Ah, more secondary character action. And one of my favorite side characters of them all, Krusty the Clown! I love Krusty so much, he’s just one of the best characters the show ever created, and any time we get a Krusty story is a good time. And what a great episode. It also starts with a chalkboard gag that really spoke to me. It had Bart write “I will finish what I sta….” and trails off, and oh boy do I know that feeling. It’s so tempting to bail on things, and the quote really struck me with this little Simpsons project. I’m sure when I hit like, season 10 I’m going to start to wonder if I should bail, and I’m going to do my best not to.
The episode then starts right off with Krusty throwing axes at Sideshow Mel, and barely not killing him. Man Krusty’s show would be weird to watch. But as soon as the cameras are off, Krusty becomes miserable, and starts trudging back to his office, smoking, and canceling all of his upcoming meetings. We then learn from his assistant Miss Pennycandy that he’s supposed to have dinner with Bart as a thank you for saving Krusty from jail in season one, but he keeps pushing it back. But Krusty decides he doesn’t want to do that, and tells Miss Pennycandy to cancel it. Now, I don’t remember if Miss Pennycandy ever comes back in the show, I have a weird feeling that she did in the comics, but she’s very interesting. She’s madly in love with Krusty, and clearly wants to try and make him a better man. She would have been fun to stick around, but I don’t think she did. But Miss Pennycandy has to call Marge and tell her that Krusty has canceled again, and Bart is crushed. He then goes to his room and writes Krusty an angry letter, saying that he’s renouncing his membership in the Krusty fan club.
Back at the studio Krusty is apparently spending his time calling the saddest phone sex line of all time that’s just him, two other creepy dudes, and Apu, when Miss Pennycandy busts in. She informs Krusty that Bart, the last person to have faith in him, has lost faith, and she guilts him into going to the Simpsons. So he does go over to have dinner with the family. I think it’s adorable that the whole family dressed up in the church clothes for Krusty, who still wore his regular clown outfit. And it’s hilarious that Milhouse crashes the party, acting like he just happened to be in the neighborhood. The dinner starts with Krusty acting like a clown before Bart tells him he’s allowed to relax and be himself. I love that Krusty sends Mr. Teeny back to the car, which was the first time we got to see him. They then get ready to eat, and they allow their guest to say grace. After Milhouse starts, Krusty ends up saying the prayer in Hebrew, revealing that he’s Jewish. Homer is initially stunned that there are such things as Jewish entertainers, “Mel Brooks is Jewish!?” but as they begin discussing Judaism Krusty begins weeping, which is an odd thing for the clown you’ve invited over for dinner to do.
Krusty then tells them his life story, growing up Herschel Krustofski, the son of a prominent Rabbi (Jackie Mason) in Springfield’s Jewish neighborhood. Turns out Krusty wanted to be a clown his whole life, but his father was very much against it. He wanted Krusty to be a Rabbi, like himself, and was extremely negative toward Krusty’s ambitions. But things come to a head when young Herschel is performing in secret at some sort of Rabbi conference, and his identity is revealed by an errant spray of seltzer, and Rabbi Krustofski is embarrassed that his son has become a clown, and disowns him. Apparently Krusty hasn’t seen his father since, and bringing up the memories make him a complete emotional mess. He then proceeds to spend far too long at the Simpsons home, making them look at old family photos because he’s so desperate for a loving family experience that he’ll mooch one off the Simpsons. But finally it becomes too late, and they kick poor depressed Krusty out into the night, where he wanders the town, depressed.
But it’s obvious that Krusty has opened a wound that he can’t close again, and becomes a mess on his show, weeping because the Itchy and Scratchy episode he played was about fathers. Bart and Lisa decide to try and save Krusty by reuniting him and Rabbi Krustofski. I absolutely love Lisa’s line “A man who envies our family is a man who needs help.” The kids decide that to find Rabbi Krustofski they should ask another holy man, so they go to Reverend Lovejoy for help. After he’s initially fearful that they’re converting to Judaism, he inform them that he does a weekly radio call-in show with the Rabbi, Gabbin’ About God, so the kids decide to call in. But when they call it’s clear that the Rabbi is very against reconciling with sons who have disobeyed their fathers, so they decide they have to talk to him in person.
Thus begins the wackiest part of the episode. Bart dressed up like a little Rabbi and tries to talk with Rabbi Krustofski and some other Rabbis who are playing chess, but it’s pretty obvious that Bart can’t out-think Krustofski. So they try a ridiculous trick where they try to get Krustofski and Krusty to meet at the same deli, but it turns out they sell a sandwich that’s named after Krusty, and it’s most un-Kosher thing every, so it pisses Krustofski off and he leaves before Krusty arrives. So the kids decide to unleash the big guns, and they go to the library to learn Hebrew scripture to try and convince Krustofski. I love that Bart looks at a Biblical pop-up book while Lisa is seriously studying. “Save us Noah!” “No!” But Lisa starts to get some good quotes, and Bart starts stalking the Rabbi, throwing lines of wisdom at him to convince him that he should forgive Krusty, but at every turn Rabbi Krustofski was able to provide a counter-attack. That is until Bart drops a line by Sammy Davis Jr, which finally convinces him that having an entertainer for a son isn’t a bad thing. So the kids bring Krustofski to the studio where he surprises Krusty, and they have a reconciliation before Krusty brings him out on stage an introduces the world to his father. They sing a little song together, and everything ends happily.
This is such a wonderful episode. I love Krusty the Clown so much, and it’s amazing to see some background for him. Having him be the disgraced son of a Rabbi is such a weird but amazing idea that works so great for the episode. And it’s legitimately depressing to see Krusty start having his emotional breakdown. He’s just so desperate to have a family. So desperate that he wishes he could be with the Simpsons. And man is it great to see Bart wandering around the Jewish neighborhood of Springfield, sitting in a sauna with a bunch of Rabbis trying to defend his heroes honor. It’s hilarious.
Take Away: It’s okay to be an entertainer, and don’t cut your father out of your life. You become a broken clown like Krusty.
“Like Father, Like Clown” was written by Jay Kogen and Wallace Wolodarsky and directed by Jeffrey Lynch and Brad Bird.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons