Monday, August 25, 2008

The 20 best 'Simpsons' gags (Part 2)

Read Part One here.

10. Boo-urns
The Episode: A Star is Burns (Season 6)
The Setup: Mr. Burns' self-serving A Burns for All Seasons draws boos from the crowd at the inaugural Springfield Film Festival.
The Joke:
BURNS: Smithers, are they booing me?
SMITHERS: Uhh, no they're saying "Boo-urns, boo-urns."
BURNS: (to crowd) Are you saying "boo" or "Boo-urns"?
(crowd boos louder)
HANS MOLEMAN: I was saying "Boo-urns."
Notes: A wonderful play on the tired "Bruuuuuce" (not "boo") chant for Bruce Springsteen, this is joke is a classic and it wouldn't have worked with any character but Hans Moleman. Who else would have been saying "Boo-urns"? Only the man whose submission to the film festival was a short starring himself getting hit in the groin by a football.

9. The College Application Photo
The Episode: Homer Goes to College (Season 5)
The Setup: Homer must return to college to retain his job, and applies to Springfield University.
The Joke: (See above) Homer underestimates the importance a college applicant's picture plays in getting admitted, and the university officials don't even bother to look at his application after seeing this horrid picture.
Notes: The sight of this picture still makes me laugh, it's beyond perfect on every level. There are, of course, innumerable examples of Homer's gluttony -- but shoving a birthday cake (with candles) into your mouth ... and with the shamelessness to do it right in front of a camera? I love how he even has red eyes, and that his party hat is perched so precariously on his head.

8. Elvis Does Not Approve
The Episode: The Front (Season 4)
The Setup: Bart and Lisa are bored over the declining quality of Itchy & Scratchy episodes, so they decide to write their own, set in a barber shop.
The Joke:
BART: Itchy takes out a bottle of barbecue sauce and pours it on Scratchy's head, then he takes out a box of flesh-eating ants, and the rest writes itself!
(the ants reduce Scratchy's head to a skull, and Itchy raises the barber chair through the ceiling, putting Scratchy's skull inside the television of Elvis).
ELVIS: Eh, this show ain't no good (shoots Scratchy's skull inside television).
Notes: When this episode first aired, I think this moment made me laugh harder than at any moment in my life. The sheer vulgarity and ridiculousness of the Elvis twist was too much for me to handle. It would be easy to say that the Elvis character is just some guy dressed up as Elvis, but I think this episode was made around the time rumors of Elvis still being alive were popular. Apparently he lives above a mouse-run barbershop, and he shoots his TV when he doesn't like the show. Fantastic.

7. Vengeful Big Brother
The Episode: Brother from the Same Planet (Season 4)
The Setup: To get back at Bart for having a big brother mentor, Homer sets out to become a big brother himself.
The Joke:
WOMAN: Why do you want to become a big brother?
HOMER'S BRAIN: Don't say revenge, don't say revenge, don't say revenge...
HOMER: Uh, revenge?
HOMER'S BRAIN: That's it, I'm outta here (we hear the sound of a car driving away)
WOMAN: (scanning list that includes malice, spite and revenge) Welcome aboard!
Notes: Revenge takes many forms, including the act of mentoring a disadvantaged child. Not only do we get the delicious insanity of Homer's "brain" getting the hell outta Dodge, but the amazing twist of "spite," "malice" and "boredom" also being acceptable reasons for a man wanting to be a big brother.

6. Judge Snyder's Dog (son)

The Episode: Marge in Chains (Season 4)
The Setup: After Marge is arrested for shoplifting, the Simpsons once again hire attorney Lionel Hutz, who is confident about the case until he sees what judge is assigned to it.
The Joke:
HUTZ: Oh no, we've drawn Judge Snyder.
MARGE: Is that bad?
HUTZ: He's had it out for me ever since I kinda ran over his dog.
MARGE: Really? That's terrible.
HUTZ: Well, replace "kinda" with "repeatedly," and "dog" with "son."
Notes: One of the hardest aspects of putting together this list was narrowing down the best Lionel Hutz moment, because you really can't go wrong with any of them. "Judge Snyder's Dog" ultimately won out because it sublimely combined Hutz's trademark lunacy with a surprising amount of heinous violence.

5. Homer as Mr. Burns
The Episode: Blood Feud (Season 2)
The Setup: Homer takes out his anger toward Mr. Burns by writing a hateful letter to his boss, but later decides not to mail it. Unfortunately, Bart has already put the letter in the mail, leading Homer to desperate attempts to intercept it.
The Joke:
HOMER: Hello, I'm Mr. Burns, I believe you have a letter for me.
POSTAL WORKER: Okay, Mr. Burns, what's your first name?
HOMER: I don't know.
Notes: If you know this gag, then you know this print representation of it does it no justice. This is all about Homer's delivery, as he uses quite possibly the worst fake voice ever to impresonate Mr. Burns. But what kills me about this gag is the timing of the final line, Homer never even stops to think what Mr. Burns' first name is.

4. Message from Vera
The Episode: $pringfield (Or how I learned to stop worrying and love legalized gambling) (Season 5)
The Setup: After being turned away for a job at Mr. Burns' casino, Bart vows to open his own casino. Things at Bart's casino go swimmingly, especially since he can attract top talent like Robert Goulet (via intercepting him at the airport).
The Joke:
GOULET: This is the casino? I think I should call my manager.
NELSON: Your manager says for you to shut up!
GOULET: Vera said that?
Notes: The final four entries on this list can all make a case for being No. 1, and for a long time I considered this my favorite Simpsons joke. I love Nelson's line, does he say that just because he's being Nelson, or does he have a genuine interest in seeing Goulet perform at Bart's tree house casino? Goulet's delivery is also great, he's actually wondering if Vera called and told him to "shut up."

3. Bare Cupboard Pie
The Episode: $pringfield (Or how I learned to stop worrying and love legalized gambling) (Season 5)
The Setup: Marge becomes addicted to gambling, leaving Homer and the kids to cook and clean for themselves while she feeds her new habit.
The Joke:
LISA: There's nothing to eat for breakfast.
HOMER: You gotta improvise, Lisa: [mixing ingredients] cloves ... Tom Collins mix ... frozen pie crust ...
LISA: Maybe mom just doesn't realize we miss her. We could go down to the casino and let her know ...
HOMER: Oh come on, Lisa, there's no reason to [takes bite] ... let's go see mom.
Notes: This joke still makes me laugh out loud. It's so impossibly ridiculous that on the occasion it pops into my head I just start laughing (my wife has learned to stop asking). Cloves!? It's also amusing that the Simpsons even have Tom Collins mix in their house, how did that get in there?

2. Evil Frogurt
The Episode: Treehouse of Horror III (Season 4)
The Setup: At Bart's birthday party, Homer realizes he forgot to buy a present. Slyly escaping, Homer stops at the aptly-named House of Evil to seek out a gift.
The Joke:
HOMER: Do you sell toys here?
SHOPKEEPER: We sell forbidden objects from places men fear to tread. We also sell frozen yogurt, which I like to call 'frogurt'!
HOMER: I'm looking for a present for my son.
SHOPKEEPER: (holding Krusty doll) Take this, but beware it carries a terrible curse!
HOMER: Ooooh, that's bad.
SHOPKEEPER: But it also comes with a free frogurt!
HOMER: That's good!
SHOPKEEPER: The frogurt is also cursed.
HOMER: That's bad.
SHOPKEEPER: But you get your choice of topping!
HOMER: That's good!
SHOPKEEPER: The toppings contain potassium-benzoit.
HOMER: ...
SHOPKEEPER: That's bad!
HOMER: Can I go now?
Notes: This one briefly flirted with being No. 1, it's just the epitome of a perfect Simpsons gag: taking a routine joke to another plane of surreal hilarity, with flawless timing and delivery. And admit it: have you really looked at frozen yogurt toppings the same way since this episode?

1. Buying Illegal Fireworks
The Episode: Summer of 4 ft. 2 (Season 7)
The Setup: On vacation at Flanders' beach home, Homer is intent on celebrating the Fourth of July with illegal fireworks.
The Joke:
HOMER: Hmm, I bet this place sells illegal fireworks ... just act casual, like you buy them all the time.
Yeah, uh, why don't you give me that porno mag ... bottle of Old Harper ... box of condoms ... some panty shields ... illegal fireworks -- and a disposable enema. Meh, make that two!
EMPLOYEE: Sorry sir but the sale of illegal fireworks is strictly forbi -- (notices customer leaving) come with me.
MARGE: (later, seeing what Homer bought) Hmmm, I don't know what you have planned for tonight, Homer, but you can count me out.
Notes: There was really never any doubt with me about where this one would land. At the conception stage of this project, I immediately had three gags in my head that I knew would be somewhere in the top 5, but this one would definitely be at the top. Where else would you find a gag of this caliber? It cannot be charted. This joke has taken on a life of its own within my family, sometimes adding "two disposable enemas" at the end of a grocery list. I think the most brilliant part is Marge's reaction, which happens a couple scenes later.

30 comments:

Moviezzz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

You missed a great one . . .

Disco Stu
It started as a joke on a jacket that was supposed to read: Disco Stud. I don't believe (though I don't know for certain) that Disco Stu was ever meant to go beyond that original gag, but they made him a recurring character! Hilarity!
othrwise love the list and the blog
Jeff

Adam Ross said...

"We did 27 takes and that was the best one."

I might try to do a Best Episodes list, as I've been trying to rank my favorites for quite a while.

Jeff-- that's a great one, I thought about adding it. "Disco Stu does not advertise!"

Dan McCoy said...

20 entries and no mention of the classic Homer-Scorpio hammock run?

Hank: Uh, hi, Homer. What can I do for you?
Homer: Sir, I need to know where I can get some business hammocks.
Hank: Hammocks? My goodness, what an idea. Why didn't I think of that? Hammocks! Homer, there's four places. There's the Hammock Hut, that's on third.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Hank: There's Hammocks-R-Us, that's on third too. You got Put-Your-Butt-There?
Homer: Mm-Hmm.
Hank: That's on third. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot... Matter of fact, they're all in the same complex; it's the hammock complex on third.
Homer: Oh, the hammock district!
Hank: That's right.

Adam Ross said...

Yep, Scorpio should be on this list, he's one of the best one-time characters, and that hammock exchange is great.

"I'd love to stay and chat, but I'm in the middle of a fun run!"

elgringo said...

These are so great. Makes you remember where you went for comedy before Family Guy and Futurama.

Burbanked said...

These lists were terrific, and I waited until you were done (plus several more days for no good reason) to see if you'd choose one of my faves, which I can't even come close to doing justice:

It's the bit where Burns and Smithers are heading to the back of the plant to engage the sun-shield over Springfield and they pass through a series of high-security doorways and booby traps (including one entire-face scan). Then when they reach the back room, there's a broken screen door hanging open with a stray dog sniffing around and Burns kicks the dog in the face.

Yeah, describing it doesn't quite sell the joke, but it's a hilarious visual.

Adam Ross said...

Alan, thanks for the comment (and thanks for that 7-day buffer period, I'm sure it helped your infamous temper cool down a bit).

That's a great gag, and to be honest I completely forgot about it when putting this together. The punchline is perfect after such a long build-up. Another one I like from that episode is after the city hall meeting with Burns, Krusty runs in:

"Hey hey! I'm back from six weeks in Reno, what'd I miss?"

WaywardJam said...

Awesome list. Makes me excited for the new season. I think I'll pop in one of my dvd's tonight to relive the fun.

Mike Sheffler said...

Perfection. Many of my favorites are on the list. Reading it, I laughed hardest at 'Usury laws' and 'Bare Cupboard Pie', perhaps simply because I had totally forgotten about them. Bare Cupboard Pie, in particular, displays a perfect randomness that is both different from and superior to the randomness of, say, the Family Guy.

Collins mix. Oh, shit, that's funny.

Piper said...

Okay please tell me that the Carney's who take over the Simpson's house will be in one of these lists.

The Carney shoves the cigarette up his nose and pulls it out his butt. Bart asks him to do it again and he says he can't for a while.

Love it.

Nice work Adam.

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Anonymous said...

If I'm not mistaken, the "That's good! / That's bad. / That's good! / That's bad." scene is a take on Billy Wilder's Sabrina (1954). That's what always comes to mind when I see the scene, and it amuses me to no end.

Anonymous said...

one of my favourites is in 'Skinner's Sense of Snow', where Skinner shows the children his favourite film. It turns out to be a ridiculously corny Christmas film, with cardboard cutouts, badly made up goblins, a stage hand in the background and a Christmas song that lasts 2hrs according to Milhouse.The children's reaction when they are snowed in and then they find out that the film is fixed is also hilarious.

My other favourite is when Lisa watches a Troy Maclure DNA film. When asked what DNA stands for, Maclure pulls a clueless face and the film ends.

Its a shame Simpsons isnt that funny anymore, because now that Family Guy has overtaken it, people think Family Guy is the superior show. The first 10 seasons of The Simpsons are gold though.

Dan said...

"Do you know where the remote control is?"

Postmoderndevil said...

Elvis actually snapped off a shot into his television while watching Robert Goulet perform. A quote:

“There was nothing Elvis had against Robert Goulet. They were friends. But Elvis just shot out things on a random basis.”

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Tom said...

The description of Homer's Mr Burns impersonation to retrieve the mistakenly sent letter should have included the first line from the next scene, when Homer and Bart sit defeated. Homer says sarcastically 'Great plan Bart'. There was nothing wrong with the plan. It was unthinkable that Homer would not remember Mr Burn's first name.

Viagra Online said...

Hilarious, that scene, of the Illegal Fireworks is one of the biggest classics of all time, I love it, how he ends uo buying a lot of S&M stuff to cover up the fireworks... awesome stuff only The Simpsons could pull off

Anonymous said...

Hello, my name is Mr. Burns, I believe you have a package for me.

Ok, Mr. Burns whats your first name?

I don't know...

xD
A classic, GO SIMPSONS!!!!

MetalOnslaughtEH said...

"Summer of 4 ft 2" has to be one of my top ten Simpson episodes.

At the beginning:
(school bell rings)
Milhouse: "School's out! Up yours, Krabappel!"
(Milhouse runs out of class)
Krabappel: "I'm glad the rest of you remembered that summer doesn't start until end of the day, (points to clock that reads 9:00 am) not at the beginning."
-----------------------------------
Milhouse: "Hey Bary! Lisa's skateboarding with some cool kids... and she looks like Blossom!"
Bart: "Lisa... with people!? If they're impressed by her, I'm going to Bart their world. Okay Milhouse, you know the drill."
Milhouse: "Right, you go over and wow them, I'll hide in the shrubs!"
(Bart does many skateboard stunts to impress them but to no avail.)
Milhouse: "How did it go? Are we down with them?"
Bart: "No. They must have seen you!"

Anything Milhouse has me laughing!

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Max said...

"HOMER: Hello, I'm Mr. Burns, I believe you have a letter for me.
POSTAL WORKER: Okay, Mr. Burns, what's your first name?
HOMER: I don't know."

To top it off, homer afterwards blames Bart for coming up with a lousy plan.

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