A Gag Worth Laughing At – Homer At Clown College

This week we stumbled over a gag that is now easily one of my most favourite in any funny-business, ever.

We’ve been slowly but steadily working our way through the early seasons of The Simpsons.

Homie the Clown wasn’t an episode I remember being that funny. It wasn’t in my memory palace pantheon with Seasons 4 and 5 (and some of 3) like Cape Feare, Homer’s Barbershop Quartet or Mr Plow.

Which made it such a surprise to find one of the funniest and most complete gags I can remember. It made me laugh and continue to laugh as we watched it at least a few times over, the younger kids looking at me and laughing because Dad was laughing uncontrollably.

Homie the Clown is the fifteenth episode of Season 6 of the Simpsons. Homer goes to the new Clown College where Krusty teaches them how to be a Krusty-branded Clown.

A recurring piece of plot in the episode is the tiny bicycle. Krusty shows them how to ride one (successfully riding the bike through and around the loop-de-loop is integral to the story itself it turns out). And Homer has a number of different methods of not-mastering the tiny bicycle.

One or two of these attempts in is, in my couch-potato opinion, one of the greatest, most complete gags in anything I’ve had the pleasure of laughing at. The setup is simple, Homer is trying to ride the tiny bicycle. The payoff is immediate (the scene is only a few seconds long).

Homer starts riding the bike and his clown pants (snug on Homer who has never had a pair of pants that fit so well) get caught in the pedal. He’s trying so hard to get the cycling right his tongue is poking out between his lips in concentration. Homer continues to pedal, doing well, but his pants are slowly pulled down and off and he’s left riding bare-bottomed on the bike. If you’re in the mood it’ll crack you up.

But where this gag is so masterful is in the next sub-scene. Krusty is there with an off-sider watching. After Homer has left the view, Krusty continues to watch in that direction for a second or two. This wait is hilarious. You can just imagine he’s trying to process what he’s just witnessed.

Then Krusty turns to the other man and says “Ahhhh .. Burn that seat.”

It had me in stitches. It’s a few seconds of perfect (if somewhat juvenile) comedy. Brings a giant grin to my face just remembering.

I don’t have a super-great understanding of the mechanics of comedy, but I know what I like. And Homie the Clown is now definitely on the list!