Recap: The Simpsons S 4 E 22 Krusty Gets Kancelled
Episode - 9F19 First Aired - 5/13/1993A 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.
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 meters down the sidewalk.
Bowdlerise: In-Universe: Krusty wants the Red Hot Chili Peppers to change one of their lyrics to "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" later gets his own show and dancer troupe.
Burger Fool: Sideshow Mel takes a job at a fast-food restaurant during the short time he's unemployed.
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 Seventies). 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?"
Deleted Scene: Krusty's show was originally supposed to be canceled after Krusty offers kids a coffee table book of him in sexually explicit positions and situations (similar to the Madonna Sex book that was popular at the time), only to be arrested by the FBI for peddling pornography to minors. Naturally, the scene was cut because it was too risque and replaced with Krusty's show getting canceled after he airs a bizarre Soviet version of Itchy and Scratchy ("Worker and Parasite") and everyone in the studio audience leaves.
There was also a scene after the "Krusty Sex Book" sequence where Krusty's producers tell him his show's been canceled and will be replaced by a hemorrhoid infomerical, with Krusty begging to be cast as either a hemorrhoid sufferer ("Ooh, oh, that hurts! Ah, oh! Is there no relief?") or one of the "After" guys ("Aah, oh, that's better. I can ride a bike again!").
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.
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.
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" 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.)
Stunt Casting: More guest voices than usual turn up; aside from those mentioned above, Barry White is in the opening scene as a guest on Springfield Squares. Elizabeth Taylor gets only two lines, but that's still more than she got back in "Lisa's First Word".
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.
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. Justified as 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.
Unintentional Period Piece: The guest voices definitely date the episode to The Nineties, as they were experiencing career peaks or at least were household names to viewers (as in Carson and Taylor's cases) at the time.