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The Dirty Joke is the 9th episode of Season One of Ally McBeal.


The delivery girl sues the firm for sexual harassment; Ally tries to prove she's no 'Goodie Two-shoes' by learning how to appreciate and tell dirty jokes.


Afraid people are too careful of her "Julie Andrews" demeanour, Ally asks Renee to tell her a dirty joke. She promises she can take it but, of course, is horrified at Renee's tale of a headless, armless woman thrown into the sea by a heartless man. The next day, Ally discusses Renee's joke with her co-workers. They are interrupted by the delivery girl, Jennifer Higgins, who hands Fish an envelope and says she is suing the firm for sexual harassment because of a 'hostile work environment' has been created by women employees who don't like her "provocative" dress.

Ally has lunch with Renee later, who still insists her joke was funny. Ally asks her to prove it by telling it to the crowd at the bar. Both agree that if people laugh at Renee's joke, Ally will also have to get up on stage the next night and tell the one dirty joke she knows. The next day, the lawyers meet with Jennifer's attorney, the same Caroline Poop who represented Elaine in the lawsuit about Fish's ogling of Jennifer. After the meeting, Fish asks Georgia to represent the firm in the case. But Georgia refuses, saying Caroline has been making sexual advances with provocative looks. That afternoon, Caroline deposes Elaine, who denies any hostility toward Jennifer, but can't help commenting on Jennifer's 'slutty' dress and accusing her of 'flaunting' her ample bosom.

That night at the bar, Renee's joke is a huge success and even Ally can't help smiling. She concedes that Renee has won the bet, and begs to be let off the hook for her promised performance. But Renee insists Ally tell her joke the following night. The next day, before Jennifer's deposition, Georgia sees Caroline looking at her again. Ally questions Jennifer, who says that Elaine's lawsuit created the hostility and Ally stops there. Fish chastises her for not being more thorough. But Ally retorts she got all she needs. That night at the bar, Georgia tells Billy she gets approached by gay women a lot and also tells him that Fish recently touched her neck. Ally finally takes the stage to do her joke. She's confident, but only Fish and Elaine laugh at it. Ally next sees Rabbi Stern, with whom she still has an upcoming date. Her humiliation is complete.

The next day in court, Ally argues that if Elaine's lawsuit was the cause of the 'hostile environment,' as Jennifer testified, then there is no case since lawsuits are immune from such charges. The judge dismisses the case and Fish is thrilled with Ally's efficient strategy. Back at the office, Rabbi Stern waits for Ally. To her relief, he not only wasn't offended by her joke, he reveals he is a bit of a connoisseur. He tells her that a good dirty joke must have a victim and take advantage of someone's pain, as did Renee's joke. Caroline comes to tell them that Jennifer will actually be returning to work. Georgia then asks Caroline what her glances mean. Caroline says she's just never seen a living 'Barbie doll', which, to Georgia, is worse than being taken for gay or a 'Julie Andrews.' Billy confronts Fish about touching Georgia's neck and Fish promises it won't happen again. Fish then calls Jennifer aside and apologizes for ogling her. He is so sincere that Ally rewards him with a kiss on the cheek.

Later, at the bar, Ally tells Billy that the great thing about dating the Rabbi is she knows going in that it won't work out. She says she likes her new hard self. Then she and Renee walk home together,joking with each other as old friends do.


Full transcript can be found here.


The Way You Do The Thing You Do | VONDA SHEPARD
I Started A Joke (cover) | VONDA SHEPARD

See also list of songs in the episode.



Calista Flockhart as Ally McBeal
Courtney Thorne-Smith as Georgia Thomas
Greg Germann as Richard Fish
Lisa Nicole Carson as Renée Raddick
Jane Krakowski as Elaine Vassal
and Gil Bellows as Billy Thomas

Special Appearance By

Sandra Bernhard as Caroline Poop

Guest starring

Keene Curtis as Judge Johnson Hawk
Brooke Burns as Jennifer Higgin
Vonda Shepard as Herself