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Ping pong bat is classic Archer

Classic Archer is a phrase used mainly by Sterling Archer to describe himself in the 3rd person, usually when mid-way through, or after, some dramatic occurrence - though typically not before, as lacking foresight is 'classic Archer'. Archer's own use of the phrase knowingly draws attention to the idiosyncrasies of his personality as well as to his habits and expressions.

When used by the core group it acts as a callback device, which allows running gags to be implied and to go unspoken, helping to solidify a sense of familiarity with the characters.

On at least one occasion, Archer even says "that's so me", bringing in an element of a self-reference and meta-humour which is classic Archer- a trademark way of giving depth to the characters and the jokes.

"Classic Archer"[]


Habits / expressions (A-Z)[]

  • alcohol - drinking (at every available opportunity)
  • bullets - counting
  • condom - never using
  • 'core concept' - missing
  • dossiers - never reading
  • drinks - glugging down and/or holding one finger up whilst finishing
    • - also 'classic Archer TV' - adopted by most
  • fault - "and whose fault is that?"
  • glasses - dropping / crushing / throwing them
    • also 'classic Archer TV'
  • idioms - always using
  • Lana, Lana, LANA! - desperate appeal for attention
    • gets adopted by Pam
  • memory - recalls a lot of obscure details but not the most salient ones
    • obscure references - knows many obscure cultural/historical figures
      • (a ruse for the writer (Reed) to throw in his own obscure knowledge of the things mentioned?)
  • phrasing - constant pointing out of innuendos
  • ping pong bat - spanking ladies with them (wooden spoon, mother)
  • poonhoundery - Lana's word for Archer's shagging around
  • "read a book" - encourages others to read books all the time, yet lacks basic common sense
  • remorse - general lack of
  • rhetorical question - master of (like Malory)
  • spoiling the moment - unable to pass on an opportunity for an inappropriate joke
  • tip of the tongue - often has the thought but can't find the words

Classic Archer vs Classic "Archer"[]

Classic "Archer" can be differentiated from Classic Archer thus:

  • reference to the show in general as the sum of all the spoken and unspoken behaviours and characteristics embodied by the characters and their interactions with one another, including running gags, is 'classic 'Archer'
  • reference to a particular character and their behaviours or characteristics.  Typically when a particular character trait of Archer's is called to attention - spoken about - it is referred to as 'classic Archer'.  Other characters are (less frequently) referred to in this way, including 'classic Malory' and 'classic Lana'.  

The 'classic X' device serves a dual role: it gives both the audience a sense of familiarity to the characters, and the characters a sense of their own recognition of themselves.  It simulates self-awareness.  **(Initially 'classic Archer' appears to apply to Archer only, it can then be seen to apply to the show itself, becoming self-referential, and therefore 'meta'.  By constantly referring back to itself, 'Archer' creates a sense of shared memory between the characters and the audience eg. a character will comment that they have been in a similar situation before (deja vu/callback) such as Cyril's observation that "this is how Brett died" in Sitting).**

Of the many techniques and trademarks of "Archer" which help to make it so entertaining - and worthy of repeat viewing - are running gags, catch phrases and trait-sharing.  All help to create coherence between the characters and continuity across episodes and seasons by endowing the characters with a shared sense of humour to run with, and common reference points to callback to, thus generating a vast inventory of idiosyncrasies (cumulatively referred to asclassic "'Archer"). Once the "language of Archer" is understood, Reed is able to subvert expectations for an added layer of fun.

Classic "Archer"[]

  • ABBAB - "always be berating and belittling" (referred to in Live and Let Dine); sums up the characters to a tee
  • bickering - constant bickering is a general feature of daily life at ISIS
  • classic X - used by multiple characters, but mainly Lana - "that's classic her (Malory)"
  • dialogue unrelated to action - even the most intense action scenes don't interfere with relationship dramas, see The Kanes.
  • difficulty communicating - words are frequently misunderstood
  • general lack of -
    • forethought
    • filters
    • common sense
    • regard for fellow characters
  • hostile work environment - and then some
  • interpersonal issues - struggling to get everyone to get along
  • language jokes - plays-on-words, puns, quips, double entendres, misunderstanding/interpretation for comic effect, shifts in context, portmanteaus, joke nicknames composed of the previous methods eg. Moaning Lisa,
  • politically incorrect - constant digs at political-correctness, playing with acceptable/unacceptable speech and behaviour
  • pot meet kettle - frequent appeals to acknowledge a double standard
  • satire - frequent social, cultural and political pokes
  • shut up! - said to everyone, all the time, in increasingly inventive ways
  • throwing stuff - "the stuff-throwing-est family" - Pam

Running Gags[]

  • and/or
    • used by much of the core group ("ew and/or ick" - Cheryl)
    • var. either/and/or/both - Malory barks this at least once
  • ants - casual attitude to food waste is how you get them
  • can't or won't? - unable or just unwilling?
  • duh! - obviously
  • drunk logic - I drink therefore I am
  • incomplete sentences
  • inappropes! - Pam's abbreviated catch phrase said to point out an inappropriate remark (usually by herself); as head of HR, she is responsible for making sure people understand what is and isn't appropriate office behaviour, so her frequent inappropriate outbursts are deliberately ironic.
  • me too! - well that's a surprise
  • shut-up - everyone tells each other to do this in increasingly creative ways
  • phrasing - variously adopted (and un-adopted) by other characters
    • Pam uses it (inappropriately of course) in Skin Game
  • rhetorical - when a question doesn't warrant an answer (or the questionee doesn't want to give it)
  • right? - the question/answer
  • trailing off -
    • you know...
    • I mean... 

Classic her / Malory[]

  • traits of Malory's
  • traits Archer share's with Malory include:
    • crushing/smashing glasses
    • nymphomania
    • ego-centrism, narcissism, need to be centre of attention
    • childish, infantile
    • competitive
  • Catchphrases
    • Do you want ants? - that's how you get them
    • This is why we can't have nice things! - someone always spoils everything
    • Can't or won't? - unable or just unwilling?
    • Idiots! - everyone else are
    • Pick one... - when Malory issues a pair of suggestions (implying either or) when she means both.
    • You people! - everyone else too


In Job Offer (s1e9):

Archer: "Mother burned me?"
Lana: "Apparently"
Archer: "Oh my God, that's classic her!".
Lana: "You're both classic her"

Work in progress[]

More to be added

Author: Communications of the Highest Kind (talk)