The venerable animated TV comedy “The Simpsons” had its 26th(!) season premiere on Sunday night, a much-hyped episode in which the producers had promised to kill off one of the series’ many beloved characters. So, nu, whom did they choose? The rabbi, of course.
Yes, Rabbi Krustofski, a tertiary character and father of secondary character Krusty the Clown, is no more. The episode, the 553rd of the series, which was titled “Clown In The Dumps,” shows Krustofski passing away from natural causes as son Krusty comes to ask him for advice about his comedy.
Or, more precisely, its lack thereof, as the rabbi’s last words, in analyzing Krusty’s comedic prowess, are “Eh…” The rabbi is then shown at the end of the episode in a sort of Jewish heaven, singing and dancing alongside Rodney Dangerfield, Joan Rivers, Albert Einstein and the Marx Brothers.
Rabbi Krustofski first appeared in the third season, in the 1991 episode “Like Father, Like Clown,” a parody of the 1927 movie “The Jazz Singer,” in which (spoiler alert!) it’s revealed that Krusty is Jewish and hails from a long line of rabbis, but left that world to pursue a comedy career.
In that initial episode, and in most of his few appearances, Krustofski was voiced by legendary Jewish comedian Jackie Mason, who won an Emmy for the role.
Why did it have to be the rabbi? It’s not the first time the show has killed off minor characters, and there were many potential candidates. Producer Al Jean told USA Today that “we’re looking for stories relatable to life and I was thinking it would be a good story if Krusty’s dad died… Fathers and sons often have a lot of difficulty communicating, and I thought it would be a great plot.”
So it was designed to be a “laugh, clown, laugh” moment. But evidently some fans aren’t laughing about the episode, but not because they are upset about the rabbi dying. Rather, according to a Huffington Post analysis of Twitter reactions, they were aggravated that such a minor character bit the dust after the hype leading up to the episode.
But what did they expect, a Game of Thrones-style beheading of Homer? One does not simply walk into Springfield.