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Krusty's Barmitzvah

by: Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2004-02-09

Krusty in Today I Am A Clown

Krusty The Klown

Regular viewers of The Simpsons will know that Krusty The Klown’s Jewish heritage has featured on the programme in the past, most notably in the 1991 episode Like Father Like Clown. The good news is that the latest series of the long-running cartoon has also chosen to dip into Krusty’s Jewish background.

Today I Am A Clown, which was shown recently on Sky One, sees Krusty celebrating his Barmitzvah – and as you might imagine, giving the ceremony a rather unorthodox slant.


The episode kicks off with Krusty acquiring a puppy from Bart and Lisa Simpson after their dog Santa’s Little Helper fathers a litter. When Krusty takes his new pooch for a walk through Springfield’s Jewish district, he discovers, to his horror, he is not honoured with a star on their Jewish walk of fame – the reason being because he never had a Barmitzvah.


Krusty is distraught, and sets about rectifying the situation with a little help from Bart and Lisa, together with his dad (once again voiced by Jackie Mason) and former A-Team star Mr T. But it means temporarily giving up his TV show – and when Homer steps in to take his place, it looks as though he might lose his small screen slot for good.


Although The Simpsons has always included its fair share of Jewish gags over the years, it’s rare to see them give an entire episode a Jewish theme – and they pull it off in style. As with so many of the episodes, it’s the little details that have the most impact – Springfield’s Jewish district is beautifully realised, while Krusty’s assertion that he is a ‘bigger star than Chaim Potok’ Lisa’s confession that she has an imaginary Jewish friend called Rachel Cohen, and a Jewish-themed episode of Itchy And Scratchy raise some of the biggest laughs of recent episodes.


Ultimately, the episode works because it doesn’t resort to tired Jewish cliché in search of a good gag, instead giving a fresh spin to an old theme – the non-Jewish section of the show, in which Homer takes over Krusty’s show and turns it into a hit, is just as much fun as watching Krusty’s attempts to familiarise himself with his religion.


It’s as spot-on as only the best episodes of the show can be – like Sex And The City, it treats its Judaism with a positive attitude and a healthy dose of off-the-wall humour – and is all the better for it.