Following a string of advertising-based hallucinations, Homer impulsively decides to go to clown college and become a Krusty impersonator. Meanwhile, the real Krusty is trying to dodge the Mafia after making some bad bets.
- Academy of Evil: The mafia turns the clown college into a mild version of this trope after they take it over.
- Affably Evil: Don Vittorio DiMaggio apologizes as he is about to shoot Homer (believing him to be Krusty) and decides he won't do it on the condition of having the "Spin-Cycle Fantastic" trick performed for him (which Homer fails), then apologizes again when the real Krusty shows up at the last second; and ultimately lets them both live when they successfully pull off the trick together. He even politely gives Krusty back his change after he overpays his loan.
- Anti-Climax: It turns out that Krusty only owed the mob $48, which he casually pays back at the end of the episode, even getting change back.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Homer's reasons why it sucks being a clown: "You get kicked by kids, bit by dogs, and admired by the elderly."
- Bait-and-Switch: Just after Krusty barges into Fat Tony's club (where Homer is already present, dressed as Krusty):
Legs: (gasps) I'm seeing double here: four Krustys!
- Black Comedy:
- Homer beating up the Krusty Burglar in front of a group of terrified children.
- Homer being so brainwashed by the Clown College advertisement that he imagines his screaming and burning coworkers as clowns and can only mutter, "Clowns are funny..."
- Blatant Lies: A man at clown college dressed like a Texan claims to be from Brooklyn because he's not the only Texan there and there can be only one Krusty impersonator per state.
- Chekhov's Skill:
- Inverted; it's Homer's inability to ride a mini bicycle through a loop that resurfaces -and almost gets him killed- by the end of the episode.
- And subverted when Homer suggests that instead of performing that particular trick he could squirt Don Vittorio with his button (it was his major); it's the loop or death.
- Comically Missing the Point:
- While all the other clown college students inform Krusty where they're from, Homer just says his name.
- After Krusty reads the joke names of certain towns, Homer inexplicably finds the most normal one, Seattle, to be hilarious.
- Homer beats up an actor, portraying a burglar to amuse the children in the audience, not understanding that it's obviously an act.
- After Krusty obviously runs out on them, Legs says he needs to use the bathroom next. This causes Fat Tony to roll his eyes.
- When Homer tries saying he's not Krusty, one of his given aliases is Benedict Arnold. Louie seems to honestly think Homer means he's the Benedict Arnold.
- Comically Small Demand: Turns out the money Krusty owes the Mafia is only $48. He gives the Don a fifty and gets $2 in change.
- Conspicuous Consumption: Krusty does ludicrous things like light his cigarettes with hundred-dollar bills, strings of pearls, and Action Comics #1. He also spends money on some truly ridiculous things, including buying a new house because his current one is dirty, hiring Kenny G to play muzak for him in an elevator, sending a thousand roses to Bea Arthur's grave (she was alive at the time the episode aired), and condor egg omelettes.
- Crisis Makes Perfect: Homer is repeatedly shown flubbing Krusty's spin-cycle trick (which Krusty describes as "a great piece of buffoonery if you pull it off, but if you blow it, you'll look like a fool"). At the climax of the episode, he is forced to perform the trick by a Mafia Don threatening to execute him if he fails. He's delighted to find that he's actually pulling it off... only to fail horribly at the last moment. Krusty himself was made to ride the bike when he and Homer had to do the trick together, yet Homer (who had to ride on top of Krusty) still manages to nearly jeopardize it.
- Delayed Reaction: When Homer accidentally crashes his car into the tree on Milhouse's yard, it takes several seconds from the car stopping before he flies through the windscreen.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Homer: "Who am I clowning? I have no business being a clown! I'm leaving the clowning business to all the other clowns in the clowning business."
- Digging Yourself Deeper: As Homer tries to tell Fat Tony he isn't Krusty, everybody he tries to say he is, including himself, has to upset Tony, Legs or Louie one way or another.
- Disproportionate Retribution:
- The mobsters are willing to kill Krusty (and hunt him down wherever he is hiding on the planet) over a measly $48.
- Homer pummels a man within an inch of his life for trying to steal food (in this case, hamburgers). It's pretty obvious that Homer is doing it because he Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality, but Homer's violence shell-shocks a bunch of nearby kids.
- Dissonant Serenity: Homer sees his co-workers as cavorting clowns. While they're on fire.
- Does Not Know His Own Strength: Krusty throws a pie with such force that the wealthy dowager's head makes cracks in the wall.
- Dramatic Gun Cock: While threatening Homer and Krusty with a revolver, a Mob boss cocks his gun, scaring Homer. After some patter, he cocks the gun again, eliciting the exact same response. In the DVD commentary, the writers mention that they thought it was hilarious that a gun gets more frightening the more often you cock it.
- Drives Like Crazy: When Homer is excited to see the new billboards for that month, he suddenly brakes and stops without warning in front of each one: the first time, an empty car carrier stops behind him in time but the 6 cars behind it all skid far enough to get loaded onto it, to which the driver of the car carrier comments "finders keepers!" and quickly drives off with them. The second time, he ends up causing a pileup that instantly goes up in flames.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- While Season 6 is far from "early" in the show's development, this episode portrays Milhouse's dad Kirk as a very competent, respected man who has connections to get Krusty to come to his son's birthday (even if it was just Homer). In later episodes, especially after the divorce in season 8, he becomes a pitifully pathetic, needy deadbeat. Case in point: when "Krusty" takes a break at the party from exhaustion, Kirk assertively stands above him and says, "Um... it's not 5:30 yet!", basically telling him to get back to work. The later Kirk would have NOWHERE near the self-confidence or demeanor to do something like that. You can claim the divorce turned him into the pathetic deadbeat he is, but during the divorce, Luann claimed he was always a failure and the family was on a huge downslope.
- Even Evil Has Standards: After nearly being killed for not paying his debts, Krusty pays the money anyway, which turns out to be the ridiculously low sum of $48. The boss is happy and even gives him back his change.
- Eye Scream: Krusty cautions his students to be careful with their balloons, because if one goes off, it'll take out the eyes of every kid in the room... then he asks his accountant how much that cost them.
- Family-Unfriendly Violence: The scene where the Krusty Burglar is beaten up, in front of an audience of children. All of the kids stand there, in wide-mouthed silence, afterwards. Homer not only does the deed with his bare hands, but it's highly implied that he does it by repeatedly slamming the actor's head against a rock.
- Harmful to Minors: Played for Laughs. Homer brutally beats up the Krusty Burglar before a crowd of terrified children. One of them begs him to stop because "he's already dead!"
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Marge, after seeing Homer build a circus tent with mash potatoes.
Lisa: (disturbed) Mom?
Marge: I think I'll have some wine.
- Imagine Spot: Homer's obsession over joining Clown College causes him to daydream that clowns are everywhere.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Even though Homer is standing perfectly still when Legs tries to shoot him with a rifle from no further than 50 feet away or so, he only manages to hit the car next to Homer enough times to shatter its windscreen, flatten its tires and fill its hood full of holes.
- Is It Something You Eat?: When Homer goes by the new billboards, the first few ones are of food, so when he comes to the one for Clown College, he complains "Clown college? You can't eat that!"
- Let Me Get This Straight...: One from Krusty's accountant.
Accountant: Let me get this straight; you took all the money you made franchising your name and bet it against the Harlem Globetrotters?!
Krusty: Oh, I thought the Generals were due!
- Made of Iron: Homer comes out of the botched parachute landing and falling very fast through the giant prop hamburgers with nothing worse than a slightly drunk-sounding Krusty laugh.
- The Magazine Rule: Krusty apparently enjoys reading "Gigantic Asses" magazine and his love of porno magazines helped Apu keep the Kwik-E-Mart in business during its first year, for which he enjoys a lifetime 5% discount off everything that Homer takes advantage of when everyone thinks he's Krusty.
- Magic Plastic Surgery: Subverted. Krusty goes to get his appearance altered so he can escape from the mob. However, the surgeon just gave him a facelift (and breast implants), so he's still recognizable as Krusty.
- Money, Dear Boy: Krusty spends money like it is going out of style and has endorsed pretty much everything under the sun. Case in point, he lights a cigarette by burning a 100 dollar bill, a vintage comic book, and a string of pearls.
- National Stereotypes: Don Vittorio acknowledges himself to be one.
Don Vittorio DiMaggio: Grazie. Grazie. You have brought great joy to this old Italian stereotype.
Legs: No, no, Don Vittorio. You're not -
Don Vittorio DiMaggio: Yes, I am. I know it. I am.
- News Travels Fast: While being accused of plagiarizing a bit, Krusty responds by plagiarizing another performer's bit, and immediately gets called for that one, too.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Homer attacking the Krusty Burglar, both with his hands and implied by slamming the poor guy's head against a rock lying in the parking lot. All of the kids in the lot are horrified and one of them begs Homer to stop because he thinks Homer is Pummeling the Corpse.
Kid, in tears: Stop! Stop, he's already dead!
Krusty Burglar: (as Homer is dragged away by security) Please look at my medical bracelet...!
- Noodle Incident: When did Homer crash his car into the wall of the Springfield Mafia's club? And, for that matter, when did Barney Gumble take pictures of one of the mobster's sister?
- Oh, Crap!: The Krusty Burglar before Homer starts beating him up.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Other than his own family and Flanders, Homer is unquestioningly recognized as Krusty, despite his voice sounding different.
- Plagiarism in Fiction: Krusty is phoned by George Carlin for stealing his "Seven Words You Can't Say On Television". Krusty gives him ten grand, but sarcastically says "Well, excuuuuse me!", causing him have to pay another ten grand to Steve Martin.
- Pocket Protector: Two of them save Flanders from being killed by Mafia hitmen trying to hit the man standing next to him.
*Gunshot* (Flanders is knocked down) Ned Flanders:
Whew, good thing I always keep a Bible next to my...
*Second gunshot* (Flanders is knocked down again) Ned Flanders:
Whew, luckily I was wearing an extra large piece of the True Cross today. (Flanders notices that he doesn't have any other religious symbols with him) Ned Flanders: I think I'll go inside
- Pun-Based Title: "Homey the Clown" was a character from the sketch show In Living Color!.
- Rage Against the Reflection: When, after Krusty gets extensive plastic surgery, this exchange takes place:
Surgeon: Now, when I remove the bandages, don't be alarmed by the total stranger staring back at you...
Krusty: (looks in mirror) AAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGHHHH!!!! (turns round revealing his face) I LOOK EXACTLY THE SAME, YOU MORON!
Surgeon: Oh, nonsense, Krusty. You look at least 10 years younger. Plus, I did your breasts.
Krusty: Does anyone hear me complaining about the breasts?
- A Rare Sentence:
Homer: That's it! You people have stood in my way long enough! I'm going to clown college!!
Bart: I don't think any of us expected him to say that...
- Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: During the Krusty Burger event, Homer reads "To Audience" on his card.
- Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: The reason Krusty founds a clown college is because he risks bankrupting himself with his extravagant spending and he's already involved in every kind of celebrity endorsement deal imaginable. Not that opening the college causes him to be more responsible in any way...
- Rule of Three: The Mafia only bought three bullets, and they miss each time while trying to shoot Homer.
Fat Tony: I told you to buy more than three bullets! Let's just grab him!
- Series Continuity Error: Milhouse really had no reason to gloat about having Krusty over at his party — Bart already had Krusty over for dinner at his place in "Like Father, Like Clown" (and Milhouse was at the Simpson house with Krusty, so that's really bad that the writers would make Milhouse out as a braggart).
- Seven Dirty Words: Krusty insists that his Seven Dirty Words routine is COMPLETELY different from George Carlins Seven Dirty Words routine.
- Single Malt Vision: When Krusty arrives at the Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club right as the mobsters are about to kill Homer, Legs declares that he sees double: four Krusties!
- Slapstick Knows No Gender: At one point while training the would-be Krustys, Krusty has an older wealthy woman in front of the class and tells them that just because a dowager interrupts their party doesn't mean that the party has to end and then forcefully throws a pie in the woman's face hard enough to crack the wall she gets slammed into. What makes it more shocking than most examples is that it's implied that he killed the woman.
- Snake Oil Salesman: Homer runs into one at a car-dealership, who manages to convince Homer the gunshot holes in the car caused by the mobsters trying to kill him are "speed holes". Homer not only believes him, but puts several "speed holes" in his own car with a pick-axe.
- Special Guest: Johnny Unitas and Dick Cavett.
- Stripping Snag: Homer rides a tiny bicycle to attempt a stunt done by Krusty. His baggy pants snag on the bike's back wheel which starts to rip away and reveal his bare butt.
Krusty: Ah, burn that seat.
- Sure, Let's Go with That: When Krusty arrives at the Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club to accept his fate, he finds that Fat Tony had already captured Homer and is about to have him executed. Homer and Krusty have this exchange:
Homer: Krusty! Oh, thanks. Thanks a lot. You came here to save me.
Krusty: (shifty-eyed) Yeah... that's what I did.
- Tempting Fate: After buying all of the consumer products advertised on the latest billboards, Homer claims he's not enrolling in the Clown College since the billboard he saw had no affect on him. Soon after he says this, he starts hallucinating clowns, and it continues until he finally decides to enroll.
- Trapped by Gambling Debts: Krusty's story arc in this episode.
- What, Exactly, Is His Job?: In this episode, we learn that Milhouse's father works at the cracker factory (later, in "Bart on the Road", we find out that Kirk oversees production on crackers, and "A Milhouse Divided" states that Kirk is a managernote whose incompetence sent the factory into a tie in sixth with Table-Time and Allied Biscuits).
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: When asked to say what state he's from, Homer just replies, "Homer!"
- Writing Around Trademarks:
Bill: At this rate, you'll be broke in a month. The only thing left to do is... Open a Clown College and train some regional Krustys.
Krusty: You mean like that bozo, Bonko the Clown?
- Would Hurt a Child: Invoked when Krusty offers the Clown College to pay off his debts to the Mafia and Fat Tony points out they've already taken it.
Mafia Goon: [adressing a new class of Krustys] Kids these days have a lot of money, so after you perform, you might consider robbing 'em!