319. Today, I Am A Clown

(originally aired December 7, 2003)
In a similar fashion as “My Mother the Carjacker,” this episode drags back a classic guest star for a repeat performance, without any of the emotional resonance or sensibility that made them great in the first place. This instance might be worse, actually; “Carjacker” just repeated the beats of the previous episode, whereas here, Krustofski is pretty much absent the second half of the episode in favor of a completely nonsensical and ridiculous B-“plot.” There’s a beginning involving getting rid of Santa’s Little Helper’s bastard puppies, but it’s inconsequential to the story completely; Krusty gets one and we never see it after act one. Krusty finds himself absent from the Jewish Walk of Fame, and discovers he is ineligible due to having never had a bar mitzvah. He consults his father about it, who tells him he never had the ceremony out of fear that his son would make a mockery of it. Krusty vows to truly embrace his religion, and to finally, at long last, become a man.

Rabbi Krustofski was the most highly regarded holy man in the village, and his son was never bar mitzvahed? Krusty clowned about his whole life, but in “Like Father, Like Clown,” in a flashback we hear the rabbi gushing about how his son is at the top of his class, implying that as he got older, Krusty managed to keep his antics from his father’s prying eyes. At least that’s just the way I see it, so I don’t entirely buy this premise. So Krusty adheres to his long ignored customs, which ultimately costs him his show (more on that in a bit). Desperate, he pitches to FOX that they air his bar mitzvah live, a sacrilegious, sensationalist event featuring the Beach Boys Experience, Mr. T, and other glitz and glamor to undermine any shred of seriousness the ceremony might have. This segment of the episode is the only part that works, Krusty selling out his faith for the artificial televised thrill, with a spinning wheel Star of David and bad Jewish puns (“I can’t schmear you!”) Except earlier we see that Krusty’s old Jewish village is filled with puns too (L.L. Beanie, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Trayfe!”) So context doesn’t matter here. As “Regina” featured nonstop easy British jokes, here we have the same with Jew jokes.

Now that he observes the Sabbath, Krusty can’t record a show on Saturday, so he needs a replacement host. Who will it be? Homer, of course. Why? Because he was right there when Krusty was talking about it. The crowds cheer as the curtains open to reveal.. Homer, Moe, Lenny and Carl sitting around a table, talking about stupid topics like tight seats on airplanes and tired oldies stations. Surely this audience of kids don’t give a shit about this show, but apparently adults do, and within one minute Homer’s show is the headline of fucking Variety magazine. Why is his show a big success? Why do they like it? The plot is just fast-tracked: Lisa urges Homer to use his newfound power to talk about real issues, which of course gets him swiftly cancelled. Too bad none of the story works whatsoever, and moreover, it completely takes over Krusty’s plot. We go right to the crazy bar mitzvah without any word in edgewise from Rabbi Krustofski. It would make perfect sense to have scenes of Krusty planning all the sacrilegious stuff and the rabbi urging him not to, leaving Krusty to have to choose between his fame and his faith. Instead, we get whatever the fuck that Homer story was. It’s the worst B-plot we’ve ever seen, and completely kills an episode that wasn’t holding up too well to start with.

Tidbits and Quotes
– Not sure how I feel about the gag of Lisa consulting the Simpsons Complete Guide. I like it, and I also don’t like it. So I guess in the end I feel nothing about it. Much like most of the series now.
– Santa’s Little Helper’s last night on the town of animal porn theaters and doggie prostitutes… is so uncomfortable and disturbing. Really, this show is just not the place for this type of humor. At least done in such a brash manner. In the end, Homer doesn’t have SLH neutered, so he effectively caused the problem, and should be the one to fix it. Instead, he strangles the dog, and Marge forces Bart and Lisa to give away the puppies. So Homer’s completely off the hook again! God bless that man!
– I like how Krusty’s lax Judiasm is summed up early on, scoffing at Sandy Koufax (“I lost ten grand when he wouldn’t pitch on Yom Kippur. I did five shows that night!”)
– Because Schwarzenegger running for governor at the time was being accused of being an anti-Semite, that means Rainier Wolfcastle is one too!
– Know-it-all Lisa is an expert on the Jewish faith and the inner wordings of the Torah. Why? Some bullshit explanation about having a Jewish imaginary friend. Solid writing, guys.
– The Itchy and Scratchy is pretty boring, but I did chuckle at “Mouse-el tov!”
– I don’t even want to talk about the Homer plot anymore, because I just can’t make heads or tails of it. If anyone would like to posit about it themselves, be my guest. All I know is not only do we get no explanation why Homer isn’t at work, Lisa and Bart apparently skip school to work as production assistants and engineers.
– Krustofski dictates the rules of Judaism to Krusty, basically what everyone knows about them not mixing meat and milk and not eating pork. He also includes that all Jews must eat Chinese food on Christmas Day. What a hilarious stereotype! It really is like the England episode, the cheapest and easiest Jew jokes they could come up with in an afternoon.
– Mr. T is pretty enjoyable in the show as Krusty’s beleaguered special guest. Stuck on the spinning wheel of David, he bemoans, “I wish I had invested my money better…”

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16 responses to “319. Today, I Am A Clown

  1. Sadly, they kinda did ANOTHER “Homer-rants-on-television” thing last season, where he puts gravy on his head and it’s about a trillion times worse than this.

    And yes, this episode is just a fucking mess.

  2. “Krusty clowned about his whole life, but in “Like Father, Like Clown,” in a flashback we hear the rabbi gushing about how his son is at the top of his class, implying that as he got older, Krusty managed to keep his antics from his father’s prying eyes. At least that’s just the way I see it, so I don’t entirely buy this premise.”

    I know continuity if verboten in new simpsons,but Krusty is supposed to be illiterate. How’s an illiterate supposed to be top of his class 😐

    • What does that have to do with new Simpsons? That continuity error was all in the same episode, Like Father Like Clown (not being able to read Bart’s letter invitation to dinner),

      • maybe Krusty can just read Hebrew?

        to be fair, the writers straight-up admitted that by season 4 they had abandoned Krusty’s illeteracy because it was just too much of a pain in the ass (I think LFLC was the last mention of it)

  3. This episode annoys me so much. Most of the jokes consist solely of corny puns. Just lame, lame writing.

  4. Another episode that left no impact on my memory. The only thing I remember is the Complete Guide joke, which I also kinda hate. And also that I was disappointed that they made a big deal of getting Jackie Mason back to play Rabbi Krustofski again, then pretty much wasted him so they could cram in Homer’s talk show and Mr. T. Whatever, Zombie Simpsons, I hardly expect any better from you at this point.

  5. THe only thing I liked in this episode was Lisa looking at the book because it shows how uncreative the writers are at this point. It is sad that this episode is from the same season that gives us some really good episodes though.

  6. “Rabbi Krustofski was the most highly regarded holy man in the village, and his son was never bar mitzvahed?”

    This line made me laugh because I imagined it being said in Jackie Mason’s voice.

    • …And now I am imagining that Jackie is saying this to the writers, and his rant continues to go on.

      Rabbi Krustofski was the most highly regarded holy man in the village, and his son was never bar mitzvahed? This is what passes for scriptwriting these days? You bring me here, to voice this character, this beloved character, and you can’t even come up with a story that makes sense? Oy oy oy. Stereotypes, I can do. I don’t have a problem with being an empty stereotype. But is it too much to ask that the show have some connection with the real world?

      (Jackie pauses as the staff asks him if he is quitting)

      No, I’ll still do it.

  7. We often characterize the episodes in the Jean era as forgettable, but with this one I literally do not recognize anything you mentioned. Okay, I do remember that gag with Lisa checking the complete guide, but until today I could not have told you it was from this episode.

  8. It’s as though the Zombie-era writers decided their job was to completely shit on every character ever to appear on the show. After making short work of the Simpson family and most of the significant supporting characters, they are now working their way through beloved one-offs (Mother Simpson, Grimey) or minor recurring characters (Sideshow Bob).

    Can the desecration of Inanimate Carbon Rod be far behind?

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