Oh boy, another crazy cameo episode. Plus it’s a Krusty episode, which is one of my favorite types of episodes. Krusty is right up there with Mr. Burns for me as a character whose addition to an episode always makes it better, so when we get whole episodes dedicated to him, they’re usually a blast. He’s just such a genuinely entertaining and hilarious character.
The episode starts off with a parody of Hollywood Squares, which I don’t believe is a thing anymore? I used to watch it was a kid if it was on, but it was always a pretty stupid show. And this one is even worse, because it’s just Springfield Squares, with local celebrities. But the show is brought to a stop when the Coast Guard shows up to tell them there’s a 50 foot wave approaching, so all the celebrities head to Barry White’s square, since it’s apparently the most structurally sound. So they all survive, except some little old guy named Charlie who wouldn’t leave his square, and as Homer so eloquently puts it, “He’s dead now!” But as Homer and Bart are laughing at the drowning of an old man, their attention is drawn to a commercial that’s just a lot of flashing lights and the word “Gabbo” on the screen. This of course catches Bart and Homer’s attention, and the whole town starts to wonder who or what Gabbo is, especially as his viral marketing scheme continues. There are even Gabbo ads in the paper, which are just as indecipherable, even though Homer uses the full power of his brain, which just showed a sleepy donkey napping under a tree.
So the town gets obsessed with Gabbo until there’s finally going to be a television broadcast that explains who he is. So the family gathers around the TV, and we finally learn that Gabbo is a rascally ventriloquist dummy…who is alive? I never really noticed it when I was a kid, and of course the Simpsons isn’t always a realistic show, but this dummy is weird. He dances around and always seems to be carrying on legitimate conversations with his ventriloquist, even when no one is watching. So either Gabbo is some sort of evil sentient doll, or Arthur Crandall is completely nuts. Anyway, after a puppet extravaganza, we learn that Gabbo is going to host his own show, opposite the Krusty Show and become its biggest competition.
Krusty isn’t threatened at all by Gabbo, confident in the quality of his own show. That is until he checks the rating and finds his ratings are plummeting. So Krusty immediately begins trying to ape Gabbo’s style, even getting his own little dummy act going. One day when Nelson is over hanging out with Bart and Mihouse for some reason, they turn on Krusty and see him wearing an enormous fake mustache and doing a terrible ventriloquist act with a ratty old puppet named Alphonse, and man do I laugh when he starts accidently destroying the dummy, and the kids start screaming in unison. And things continue to go poorly for Krusty. The town starts to love Gabbo, and bail on Krusty. Even Itchy and Scratchy leave his show, and he’s forced to use an Eastern European knock-off, Worker and Parasite, which is much bleaker and less coherent. And that was the death knell for the Krusty the Klown Show, and it’s cancelled.
And it’s at this point that the cameos start to flood in. Krusty, depressed after losing his show, goes over to play tennis and have dinner with Johnny Carson, who gives him advice on what to do after losing a show. We also learn that Krusty didn’t save any money, so is already hard up for cash. He starts auditioning for a role on Melrose Place, but the whole clown thing kind of ruined that. And even though he successfully destroyed the competition, Gabbo is still kicking Krusty when he’s down, prank-calling him and getting him to bash himself over the head with a phone. And that’s the final insult for Bart, who decides to take Gabbo down, since as Homer confirms two wrongs make a right. Side note, I laughed so hard that Homer apparently enjoys the Rex Morgan, MD newspaper comic, because no one enjoys Rex Morgan, MD.
So Bart sneaks into the Gabbo studios, and finds that when he’s off camera, Gabbo smokes and insults the children that watch his show, because once again, this dummy is alive or Crandall is crazy. Bart distracts the cameraman with a lewd drawing in the men’s room, and turns the camera on, catching Gabbo calling all the kids who watch his show SOB’s. But that doesn’t seem to upset the balance of children’s entertainers in this small town, so Bart goes to directly help Krusty. Bart and Lisa find Krusty on the side of the road, offering to drop his pants for food, and we’re introduced to one of my favorite visuals of all time, the Old Jewish Man dancing with his pants around his ankles singing “That Old Grey Mare.” Classic. Anyway, the kids bring Krusty back to his house where they learn that he knows all kinds of famous people. He’s half-brothers with Luke Perry, knows Elizabeth Taylor, and owns a racehorse with Bette Midler. So Bart and Lisa take Krusty’s address book and go to book some celebrities to help him with a comeback special, while Krusty gets ready by watching the Old Jewish Man’s pantsless dance revue.
The kids then start tracking down the celebrities with a series to weird scenes. They meet Bette Midler on the side of a highway as she cleans litter and murders people who throw cans out their cars, Bart find Hugh Hefner in the Playboy Mansion where the bunnies are running a bio-lab and a sustainable energy center, they get the Red Hot Chili Peppers from their concert at Moe’s, and they get completely ignored by Elizabeth Taylor, who chooses not to help. Meanwhile Krusty is trying to get ready, but has been binging on milkshakes and is now morbidly obese. So the kids invite him to live at the house while he gets ready for the show. He exercises with Marge to get down to his fighting weight, boxes with Homer, and learns to aim his pie-toss with Bart. And finally, all he needs is Sideshow Mel, but unfortunately he won’t leave his lucrative job at the Gulp-N-Blow, so Krusty has to head to his show without a sidekick.
The show gets ready to start, and Krusty is practicing with his half-brother Luke Perry, who will be Sideshow Luke Perry this night. And as all of the celebrities begin showing up, Gabbo starts to get rightfully worried. And then the show begins, and man is that opening great. Krusty sits next to giant neon lights that spell out his name and sings “Send in the Clowns,” while crying, and right as he starts to break down, Sideshow Mel shows up and saves the day. Aw. Then we just get a montage of all the crazy bits that are on this comeback show. Krusty fires Luke Perry out of a canon, sending him through a sandpaper factory, a bunch of acid at the Kwik-E-Mart, and finally he lands in a pillow factory…that then gets imploded. The Chili Pepper then play some songs in their underwear, Johnny Carson lifts a Buick Skylark over his head and juggles it while singing opera, Hugh Hefner plays music on crystal glasses, and Bette Midler sings a duet with Krusty. And it works! Krusty is apparently back, and Gabbo is gone forever, never to be spoken of again. So everyone heads to Moe’s for an after party and we see all the celebrities and townsfolk mingling. I love that Hibbert and Wiggum are just hanging out in their underwear because the Chili Peppers did it too. And we end with the wonderful vision of the greatest entertainer in the world, Johnny Carson, playing the Simpsons theme with his acordian while balancing Grandpa and Jasper on his head.
This was a pretty great episode. A lot of the over-stuffed cameo episodes can be a bit of a mixed bag, because they’ve got to do their best to cram all of these celebrities in, but this one is really fun. I love Krusty, and it was a lot of fun seeing him both at his lowest, and his highest. Krusty is usually just half-assing his show and it was fun to see him actually trying, and failing. The celebrities were all fun and man would I watch that entire comeback special. So wonderful.
Take Away: Don’t trust creepy ventriloquist dummies.
“Krusty Gets Cancelled” was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by David SIlverman, 1993.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons