Brooklyn Nine-Nine flashback: How Amy's bomb wedding-vows punchline came to life
The wedding of Jake Peralta and Amy Santiago had it all: a bomb threat, two ringbearers who had to call in sick, the return of Teddy, a twice-soiled veil, and a cake in shape of Nakatomi Plaza. But the reason that we have gathered here today is actually to celebrate the wedding gift that Amy gave Jake during their nuptials — a joke that can only be described as, well, the bomb.
The season 5 finale of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which aired three years ago, sent the two detectives off into matrimonial bliss after the aforementioned explosive stress. As a nod to Jake's derriere-focused compliment from earlier in the episode (which was actually a callback to his proposal earlier in the season), Amy finished off her vows with that potent punchline — "Your butt is the bomb. There will be no survivors" — reducing a proud Jake to tears.
Exec producer Luke Del Tredici, who co-wrote the episode, recalls that it was a challenge to calibrate Jake and Amy's emotional milestone moment for Brooklyn's comedy ethos. "It's very hard in a room of all comedy writers to write super sincere wedding vows," he notes. "Everyone's instinct is constantly to undercut at every moment, just because it's a bunch of comedy writers and nobody wants to write pure saccharine stuff. We're a show that has crimes and at different times we've had serial killers or difficult social issues we've tried to deal with, and nothing makes the writers as uncomfortable pitching as when we have to have a tender moment between Jake and Amy before they kiss.... A lot of the process of writing those vows for us was trying to find the balance."
It's not necessarily surprising that the Brooklyn writers ultimately found that the best way to equilibrate the big emotions played in the scene was to end the vows with a startling blast of levity. But, fun fact: they did not originally imagine that Amy would be the one delivering the last laugh. "As soon as Amy said, 'Do not say ["Ya butt is da bomb"] in your vows' in the first act, the first impulse was, 'That should be a part of Jake's vows,'" recalls Del Tredici.
As the writers struggled to compound that joke with another season 5 callback (Jake wanted his vows to involve an Addams Family rap), someone suggested giving the line to Amy. The writers soon realized that while Amy simply repeating Jake's joke was funny, it could use another gear, which led to the creation of that mic-dropping "no survivors" capper. "The thing Jake found touching was not only that Amy was doing his joke but she had cranked it up a little bit," Del Tredici says. "The single most emotional moment on the show for Jake was hearing Amy say his stupid butt is the bomb."
It ultimately solved another problem. The writers had decided that the character who would read his/her vows first would go in a more comedic direction, and then the second character would do some heavier lifting in terms of emotional resonance. "Because of that, Jake's vows were a little bit lighter and Amy's were a little more sincere," says Del Tredici. "She goes to the climactic speech about having the right people around you, you can handle anything. We knew we needed a joke for Amy off of that, because that moment was just too nakedly sincere to stand in our world. It was a perfect solution."
The woman who deftly delivered the knock-out blow — which, by the way, was highlighted in EW's "30 Perfect Punchlines" feature — calls that sequence one of her favorite moments in Brooklyn history, even if she doesn't have the fondest memories of filming it. "That whole wedding scene we shot really quickly," recalls Fumero. "It was like one in the morning, and it was freezing. I'm in that dress that's got no sleeves and a scoop neckline. I even have a memory of [having] extra makeup on my nose because my nose was getting red. And we did not shoot the hell out of it. Being such a big wedding scene, normally you would spend a lot of time and do a lot of different takes. No. With this, we rushed. What you see what's in the episode is essentially what we did. Poor Dan [Goor, Brooklyn co-creator who co-wrote the episode] was directing and we were all like, "Everybody wants to go home' — in a very kind, professional way."
Fumero sees Amy's punchline as a crowning moment in her opposites-attract relationship with Jake. "They bring out the best in each other," she says. "Her topping his joke is also a bit of a nod to their earlier relationship, when they were so competitive and always trying to best each other."
It also showcased just how far type-A Amy had come in five seasons. "Season 1 Amy would never have made a joke in the middle of her wedding," observes Fumero. "To see her arrive at that moment and just lean into it and make that joke in the middle of their ceremony is a testament to that character's growth." Adds Del Tredici: "We spend a lot of time on the show thinking about the evolution of Jake Peralta, whose path to maturity has been the story of the series in a lot of ways, but I'm equally invested in the story of how Amy has become slightly less mature. In thinking about the ways that their relationship has changed both of them, I love that at the core of this very important moment for her, she's talking about butts."
Fumero and co. view that season 5 scene as a model moment — if not an aspirational one — for the couple. "It's now become the thing that we chase: 'How can we pop that bubble with a really good joke or really good callback in these really heartfelt Jake and Amy moments?'" she says. "It's so heartfelt, this whole journey of these two characters, and then you think she's going to deliver something really sincere [at the end of her vows], and she goes with that. I thought Andy's choice of crying, which he really went for — chef's kiss, cherry on top — it was so funny to me... I feel like I broke a little bit on a few takes because it was just so funny to me. I just loved that moment so much." There may have been no survivors that wedding night, but the laughs live on.
The eighth and final season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine kicks off Thursday on NBC.
A group of ragtag cops — led by Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) — run the 99th precinct of the NYPD.