“New Kid On the Block” Spews Truth

New Kid on the Block10

“She’s beautiful.  Say something clever.” – Bart’s Brain
“I fell on my bottom.” – Bart Simpson
“D’oh!” – Bart’s Brain

This commentary is mildly annoying in that it’s basically a bunch of guys congratulating each other on being awesome.  On the other hand, all of them are fantastically funny, so not only is it fun to hear, but they’re self aware enough to keep it entertaining.  They only occasionally talk about the episode, but unlike when that happens on Zombie Simpsons commentaries, here it’s not them avoiding what’s happening so much as it is them clowning around about things they actually want to laugh about. 

Just five guys here, and it’s a murderer’s row: Jean, Reiss, Groening, Silverman and Conan O’Brien.

0:45 – Joking about how they brought O’Brien in as a replacement, they mention that the two guys they wanted before him went on to create Martin and NewsRadio.  The guy they settled on turned out to be a fantastically accomplished late night host.  The talent density of this show cannot be overstated. 

1:15 – They’re joking that for O’Brien’s first three weeks at the show, they made him do nothing but rewrites and never let him out of the office.  O’Brien, who’s usually talk-show peppy on these kind of things just says, “Yeah”, in a genuinely defeated voice. 

2:30 – Jean: “For some reason, we had a Sylvester Stallone hand puppet.”  Of course they did. 

3:30 – The previous comment got O’Brien started about what a comedy weirdo he is.  It’s still happening.

4:15 – The B-plot was originally going to be Homer in court for hitting Don Rickles after being insulted at a show.  It died when Rickles passed on doing the voice.  Bullet?  Dodged. 

4:40 – Groening was at a FOX event where Rickles was introduced to him by Rupert fucking Murdoch, and Rickles was apparently seriously pissed about the script.  He thought they were stealing his act.

5:45 – Reiss points out that they’ve always kinda had trouble with “older people” as guest voices.

7:00 – Third hand performance advice: O’Brien had Jerry Lewis tell him something that Stan Laurel had told him: “Tell the audience what you’re going to do, then do it, but then tell them it has been done.” 

7:20 – Jean follows up by joking that he got the same advice from Johnny Carson, but his conclusion was, “Tell them what you did.” 

8:05 – Amid further discussion of late night comedy tips, someone (might be Reiss) asks, “Why does this Afghani have horns?”:

New Kid on the Block9

Heh.  I never noticed that before.

9:30 – They’re discussing the origin of this B-plot, and a failed story they ditched (O’Brien says “threw it out.”).  What did they throw out?  A story about Homer being a talented hair dresser.  Simon apparently killed it.  Fuck you, Zombie Simpsons

10:30 – O’Brien starts telling a story about a script he had to rewrite, but stops when he doesn’t want to out the writers, so he saves it by saying that it was something that “Mike and Al” wrote and it was crap.  Jean, always on his game, retorts “You’ll have to be more specific”.  I hate Zombie Simpsons, but I love Al Jean.

11:00 – Changing the subject, they try to get O’Brien talking about Wes Archer’s direction or Sara Gilbert’s guest voice.  Then they all crack up when Lionel Hutz calls Homer the greatest hero in American history. 

11:25 – This needs to be quoted in full (from when Bart gets to the old folks home and the old Jewish guy acts out because he’s desperate for attention): “Derogatory reference to old person, that’s Conan O’Brien.  Look at him, he’s got no mind.  He’s wasting a young person’s time.  He’s serving no function, and he’s led away."

11:45 – Jean and O’Brien joking about how they used to give shitty assignments to O’Brien.

13:00 – Mild giggling at Homer’s quote about a woman being a lot like a refrigerator.

13:20 – Jean jokes about Oakley and Weinstein having to read “The Plague” by Albert Camus for an episode, which leads O’Brien to joke that there are a bunch of “skulls and femurs” at his feet.  I’ve never been this entertained by a commentary that ignores the episode.

14:45 – They’re cracking about how bad television is, and I really can’t do it justice.  And while I’m certainly not an unbiased observer, the tone of this is much more relaxed (and funny) than when they wander off the reservation when some Season 13 episode falls apart.  Here it sounds like they’re just having a good time rather than trying to fill space.

15:15 – Apparently the idea of Bart telling Moe that he was Jimbo to get Moe to come over came from James L. Brooks.

16:30 – O’Brien goes off on a long and somewhat meandering speech about how people get fewer and fewer references as time goes on.  It all ends it Al Jean saying, “Lisa loves Roy Cohn!”.  Again, words fail to convey how funny it actually is.

18:00 – “Jub Jub”, a vocal history.

19:00 – They’re just cutting up now.  O’Brien just joked, “I had a lot of bad ideas.” 

19:15 – Laughing at Barney drinking beer out of the ashtray.

19:45 – In yet another thing that doesn’t translate well to type, O’Brien cracks everyone up by describing how unfair it is that Jimbo gets branded a coward because a knife wielding maniac interrupts his innocent teenage makeout session. 

20:30 – Now they’re just laughing at the way people ask who wrote what line.  Jean jokes that he only writes for Ralph and they all crack up.  This is a much more relaxed Al Jean than you find on later season commentaries where he has to carry the whole load.  Here he gets to just be one of the guys, and he sounds like he’s having a much better time.  

21:30 – And we end with more banter and O’Brien being generally charming. 

7 Responses to ““New Kid On the Block” Spews Truth”

  1. 1 D.N.
    5 April 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Probably my favourite Simpsons audio commentary, mainly for the Conan bit at 19:45. I think it’s the only Simpsons commentary I’ve listened to more than once.

  2. 2 Mr. Incognito
    6 April 2012 at 12:04 am

    Homer suing the Sea Captain is perhaps one of the best B-stories ever written, Simpsons or otherwise. There’s only a handful of lines where Homer isn’t referring to the Frying Dutchman (one way or another) in the entire episode. It enhances just how badly he wants to go eat there.

    I also love the way the B-plot ends, in all its hilariousness: “I heard they shaved a gorilla.” I can’t think of anything better for a plot involving Homer Simpson and a so-called “All You Can Eat” joint.

    What would’ve happened had they went with Rickles? We would never have gotten this awesome B-plot and Cpt. McAllister may never had existed had that happened (I think it’s his first appearance). And to think how close we were to never getting it.

    • 3 Charlie Sweatpants
      6 April 2012 at 8:37 am

      “What would’ve happened had they went with Rickles?”

      Listening to the old commentaries, it amazes me how good their instincts were on what to keep and what to discard. I’m sure they could’ve made it funny, and I don’t know if the same thing happens on most shows (I suspect it doesn’t, but really have no clue), but during its prime, The Simpsons threw away a couple of hit series worth of ideas and plot lines.

  3. 4 lennyburnham
    6 April 2012 at 12:06 am

    Sounds like they didn’t spend nearly enough time saying that Sara Gilbert is amazing.

  4. 5 Pepito! The Biggest Cat in the Whole Wide World!
    6 April 2012 at 4:48 am

    “Sometimes I think you want to fail!”

    Just 5 seconds told you so much about the restaurant and the resentment between the two relatives/business partners, from the seemingly clever name to the well furnished but empty restaurant, punctuated by the ticking clock.

  5. 6 April 2012 at 10:23 pm

    Once again, I implore you to watch the two commentaries for Marge vs The Monorail. Yes, both. There’s the normal commentary with the gang, and a hidden commentary with everyone along with Conan. Those are the commentaries I listen to whenever I need inspiration or a quick pick-me up. As you saw with this episode, any commentary with Conan is total gold. Also, any commentary with Jon Lovitz.

  6. 7 Patrick
    11 April 2012 at 2:47 am

    Wow they had the idea of instant professional back in Season 4 :O

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