“It ain’t comedy that’s in my blood; it’s selling out.” – Krusty the Klown
I’ve started quite a few Compare & Contrast posts this season by noting that there were a lot of different possibilities for what to compare and contrast. It’s true as well for “The Man in the Blue Flannel Pants”, the two big, blinking neon obvious ones being the raft trip and Homer becoming an executive. The raft trip in “Boy Scoutz ‘N the Hood” contains things like Flanders doing “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” with the books of the Gospel and Homer actually bragging that they’re all doomed. The promotion in “Simpson and Delilah” is because of a crooked union contract and comes only because of the world’s prejudice against bald people. (Oh, and there’s Karl. I love you Karl.) In both cases The Simpsons had things that fit better in the overall story, made more sense, and were actually, you know, funny. I could elaborate, but I’ve harped on those things a lot in the last few weeks. Instead I’d instead like to take a look at a smaller incident that illustrates the comedic weakness of Zombie Simpsons.
Back in Season 9, as a way to explain that Krusty’s clown/1950s standup routine was painfully dated (oh, the irony!) they had him epically bomb at a charity comedy festival. Just as things are going completely off the rails, none other than Jay Leno asks rhetorically, “What’s he gonna do next, a flapping dickey?”. Immediately Krusty indeed begins, ahem, flapping his dickey. The audience remains unimpressed, and Krusty swiftly gets the hook.
Simpsons era Krusty knew this wasn’t funny.
On Zombie Simpsons though, the flapping dickey is a working gag rather than a sign of being abysmally unfunny. Its mere existence is supposed to be funny in and of itself. (It even goes to 11.) Moreover, Krusty is expecting it to work. As he says, “Why can’t I be funny with just my words? Bill Maher doesn’t put dangerous things near his crotch.” Zombie Simpsons is thinking something like “A flapping dickey? That could be funny if we make it extreme!”. Yes, they’re implying that Krusty is lame, but at the same time they’re expecting you, the audience, to laugh at the thing itself.
Apparently the spinning bowtie didn’t make the cut.
This episode has a lot of problems far worse than its earnest treatment of the flapping dickey, even including the scene’s lame conclusion when Krusty’s machinery backfired and he fell down. But it’s indicative of the overall cheapness that Zombie Simpsons brings to its humor. It’s one thing to take low hanging comedy fruit, it’s another to take the stuff that already fell off the tree and try to package it as gourmet.
Nor is the flapping dickey an isolated incident. Just in this episode there’s things like pouring Homer a bunch of consecutive glasses of bourbon, pretty much everything (the wrong family, the chopped up contract, the lawn mower-foot thing) from that montage, and Homer stopping to take a whiz while swimming between the rafts that inexplicably can’t see each other. If you’re feeling generous you could give them high marks for at least trying to keep things busy, but are any of those things supposed to actually be funny? They aren’t even halfway to clever.
Things like this are why Zombie Simpsons is such a bore to watch if you want to do anything other than stare blankly. It’s a hash of things that have been done better before and the dumbest, least imaginative things anyone could think of. That’s why the flapping dickey is such a perfect example, it’s not just a repeat, it’s a repeat of something that was deliberately not funny.