I’m rewatching early Simpsons seasons again, and discovering new favorite jokes all the time.
When I was a child, I thought as a child, and my favorite gags were simple: Things like the snare Homer builds in the forest that just catapults the bunny into eternity.
Then I grew older, but no less obtuse, and my favorite gags were the stuff of memes: Stuff like “My eyes! The goggle’s do nothing!”
Then I thought myself grown, and began to appreciate the less direct bits: Gags like The Hammock District, where the joke is more of an implication that such a niche demand exists and thrives.
Only just now, as a man, am I even realizing the jokes hidden in bits that I wrote off as simple: The episode where Flanders is a child with anger problems and he runs around the daycare hitting the other kids and yelling “I’m Dick Tracy! Take that, Pruneface! Now I’m Pruneface! Take that, Dick Tracy! Now I’m Prune Tracy!” The doctor runs over and stops him before he can finish the logical conclusion of the chain: “Now I’m Dickface!”
But the one that truly gets me is in the Krusty/Gabbo episode, where Krusty says he once owned a race horse with Bette Midler.
“We called it Krudler!”
I used to stop thinking right there, because my lazy brain was given no cues to dig deeper.
“Okay, that’s just a funny name,” I thought. “Joke registered. Moving on.”
But that’s not the joke at all – the real joke is only ever implied: That they chose such a terrible name over the perfect and obvious name for their horse. Because if you combine their two names in the other way, the horse’s name would have been “Misty.”
Layers and layers.