Scullyfied Simpsons: Season 9, Episode 15: "The Last Temptation of Krust"

Airdate: February 22, 1998

“I just read the Season 15 DVD Review! THEY WERE RIGHT!”

Synopsis: At a comedy festival organized by Jay Leno, Bart convinces Krusty the Clown to do some of his standup. However, in contrast to the rest of the material, Krusty’s material is, well, outdated at best. Embarrassed, he goes into an emotional spiral, culminating in him passing out on Flanders’s lawn. While announcing his retirement from comedy, his rant on modern life manages to make the press laugh, and Krusty is back in business.

Review: There’s a nagging feeling I have about the episode… no matter how much I want to like it, it still seems… off.

I’ve taken Krusty to be a deconstruction of the typical kids show presenter: he was washed up, his material is trapped in the 50s, he’s callous off the stage, and only in the business for the paycheque. (Insert Zombie Simpsons joke here.) So why are we explicitly taking an episode out to deconstruct Krusty? It seems a bit expository, like “Hey, this is Krusty’s character!” Besides, as some pointed out, “Krusty Gets Kancelled” already deconstructed Krusty’s character, by having new, more organized competition blow Krusty out of the water. That episode, though, was one of the best in the history of the show. This episode… isn’t terrible, but it doesn’t live up to the heights of “Kancelled”. After all, stand-up comedians doing their schlock may provide the chuckles, but gags like Worker and Parasite and “Old Grey Mare” are timeless.

The art of selling out as mocked here is also pretty ironic. The Simpsons used to relentlessly mock the celebrities that guest stared, or at best, portrayed them as suffering from human flaws. This episode gives Jay Leno a relatively light treatment, one that would be repeated for almost every other guest star since. Oh, and he goes into the house of Our Favorite Family, and helps Krusty. No questions. Remember when it was a town-wide event to see Michael Jackson come to town?

Now, some may be thinking: didn’t the Simpson kids talk with celebrities in “Kancelled” to try and salvage Krusty’s career? However, not only did every one of those celebrities had some form of development, or at least some awesome lines, but they actually tracked every celebrity down, interacted with them like most unfamiliar with celebrities would, and still made the episode a biting satire on its target (TV competition and comebacks). Here, Leno comes to the house just because Bart called in a favor, despite barely knowing him.

This episode is the second one to feature Gil Gunderson, a character whose main joke is that he is a complete and utter failure at life. Outside of the “sock” joke, I really didn’t find the scene with him funny… and it was at the beginning of the episode. Kinda drags the first act down a bit. Of course, it got better by the second half, with Krusty getting wasted and on Flanders’s front lawn and his failed comeback with his same old shtick. The third act was pretty decent, but still, there’s a nagging feeling that they were a bit soft on the modern stand-up circuit, that they were almost embracing them. Sure, “out there” stand up might be alright, but why not try and take them out on the negatives rather than the positives? Krusty quickly sells back out, however, thus cementing a theme that, no matter what, some people are just in it for the monay. Hey, status quo is god!

I did like this episode taking a bit out of the utter devotion that some fans have: they’ll buy anything with a face on it, even if it doesn’t work. However, it sort of backfires wherealizeealise that the rampant sale of merchandise keeps the show on the air, even when it’s well past it’s prime. (Ad revenues are down, though. There is a shot!) Hypocrisy, much? Eh, I don’t think even Scully had any idea that the show would be alive enough to see the 2010s.

There were some decent gags that buoy the episode… strangely, few of them are in the stand-up routine:

  • Kent Brockman filling in for Krusty. Boy, what a cheap station KBBL is.
  • Marge watching Spanish telenovelas, and Lisa translating them.
  • Krusty using one of his licensed swabs… which burns on contact.
  • “IMPEACH CHURCHILL!”
  • “Don’t you hate pants?”
  • “Here’s $42. It’s everything I have. Run home and bury it in the yard!”
  • Ah, the Canyonero ending. All of it. I would’ve put the last part at the beginning of the episode, in lieu of the Gil scene, though.
Sadly, this episode, outside of those gags, largely felt like it needed something else. It just didn’t feel full, or memorable.
Tidbits:
  • The network censors actually had a problem with Krursty’s act. The writers had to put it in context to get it through.
  • There was actually a scene planned that had Bart try and meet up Leno. That actually would’ve made some lick of sense. No, they just go to Leno just being at the Simpson house.
  • Strangely enough, there was a later episode (as in, Season 23) that actually had a decent idea reminiscent of this episode. In “The Ten-Per-Cent Solution”, Krusty, with his agent/lover Annie Dubinsky (Joan Rivers) decide to relaunch his show on cable to target an audience that wants to love things they enjoyed as children. Again, I liked the idea: Krusty deciding to relaunch his show to target a new audience, and mocking the “flashback” cycle that 30-somethings tend to have nowadays. Again, though, they wasted the potential, and made it more about Krusty and his relationship with his agent. End result? This is a better episode.
Jerkass Homer Meter: 2 He burns all of his money. How? He throws matches on the table. Nice one, idiot.
Zaniness Factor: 1.5 Leno showing up to 742 Evergreen Terrace after barely meeting Bart is certainly a bit… off.
Favorite Scene: CANYONERO!!!!! Canyonero!
Least Favorite Scene: I just couldn’t really laugh at the shoe shop scene. Utter canyon of joke-ness. (And I don’t care if I’m making up words at this point.)
Score: 6.
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