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:

  • Aesop Amnesia: When Krusty loses his show, he's destitute because he never saved for this kind of situation. After getting his show back, he buys a ruby to use as a clown nose.
  • Animation Bump: Gabbo's introduction is much better animated than the rest of the episode.
  • 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.
  • Bad Boss: Sideshow Mel considers Krusty this, hence his initial refusal to come back.
  • 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 training 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."
  • Blatant Lies: Right after Krusty claims to have learned his lesson about squandering, a jeweller shows up with a ruby-made clown nose he ordered.
  • 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.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Sideshow Mel at first refuses to return to Krusty's show, claiming he likes working at the fast food place better; he changes his mind when the curtain goes up.
  • 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?"
  • Cool Old Guy/Crazy Awesome/The Ace: Most of the other celebrity guests on Krusty's special do what you might expect. Johnny Carson, on the other hand, sings opera while juggling a 1987 Buick Skylark over his head. The episode ends with Bart toasting Krusty as the greatest entertainer in the world...except for Carson who is tap dancing, playing the show's theme on the accordion and balancing a plank on his head that has Jasper and Grampa playing checkers on it all at once.
  • 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 substitute 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!
  • Dub Name Change: An odd case overlapping with Cultural Translation: in the Latin American dub, Luke Perry is renamed Robert Redford.
  • Dying Curse: See the second example from Disproportionate Retribution above.
    Driver: I'll get you for this, Midler!
  • Engineered Public Confession: Gabbo's rant about how children are sons of bitches; these are, unknown to anyone at the studio — including and especially Mr. Crandall and Gabbo — being broadcast live over Channel 5; Bart had sneaked into the studio and secretly flipped the switch, allowing the camera to transmit Gabbo's comments over the air.
  • Follow the Leader: In-Universe, 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: The Springfield Squares is a parody; it is a hybrid of the original 1966 version — celebrities Wally Cox (lower left) and Charlie Weaver (lower right), who are celebrities, had long since died — and the 1986 syndicated version, which frequently went "on location" (this episode was taped in Springfield Harbor); also appearing as "celebrities" are Rainer Wolfcastle, Lurleen Lumpkin, the Capitol City Goofball, Princess Kashmir, Troy McClure, Barry White and an unknown celebrity. The tidal wave that interrupts the game (and in this case, washes a stubborn Charlie Weaver away) is a reference to an actual incident during the original NBC daytime show, where in 1971 a mild earthquake stopped taping briefly, and everyone but Paul Lynde fled the set.
  • Giant Wall of Watery Doom: A fifty-foot tidal wave hits Springfield Harbor right in the middle of The Springfield Squares.
  • Homage
    • Gabbo is named after the ventriloquist dummy that provided the title of the 1929 film The Great Gabbo.
    • The Hollywood Squares: The Springfield Squares is a localized version with local celebrities
    • 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 the famous Elvis Presley TV "comeback special" from 1968. 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 couple of incidents involving Ed Sullivan asking musicians to change the lyrics of their songs before they could perform on his show:
      • The Rolling Stones were asked to change "Let's 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.
      • The Doors were asked to change a line in "Light My Fire" from "girl, we couldn't get much higher" to "girl, we couldn't get much better", due to fears that the line "higher" would be seen as condoning drug use. Jim Morrison ended up singing the original lyrics on air; the band was banned from making further appearances on the show.
    • A deleted scene has Krusty promoting a parody of Madonna's "Sex" book, "featuring me in a variety of sexually explicit positions" (though he used a "stunt butt").
  • 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.)
  • Is This Thing Still On?: Shortly after Kent Brockman gives a self-serving rebuke for Gabbo's "all the kids in Springfield are SOBs" remark (during his "My Two Cents" opinion spot), he thinks that the newscast has gone to commercial and, snickering, says, "That oughta hold the little SOBs" ... shortly before a hastily-created graphic appears on the screen saying "Brockman in Trouble" ... and Brockman realizing he's been caught.
    • The incident that led to Brockman's moralizing, hypocritical editorial was an unknown-to-its-perpetrator instance. Gabbo and his puppeteer, Mr. Crandall, were aware that the station had gone to commercial and the live camera was off, during which time they make disparaging remarks about children and that they had to lower themselves to this sort of entertainment. Bart, however, sneaks into the studio and without anyone's knowledge, turns the camera back on, capturing Gabbo's rant live on the air and prompting an outrage.
  • Japandering: Gabbo's crank call to Krusty has him tricking the clown into thinking a Japanese company wants him to appear in a commercial.
  • Karma Houdini: Mayor Quimby uses the city treasury to fund the murder of his enemies but gets away thanks to using Gabbo's catchphrase while publicly confessing. He even gets re-elected in a landslide.
  • Limited Animation: "Worker and Parasite", the Eastern European Itchy & Scratchy knock-off.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It's not revealed whether Gabbo truly has a mind of his own, or whether Crandall is simply an eccentric who knows some FX tricks.
  • Narm: In-universe. Krusty's trying out for a new acting career gets passed when his clown nose ruins the atmosphere of the romantic scene he's participating in.
  • Negative Continuity: Either that or Krusty considers the show where he had a cardiac arrest on the air (mentioned via flashback in "Krusty Gets Busted") better than the one with Ray-Jay Johnson.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Gabbo's voice was based on Jerry Lewis.
  • 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).
  • Playboy Bunny: Naturally, seeing as Hugh Hefner guest stars, although he also seems to have them in his R&D department.
  • Rattling Off Legal: Krusty tries to keep children watching his show by offering them forty-dollar checks. A voice then says the checks won't be honored.
  • 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.
  • True Companions: Subverted, when Krusty is breaking the news of his cancellation to his staff.
    Krusty: The important thing is, we're like a family.
    Sideshow Mel: [tearfully] Krusty, I—
    Krusty: [threateningly] SHUT YOUR HOLE!!!