A man in an odd costume barges into a fancy restaurant, dousing several diners with ketchup and mustard and demanding that everyone hand over their money and valuables.
Batman hears the police report about "a costumed extremist armed with a... ketchup gun" and moves in. He intercepts and easily defeats the robber, who calls himself the "Condiment King." Rejecting Batman's offer to go easy if he returns the loot and gives up crime, he ends up slipping on his own ketchup and falling on top of Montoya and Bullock's police car. They identify him as comedian Buddy Standler and take him to the hospital. Batman and Robin try to figure out a cause for his bizarre behavior, but are at a loss.
The next day, Alfred's shopping is interrupted by another strange new villain called the "Pack Rat," who steals only worthless junk but carries a very real submachine gun. Responding to Alfred's call, Batman and Robin subdue the Pack Rat. They discover that he is celebrity comedian Harry Loomis, and that he has a microchip on his neck.
The Dynamic Duo pay a visit to the Mad Hatter in Arkham Asylum. However, it's not his doing — he has also been tagged with a microchip, which has put him into a prolonged sleep.
Returning to the Batcave, they hear from Alfred that a third comedian, Lisa Lorraine, is missing. The three were to be the judges at an imminent "Laugh-Off" competition. Following up on this clue, they note an oddity in last year's competition. Someone calling himself "Smilin' Shecky Rimshot" tried to crash the stage, but was ejected for not being a registered contestant. As he was dragged offstage, he vowed vengeance. Upon taking a closer look at the intruder, Batman recognizes him as the Joker in disguise.
That night, the Joker shows up at the competition again, putting his goons in the vacant judges' chairs and taking the stage as the sole contestant. His plan to "win" the contest is thwarted by Batman, who chases him down while Robin confronts "Mighty Mom" (a mind-controlled Lisa Lorraine).
The fight ends with Joker rescued from a fall by Batman's grapple gun, the trophy stuck on his head and his pants around his ankles. This gets the Joker some genuine laughs for once, much to his dismay.
Tropes in this episode include:
- Big Eater: The actress who becomes Mighty Mom is seen eating a bag of potatoes chips. Then when the Joker subdues her with a gas bomb hidden in a pizza box, she says she didn't order pizza but will gladly take it.
- Big "SHUT UP!": Batman gives one to the Condiment King.
- Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce: The Condiment King's most effective attack is squirting somebody in the mouth with a packet of hot sauce.
- Bottomless Magazines: The Pack-Rat is never seen reloading. Similarly, the Condiment King seems to have infinite barrels of sauce.
- Canon Immigrant: The Condiment King has made a few appearances in the mainstream DCU, filling the niche of a villain who seems goofy but can be quite deadly.
- Cheap Costume: The Condiment King wears an silly-looking bodysuit with a pickle headpiece and an actual pair of underwear as part of his costume.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Bitter about being disqualified from an annual stand-up comedy competition (which he never actually registered for), the Joker steals some mind-control implants from the Mad Hatter, kidnaps the three comedians who serve as judges in the annual competition, fits them with the implants and warps them into becoming costumed criminals who attempt reckless capers (with one of the brainwashed judges winding up in the hospital after falling off a building) and replaces the judges with his own men just so he can win the trophy. Batman puts it well:Batman: You've hit a new low, Joker. Only you would ruin three lives for a silly piece of tin.
Joker: It's not about the trophy! It's the title!
- Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off: At one point during their fight, Mighty Mom grabs Robin, puts him over her knee and begins spanking him.
- Edible Ammunition: The Condiment King.
- Going to Be One of Those Days:Dispatcher: [over Police Band] Disturbance reported at the top of the Crown restaurant. Suspect is a male costumed extremist armed with what appears to be a...ketchup gun.
Batman: It's going to be one of those nights.
- Goofy Print Underwear: The Joker is wearing green boxers with yellow polka dots.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The Mad Hatter becomes a victim of his own mind control chips.
- Humiliation Conga: Joker's defeat comes when he gets the trophy stuck on his head then stumbles into open air several stories up, and when Batman's grapple catches him, it pulls his pants down, exposing his underwear. He lands headfirst straight into police custody, and then the balloon falls on top of him. As he's being taken away the bystanders all laugh at him.
- Hurricane of Puns: The Condiment King only has one scene, but he slips in about a half-dozen condiment-related puns in that short time. Given that he is a comedian, it sort of makes sense, actually.
- Malicious Misnaming: More disdainful than outright malicious, and apparently intended to bring the Condiment King to his senses by pointing out how utterly ridiculous and non-threatening he looks:
- More Than Mind Control: Invoked by Robin, after he gets slapped by Mighty Mom after he painfully removes the chip from her.Mighty Mom/Lisa Lorraine: [slaps Robin] That hurt! Don't worry, I'm back to normal.
Robin: Who can tell?
- Mythology Gag: The Joker, disguised as a normal looking man, being laughed off and disqualified from the annual stand-up-comedy competition is reminiscent of his most iconic Origin Story from The Killing Joke, where he quit his job as an Ace Chemical Plant employee to become a stand-up comedian, only to fail miserably and then turn to a life of crime before his fateful accident.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Packrat and Mighty Mom are pretty clearly based on Jerry Lewis and Roseanne Barr.
- Not Me This Time: Batman and Robin discover the Mad Hatter's mind-control chips on people who inexplicably became ludicrous supervillains. Including the Mad Hatter himself—the Joker swiped them to exact revenge for being snubbed at a comedy competition.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: All of the mind-controlled comedians become incredibly silly villains, but some are a legitimate threat. The Pack-Rat wields a machine gun, Mighty Mom is armed with Joker gas grenades and the Condiment King has...hot sauce.
- Reality Ensues: The Caped Crusader versus a brainwashed comedian armed with condiments. Yeah, Batman overtakes him very easily.
- Skewed Priorities: When Robin holds Mighty Mom on the floor to remove the chip, she complains that she just cleaned the floor.
- Talk to the Fist:Condiment King: What's this? Ah, the Big Bad Bat Guy. I knew you'd ketchup to me sooner or later. How I've relished this meeting. You, the Dynamic Dark Knight, versus me, the Conceptual Condiment King! Come Batman, let's see if you can cut the mustard.
Batman: [delivers a single punch to CK's stomach] Quiet!
Condiment King: Oh! [falls to his knees and pants] You hit me!
- Underwear of Power: The Condiment King wears an actual pair of underwear as part of his Cheap Costume.
- Vaudeville Hook: Joker gets dragged offstage by one of these. He's so outraged by the thought of being disqualified from Gotham City's annual stand-up-comedy competition on the (at least to him) flimsy grounds that he never entered that a year later he seeks Disproportionate Retribution on the judges.