Lifetime of Simpsons

S09 E15 – The Last Temptation of Krust

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Hey everybody! It’s a Krusty episode! These are pretty much always great. I may come to regret that statement as this project lurches on further into the Dark Ages, but where I am in the series an episode that revolves around the ridiculous antics of Krusty the Clown are going to be way up my alley.

The episode starts off with the family heading to the mall to buy new “church shoes,” which is of course a classic comedy setup. Although it does lead to one of my favorite Simpsons quotes of all time, which I giggle about way too much whenever I have to go to a church.

Bart: “What do we need church shoes for? Jesus wore sandals.”

Homer: “Well, maybe if he had better arch support they wouldn’t have caught him.”

I love that line so much. I think because it conjures a hilarious image in my head of Jesus running away, trying to escape. And after that solid gold line we just get a scene of Bart tormenting poor old Gil, whose working at a shoe store while having a terrible back. And after buying some enormous shoes that Marge hopes they’ll grow into, the family starts to leave the mall. That is until they’re stopped by a guy trying to get them to buy tickets for a charity comedy show. The family is pretty intrigued by that idea, but Bart has an issue when he sees that the lineup consists of Jay Leno, Steven Wright, Janeane Garafalo, Bobcat Goldthwait, and Bruce Baum. And shockingly his problem isn’t that Jay Leno is involved, it’s that Krusty is not.

So Bart decides to pull a Lisa, and goes to complain in person to fix this atrocity. He meets up with Jay Leno and tells him how Krusty is a necessity for a comedy show, and after confirming that Krusty is in fact alive, he’s hired. We then cut to the night of the benefit show, and it’s quickly apparent that Krusty doesn’t fit in with these alt comics, and Jay Leno. They’re a little more intense than him back stage, and they actually care about their acts. Which really starts to matter when the benefit begins, and their sets start killing. And all that comedic momentum is killed when Krusty comes on stage, and starts up his hacky, out-dated, and shockingly racist set, which only Bart laughs to. So Krusty is booed off the stage, and has a real crisis of conscious, because regardless of the quality of the acoustics, he bombed.

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And a mixture of bombing, hearing the real comedians mock him and his terrible set, and some scathing reviews in the paper lead Krusty to a deep depression, which logically leads to a crazy bender. Krusty starts wandering the town, getting progressively drunker and drunker, until he apparently ends up in the Flanders’ front yard. Bart finds Rod and Todd poking Krusty with sticks, and saves him, dragging his hung-over ass up to his bedroom to recuperate. Krusty comes to, and is pretty horrified to see all the terrible crap with his face on it that Bart owns. Krusty has apparently never realized what a sell-out he is, and it really starts to bother him. So Krusty decides he needs a career revitalization.

Which of course means Jay Leno is called in to give Krusty a pep-talk and a bath. He comes over to the Simpsons house and helps Bart wash Krusty’s hair while they talk about his career. Jay explains that people don’t like stuff like Krusty’s terrible set, and are more into observational stuff. At this point we also get another amazing little scene:

Homer: “Whoops, sorry son. I didn’t know you, Jay Leno, and a monkey were bathing a clown.”

Krusty: “Well they are. So make with the loofah or get out.”

So after a nice bath Krusty gets to work on creating a fresh new set of observational jokes. Which he does in the Simpsons house for some reason. I guess it comes in handy though, because they hold a ridiculous little open-mic in the living room for him to test his jokes out on the family. Which doesn’t go well. Because Krusty still has a lot of work to do. And bombing in a random family’s living room is the last straw. Krusty then holds a press conference to announce his retirement from show business. However, while explaining why he’s retiring, Krusty ends up getting really heated, and starts yelling about everything he thinks is wrong with the modern comedy scene, which gets people laughing, causing him to immediately come back to show business.

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And with the knowledge that people like Krusty best when he’s angry, he creates an all new persona, complete with a smoldering cigarette, pulled back hair, and an all-black outfit like he’s some combination of George Carlin and Bill Hicks. And he tries this new comedy persona out at an open-mic night at Moe’s where he kills. Everyone loves angry Krusty, and even are willing to burn money when he says they should. Which probably means Krusty could either go down the comedy road, or the cult-leader road. But he sticks with the comedy, and starts to grow a real fanbase.

But if there’s one thing that inevitably follows a sudden growth in a fanbase, it’s some corporate suits hoping to use that influence for evil. Two suits approach Krusty at a coffee shop where he’s hanging out with all the cool comics from earlier, and try to get him to become the celebrity endorser of a new line of SUV’s called the Canyonero. Krusty acts shocked that they think he would betray his newfound integrity, and kicks them out. Unfortunately that night at his set at Moe’s, Krusty quickly segues from his angry rant, to a commercial for the Canyonero. Krusty sold out again! The crowd gets pissed at Krusty for his shilling, and leave him alone with Bart again. Krusty explains that comedy isn’t in his blood, but selling out is, and he’s much happier with money and no comedic integrity. The episode then ends with two hilarious Canyonero ads, that are just perfect. Every joke in the Canyonero ads are spot on and genius.

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This is a pretty great episode. I love Krusty as a character, and I love comedy and the world of comedians, and the idea of having Krusty enter their world is hilarious. I just think the premise that Krusty would consider himself peers with stand-up comics is ridiculous and great, and it really led to some great moments. Krusty is a complete shill, and it was so enjoyable to see him actually admit that he cares more about the money than any sort of comedy. Because Krusty is a pretty terrible clown. He tries sometimes, but generally you can tell that Krusty is just in it for his paycheck. He used to care, but money fixed that. But while Krusty’s comedic journey in this episode is funny, I really love the role Bart plays in the episode. I think it’s perfect that Bart gets all pissed off that some comedy show for adults doesn’t include the clown he laughs at on television, and that he does everything in his power to get Krusty the respect he thinks he deserves. Bart never stops loving Krusty, and just can’t fathom why other people don’t love him too. It’s pretty great, and works so well with the on-going theme that Bart will always respect Krusty, and will do anything for him.

Take Away: Some people are just in it for the money. And there’s not really anything wrong with that, it’s just different.

 

“The Last Temptation of Krust” was written by Donick Cary and directed by Mike B Anderson, 1998.

 

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