Lorelai Gilmore is the wittiest character on one of the funniest shows on TV ever. So asking yourself when Lorelai Gilmore's funniest moment was is a seriously tricky question. After all, there's a whole treasure trove of scenes and pithy one-liners to sift through. But for me, Lorelai's funniest scene isn't one where she's in control (as she almost always is — no one dominates an argument, a dinner party, a back-and-forth better than raconteur/goddess Lorelai). It's the scene where she's most out of her comfort zone, something that happens surprisingly early on, in Season 1, Episode 2, when she's accompanying Rory to her first day at her fancy new school, Chilton.
Despite setting the alarm, Lorelai manages to sleep through it, meaning she doesn't have time to pick up her clothes from the dry cleaners. Like so many other women on this planet, Lorelai's laundry day leftovers are some slim pickings: she's reduced to taking Rory to school in nothing but a tie-dye t-shirt, some denim hotpants, cowboy boots. Yep. Lorelai Gilmore looks like Coachella threw up on her. Luckily she has a plan. A floor length overcoat buttoned up over the top. But as you can imagine, the Chilton scene involves a lot of Lorelai being forced to take her coat off.
While Lorelai tries to wriggle out of getting out of the car, Rory's having none of it. "You're kidding right? You have to go in with me." And this is what leads to Lorelai Gilmore entering the office of one of those most intimidating characters on the show, Headmaster Charleston, looking like, in her words "that chick from the Dukes of Hazzard." "Well, would you like to take off your coat and have a seat?" asks Headmaster Charleston. While Lorelai hopes to brazen it out in her overcoat, both etiquette and climate are against her. Her mother is there and can't believe her rudeness in trying to sit through an entire meeting in a coat, while Headmaster Charleston has a roaring fire in the grate. Eventually Emily Gilmore has had enough. That's when it happens:
"Laundry day," Lorelai half-whispers, bright red as the blood drains out of Emily Gilmore's face at how inappropriately attired her daughter is for the occasion. I can't overstate how much I enjoy this moment. I love this moment in particular precisely because it's so atypical for Lorelai. Despite being a single mother with a challenging managerial job, Lorelai seems to have a great deal of poise in her day to day life, reacting to crises at the inn with pluck and humor. This has to be the first time in the series that we see the rarest of things: a flustered Lorelai Gilmore. Second of all, Lorelai Gilmore's most distinguishing characteristic is her eloquence — she has never been short of words before. Her "laundry day" comment is wonderful because this is exactly the moment where Lorelai most needs to draw on her eloquence to explain why she's dressed like a Jessica Simpson back-up dancer.
Besides which, it's so funny because it's so different to the comedic rhythms we'd already come to expect from Gilmore Girls after just one episode. For a show in which the humor is all about the wordplay, this moment is pure slapstick: it's wordless, visual comedy. Emily and Rory's faces on seeing Lorelai's outfit are just part of what makes this Lorelai's funniest moment.
So there you have it folks. It wasn't about puns, it wasn't about smarts, it was all about short shorts. Lorelai Gilmore would go on to make us laugh again and again, but never as much as the one time she was stumped for words.
Images: Warner Bros. Television (4)