In A Piece of the Action, Kirk invents a card game known as Fizzbin that he uses to catch the interest of their guards so they can catch them off-guard and subue them:

In 1950, a similar gag was used in The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show. Burns invents a game named kleebob to confuse his wife (you can skip the first 74 seconds or so of this clip):

While the rules for fizzbin and kleebob are quite different, the gag or idea is the same: Invent a card game that will confuse someone else so you can trick them.

After posting this question on a sister SE site, asking if there is a source for the kleebob gag, it also makes me wonder if the kleebob scene was the source or inspiration for the fizzbin scene in Star Trek.

Is there any evidence that David Harmon or Gene Coon were familiar with this scene or if this is their inspiration for fizzbin?

  • Over thousands of hours of television, it's hardly surprising that there are two scenes of made-up card games devised to trick someone. It doesn't mean that there was an inspiration. Sep 30, 2016 at 23:19
  • @T-1000'sSon: It also doesn't mean there wasn't - which is why I'm asking.
    – Tango
    Oct 1, 2016 at 4:15

1 Answer 1



It seems to have been improvised on the spot, but it is possible that the actors were familiar

From the director:

Komack said, "Like most good comedy, a good deal of the episode was improvised, particularly the Fizzbin card game played by Capt. Kirk and a group of dim-witted gangsters. They just sat down and did it...Shatner really thought of this idea, and I embellished it"

-- These are the Voyages Volume 2, Marc Cushman

Obligatory TV Tropes: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CalvinBall

It appears there were other instances of this sort of thing occurring prior to the Star Trek episode. Specifically tangential to Star Trek is that a similar situation happened in an episode of 'I Love Lucy'. 'I Love Lucy' of course was produced by Desilu, the same studio that initially owned Star Trek (although by Season 2 it was already in the process of being sold to Paramount)

TL;DR - seems to have been a not uncommon trope already so it's certainly likely that on some level the cast / crew were familiar with this kind of comedy bit.

  • Then is there any indication that the actors were aware of kleebob or that Shatner had seen the scene.
    – Tango
    Sep 30, 2016 at 18:15

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