Well folks, we’ve made it through another week here on Lifetime of Simpsons. It hasn’t exactly been the best week, but we do get to end it with a really mediocre episode about improv! That’s fun! Oh, and it has a really weird bit at the end! Let’s do this thing.
The episode starts off with Chief Wiggum going about his day when he gets a call from his wife, reminding him that today’s Ralph’s birthday, and he needs to find something special for a present. So, logically, Wiggum heads into the evidence room and takes a couple bricks of unclaimed ransom money from the locker to get Ralph something amazing.
But, this doesn’t actually go anywhere, because we then see Bart and Lisa reluctantly heading over to Ralph’s house for a party. And once there Bart is astonished to find that Ralph has an absolutely amazing treehouse, one that puts his to shame. Now, I’m not sure if the implication is that Wiggum used the ransom money to buy this treehouse or not, because that would mean that it got built in an afternoon. I don’t know, I guess it’s not important.
What is important is that Bart is incredibly jealous, and wants an upgraded treehouse as well. He even uses a weird little telescope attached to Ralph’s treehouse to spy on his own, realizing how crappy it is. So, Bart heads home and immediately starts dismantling his treehouse, having decided that it was garbage. Marge ends up noticing this though, and tells Bart that if he wants she can help him build a new treehouse. He’s a little unsure about this request, not trusting Marge’s ability to make a cool treehouse, but he doesn’t shoot her down, figuring she could give it a shot.
This is a B-Plot though. And a shockingly inconsequential one at that. So, to actually progress into the real plot, we need to check in on Homer. Because he’s about to have to give a speech at an annual Nuclear Power Plant conference. Apparently Homer has given the same speech every year for quite some time, and is all set to just tell the same jokes, and go through the motions. He’s apparently terrified to public speaking, and this lazy decision is what keeps him from freaking out.
But, when he gets to the Plant for the speech, disaster strikes. Because Mr. Burns has the time-slot before Bart, and during Burns’ speech he ends up stealing all of Homer’s best jokes. The Plant workers eat it up, and Homer’s terrified that he now has nothing to say to them. He doesn’t have the choice to pass on the speech though, so he has to head up onto the stage and give it his best shot. And he does terribly.
Homer does so badly that the whole crowd starts to boo him, and he ends up fainting from the embarrassment. After this he returns home, posts up at the kitchen table, and begins sadly drinking canned corn. Lisa finds this as a serious red flag, and she does her best to cheer Homer up. But he’s extra stressed because he thinks that Marge will be disappointed in how bad a job he did. So, when Marge comes home and asks him how the speech went, he ends up having a panic attack.
Marge realizes that Homer is in bad shape, and decides that she needs to do something special to cheer him up. So, she takes him out that night for a nice relaxing evening of comedy at a local club. But, against their knowledge they end up arriving on a night where an improv troupe will be performing. They do decide to give it a shot, but Homer is pretty instantly intimidated by all of the audience participation necessary for improv to work.
Homer actually does end up giving a suggestion though, and when they use it he’s absolutely floored. He’s fascinated by this form of comedy, and sees the performers as extremely brave. And, after the show, he’s so impressed that he goes up to the troupe and asks them if they offer any sort of lessons. They of course do, and Homer begins taking improv classes, hoping to get better at public speaking. He struggles a bit at first, but when they explain to him that they key is pretending to be someone else, maybe even a more confident person, it clicks and Homer suddenly is amazing at improv.
Meanwhile, Marge has been building Bart a new treehouse, and against all odds she does a great job. There’s a momentary problem when someone from the city shows up demanding permits, but that just kind of fades off, and instead we see that Marge has succeeding in building a truly amazing treehouse. There’s just one problem. Bart isn’t overly thankful. He just kind of takes it in stride, and this quickly starts irritating Marge to the point that she explodes at dinner one night, yelling about how ungrateful Bart is.
That will come back later, a bit. For now it’s time to jump back over to Homer and his improv troupe. He’s formed a new troupe from the classmates, and a couple of the instructors, and they end up getting a gig at Moe’s. And they do great. In fact, they continue to do great, and their troupe gets a lot of work, and recognition, finally culminating in an invite to participate in the Springfield Fringe Festival, a massive show full of music, comedy, and all sorts of alternative entertainment.
Homer’s very excited about this new opportunity, but he makes a mistake when he talks to Marge about it, who is still irritated with Bart. She ends up snapping at Homer, and putting a shadow of doubt in his mind, making him worried that he’ll mess this up somehow. But, before he needs to worry about that, he decides to fix Marge and Bart’s feud. So Homer writes him a phony apology, and has Bart make Marge breakfast in bed, which is enough to calm her down, letting Bart remain an ungrateful brat. But, that’s the end of this plot.
Back in Homer’s story, the Fringe Festival is beginning, and Homer is panicking. He’s terrified that he’s going to ruin everything, and in doing so decides to consider something ridiculous. Moe suggests that they fake the improv, and that he’ll feed Homer fake prompts for pre-written responses. Lisa ends up hearing this though, and she’s aghast. She tells Homer that he’s better than this, and that she’s looking up to him. So, Homer does the right thing, ignores Moe’s fake prompts, and ends up doing a great job at improv, making everyone proud.
Oh, and there’s a weird little tag at the end of this episode. Apparently the Simpsons decided to have Dan Castallaneta do some live improv at the end of the airings in the various time-zones. The idea of it was based around Homer answering viewer questions, and it was all set to the same repetitive animations that looked like they were made with Flash player. None of the gags are particularly good, and other than being the first bit of live broadcast that the Simpsons ever made, it’s not very memorable.
This is just yet another episode that I found to be thoroughly and completely fine. Nothing special about it, and nothing objectionable about it. Just an adequate episode of the Simpsons that will blow away from my mind on the breeze. I think the idea that Homer Simpson, one of the most personable and talkative people in the world is afraid of public speaking is a tad odd, but, whatever, I can roll with it. The idea of Homer taking improv classes, and then immediately succeeding in them and becoming famous is also something that makes sense. I do think that it was very strange that the end of the episode hinged on Lisa being ashamed of Homer since she randomly looked up to him and his improv career. That kind of came out of nowhere, and I feel like it was mostly based on the idea that we’ve seen Homer and Lisa in this exact same predicament time and time again, so it just kind of assumed that we would do the heavy lifting on the plot. Plus, having Bart never actually redeem himself, and just scam Marge into forgiving him was a bummer. None of that was bad enough to illicit a strong reaction though from this episode, and it just becomes another to the massive amount of fine episodes that I’ve seen.
Take Away: Apparently improv is very easy, and a great career choice.
“Simprovised” was written by John Frink and directed by Matthew Nastuk, 2016.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons