Wednesday Morning Cartoons

Three Men and a Comic Book2

“You know, kids, I’m sure we’d all like to remember actor Dirk Richter for his portrayal of Radioactive Man, and not the sordid details of his final years, so let’s keep the questions tasteful, okay?” – “Close Encounter of the Comic Book Kind” Convention Guy

When The Simpsons was still on the air, one of the most remarkable things about it was the sheer joke density of the writing.  There were very few lines that weren’t jokes of some kind.  Somewhere in the Ortved book, which I don’t have with me at the moment, someone recalls that at a writers’ meeting once they were arguing over a line.  They were trying to cram extra gags into a single line so maniacally that whoever was in charge had to call a halt to things and say, “One joke per joke”. 

The above is a perfect example of that kind of relentless obsession with pitch perfect comic density.  All by itself it’s a damn funny line, alluding to all those marvelously salacious stories of what happens to celebrities once the spotlight fades.  And putting it into the mouth of a nervous adult who clearly doesn’t want to be discussing such things in front of kids just makes it better.  But it’s not even the joke, it’s just a setup.

The real joke comes twenty seconds later (twenty seconds of dialog that’s also crammed with punchlines), when Bart asks, “Do you think the ghost of Dirk Richter haunts the bordello where his bullet riddled body was found?”  Bam, payoff!  Now we know about those “sordid details” and, of course, it leads to Buddy Hodges’ hilarious breakdown where he calls Richter a “beautiful man”. 

Three Men and a Comic Book3

3 Responses to “Wednesday Morning Cartoons”

  1. 1 Stan
    19 May 2010 at 12:10 pm

    It’s funny cuz they even managed to slip it the “gay sidekick” joke, seeing that last guy’s purple scarf. If you’d picture a sidekick being “proud” of his relationship with the hero of some late ’60s franchise, he’s just GOT to be a homosexual =)

  2. 2 Derp
    19 May 2010 at 1:02 pm

    The best set-up in the modern series is when someone says something terribly ironic.

    “Mom, it’s not right to judge someone by his possessions.”

    “He drives a hybrid!”

    It’s the same joke over and over.

  3. 3 D.N.
    20 May 2010 at 1:40 am

    Didn’t Buddy Hodges later show up as the real estate salesman at the beginning of “New Kid on the Block”?

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