Original air date: 5/13/1993
Production code: 9F19
"Krusty Gets Kancelled" is the twenty-second and final episode from the fourth season of The Simpsons. In this star-studded episode, the popularity of Krusty the Klown is eclipsed by a new kids' show starring a wise-cracking dummy. Bart and Lisa then try to save their idol's show by lining up his celebrity friends for a comeback special.
PlotWhile watching an episode of The Springfield Squares (a show hosted by Kent Brockman and featuring Rainier Wolfcastle, Lurleen Lumpkin, Barry White and Cliff Arquette, the latter of whom is swept by a tidal wave), Homer and Bart watch a teaser consisting solely of the word "GABBO" flashing on-screen. Soon, the mystery gets the whole town hyped. Gabbo is then revealed to be a dummy handled by a strait-laced ventriloquist, whose show will aire directly against The Krusty the Klown Show.
At first, the lavish production and the dummy's smart-aleck personality (reflected in his catchphrase, "I'm a bad wittle boy") are ignored by the Krust, who has already beaten bigger celebrities. However, he is soon forced to fight back with a similar act, but his dummy scares the kids. After Itchy & Scratchy switch to Gabbo's show (meanwhile, Mayor Quimby manages to get re-elected in spite of openly admitting the murder of some political enemies... just by appropriating the dummy's catchphrase), Krusty resorts to airing a Dadaist Eastern European cartoon called Worker & Parasite, but this attempt fails and the show is cancelled.
As a result of his spendthrift ways, Krusty soon gets broke and becomes the victim of a prank call by Gabbo. Bart and Lisa, unconvinced by the character's crass practical jokes, decide to take him down: In hopes of damaging his reputation, Bart sneaks in the studio and Gabbo's dissing of the children of Springfield appears on the air, but this backfires. The Simpson siblings find the downtrodden clown begging for food in exchange for pulling his pants down (unfortunately, there's another guy —later on known as the Old Jewish Man— who pulls his pants down for free... and ends up on TV) and bemoaning that everybody else has forgotten him. After seeing photos of Krusty alongside Elizabeth Taylor, Hugh Hefner, Bette Midler, as well with his estranged half-brother Luke Perry, they convince the Krust to do a special show if they get such big names. Their attempt is a success, with Taylor's place (they were rejected by her manager before they could even see her) being taken by the Red Hot Chili Peppers (who arrived in Springfield after being somehow lured to play at Moe's Tavern).
But there's another problem: Krusty has gained a lot of weight after having a milkshake diet instead of having a diet milkshake, so the Simpsons offer to take him as a guest until he gets back in shape. At rehearsals, he gets jealous of Perry's talent, and asks the Peppers to soften their songs. Meanwhile, Sideshow Mel, now working at a fast food restaurant, refuses to do the show after being subjected to years of endless physical abuse.
Krusty's comeback special features an emotional reunion with Mel after singing "Send in the Clowns" and RHCP perform "Give It Away" in their underwear, something that the clown (dressed in an ill-fitting "Buster Brown" costume) finds degrading. Krusty's old friend Johnny Carson drops in and lifts an '87 Buick while Hefner plays the glass harp, and Midler sings "Wind Beneath My Wings". The special is a success (to the point Liz Taylor decides to fire her agent for rejecting the gig) and Krusty's career is revived. After the show, everybody celebrates at Moe's, and Bart and Lisa earn part of the profits. Krusty is toasted as the best showman in the world—- after Carson, who tap dances and plays an accordion while balancing Grampa and Jasper on his head.
This episode contains examples of:
- The Ace:
- Johnny Carson can juggle a 1978 Buick Skylark while singing opera, as well as play the accordion while balancing a bench (that has Grandpa and Jasper sitting on it) on his head.
- Luke Perry, in addition to being more successful than Krusty, can (somehow) make an 18th century carousel out of balloons.
- 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-studded clown nose, much to his immediate regret.
- Animation Bump: Gabbo's introduction is much better animated than the rest of the episode, as befitting of how over the top the sequence is.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Krusty claims to have buried competitors such as hobos, sea captains, and Joey Bishop.Producer: Don't forget the Special Olympics.Krusty: Oh, yeah. I slaughtered the Special Olympics. (laughs)
- As Themselves: 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.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Worker and Parasite looks like an old propaganda cartoon from an Eastern Bloc country. The dialogue is Slavic-sounding gibberish, and the title card and end credits feature fake Cyrillic text ("ENDUT! HOCH HECH!") that does not translate into anything.
- When Krusty fires Luke Perry out of a cannon (as he endures being thrown through a window, a sandpaper museum and several bottles of acid), he safely lands in a pillow factory...which is then promptly imploded. Amusingly, when he is later seen at Moe's for the after-party, he only had a small band-aid on his forehead.
- At the comeback special, Krusty asks the Red Hot Chili Peppers to tone down their lyrics, to which they angrily balk at. However, upon him explaining what he would prefer them to say instead, they are suddenly more agreeable, even suggesting that the audience would prefer the less offensive lyrics.
- 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).
- Benevolent Boss: Mr. Johansson, Mel's boss at the fast food place, treats him with more dignity than Krusty ever did, and even offers to intervene if Krusty is bothering Mel.
- Berserk Button:
- During the training montage, an unmotivated Krusty boxes against Homer. Maggie hits the TV remote, which brings up Gabbo's show, getting Krusty so fired up that he starts beating the stuffing out of Homer. Worried, Maggie changes the channel and ends up on a news report that says the price of pork is going up, which makes an enraged Homer start wailing on Krusty.
- Do not litter in front of Bette Midler.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Midler's devoted to cleaning up America's highways and does it by hand in her spare time. Litter in front of her and she'll make you regret the day you were born.
- Big "WHAT?!": Combined with some in-universe Enforced Method Acting, as apparently Krusty had never seen anything related to Worker and Parasite before it aired. The camera cuts back to him looking off screen, gawking, a cigarette dangling off his lips.Krusty: ...What the hell was that?!
- 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:
- Moe told the Red Hot Chili Peppers' manager that his tavern holds 30,000 people, and tells the Chili Peppers to their face that it had that number there the previous night.
- Right after Krusty claims to have learned his lesson about squandering, his assistant shows up with the ruby-studded clown nose he ordered.
- Blipvert: "Gabbo! GABBO! GABBO!"Bart: Did you see that?
Bart: What's Gabbo?
Homer: I'm guessing it's some guy's name. Some guy named Gabbo.
- Blunt "No": Hugh Hefner's reaction when Bart asks if he can call him "Hef."
- UK airings on Channel 4 cut out the scene of a tidal wave coming into the Springfield Squares set, because the episode first aired on the channel shortly after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and it was felt to be insensitive. The scene where Gabbo calls his audience "S.O.B.s" is also heavily censored.
- Done 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."Everyone can enjoy that!"
- Brick Joke:
Crazy Old Man: The old gray mare / She ain't what she used to be / Ain't what she used to be / Ain't what she used to be...
- 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.
Announcer: And now, the Crazy Old Man Singers!
Everyone: The old gray mare / She ain't what she used to be / Ain't what she used to be / Ain't what she used to be...
- Krusty mentions the week of episodes Ray Jay Johnson co-hosted as the only bad episodes he did. Later, Gabbo discovers the only guest he has is Johnson.
- Burger Fool: Mel takes a job at a fast-food restaurant during the short time he's unemployed. Though in a subversion of the norm, Mel actually likes working there, in part because he no longer has to put up with Krusty.
- Cameo Cluster: Bart and Lisa organize a comeback special for Krusty the Klown featuring Krusty's celebrity friends Johnny Carson, Bette Midler, Hugh Hefner, Elizabeth Taylor (whose managers rejected the invitation), and Luke Perry (Krusty's estranged brother), with musical guest stars Red Hot Chili Peppers.
- Cast as a Mask: Of a sort; Arthur Crandall/Gabbo is voiced by Hank Azaria, but when he demonstrates his Vin Scully imitation, Harry Shearer provides his famous impression, which he has used numerous times here and on Saturday Night Live.
- Catchphrase: "I'm a bad wittle boy!" for Gabbo.
- Celebrity Paradox: Elizabeth Taylor plays herself in this episode after providing the voice of Maggie earlier in the season.
- Changed My Mind, Kid: 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 Klown 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.
- Cigarette of Anxiety: Krusty insists that Gabbo's new show doesn't worry him. Cue shot of ashtray overflowing with burned-out cigarettes.
- 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: 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 "Good Night, Ladies" on the accordion and balancing a plank on his head that has Jasper and Grampa playing checkers on it all at once.
- Couch Gag: The family is caught in a rope trap.
- Dartboard of Hate: Krusty has a picture of him with Luke Perry. Luke's side has darts on it.
- 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: When Itchy & Scratchy are bought out by Gabbo, Krusty tries showing an incomprehensible Russian cat-and-mouse cartoon called Worker & Parasite, a parody of Dušan Vukotić's 1961 Yugoslavian short, Ersatz which is known to be very surreal in nature. Naturally, Krusty's reaction is "What the hell was that?!"
- Digging Yourself Deeper: When Krusty's errant attempt at ventriloquism has his puppet's jaw fall off, he attempts to calm down the kids by telling them that the puppet isn't alive... it's dead. Suffice to say it doesn't work, especially when it's followed up by the puppet grotesquely falling apart in Krusty's hands and getting angrily kicked into the live audience.
- 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.
- Epic Fail: Krusty's very brief stab at ventriloquism while attempting to copy Gabbo's success. For starters, he has absolutely no skills to convincingly pass off as a ventriloquist, so he wears a large moustache that conveniently covers his mouth. His dummy, Alphonse, is also extremely old and in very poor condition. When Krusty starts using the dummy on his show, the dummy's mouth falls off, leaving an empty black chasm that scares the children. Krusty tries to reassure them that the dummy is "not even alive...it's dead", and knocks on Alphonse's head...smashing it in, and scaring the children even further. Clearly frustrated, Krusty kicks the now disfigured dummy into the audience. The reaction is predictable.
- Exorcist Head: Played for Laughs; Gabbo spins his head in shock when he learns the only guest they could get on the day of The Krusty Komeback Special is Ray J. Johnson.
- Fat Flex: Krusty flexes in front of the mirror after exercising to lose all the extra weight he put on, showing off a impressive physique. He then stops flexing and his body returns to its normal, flabby state.
- 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 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 Rainier Wolfcastle, Lurleen Lumpkin, the Capitol City Goofball, Princess Kashmir, Troy McClure, Barry White and someone else. 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.Wolfcastle: (as everyone gathers in Barry White's square) Hurry, Charlie, there is not much time!
Weaver: I ain't going nowhere. I been in this square purt' near 30 seasons, and I ain't a-leaving now. (gets washed away by the wave)
(cut to Homer and Bart, watching the show at their home)
Homer: He's dead now. (they both laugh)
- Giant Wall of Watery Doom: A fifty-foot tidal wave hits Springfield Harbor right in the middle of The Springfield Squares.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: When Luke Perry begs Krusty to include him on the comeback special, Krusty fantasizes about shooting Luke out of a cannon into a brick wall and maiming his face. When Krusty actually shoots Luke out of the cannon, he crashes through a window, flies through the Springfield Museum of Sandpaper, crashes through the Kwik-E-Mart and Apu's display case full of acid, and then lands in a pillow factory...which is immediately blown up. Despite fantasizing about maiming Luke, Krusty feels guilty about it when it actually happens. Fortunately, Luke seems perfectly fine when the guests all gather at Moe's at the end of the episode.
- History with Celebrity: Krusty's half-brother is Luke Perry, and he once co-owned a race horse with Bette Midler. He also has history with Johnny Carson, Hugh Hefner, and Elizabeth Taylor, though those connections aren't elaborated on.
- Gabbo is named after the (apparently sentient) ventriloquist dummy that provided the title of the 1929 film The Great Gabbo. He also resembles Howdy Doody, a cowboy dummy that became one of the first TV stars, with the oldest crewmembers having seen the show in the 1950s.
- Personality-wise, Gabbo is basically Charlie McCarthy taking a level in jerkass. Crandall stands in for Edgar Bergen.
- 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.
- Gabbo's "That oughta hold those little SOBs" rant caught on camera is a reference to the famous "little bastards" urban legend involving the famed children's radio presenter ("Uncle") Don Carney, who allegedly said something along those lines unaware that his mic was still on (funny enough, Carney spent about half of his career clarifying that the legend was false).
- 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.
- 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 Starring Johnny Carson, 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 a 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"). Since his audience consists of children, he's quickly arrested for it.
- Hope Spot: For Luke Perry, after being thrown face-first through multiple highly painful things that probably have done damage to said face and ruined his career, it was a blessing to end up dropping into a well-stocked pillow factory... unfortunately for him, that same factory was about five seconds away from being demolished when he fell in.
- Hostility on the Set: In-Universe examples with both rival shows — it's made pretty obvious that Arthur Crandall and Gabbo don't get along when the cameras are off even though Gabbo is Crandall's puppet and it's made perfectly clear that Krusty is a complete jerk to his co-workers (Sideshow Mel recalls a time when Krusty poured liquid nitrogen down his pants and damaged one of his flash-frozen buttocks with a hammer on the air as a reason he doesn't want to come back to the show and when he decides to go to the comeback special after all, Krusty is only amiable for about two seconds and then starts verbally abusing him again).
- Hypocrite: Not five seconds after saying that Gabbo's use of the phrase "SOBs" "has no place on or off TV", Kent Brockman says exactly that.
- Hypocritical Humor: Bart's Look Behind You ploy to sneak the Red Hot Chili Peppers out of Moe's Tavern puzzles Moe, who's still trying to figure out what he's supposed to be looking at after Bart has already left.Homer: Hey Moe, can I look too?Moe: Sure, but it'll cost ya.Homer: My wallet's in the car! (runs outside)Moe: He's so stupid. And now, back to the wall. (open-mouthed stare)
- 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, Arthur 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.
- It Will Never Catch On: When Bart and Lisa are recruiting celebrities for Krusty's comeback special, it cuts to Elizabeth Taylor's agent, who tells her two kids came by asking if she would appear on a TV special, so he told them to buzz off, to which she replies "Good". She's later shown watching the special (as Hugh Hefner is performing), commenting "I've got to fire that agent".
- Japandering: Gabbo's crank call to Krusty has him tricking the clown into thinking a Japanese company wants him to appear in a commercial.
- Japanese Ranguage: Krusty's response to the aforementioned crank call: "Whoa! Me rikey velly much." To Krusty's credit, he immediately realizes how offensive that is and apologizes.
- Jock Dad, Nerd Son: The premise of Rainier Wolfcastle's upcoming film, Help! My Son Is A Nerd. Provides the page quote.
- 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. It's implied he had more people killed when the newspaper informing the election results also has a headline about two more bodies showing up.
- Gabbo calls all of the kids in Springfield "SOBs" on live television and keeps his show (Kent Brockman calls people that too and it's implied that he gets in trouble for being caught by a camera). It's only when Krusty does his special that things start going downhill for him.
- Kick the Dog: After stealing Krusty's audience, Gabbo prank-calls him and exploits his desperation to make Krusty beat himself over the head with his phone.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Bart's commentary adds a slight Bartmania subtext to the rise of Gabbo.Bart: Uh-oh. That cute little character could take America by storm! All he needs is a hook!Gabbo: I'm a bad widdle boy!Bart: Ay carumba!
- Limited Animation: Worker and Parasite, the Eastern European Itchy & Scratchy knock-off.
- Look Behind You: Bart does this so that he can sneak the Red Hot Chili Peppers out of Moe's Tavern. His victim being Moe, he doesn't need to elaborate.
- Made of Iron: After being fired from a cannon, going through several windows, flying through a sandpaper factory, hitting jars of acid, and being blown up with a pillow factory, Luke Perry turns up in Moe's at the end no worse for wear, save for a Band-Aid on his forehead.
- 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.
- Mean Boss: Sideshow Mel considers Krusty this, hence his initial refusal to come back.Mel: On our last show, you poured liquid nitrogen down my pants and cracked my buttocks with a hammer.
- My God, What Have I Done?: A mild example comes when Krusty shoots Luke Perry out of a cannon. While Krusty fantasized about shooting Luke into a brick wall, the actual result is far worse and Krusty feels very guilty about it.
- 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 ones with Ray-Jay Johnson. Probably the latter, since the cardiac arrest episode is widely beloved by Krusty fans.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Gabbo's voice was based on Jerry Lewis.
- Non-Standard Character Design: While the other celebrities look like Simpsons-versions of themselves, Bette Midler looks more like a boardwalk caricature.
- Noodle Incident: Two instances with Krusty: the first where he discusses a disliked episode where his guest host for the show was Ray J. Johnson and the second was where he poured liquid nitrogen down Sideshow Mel's pants and cracked his buttocks with a hammer.
- Krusty and Luke Perry are half-brothers via their mother.
- Offscreen Karma: While this episode ends with Gabbo and Crandall still having their show (but with the obvious implication that it won't be for long), the audience don't get to see them actually having their show cancelled, but subsequent appearances of the duo in other episodes show that after it happened they fell in very dire financial straits to the point that they have to do shows in tourist traps to make ends meet and Gabbo is falling to pieces.
- Oh, Crap!: Several characters do this:
- Kent Brockman does this when he realizes the camera caught him swearing live.
- After littering on Midler's stretch of highway, Snake quickly realises his mistake when he sees her in his rearview mirror.
- Gabbo does this when he realizes that Ray Jay Johnson is his only guest against all the stars Krusty has gathered for his comeback special.
- Krusty does this when he realizes he squandered a huge amount of money on a ruby-studded clown nose despite Johnny Carson's warning him to save his money.
- Old Shame: An In-Universe example. When his show is cancelled, Krusty is proud of having never done a bad show... except for the week that Ray Jay Johnson was his co-host.Krusty: "You can call me 'Ray', or you can call me 'Jay'." That bit was funny for about three seconds!
- Out of Focus: Marge has no lines in this episode, though she does appear. Additionally, while Harry Shearer's characters aren't quite voiceless, but appear much less than usual.
- 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.
- Krusty mentions having beaten Joey Bishop and Arsenio Hall in the ratings. Both of them attempted to compete with Carson.
- The Worker and Parasite cartoon is a parody of Dušan Vukotić's 1961 Yugoslavian short, Ersatz.
- After having his show cancelled, Krusty attempts to land a role in Melrose Place.
- Gabbo's vulgar rant being caught on air is homage to an Urban Legend in which radio personality Uncle Don, believing the show was off-air, grumbled "That oughta hold the little bastards" live.
- Krusty's photo with Liz Taylor features her dressed as Cleopatra.
- When Krusty tries ventriloquism, he asks his puppet "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" This is the famous riddle without an answer from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
- 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.
- Shown Their Work: A subtle but important detail. Elizabeth Taylor already had a Non-Standard Character Design (like most celebrities on the show), but the animators took it one step further by giving her her trademark violet eyes.
- Sibling Rivalry: Krusty considers his half-brother Luke Perry "worthless", resents being upstaged by him, and happily anticipates his face being ruined by a failed cannon stunt (though he has the decency to be horrified when the stunt actually does go horribly wrong). Luke for his part, seems to have nothing against Krusty and happily agrees to appear on Krusty's comeback special.
- Spanner in the Works: Krusty tries to find other TV work after his show is cancelled. He almost gets a role on Melrose Place, but he forgot to take off his clown nose. He's rejected when the actress's nose contacts his and makes it honk.
- 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, and in each they are in pretty dire financial straits).
- Stylistic Suck:
- Gabbo gets the exclusive broadcasting rights for Itchy and Scratchy, and a desperate Krusty shows a short from its Eastern European counterpart, Worker and Parasite. It consists entirely of a stiff, sketchily-drawn cat and mouse bouncing around a scribbled background speaking vaguely Slavic gibberish, followed by a title card reading ENDUT! HOCH HECH! Krusty's reaction: "What the hell was that?!"
- Krusty's attempt at ventriloquism. The puppet's jaw falls off on live TV, and somehow it goes downhill from there.
- Super-Strength: Johnny Carson was able to lift an entire car over his head. Takes it even further by twirling and juggling it while singing.
- Bette Milder has the strength to throw an aluminum can several hundred yards and hit a car with enough force to send it careening off the road.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Johnny Carson assumes that Krusty's built up quite a lot of money after so many years on TV. Given the Conspicuous Consumption we see Krusty indulge before, during and after this episode, it's implied that he's nearly broke. Later, when everybody is celebrating at Moe's Carson advises Krusty to save his money this time. That's when Krusty's assistant shows up with the ruby-studded clown nose he ordered.
- Take That!:
- Krusty claims the only bad episodes in his series was the week Ray J. Johnson co-hosted the show. Later Gabbo starts panicking when he learns Johnson is the only guest available for his own show.Krusty: "You can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay". Yeah, that was funny, for about five seconds.
- The pillow factory that gets demolished with Luke Perry inside is based off the building Klasky-Csupo was housed in at the time The Simpsons was originally produced there. Klasky-Csupo was fired from the show at the start of this season's production, to which the domestic animation production moved to Film Roman up until 2016.
- Krusty claims the only bad episodes in his series was the week Ray J. Johnson co-hosted the show. Later Gabbo starts panicking when he learns Johnson is the only guest available for his own show.
- Temporary Bulk Change: Because Krusty doesn't realize that a milkshake diet only works with diet milkshakes (or that the milkshakes he drank have a laxative effect). Fortunately a Training Montage undoes its ill effects.
- Too Dumb to Live: Sideshow Mel's co-worker at the taco joint tries to fish a dropped taco out of a deep-fryer by hand. Actual fast-food establishments have skimmers for that sort of thing (besides which, the kid should have just made Krusty a fresh taco).
- 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.
Mel: (Tearfully) Krusty, I—
Krusty: (Threateningly) SHUT YOUR HOLE!!!
- Un-Cancelled: An In-Universe example. Krusty's successful comeback special leads to his show being revived.
- Walking Out on the Show: After Krusty shows a Worker and Parasite cartoon, he looks around and sees all the kids in the audience have left.
- "We're Live" Realization: After Kent Brockman covers Gabbo's hot mic incident where he refers to kids as "SOBs", he signs off. Unaware the camera is still on, he chuckles to himself and says "That oughta hold those SOBs". A convenient "Brockman in trouble" graphic pops up prompting Kent to do a double-take. Later, a Spinning Newspaper reveals that Brockman's gaffe made everyone forget about Gabbo's, who is no longer in trouble.