The Last Temptation of Krust

Last updated
"The Last Temptation of Krust"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no.Season 9
Episode 15
Directed by Mike B. Anderson
Written by Donick Cary
Production code5F10
Original air dateFebruary 22, 1998 (1998-02-22)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode features
Chalkboard gag "Pain is not the cleanser"
Couch gag The family run in, with their behinds on fire and douse themselves on the waterlogged couch. [1]
Commentary Matt Groening
Mike Scully
Ron Hauge
Donick Cary
Yeardley Smith
Mike B. Anderson
Jay Leno
Episode chronology
"Das Bus"
"Dumbbell Indemnity"
The Simpsons (season 9)
List of The Simpsons episodes

"The Last Temptation of Krust" is the fifteenth episode of The Simpsons ' ninth season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 22, 1998. It was written by Donick Cary and directed by Mike B. Anderson. Comedian Jay Leno makes a guest appearance. [2] In the episode, Bart convinces Krusty the Clown to appear at a comedy festival organized by Jay Leno, but Krusty's old material does not go over well with the audience and he receives bad reviews. He briefly retires from comedy but returns with a new, better-received gimmick. He soon returns to his old ways, selling out to a motor-vehicle company.

<i>The Simpsons</i> American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening

The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical depiction of working-class life, epitomized by the Simpson family, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The show is set in the fictional town of Springfield and parodies American culture and society, television, and the human condition.

<i>The Simpsons</i> (season 9) Episode list for season of animated series

The Simpsons' ninth season originally aired on the Fox network between September 1997 and May 1998, beginning on Sunday, September 21, 1997, with "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson". With Mike Scully as showrunner for the ninth production season, the aired season contained three episodes which were hold-over episodes from season eight, which Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein ran. It also contained two episodes which were run by David Mirkin, and another two hold-over episodes which were run by Al Jean and Mike Reiss.

Fox Broadcasting Company American television network

The Fox Broadcasting Company is an American free-to-air television network that is a flagship property of the Fox Corporation. The network is headquartered at 1211 Avenue of the Americas in New York City, with additional offices at the Fox Broadcasting Center and at the Fox Television Center in Los Angeles.

The production team's decision to write an episode about stand-up comedy was influenced by comedy festivals. The writing staff initially had trouble getting Krusty's offensive bad jokes through network censors, but convinced them this was simply a way to emphasize his old and dated comedic material. The "Canyonero" sequence was modeled after Ford commercials and was given its own segment at the end of the episode because the production staff liked it so much. The episode was highlighted by USA Today in a review of The Simpsons' ninth season and received positive reviews in The Washington Times , the Evening Herald , and in books on The Simpsons.

Ford Motor Company American automobile manufacturer

Ford Motor Company is an American multinational automaker that has its main headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. It was founded by Henry Ford and incorporated on June 16, 1903. The company sells automobiles and commercial vehicles under the Ford brand and most luxury cars under the Lincoln brand. Ford also owns Brazilian SUV manufacturer Troller, an 8% stake in Aston Martin of the United Kingdom and a 32% stake in Jiangling Motors. It also has joint-ventures in China, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and Russia. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and is controlled by the Ford family; they have minority ownership but the majority of the voting power.

<i>USA Today</i> American national daily newspaper

USA Today is an internationally distributed American daily, middle-market newspaper that serves as the flagship publication of its owner, the Gannett Company. The newspaper has a generally centrist audience. Founded by Al Neuharth on September 15, 1982, it operates from Gannett's corporate headquarters on Jones Branch Drive, in McLean, Virginia. It is printed at 37 sites across the United States and at five additional sites internationally. Its dynamic design influenced the style of local, regional, and national newspapers worldwide, through its use of concise reports, colorized images, informational graphics, and inclusion of popular culture stories, among other distinct features.

<i>The Washington Times</i> American conservative broadsheet newspaper published in Washington, D.C.

The Washington Times is an American daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C., that covers general interest topics with a particular emphasis on national politics. Its broadsheet daily edition is distributed throughout the District of Columbia and in parts of Maryland and Virginia. A weekly tabloid edition aimed at a national audience is also published.


Krusty is persuaded by Bart to appear at a comedy festival organized by Jay Leno. His old-fashioned and outdated material fails to impress the audience when compared with the more trendy comedians also appearing. After reading a critical review of his act in the press, Krusty decides to go on a "bender to end all benders" and a montage sequence shows him getting drunk. After Bart finds him passed out on Ned Flanders' lawn, he enlists the help of Leno to clean him up. Krusty holds a press conference to announce his retirement and in short order launches into a bitter tirade against modern-day comedians. The audience finds Krusty's rant hysterically funny and he subsequently announces his return to comedy.

Comedian person who seeks to entertain an audience, primarily by making them laugh

A comedian or comic is a person who seeks to entertain an audience by making them laugh. This might take many forms including jokes, satirical observations, amusing situations, acting foolish or employing prop comedy. A comedian who addresses an audience directly is called a stand-up comedian. Other practises include the sitcom, sketch comedy and improv genres.

Ned Flanders Fictional character from The Simpsons franchise

Nedward Flanders Jr. is a recurring fictional character in the animated television series The Simpsons. He is voiced by Harry Shearer, and first appeared in the series premiere episode "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire". He is the extremely religious, good-natured, cheery next-door neighbor to the Simpson family and is generally envied and loathed by Homer Simpson. A scrupulous and devout Evangelical Christian, he is among the friendliest and most compassionate of Springfield's residents and is generally considered a pillar of the Springfield community. Ned Flanders appearance is based on Great Britain's Stuart Parker.

Krusty is inspired to return to doing low-key events, where he structures a new image for himself as a stand-up comedian who tells the truth, criticizes commercialism, and refuses to sell out to corporate America. He also changes his appearance, sporting a dark sweater and tying his hair in a ponytail. Observing his newfound popularity, two marketing executives try to persuade Krusty to endorse a new sport utility vehicle called the Canyonero. Although he tries to resist, he eventually succumbs to the lure of money. After promoting the Canyonero at a comedy performance in Moe's Tavern, he is booed off stage by the patrons. He finally admits to himself that comedy is not in his blood and selling out is. The episode ends with an extended advertisement for the Canyonero, as Krusty and Bart leave Moe's tavern in Krusty's new SUV.

Stand-up comedy comedy style where the performer addresses the audience directly

Stand-up comedy is a comic style in which a comedian performs in front of a live audience, usually speaking directly to them. The performer is commonly known as a comic, stand-up comic, comedian, comedienne, stand-up comedian, or simply a stand-up. Comedians give the illusion that they are dialoguing, but in actuality, they are monologuing a grouping of humorous stories, jokes and one-liners, typically called a shtick, routine, act, or set. Some stand-up comedians use props, music or magic tricks to enhance their acts. Stand-up comedy is stated to be the "freest form of comedy writing" that is regarded as a fictionalized "extension of" the person performing.

Sport utility vehicle type of automobile

Sport utility vehicle (SUV) is a category of motor vehicles that combine elements of road-going passenger cars with features from off-road vehicles, such as raised ground clearance and four-wheel drive.

Moe Szyslak Fictional character from The Simpsons franchise

Morris "Moe" Szyslak is a recurring character from the animated television series The Simpsons. He is voiced by Hank Azaria and first appeared in the series premiere episode "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire". Moe is the proprietor and bartender of Moe's Tavern, a Springfield bar frequented by Homer Simpson, Barney Gumble, Lenny Leonard, Carl Carlson, Sam, Larry, and others.


Mike B. Anderson directed the episode. Mike B. Anderson by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Mike B. Anderson directed the episode.

In the DVD commentary for The Simpsons'  ninth season, writer Donick Cary stated that the inspiration for the idea of an episode about stand-up comedy came out of comedy festivals at the time. [3] Executive producer Mike Scully said that the writers had difficulty getting Krusty's offensive bad jokes through the network censors. The stereotypical jokes were allowed because the writers convinced the network censors that viewers would understand it was simply emphasizing Krusty's dated comedic material. [4]

DVD Optical disc

DVD is a digital optical disc storage format invented and developed in 1995. The medium can store any kind of digital data and is widely used for software and other computer files as well as video programs watched using DVD players. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than compact discs while having the same dimensions.

Donick Cary is an American writer and producer. He got his start writing for “Late Night with David Letterman.” He continued working with the show through its move to CBS, serving as both head writer and the “guy in the bear suit.”

Mike Scully American writer and producer

Michael Scully is an American television writer and producer. He is known for his work as executive producer and showrunner of the animated sitcom The Simpsons from 1997 to 2001. Scully grew up in West Springfield, Massachusetts and long had an interest in writing. He was an underachiever at school and dropped out of college, going on to work in a series of jobs. Eventually, in 1986, he moved to Los Angeles where he worked as a stand-up comic and wrote for Yakov Smirnoff.

Mike B. Anderson stated that at least three different acts of material were written and animated for Krusty's comeback stand-up appearance at Moe's Tavern. It was not until the editing process that the material used was decided upon. The episode was still being animated three weeks before it was due to air and the production process moved frantically shortly before completion. [5] The Canyonero sequence was originally planned to be displayed during the closing credits. The production team liked the scene so much that they did not want it to be obscured by the credits and gave it its own segment at the end of the episode. [4]

Mike B. Anderson director

Mike B. Anderson, sometimes credited as Mikel B. Anderson, is an American television director who works on The Simpsons and has directed numerous episodes of the show, and was animated in "The Secret War of Lisa Simpson" as cadet Anderson. While a college student, he directed the live action feature films Alone in the T-Shirt Zone (1986) and Kamillions (1989). Since 1990, he has worked primarily in animation including being a consulting producer on the series, "The Oblongs", and story consultant on "Tripping the Rift".

Cultural references

The episode title is a reference to the controversial novel (and later film) The Last Temptation of Christ. In addition to Jay Leno, other real-life comedians that portrayed themselves in the episode include Steven Wright, Janeane Garofalo, Bobcat Goldthwait, and Bruce Baum, whose appearance helped increase his popularity. [6] [7] [8] Krusty's "Krustylu Studios" is a spoof on the company Desilu studios, set up by Lucille Ball and her husband Desi Arnaz, where the series Star Trek was once filmed. [1] During Krusty's "bender to end all benders" montage, he is seen drinking out of and vomiting into the Stanley Cup. The National Hockey League sent a letter regarding this scene. [4] Mike Scully described it as a "kind of a cease and desist", but the production staff decided not to cut the scene from the episode. [4] Krusty attends the coffee shop Java the Hut, a reference to the Star Wars character Jabba the Hutt. [9] Additionally, Krusty's anti-commercialism and anti-corporate stances, along with styling his hair in a ponytail, is a reference to comedian George Carlin who styled his hair the same way later in his career and often had anti-capitalism, anti-consumerism and anti-commercialism overtones in his performance.


The "Canyonero" song and visual sequence was modeled after Ford commercials. [4] The sequence is a parody of a commercial for a sport utility vehicle and Hank Williams Jr. sings a song about the Canyonero accompanied by country guitar music and whip cracks. [10] The song "Canyonero" closely resembles the theme to the 1960s television series Rawhide . [1] This episode was the first appearance of the Canyonero, which again appeared in the season 10 episode "Marge Simpson in: "Screaming Yellow Honkers"". [10] The "Canyonero" song is included on the 1999 soundtrack album Go Simpsonic with The Simpsons . [11]

Chris Turner wrote positively of the Canyonero spoof piece in Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Defined a Generation , calling it "a brilliant parody of an SUV ad". [10] In an article in the journal Environmental Politics Steve Vanderheiden commented that the Canyonero reflected an "anti-SUV" stance by The Simpsons. [12] Vanderheiden wrote: "Even the popular animated television series ‘The Simpsons’ joined the anti-SUV fray in 1998, featuring a mammoth vehicle called the ‘Canyonero’ (marketed with the jingle: ‘Twelve yards long, two lanes wide/Sixty-five tons of American pride!’), which promised to help the family transcend its mundane station-wagon existence but instead brought only misery." [12] The term "Canyonero" has since been used in the news media to refer critically to large trucks and SUVs. [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] In an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about SUV owners, Vicki Haddock wrote "SUV owners have become something of a punch line, succinctly captured in a "Simpsons" parody touting the apocryphal Canyonero". [18] In a 2006 article, Seth Jayson of The Motley Fool compared the wording in a Ford advertisement myFord Owner Magazine to this episode, writing: "the unholiest of unholies is the writing, which is so thick with absurd adspeak, you'd think it was written by the crew at The Onion or The Simpsons – especially that episode where Krusty starts shilling for the Canyonero." [19] In a 2004 article in the Chicago Tribune , Jim Mateja noted that people have pointed out a similarity between the GMC Canyon and the Canyonero. [20] When contacted, GMC responded that the GMC is a pickup truck, while the Canyonero is a parody of an SUV. [20] Joshua Dowling of The Sun-Herald described the philosophy of the Ford F-250 as "The Canyonero comes to life". [21]


Jay Leno said in the DVD commentary for "The Last Temptation of Krust" that he could not tell whether the writers were poking fun at him or complimenting him. Jaylenocropped.jpg
Jay Leno said in the DVD commentary for "The Last Temptation of Krust" that he could not tell whether the writers were poking fun at him or complimenting him.

In its original broadcast, "The Last Temptation of Krust" finished 21st in ratings for the week of February 16–23, 1998, with a Nielsen rating of 9.7, equivalent to approximately 9.5 million viewing households. It was the fourth highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following The X-Files , The World's Scariest Police Chases , and King of the Hill . [22]

In 2006, USA Today highlighted the episode in a review of The Simpsons ninth season. [23] In his review of the season nine DVD, Joseph Szadkowski of The Washington Times noted: "Among the 22-minute gems found in the set, I most enjoyed ... [Krusty's] work with Jay Leno." [24] Mark Evans of the Evening Herald wrote: "'The Last Temptation of Krust' is a winner for its title alone as Krusty the clown becomes a satiric 'alternative' comedian but then sells out by advertising the Canyonero SUV road hazard." [25] Alan Sepinwall wrote positively of the episode in The Star-Ledger , citing the Canyonero sequence as "the real reason to watch" the episode and that "It's an oversize vehicle that will create oversized laughs." [6] Some sources mistakenly refer to this episode as "The Last Temptation of Krusty". [7] [26] [27] [28]

In the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood characterized the episode as "a good twist on the never-ending Krusty story" and suggested that while "Jay Leno turns in a nice cameo [...] the show is stolen by the advert for the Canyonero". [1] The authors also praised Krusty's "ponytail and black sweater" look. [1] In the DVD audio commentary for "The Last Temptation of Krust", Leno said that he believed the essence of comedy clubs was depicted very well in the episode and referred to Krusty's remodeled appearance as "[George] Carlin post-Vegas act". [29] He also appreciated Krusty's poke at Leno's use of news headlines on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and said that he could not figure out whether parts of the episode were making fun of him or complimenting him. [29] William Irwin's The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer references a scene from the episode as an example of Marge's passive resistance, her moral influence on Lisa, and her value as a role model for her children. [27]

See also

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Further reading