1. Cousin Itt is a character in The Addams Family. I understand he was created for the TV series, didn’t appear in the original cartoons.

    The joke is a pun on his name Itt and I.T. meaning Information Technology.
    Note, though, his name has two t’s.

  2. Also, the speech balloon is presumably I.T. support, since cousin Itt himself speaks in incomprehensible noises.

  3. The actor who played cousin Itt was the only person willing (or able) to provide commentary for the DVD release(s) of the original series. (It lasted for only two seasons, but the idiots making the DVDs split them up in three volumes.) The episode are still enjoyable, but the commentary is worthless.

  4. @ Ian – Indeed. That’s even more amusing than the intended joke.

    P.S. It reminds me of an anecdote about a tech hotline call for a monitor that refused to display anything. After “turning it off and on” didn’t work, the technician suggested unplugging it and plugging it in again, which the caller could not do, because he could not find the socket in the dark, because all the power was out. Ooops.

  5. Ian has the second part. It is Addams Family Cousin Itt combined with a classic line from the IT Crowd.

    (I nearly wrote “The IT Crown.” Now wouldn’t that be a great show!)

  6. Targuman – not just a classic line from fiction; it’s actually not a bad first step for a lot of software based tech problems. Some things that can go wrong to mess up software are memory leaks, where programs claim chunks of memory to use, but forget to free them up when they are done with them, so the system runs out of memory, and resource conflicts, where two different processes try to use the same thing at the same time, and neither will give way to the other. Rebooting the computer and starting over fixes both of those, until they happen again, but it gets things working for a while.

  7. Yes, as (first) Ian points out, the cartoonist has it backwards! Not only in terms of the now-classic use in The IT Crowd, but also by common sense, and actual practice, as Ian (Osmond) says. Observe, if you turn it on then off, you end in an Off state, which isn’t what you need.

  8. @ianosmond gives good advice. Back in the old days when memory was scarce we did a better job catching memory leaks. But rebooting is no longer just for computers. I was at a hotel once 20 years ago where the TV didn’t work, and they had to reboot it. Now we reboot the DVR and the TV all the time, and when I wrote a column about this I found that someone found they had to reboot their digital picture frame.
    And I’m still fond of the Addams family (and the original cartoons.)

  9. There was an Addams cartoon of a heap of fur, back to the reader, holding a phone and saying “This is it speaking.” The TV show parlayed that into a character, adding the hat, glasses, and chatter.

  10. My cell phone needs rebooting all the time.

    First, per my cell phone company when the month renews it is suppose to be rebooted.

    Second, I had to get a new cell phone as I had “the wrong type” of 4G phone the service for which ended when 3G service did. Robert in finding a new phone for me had to deal with price (hey, we are “pensioners” for years now if not for our being raised by children of the Great Depression who lived as it might happen again, we would not be getting by), Meryl’s general craziness and wanting a small phone – something the size of my old Palm Centro would have been nice – but anything small is too expensive, and a phone which was decently rated.

    Texting each other long ago replaced the Intercom system we set up in the house when we bought it around 30 years ago (I did not like climbing the stairs nightly to tell him dinner was ready and he was afraid of hurting himself with a tool in the basement and needing to call me for help). So we text each other a lot in the house (maybe 90% or more of any of either of our texts are to each other this way).

    Since this phone -he will be outside doing something and send me a text – he needs help, he will be out longer than he thought, etc. When I do not answer he will schlep into the house and yell for me. We find when I check my phone that there it has to be rebooted to get service. Incoming phone calls are rather rare as few people have our cell phone numbers.

    Now this is not a problem for me when making phone calls (it is our primary phone for calling out to non-toll free numbers as I have unlimited free minutes) as I will realize it not making the call and now know it needs to be rebooted – but it does worry me that he will have an accident and be trying to reach me and I won’t get the call. So I have to keep a close eye on it when he is not with me.

  11. Wait a minute … Cousin I.T. is asking if you tried turning it on and off. That doesn’t make sense. It ends with the thing turned off.

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