It's hard to overstate the impact The Simpsons has had on popular culture. While many would argue that the show is past its prime, that doesn't take away from its accomplishments in the slightest. It's the longest running American sitcom of all time, the longest running animated series by a huge margin, and the longest running scripted American primetime series ever. At the time of writing, the series has a whopping 618 episodes to its name, and it's guaranteed for to stick around for at least a few years yet, as the series has been renewed until 2019, when it will hit a mighty 30 seasons.
With such a long time on the air, the cast went from a handful of characters and ballooned into the hundreds. Everyone has their favorite side character, be it the Sea Captain, Comic Book Guy, Bumblebee Man, or the always awesome Hans Moleman. However, one of the most consistently popular personalities is Springfield's resident television comedian, Krusty the Clown. Over the years, the writers have used Krusty's involvement in show business to take swipes at Hollywood and the entertainment industry at large, which may explain why he's still around to this day. Here are 15 Awesome Things You Didn't Know About Herschel Shmoikel Pinchas Yerucham Krustofsky aka the legendary Krusty the Clown.
15 He didn't debut on The Simpsons
For such a global phenomenon, it's still hard to believe that The Simpsons started life as several minutes long animated shorts for a much bigger show. While The Tracey Ullman Show's other animated short, Dr. N!Godatu, was dropped after the first season, The Simpsons went from strength to strength, eventually eclipsing the show altogether and becoming a ratings powerhouse in its own right.
Krusty was introduced in Episode 7 of Season 3 of the original show, a mere three episodes after the first appearance of Itchy & Scratchy and 2 episodes after Homer uttered his first immortal “D'oh!”. In the short “The Krusty the Clown Show”, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie go to a taping of Krusty's show, and Bart doesn't believe that the man in front of the cameras is the real Krusty the Clown. It's interesting to note that in the short, Krusty's famous voice seems to be an act, with the real performer's gruff voice heard once Bart grabs the microphone and he starts to throttle him.
14 He's been married 15 times
Hollywood marriages seldom seem to last and as someone who has been in the industry for many decades, Krusty has a long list of ex-wives. According to himself, he's been married a total of 15 times. His first wife was apparently Holly Hippie, one of his assistants on The Krusty the Clown Show in the 1970s. According to Holly, the reason they divorced was that Krusty wouldn't let her watch the momentous moon landing because he was jealous of Neil Armstrong.
Since then, Krusty has had several famous wives, including Eartha Kitt (whom he was married to for six hours, five of which he was asleep for) and Mia Farrow, at least according to the TV film The Krusty the Klown Story: Booze, Drugs, Guns, Lies, Blackmail and Laughter. He even called off his wedding to Princess Penelope (voiced by Anne Hathaway) due to his marriages never working out.
13 His face is bleached permanently white
Early Krusty appearances like in the episode “Krusty Gets Busted” show the TV clown without his signature grease painted face and red nose, but since then, he always seems to be fully made up. According to the Simpsons producers, they had lengthy discussions over whether Krusty should always look like a clown or not. It was eventually decided that it didn't matter, and the decision was made to always have him looking like a clown.
As Lisa states in "Boy-Scoutz 'n the Hood", cartoons don't have to be 100% realistic, but there could be a canonical reason for Krusty's appearance. Krusty has had numerous health problems over the years, including suffering several heart attacks. This, coupled with his love of all things bad for him - like drugs, cigarettes, and booze - could have led to his blanched face. In "Homer's Triple Bypass", after being told he looks healthy, he points at his face and screams “This ain't makeup!”.
12 He was originally intended to be Homer in disguise
It's no accident that Krusty and Homer look so similar. According to series creator Matt Groening, one of the original concepts for the show was to have Homer be revealed to be Krusty, turning his son's disrespect for his father and hero-worship of a TV clown on its head. This was later dismissed along with a whole host of wacky concepts (Marge's trademark tall hair was originally going to hide a pair of rabbit ears).
However, the design was kept and turned into more of a satirical idea. Homer and Krusty looking practically the same was eventually turned into an episode in itself, with Season 6 episode “Homie the Clown” in which Homer becomes a Krusty impersonator and ends up in deep with the mob.
11 He played a villain on the '60s Batman TV show
Although Springfield has its own superhero in the form of Radioactive Man, Batman himself seems to exist in their universe too, played by the much missed Adam West. As an illustration for how long Krusty has been in show business, it's revealed that he was one of the show's villains of the week. He played “the painted Pagliacci of perfidy”, the villainous Clownface, and had henchmen by the names of Hoo, Hah, and Hee. His diabolical plan? Chaining Batman and Robin to a Carousel and spinning them so fast that the Dynamic Duo would blush themselves to death.
Batman and Robin escape thanks to B-Man's handy “Carousel Reversal Spray” and Clownface is arrested. The villain's scheme ends up inspiring Bart and Milhouse to try the stunt at school, leading to kids getting hurt. When it's revealed that Bart and Milhouse were just copying Krusty, the clown gets into hot water with the general public and fights to redeem himself in the episode "Large Marge". Clownface also made an appearance in The Simpsons: Tapped Out mobile game as a special event costume for Krusty.
10 He was banned from television for 10 years for saying "pants"
Krusty's career has been long and storied, but he didn't exactly get off to the best start. As a young comedian, he got his first big television break in the 1950s. However, during his set, he said the apparently dirty word “pants” and was barred from appearing on TV until the '60s.
Krusty's bad luck continued when he was scheduled to appear on (real-life) comedy show Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, where he was set to take part in a sketch. However, he got stuck behind the shutters he was supposed to appear from, and the bungle set his career back a further 22 years. His own show has been cancelled numerous times, but it always seems to come back in some form. The clown's got bills to pay and numerous dangerous products to put his name to.
9 He's a Republican
Most of Springfield's residents seem to be apolitical, but Krusty is staunchly Republican. He's often seen in meetings of the Springfield Republican Party, conversing with fellow members like Rainier Wolfcastle, the Rich Texan, Dr. Hibbert, and Mr. Burns.
In the episode "Mr. Spritz Goes to Washington", Bart gets the idea to push Krusty to run for Congress, to change the flight path of noisy airplanes that fly over their house. Krusty agrees and is soon elected. Once the bill is passed, things return to normal and Krusty's political career is abandoned in favor of selling out. The episode itself caused a small controversy when it aired, as the show took a few shots at Fox News. According to Matt Groening, Fox News threaten to sue over defamation, but since The Simpsons is aired on Fox, they opted not to sue themselves. Sounds like the right call.
8 There are real-life Krusty Burger restaurants
As well as being a send-up of celebrities and TV personalities, Krusty is also a parody of another burger-shilling clown you may be familiar with. Krusty Burger restaurants are a dime a dozen in Springfield, and they serve all sorts of fattening, greasy meals for its customers to gorge themselves on. Along with the Kwik-E-Mart, Krusty Burger has become one of the most famous fictional brands from the show, so it was only a matter of time before they did it for real.
And they did. Universal Studios park patrons in Orlando and California can sample real versions of some of the show's snacks. On the menu are the classic Krusty Burger, The Clogger, The Mother Nature Burger, The Ribwich, and their milkshakes, which promise to be made from “100% mammal milk!”. Unfortunately, they have yet to find a way to make the Whatchamarcarcass sandwich, Bacon Balls, or the Philly Fudge Steak a reality yet, but we live in hope.
7 His death was teased for the show's 26th season
When you've been on the air as long as The Simpsons has, it can be hard to get people as interested in your show as they once were. Prior to the 26th season of the show, the creative team teased a big character death was going to hit Springfield. The writers dropped several cryptic clues as to the identity of the soon-to-be-deceased, including that fact that the actor playing the character had won an Emmy - something which applied to all six members of the main cast. When the episode title “Clown in the Dumps” was revealed, many websites and fans jumped to the conclusion that Krusty would be the one going to the big studio in the sky.
But when the episode finally aired, many fans were disappointed that the hyped death wasn't a series regular, but rather Krusty's father, the Rabbi Hyman Krustofsky (voiced by Jackie Mason). Executive producer Al Jean said that he made the decision to make it a mystery “on a whim” and that he hadn't meant for the whole thing to become a worldwide story. He also said that the “Clown in the Dumps” title was an attempt to downplay the rumors that it was Krusty, as being down in the dumps means to be sad, not dead, but it didn't work.
6 "Kamp Krusty" almost became a movie
We all remember the "Kamp Krusty" episode right? Bart and Lisa go off to the Kamp Krusty summer camp only to find it a gruelling, torturous affair run by a corrupt businessman called Mr. Black. The kids eventually rebel and it makes national news. Well, when James L. Brooks saw the completed episode, he thought it was perfect for a movie adaptation.
However, there were two problems with this. One, it would leave the show without a Season 4 premiere episode and two, the episode ran short as it was, leading to concerns that they could never stretch out the narrative to feature-length. The actual Simpsons Movie would be released 15 years later, while the episode ended up going down as a fan-favorite. A sequel episode, "Kamp Krustier", was aired 25 years later, but garnered mixed to negative reviews.
5 He starred in his own video game
The Simpsons and video games have been intertwined since the very beginning. Starting with Bart vs. the Space Mutants and The Simpsons Arcade game, video game adaptations of everyone's favorite yellow family have been pretty steady over the years. Some are considered nostalgic classics (Simpsons Road Rage, Simpsons Hit & Run) and some are thought of as some of the worst games ever made (Simpsons Skateboarding and Simpsons Wrestling).
Krusty's Fun House was released in 1992 for practically everything with a screen. The game was originally released as Rat Trap, but once Acclaim slapped on their expensive Simpsons, license things took a turn for the yellow. Players had to control Krusty through a series of mazes and puzzles in order to kill a bunch of rats that are running wild. This makes Krusty one of the only secondary characters to feature in his own video game, which speaks volumes about the clown's popularity.
4 He's based on several real-life clowns
Local TV clowns aren't really a thing anymore, but when the cast and crew of The Simpsons were growing up, they were all the rage. Matt Groening has been quoted as saying that he got the name “Krusty” from the clown he grew up watching in Portland, Oregon – a TV clown named Rusty Nails (performed by actor James H. Allen).
When it came to Krusty's voice, Dan Castellaneta took inspiration from his childhood and did an impersonation of Bob Bell's Bozo the Clown in an audition. The gravelly tones were a hit with the writers, as they sounded both like a wacky clown voice and a cynical, hard-living character – two of Krusty's biggest characteristics. His early days as a comic were based on Jackie Mason's career, with the man himself voicing Krusty's father in later episodes.
3 The Krusty Burger Olympic promotion was a parody of a real marketing disaster
In the episode "Lisa's First Word", we flashback to the early '80s, when Lisa and Bart were much younger. Krusty Burger is shown to be running a promotion in which free food was given out if America won a medal in a specified event. However, the odds were calculated before Russia pulled out of the games, meaning that the USA swept the board in terms of medals. The stunt ends up personally costing Krusty $44 million and prompts him to go on TV, smoking and sobbing and angrily promising that he'll spit in every 50th burger.
It's a genuinely funny scenario, but it actually happened to McDonalds in the 1980s. As an official sponsor of the Olympics, McDonalds ran an “If America Wins, You Win” promotion. Based on previous performances, they were in no danger of losing money. However, both the U.S.S.R and East Germany boycotted the '84 Olympics, leaving the US team to storm to victory, bringing home a ton of gold, silver, and bronze. McDonalds ended up shelling out for way more than they bargained for, and the whole thing went down as one of the dumbest (and costliest) marketing mistakes in corporate history.
2 "Insane Clown Poppy" was nearly about Homer's illegitimate daughter, not Krusty's
In the third episode of Season 12, “Insane Clown Poppy”, Krusty is revealed to have a long lost daughter named Sophie (voiced by Drew Barrymore) as the product of a fling with a soldier during the Gulf War. Her mother, Erin, wanted nothing to do with him after their one-night stand, and didn't tell Sophie must about her father, other than he was a “pathetic clown”. Sophie Googles those words and Krusty's name pops right up (this actually works by the way), leading her to track down her dad.
However, the original concept for the episode was that Homer was going to be the one with the child, from a time before he met Marge. The producers wisely decided to steer away from what could have been a needlessly complicated and possibly tasteless idea, and chose to center it around Krusty instead, which we think you'll agree was the right call.
1 Matt Groening wanted a live-action Krusty spin-off
With a show as popular as The Simpsons, talk of spin-offs were inevitable. One of the ideas that actually got pretty close to being made was a Krusty spin-off, only it wasn't going to be animated. Matt Groening wanted Dan Castellaneta to play Krusty in a live-action sitcom where the clown moved to Los Angeles and hosted a talk show.
Apparently, the pilot script was written, but talks broke down over a very strange and specific detail. According to Groening, one of the series' running gags was that Krusty's house was built on wooden stilts that were being continuously gnawed on by beavers. The network pointed out that trained beavers would be costly, and that mechanical beavers would be equally as expensive. Groening reportedly replied “If we animated this, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.” and started work on making the spin-off a cartoon instead. These plans fell through too, but luckily, we eventually got Futurama out of the deal, so all's well that ends well.
Do you know of any other bizarre factoids surrounding Krusty the Clown? Would you have been on board with a live-action spin-off? Let us know in the comments.