Rabbit Test (1978)

Forty-five years ago today, the film Rabbit Test premiered. Written and directed by Joan Rivers, the critics hated it, the public loved it and it is now a cult classic.

Title: Rabbit Test
Directed by: Joan Rivers
Produced by: Edgar Rosenberg
Written by: Joan Rivers, Jay Redack
Starring: Billy Crystal, Roddy McDowall, Joan Prather, Alex Rocco, Doris Roberts, Michael Keaton
Music by: Pete Carpenter, Mike Post
Cinematography: Lucien Ballard
Edited by: Stanford C. Allen
Production Companies: Laugh or Die, Melvin Simon Productions
Distributed by: AVCO Embassy Pictures
Release date: April 9, 1978
Running time: 84 minutes

Lionel Carpenter (Billy Crystal) is a night-school teacher who has bad luck with women. He remains a virgin until his brash cousin Danny (Alex Rocco) sets him up with a one-night stand. Soon after, Lionel starts feeling nauseated and vomits, eventually doing so onto Segoynia Savaka (Joan Prather), one of his immigrant students. This turns out to be a blessing in disguise, as it gives him an excuse to ask her out on a date, and a romance develops.

When Lionel meets Segoynia’s fortune-telling grandmother (played by Roddy McDowall in drag), she intuits that he is the world’s first pregnant man. This results in a series of gags relating to his pregnancy and people’s reactions to it. One side plot has Lionel being pursued by the Army because the President of the United States is afraid of what effect the widespread ability of men to conceive will have on population growth.

In the ending sequence, which is patterned after the Nativity, Lionel finally goes into labor. The camera rises to Heaven, where God announces to the viewers the successful delivery: “Oh my god… It’s a girl!”

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