minkman: Because if you buy an inferior non-Minkman dribble glass, and you put it to your lips, and, because of uneven glazing, suddenly find yourself on the way to the emergency room, with 15 stitches, this does no longer amaze and delight your friends. This is a lawsuit.

[ cut to skyline of Hong Kong ]

Mike Wallace Voiceover: But where do all the inferior squirt pens and plastic vomit flow from? We flew to Hong Kong on a hunch, and here's what we found.

[ cut to Mike Wallace standing outside a door ]

Mike Wallace: It looks like any other office. Until you open the door. [ enters ] In reality, it's a very special kind of sweatshop, where three shifts a day are hard at work manufacturing counterfeit articles of amusement. [ pan across the table where the counterfeiters work ] Acccording to the Hong Kong City Clerk's office, this factory is owned, through a complex web of companies, by a Mr. Ping E. Lee.

[ flash shots of Mr. Lee ]

Mike Wallace Voiceover: But despite repeated attempts to contact Mr. Lee over a 12-hour period, we coiuld get no response. But we were able to reach his attorney, Mr. Nathan Thurm.

[ close-up of nervous Nathan Thurm smoking from a cigarette as Mike Wallacer interrogates him ]

Mike Wallace: Mr. Thurm, let's be honest. We've seen the people working for pennies, making defective novelty items, which, at best, don't work, and don't provide hours of family fun; at worst, creating serious injuries.

Nathan Thurm: [ pause ] So, what are you saying?

Mike Wallace: I'm saying that your boss, Mr. Lee, is, in effect, the Mr. Big of the pirate novelty business.

Nathan Thurm: No, he isn't! You're just saying that to get higher ratings on your TV show!

Mike Wallace: No, I wish I were, but.. we saw your people making pirate Mickman schnozzes.

Nathan Thurm: [ shakes head ] I don't know what you're talking about. [ smiles ] It's funnythat you would say that! They don't make schnozzes. They make semiconductors for a very reputable computer company. What's wrong with that? Is there something wrong with that? Why, why, why is that something wrong to do? I don't understnad that. Why are you pointing the finger at other people all the time? Why don't you point the finger at yourself? Do a little more reading, maybe? Some time in court - maybe that would be effective for you!

Mike Wallace: Pardon me for saying this, but you seem defensive.

Nathan Thurm: I'm not being defensive! You're the one who's being defensive! Why is always the other person who's being defensive? Have you ever asked yourself that? Why don't you ask yourself that?

Mike Wallace: [ holds out paper ] This is an affadavit..

Nathan Thurm: I know that!

Mike Wallace: Well, let me finish. This is an affidavit from a woman who has severe nerve damage, on her upper thigh, from sitting on one of your defective whoopie cushions. Here, read it.

Nathan Thurm: You read it!

Mike Wallace: Well, I have read it.

Nathan Thurm: So, why do I have to read it?

Mike Wallace: Well, it does pertain to your company.

Nathan Thurm: I know that! Why wouldn't I know that? It's my company, I'm quite aware of that! [ looks at the camera ] Is it me? It's him, right?

[ cut to Mike Wallace and the Minkmans walking through their joke factory ]

Herb Minkman: They can turn out an inferior product for pennies, because they don't use the money that they make to put back into research and development.

Al Minkman: We never ship a product that is not 100% fully tested. That's why our father founded the Minkamn Joke Research Lab.

Herb Minkman: The American Oil Industry has a quote system. We don't see why it wouldn't be psosible to have a similar kind of protection for the American novelty industry.

Al Minkman: Mm-hmm.. See, Mike, once again, America is losing out on something it created. The Chinese did not invent this stuff. Highly-crafted artificial vomit is as American as the.. hot dog.

[ cut to Mike Wallace interviewing Herb and Al Minkman in their offices once again ]

Al Minkman: By the way, Mike, did you let a St. Bernard come in here?

Mike Wallace: No, Sir, I didn't.

Herb Minkman: [ pointing ] Because there's a big brown, seeping present underneath your chair! [ Mike Wallace jumps up as they laugh at him ] It's a Minkman, Mike!

Mike Wallace: That's good. That's very, very good, fellas..

[ Herb and Al give each other an acknowledging glance ]

[ cut to "60 Minutes" stopwatch ]

[ fade out ]


SNL Transcripts