‘Parks and Recreation’ Mini-Reunion: Ben Schwartz Has Henry Winkler Explain the Origin of His ‘Happy Days’ Catchphrase

With coronavirus (COVID-19) shutting down productions from Grey’s Anatomy to Marvel films and TV shows, actors have a lot of time on their hands. Ben Schwartz decided to host a Twitter “talk show,” where he had his former Parks and Recreation co-star, Henry Winkler, reveal a secret from his past. Here’s what happened.

Ben Schwartz and Henry Winkler recurred on ‘Parks and Recreation’

'Parks and Recreation': (l-r) Ben Schwartz as Jean-Ralphio, Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford, Jenny Slate as Mona Lisa, Marc Evan Jackson as Trevor Nelson, Henry Winkler as Dr. Saperstein
‘Parks and Recreation’: (l-r) Ben Schwartz as Jean-Ralphio, Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford, Jenny Slate as Mona Lisa, Marc Evan Jackson as Trevor Nelson, Henry Winkler as Dr. Saperstein | Colleen Hayes/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Schwartz began his recurring role on Parks and Recreation in season 2. He portrayed Jean-Ralphio Saperstein, who interviews to be Ron’s assistant, but becomes friends good friends (and eventual business partners) with Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari).

Winkler, meanwhile, isn’t introduced until season 6. He portrayed Dr. Saperstein, Jean-Ralphio’s father. Dr. Saperstein works against Tom in order to try and bail his kids out of trouble. He is also the obstetrician for the central couples who give birth on the show.

Winkler is best known for ‘Happy Days’

Winkler was quite a get for Parks and Recreation. The actor has been in the business since the 1970s, and is best known for his TV work. He’s recurred in series such as Arrested Development and starred in Childrens Hospital and Barry. But above all else, he’s best known as Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli.

The character first appeared in Happy Days before making guest and recurring appearances on spinoffs such as Laverne & Shirley and Joanie Loves Chachi. Above all else, Fonzie (or “the Fonz”) is notable for the moment in Happy Days where, in a water skiing competition, he jumped over a shark, thus originating the popular phrase.

Schwartz ‘hosted’ a Twitter talk show

To pass the time while social distancing, Schwartz took to social media. The actor, who is also known for series like House of Lies and films such as Sonic the Hedgehog (in which he voiced the titular character), posed Quarantine Tonight, asking people what they’re doing during their downtime.

Among the first to respond? Winkler, who simply chimed in “Me.” Schwartz then asked the actor how he came up with one of Fonzie’s signature catchphrases: Ayyyyy. “Is it true you were just casually saying the alphabet out loud and after one letter someone said, “STOP!!! STOP RIGHT THERE!!! THAT’S IT!” asked Schwartz.

Winkler reveals the origin of one of his catchphrases

However, fans of the show may recall that Fonzie actually had a few catchphrases. Though “ayyy” may be the most popular, another word he frequently said was “whoa.” And Winkler chose to divulge the origins of that phrase instead.

Apparently, the saying was borrowed from what Winkler calls his “favorite sport at that time,” horseback riding. For those who don’t know, this is a common command for riders when slowing their horses. Who would have thought that that’s where that catchphrase came from? Let’s hope this isolation period can bring out even more of Hollywood’s most entertaining secrets.