Sitcom writer David Lloyd ’56 died Tuesday from prostate cancer.
Lloyd wrote scripts for scores of sitcoms including “The Bob Newhart Show,” “Taxi,” “Cheers” and “Fraiser.”
But, although it is fair to assume many Yalies did not know Lloyd by name, one of the best ways to remember him is through his seminal episode of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”: “Chuckles Bites the Dust.” In the episode, the main characters, who work for a local news station, react to the death of a clown they all knew through laughter, despite the fact that they know it’s inappropriate.
“It’s a release, a kind of defense mechanism,” the hard-edged boss played by Ed Asner says of the laughter. “It’s like whistling in a graveyard. You laugh at something that scares you. We laugh at death because we know that death will have the last laugh on us.”
And if you are familiar with Lloyd’s work that’s what he did — made us laugh.