Billy West 'Didn't Get' One Of Futurama's Funniest Jokes

Despite a career spent saying silly things into a microphone, actor Billy West sometimes doesn't get the joke. He may have ranted about Jerry the Bellybutton Elf in the voice of Larry Fine, kibbitzed as a cockroach, and played a bisexual polar bear, but every so often a line of dialogue will be handed to him that he simply can't wrap his head around. 

West has been a veteran of voice acting for the better part of 35 years, having risen to fame on "The Howard Stern Show" and moving into television shortly thereafter, appearing on two hit Nickelodeon shows, "Doug" and the revolutionary "The Ren & Stimpy Show." Throughout the 1990s, no cartoon show could go unwatched without hearing West's voice. He even cut three "Ren & Stimpy" albums, playing both title characters after John K., the show's creator and original Ren, was fired for various reasons. West, with his versatile, clear-as-a-bell, oft-nasal instrument also played Bugs Bunny in several notable iterations of the character, and can even still be heard playing the anthropomorphic red M&M in the candy's animated ad campaigns. 

West's biggest gig to date, however, may be Matt Groening's and David X. Cohen's "Futurama," a show that debuted in 1999, and has been canceled and revived multiple times in its long, long life (a new reboot is set to air on Hulu in 2023). On "Futurama," West plays the series' ostensible lead character Philip J. Fry, as well as the incredibly elderly Professor Farnsworth, the impoverished lobster Dr. Zoidberg, the Shatner-inspired blowhard Zapp Brannigan, the severed head of Richard Nixon, and many, many others. 

Aliens, severed heads, and lobsters, he could handle. But as he admitted in a quick interview he conducted with Mandatory, the line "No I'm doesn't," left him at a loss.

'No I'm doesn't'

In the 12th episode of the third season of "Futurama," called "The Route of All Evil" (December 8, 2002), Fry and Leela (Katey Sagal), not the most responsible employees, discover they can brew their own beer at work. As a brewing cask, they use the cylindrical torso of the robot Bender (John DiMaggio), filling him with the appropriate yeasts. Over the course of the episode, the beer causes Bender's body to grow and bend outward, giving him a pregnant appearance. Eventually he will "give birth" to an ale that he, Fry, and Leela name BendërBrau. 

While the trio are up to their brewing shenanigans, the 12-year-old Dwight (Bumper Robinson) — indifferent to their efforts — can only idly comment that beer makes you stupid. Fry, hasty to reply, shouts out a foolish retort. West recalls talking to Cohen about his line of dialogue and that it didn't make him laugh. He needed to see it in context before he understood:

"There were a lot of things that I thought were typos when I read them on the script. Like somebody said to Fry, 'Hey Fry, I heard beer makes you stupid,' and he goes, 'No I'm doesn't!' And I went, 'Um, David?' 'Yes?' 'Umm, this says "no I'm doesn't." Is that, like, a typo?' I didn't get it. I didn't get it. And he said, 'Please read it as written,' and I said, 'Okay. And, "no I'm doesn't!" And he says, 'We have it. And then when it came on that night, and it was shown where the scene came up and Fry said 'no I'm doesn't,' I went [scream] you know, because I didn't get it? I didn't get it, now I do."


One of the central gags of "Futurama" is that it takes place in a distant future wherein aliens, robots, and other miracles of technology have become a regular part of everyday life, and people are just as snotty, dumb, and ignorant as we've always been. Fry, cryogenically frozen for a millennium, was already something of a shiftless slob. He discovers that the year 3000 also contains its share of other shiftless slobs, making adapting to his new life surprisingly easy; Fry doesn't really need to learn too many new skill sets, nor adapt the way he speaks.

As such, Fry gets to occasionally blurt out a gem. In addition to "No I'm doesn't," Fry declares he is "literally angry with rage." Or that he is "Having one of those things; a headache with pictures" when he gets an idea. And even those unfamiliar with "Futurama" have likely seen the well-worn social media meme of Fry angrily extracting a wad of cash and screaming "Shut up and take my money!" The context for that scene, incidentally, comes when Fry has gotten wind of the hottest new mobile device of the 31st century, the new eyePhone (surely a satire of the Samsung Galaxy). The salesman is in the middle of warning Fry that he won't have a choice of carrier, and that the battery life is meager when Fry interrupts him with cash. 

"Futurama" will return to Hulu in 2023, giving West more opportunities to read some of Fry's more scintillating dialogue, whether or not he understands the joke.