Recap: The Simpsons S 4 E 22 Krusty Gets Kancelled

Episode - 9F19
First Aired - 5/13/1993

A new kids' show hosted by a strait-laced ventriloquist and his smart-aleck dummy threatens to cancel Krusty the Clown's show, so Bart and Lisa round up Krusty's celebrity friends for a comeback special.

This episode contains examples of:

  • As Herself/Himself: This episode had the most non-sports celebrity guest appearances up to that point in the show's run: Johnny Carson, Hugh Hefner, Bette Midler, Luke Perry, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Elizabeth Taylor, and Barry White.
  • Beggar With A Signboard: After his show is cancelled, Bart and Lisa find Krusty holding a cardboard sign which reads, "Will Drop Pants for Food." What's worse, there's an old man doing it for free a few feet down the sidewalk (and somehow became a TV star with his own dance troupe a few scenes later).
  • Berserk Button: During the tranining montage to get Krusty back in shape, he and Homer practice boxing. Krusty punches Homer to vent his anger over Gabbo's show and later Homer punches Krusty to vent anger over the increase of pork meat's price.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: When the kids point out that Luke Perry has a hit TV show of his own, Krusty counters with, "Yeah, on Fox."
  • Blipvert: "Gabbo! GABBO! GABBO!"
    Bart: Did you see that?
    Homer: Yeah.
    Bart: What's Gabbo?
    Homer: I'm guessing it's some guy's name. Some guy named Gabbo.
  • Bowdlerise: In-Universe: Krusty wants the Red Hot Chili Peppers to change the lyrics of "Give It Away". They refuse at first, but when Krusty suggests to change, "What I got/You gotta get/And put it in you" to "What I'd like/Is I'd like to/Hug and kiss you," they warm up to the idea.
  • Brick Joke: The Crazy Old Man who drops his pants and sings "Old Gray Mare" on the street later gets his own TV show and dance troupe.
  • Burger Fool: Sideshow Mel takes a job at a fast-food restaurant during the short time he's unemployed.
  • Catchphrase: "I'm a bad wittle boy!" for Gabbo.
  • Channel Hop: In-universe. Gabbo is so popular that The Itchy & Scratchy Show starts appearing on it rather than The Krusty the Clown Show.
  • Chekhov's Gag: Krusty notes that the only bad shows in his run were those from the week when Ray J. Johnson was his co-host (this was presumably back in The '70s). As it turns out, he's the only guest star lined up for Gabbo's show the day the Krusty Komeback Special is airing against it.
  • Comically Missing the Point: During the runup to Gabbo's debut, Reverend Lovejoy complains in a sermon that everyone's focusing on "Gabbo this and Gabbo that but not worship this and Jericho that!" Jasper raises his hand and asks "What's this about Gabbo?"
  • Demonic Dummy: Gabbo can talk and move independently of Crandall! He isn't outright evil, though — just a Jerkass.
  • Depraved Kids' Show Host: Arthur Crandall/Gabbo thinks his viewers are "little S.O.B.s." Bart manages to get this offstage chatter on tape, but Springfield forgets about it after Kent Brockman makes a similar comment about his audience while reporting the story and got fired for it.
  • Deranged Animation: Having lost The Itchy And Scratchy Show to Gabbo, Krusty tries to find a subtitute in the baffling Eastern European cartoon Worker And Parasite.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: When Snake Jailbird tosses a can out his car window onto the highway Bette Midler just finished cleaning up, she responds by chasing after him on foot, jumping onto his car, and throwing the can back in, which causes the car to swerve off the road and crash. A second driver does the same thing, and Midler simply tosses the can at the car, which causes the driver to lose control and careen into the nearby mountainside.
    Bette Midler: We're Americans. We deserve clean highways.
  • The Dreaded: Bette Midler, apparently.
    Snake Jailbird: Oh no, Bette Midler!
  • Follow the Leader: Krusty tries his hand at ventriloquism in the wake of Gabbo's success.
  • Funny Background Event: At the afterparty at Moe's Tavern, Elizabeth Taylor can be seen peering through the window as Bart salutes Krusty.
  • Game Show Appearance: Springfield Squares.
  • Homage
    • Gabbo is named after the ventriloquist dummy that provided the title of the 1929 film The Great Gabbo.
    • The finale of Gabbo's introductory song has puppets and choreography pulled straight out of Pinocchio's "I've Got No Strings" number.
    • As noted at this episode's Wikipedia page, the light-up KRUSTY letters that open the show reference ''Elvis'', a famous Elvis Presley TV concert from 1968 (when his musical career was bottoming out) that came to be dubbed "the '68 comeback special". Indeed, the whole concept of a comeback special effectively comes from Elvis's show.
    • Bette Midler performing "Wind Beneath My Wings" for Krusty is a deliberate homage to her singing for Johnny Carson on his second-to-last episode of The Tonight Show, to the point that it's performed on a Tonight Show-esque set.
    • The scene of Krusty and The Red Hot Chili Peppers (see Bowdlerise above) is a parody of an incident of Ed Sullivan asking The Rolling Stones to change "Lets Spend the Night Together" to "Let's Spend Some Time Together" (as "spend the night" was seen as too sexually suggestive at the time). Mick Jagger didn't warm up to the change. A similar incident occurred when The Doors appeared: Sullivan asked Morrison to change a line in "Light My Fire" from 'girl, we couldn't get much higher' to 'girl, we couldn't get much better' fearing that the line "higher" would be seen as condoning drug use; much like the Stones, Morrison sang the original lyrics on air. Unlike the Stones, The Doors did not appear on the show again, prompting Morrison's reply of We just did, Sullivan.
  • I Read That As: Mr. Burns sees a "GABBO IS COMING" billboard and cries "Look Smithers! Garbo is coming!" "Um, yes sir!" (Greta Garbo died in 1990; this episode was made in '93.)
  • Japandering: Gabbo's crank call to Krusty has him tricking the clown into thinking a Japanese company wants him to appear in a commercial.
  • Plagiarism in Fiction: Bart points out that the "patented Gabbo crank call" is a bit stolen from Krusty. Lisa tops him by pointing out that "Krusty stole it from Steve Allen", and this is confirmed when Krusty realizes the call was a trick — "If this is anyone but Steve Allen, you're stealing my bit!" Grampa Simpson even pointed out that everything is stolen nowadays, like the fax machine (which, to him, is a waffle iron with a phone attached).
  • Repurposed Pop Song: Krusty performs "Send in the Clowns" by Stephen Sondheim to open his special. It changes virtually all of the lyrics, since the original song is about a failed romance.
  • The Rival: Gabbo instantly becomes this to Krusty.
  • The Show Must Go Wrong: Krusty's sole attempt at ventriloquism is a small-scale example of this. First the puppet's jaw falls off and the kiddies scream. He tries assuring them that the puppet is not actually alive and taps on its head — which caves in under the blows. More screams. He then frustratingly drop-kicks the grotesque remains of the puppet right into the screaming audience.
  • Status Quo Is God: The implication at the end is that Krusty will get his show back in the wake of his Komeback Special's success, while Gabbo becomes yesterday's news (Gabbo and Arthur Crandall have had only the occasional cameo since this episode, in fact).
  • Temporary Bulk Change: Because Krusty doesn't realize that a milkshake diet only works with diet milkshakes (or that the diet milkshakes he drank have a laxative effect). Fortunately a Training Montage undoes its ill effects.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: Johnny Carson plays this on the accordion for the final shot.
  • Training Montage: Thanks to his milkshake diet, Krusty has to get back into shape for the special, which he accomplishes over the course of a Rocky-style montage.
  • The Voiceless: Marge has no lines in this episode. Julie Kavner (along with Harry Shearer) protested the overuse of celebrity guests in this episode (though it has nothing on what the later episodes would bring) and decided to put in as little effort as possible. While Harry Shearer did voice Smithers, Mr. Burns, and Kent Brockman, Julie Kavner decided not to voice Marge.