Taxi (TV series)

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Taxi (1978-1982 on ABC, 1983 on NBC) is an award-winning sitcom following the lives of a group of New York taxi drivers, their malevolent, short-tempered dispatcher Louie , and their mechanic Latka Gravas. Nearly all of the cabbies have aspirations for other careers. Elaine Nardo works in an art gallery initially. Tony Banta is a unsuccessful boxer. Bobby Wheeler struggles to find work as an actor. Reverend Jim Ignatowski is a leftover burnt-out relic of the 1960s, who lives in a world all his own. Only Alex Reiger, the compassionate, sensible (if resigned) core of the show, considers himself to be just a cab driver.

Alex Reiger[edit]

  • I'm not really a cab driver. I'm just waiting for something better to come along. You know, like death.
  • One thing about being a cabbie is that you don't have to worry about being fired from a good job.
  • We're arguing because we care too much, and we're breaking up because we don't care enough.
  • [Louie's worry about a prediction that Alex will perish under strange circumstances irritates Alex.] Louie, if I'm going to die, I'm going to die as I've lived, dancing the can-can in a green shirt and a catcher's mask.
  • [Alex sleeps with mechanic Latka's mother, then explains to fellow driver Elaine the next day]: I just couldn't help it. When we were alone, she turned into an animal - a great one.
  • [At his daughter's wedding, Alex argues with his ex-wife, who has gained some weight since the last time they saw each other.] Just remember, you haven't lost a daughter -- you've gained a ton. (This line of dialogue was originally said on 'The Honeymooners' by Alice Kramdan to Ralph.)
  • [Trying to convince Louie not to antagonize Bobby] It's not hard to make people feel bad about their lives. What's hard is making people feel good about their lives.

Louis De Palma[edit]

  • I know what love is 'cuz' I watch talk shows. Love is the end of happiness!
  • Whenever I hear the word "marriage," I say, "Check, please!"
  • [Jim Ignatowski brings a racehorse he purchased to work with him.] Get that ugly, flea-ridden, stinking animal out of my garage, and tell him to take his horse with him!
  • Ignatowski's got a father? There goes my spore theory!
  • [When a driver quits for a better opportunity] He'll be back. They all come back. There's only one person who ever made it out of this garage, and that was James Caan...and he'll be back!!
  • Some men climb mountains, others date 'em!
  • That dame is older than the continental shelf!
  • [After finding out Bobby is taking bets on how long Louie can act like a good person, Louie hooks him up to the tow lift.] You scum! You lowlife! I'm going to make your life a living hell! I'm going to make sure that every night, you get the dirtiest, smelliest cab in the garage. And if there isn't one, I'm going to get in, and I'll dirty and smelly it up myself. In the wintertime, your cab will have no heater. In the summertime, your windows won't roll down. I'm going to make sure you're the second most miserable cab driver in New York City! [begins to walk away, then turns around] The most miserable cab driver is whoever lets him down or feeds him!

Jim Ignatowski[edit]

  • When I think of me, I smile.
  • Hey, Alex - You know the really great thing about television? If something important happens, anywhere in the world, night or day... you can always change the channel.
  • If you find yourself in a confusing situation, simply laugh knowingly and walk away.
  • [On boxing] The ability to witness two men stand toe to toe in the spirit of sportsmanship and pummel each other into insensibility is what separates us from the animals.
  • I wonder about things, like, if they call an orange an "orange", then why don't we call a banana a "yellow" or an apple a "red"? Blueberries, I understand. But will someone explain gooseberries to me?
  • [Reminiscing about Woodstock] I wore flowers in my hair and meditated for hours on end. I was finding God all over the place. He kept ditching me.
  • [Working as a door-to-door salesman, Jim reads from a written script.] Good afternoon, "Mr. and/or Mrs. Fill in Name of Couple." I'm "Fill in your name", but you can call me "Nickname."
  • [End of Jim's eulogy for his pet horse, Gary] In his heart he was still a 2 yr old. When your legs give out it's nice to have people around that understand what is in your heart.

Latka Gravas[edit]

  • [On numerous occasions, Latka has an automatic response, whether appropriate or not.] Thank you very much!

Tony Banta[edit]

  • [Latka has a multiple personality disorder, turning into a persona called Vic Ferrari for the first time.] It's like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Heckle!


Elaine [on first meeting Alex]: I'm only going to be working here part-time. I'm not really a taxi driver.
Alex: Oh yeah, I know. We're all part-time here. You see that guy over there? Now, he's an actor. The guy on the phone, he's a prize fighter. This lady over here, she's a beautician. The man behind her, he's a writer. Me? I'm a cab driver. I'm the only cab driver in this place.

[Jim fills out an application to become a taxi driver.]
Jim: Eyes...
Elaine: No, don't put two.
Jim: Oh, they mean color, don't they?
[Bobby helps by reading the application questions.]
Bobby: Mental illness or narcotic addiction?
Jim: Now that's a tough choice...
[Jim takes the written driving test.]
Jim: Pssssttt...what does a yellow light mean?
Bobby: Slow down.
Jim: Okay. What...does...a...yellow...light...mean?
Bobby: Slow down!
Jim: Okay.
[repeated once more on screen, multiple times in the studio, each time with Jim becoming more frustrated and speaking more and more slowly]

[Latka pays Louie with an unfamiliar coin.]
Louie: What's this?
Latka: It's a kebble.
Louie: What's a kebble?
Latka: 110 kebble make a lithnitch.
Louie: What's a lithnich?
Latka: 270 lithnich make a matta.
Louie: What's a matta?
Latka: I don't know, what's the matter with you?

Louie: Do you know what the difference is between people like you and people like me, Nardo?
Alex: Yeah, two million years of evolution.

Alex: Why'd you change your name to Ignatowski?
Jim: Try saying it backwards.
Bobby: Ix-wah-tangy.
Jim: That's nowhere near Starchild, is it?

Bobby: We were wondering if you would join us for a few minutes?
Jim: Well, what did you decide?

Jim: You know, you really need to clean up those bathrooms.
Alex: You just came from the kitchen.
Jim: Thank God.

Alex: Jim, when are you finally going to have some pride and stand up for yourself?
Jim: August!

Jim: What did you win that trophy for?
Alex: For making a fool of myself.
Jim: Why doesn't anyone tell me about contests like that?

[Elaine learns that her friend got so intoxicated, she ended up sleeping with Louie.]
Elaine [to Louie]: Poor Emily. It's so sad that she mixed drugs and alcohol and spent the night with you...when most people only die.

Monica Banta: You must be Louie.
Louie: How did you know my name?
Monica: I only had three people described to me. One was smart, one was good-looking, and one was you.

Louie: What're you listening to, Banta?
Tony: I can be here if I want to.
Louie: No, you can't.
Tony: This is America, Louie.
Louie: No, it isn't.
Tony: It isn't?
Louie: No! This is 'Louieland'. You want America, go outside!

[Louie has an argument with his girlfriend.]
Zena Sherman: You got an attitude problem, you got a personality problem, you got a sensitivity problem, you got an emotional problem, you got a maturity problem, you got a sexual problem...
Louie: What do you mean?
Zena: That's all you think about!
Louie: And that's the problem?
Zena: Yeah.
Louie: Whew!

Jim: [as he hands out invitations]: Bobby, do you spell your name with one "o" or two?
Bobby: One.
Jim: I'll get it right next time, "Booby".

Louie: Jim, your father is no longer with us.
Jim: He never was. He lives in Boston.
Louie: No, I mean, he's gone on to his final resting place.
Jim: A condo in Palm Beach?

Louie: Ignatowski! Where have you been all week?
Jim: I don't work weekends.
Louie: You been gone nine days!
Jim: Yeah...
Tony: Jim, weekends are only two days.
Jim: Oh, I thought we'd switched to the metric system.

Alex: It's so quiet up here you can hear yourself think.
Jim: I don't hear anything.

[On a vacation in the mountains, ex-hippy Jim wakes up confused]
Alex: Jim, are you alright?
Jim: Yeah... who are you?
Alex: I'm Alex. We're friends, we work together.
Jim: What are we, lumberjacks?
Alex: No, we're cabdrivers.
Jim: I bet we don't do much business up here!

Elaine: Dress is optional... He means how we dress, not if we dress, right?
Alex: No, I don't think so.
Elaine: Why?
Alex [showing her his invitation]: Yours is the only one that says that.

Jim: Yeah, I did some drugs, though probably not as many as you think. How many drugs do you think I did?
Elaine: A lot.
Jim: Wow! Right on the nose!

Tony: You mean, they didn't tell you they were going to tear down your apartment building?
Jim: Well, you put up with a few minor inconveniences when you live in a condemned building.

Jim: I went to Woodstock.
Bobby: Oh yeah? You went to Woodstock?
Jim: Yep, half a million people gathered together in peace and harmony, grooving to Joni and The Who. Hey, you know, if I hadn't gone, there would have only been 499,999 people. Lucky for them I went.
Joni Mitchell actually canceled her appearance at Woodstock; she later stated it was one of the biggest regrets of her life.

Alex: Jim, when I said you were a flake, I meant you'd done some weird things.
Jim: Name one.
Alex: You lived in a condemned building for five years.
Jim: You're confusing flakiness with style!
Alex: You kept a horse named Gary in your bedroom.
Jim [condescendingly]: Not everyone has a guest room, Alex.

[In a flashback, Latka explains to his mother why he wants to emigrate to America]
Latka: In America, a man can become another O.J. Simpson!
Greta Gravas: Who is O.J. Simpson?
Latka: The JUICE!

[The cabbies hire a hooker to marry Latka so he won't be deported.]
Vivian Harrow: Honey, I've been everything from Little Bo Peep to Darth Vader.

[Latka's prostitute "wife" leaves after the wedding ceremony.]
Latka: No honeymoon?
Alex: No, Latka.
Latka: Boy, America's a tough town!

[Louie reveals his mother needs an operation.]
Elaine: What's wrong with her?
Louie: Female problems - she's starting not to look like one.

Elaine: Jim, what are you doing here? Where did this model castle come from?
Jim: It's yours, I made it for you. See Elaine, your fairy tale can come true. Look here's your castle, and your prince awaits. Elaine, I know I'm not the most glamorous guy in the world but....
Elaine: You are truly a sweet decent man.
Jim: Once there was a time when that was enough.

Louie: Mr. Rieger isn't here right now. Would you like to wait in my office?
Charlotte Reiger: I'd rather be the only woman on a Greek freighter!

[While Tony is away, Bobby's neglect causes the deaths of his beloved goldfish.]
Alex: They're dead, Bobby. They're dead.
Bobby: Well, I guess it was just their time, huh?
Alex: Together?? At the same time?
Bobby: I don't know! Maybe it was one of those murder/suicide things.
[At work, Tony stops speaking to Bobby after the death of his goldfish.]
Bobby: Hey Tony, how much did you book?
[Tony ignores him.]
Louie: He booked $90, fish-killer.

[A woman cabbie and Latka are in a stalled cab during a blizzard. Latka takes off most of his clothes and gives them to her to keep her warm.]
Cindy Bates: It's very simple, Latka. Either you have sex with me, or you freeze to death.
Latka [contemplating]: Sex...death. Sex...death. Why don't you tell me a little bit about yourself?

[Due to a misunderstanding, Elaine is dating a man who is actually attracted to Tony. Alex advises Tony to tell him he has to be truthful with Elaine.]
Alex: I don't understand, why can't you do it?
Tony: I can't be alone with him! I'm the one he spends tortured nights dreaming about!
Alex: He said that?
Tony [shrugging]: No, I'm just assuming.

Elaine [to Louie, who has entered the garage in an extremely upbeat mood]: Well, what are you so happy about?
Louie [happily]: Well, if you really wanna know...I had a big fight with my mother last night, and I really let her have it. She didn't know what hit her!
Alex: Well, congratulations, Louie -- you did a job on your mother. [In an announcer-type voice] Now, it's Miller time.

[Louie is uncomfortable with the idea of a Japanese man dating his mother.]
Louie: Have you ever known another woman?
Itsumi Fujimoto: Of course! I am eighty-three years old. Who hasn't known another woman at my age?
Louie: All right, don't bite my head off. [Stands up and calls across the restaurant] Ma, you can't marry this old geezer -- he's pillowed half the Orient!

[Tony seeks advice on how to break up with his possessive girlfriend.]
Tony: Alex, did you ever have to break up with a woman? What am I saying -- you was married. Do you remember what you said to your wife to break up with her?
Alex: Yes, I remember what I said -- I said, "Why is that man wearing my pajamas?"

[Elaine receives a $100 tip from Mike Belden, played by Tom Selleck, after turning down his offer to spend the night together after an hours-long cab ride.]
Elaine: What would you have given me if I'd stayed the night?
Mike: Fond memories.
Louie [eavesdropping on the cab's radio]: You're better off with the hundred bucks.

[Tony is meeting with the Brennans, a wealthy couple with whom he is competing for custody of a disabled child, and brings Alex with him for moral support.]
Mrs. Brennan: So, Mr. Banta, what do you do for a living?
Tony: I'm a cab driver right now. But what I really want to do is become a prizefighter.
Mr. Brennan: And what about your friend, Mr. Reiger?
Tony: Alex is a cab driver too.
Mr. Brennan: Really? And what is it you really want to do?
Alex: Quit.

Alex [to Latka's mother]: Is this your first visit to New York?
Greta Gravas: Yes! Want to see everything -- garbage strike, blackout... urban blight!
Alex: I'll find out when the next tour is.

[Bobby helps Jim fill out his test]
Bobby: Have you ever experienced loss of consciousness, hallucinations, dizzy spells, convulsive disorders, fainting, or periods of loss of memory?
Jim: Hasn't everyone?
Elaine: Put no.
Bobby: Mental illness or narcotic addiction?
Jim: That's a tough choice.
Elaine: Put no!
Bobby: OK, that's it! You ready for the test.
Jim: I thought that was the test!


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