John Ratzenberger, aka Cliff Clavin from Cheers, did a Reddit AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) Monday, and in between personal tidbits (his favorite color is “blush red”) and career trivia (did you know he was in The Empire Strikes Back? We didn’t), there were some great lesser-known facts about the long-running NBC series that we thought were super-interesting. So we’re sharing them with you.
1. His favorite Cliff fact is the buffalo theory
And here it is, in full:
“Well ya see, Norm, it’s like this… A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.
In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. But naturally it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first.
In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That’s why you always feel smarter after a few beers.”
2. The cast wasn’t drinking real beer
This is perhaps obvious – anyone drinking real beer throughout a day of filming likely wouldn’t be able to read lines, much less even stay on a bar stool. That said, we were interested to know that the cast was drinking a non-alcoholic beverage called “Near Beer,” which Ratzenberger says “tasted horrible.”
3. He received angry letters from mailmen about Cliff
Ratzenberger says he “did get a couple of angry letters from postmen saying I shouldn’t have been wearing my keys in the bar.” However, ” after the Postmaster General Anthony Franks did a guest spot on the show, the letters stopped.”
4. His favorite episode is the one where Cliff dates Diane
Well “dates” is his word. He does try to seduce her in his car by singing “Misty,” though it doesn’t work. (The episode is called “Cliffie’s Big Score.”)
5. This is his favorite Norm joke
Cliff: “Hey Norm, how’s it going?” Norm: “It’s a dog eat dog world and I’m wearing Milk Bone underwear.”
Other gems: Ratzenberger’s favorite voiceover character was Hammy the Pig from Toy Story; “peanut butter and bacon” makes the perfect pita; and he once taught carpentry to children in London.
We learned so much today.