nursery rhyme

The One with the Nursery Rhyme

In season 1, episode 3 of the popular American TV show Friends, there is a scene where Joey, Phoebe, and Ross are discussing a man’s crooked smile. Joey remarks that the man’s smile was kind of crooked, to which Phoebe agrees and compares it to the man in the shoe. Ross, however, is confused and asks, “What shoe?” This leads to a humorous misunderstanding among the characters.

Phoebe was actually referencing the nursery rhyme “There was a crooked man,” which begins with the line “There was a crooked man, who walked a crooked mile.” However, she changes the last line to “who lived in a shoe, for a…while…” which is a reference to another nursery rhyme called “There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.” Ross, not realizing that Phoebe was referencing a different nursery rhyme, didn’t understand the joke and asked “What shoe?”

Ross, not realizing that Phoebe was referencing a different nursery rhyme, asks “What shoe?” leading to the awkward pause. So basically, Ross didn’t get the joke because he didn’t understand the reference Phoebe was making.