Top Ten Bart Simpson Chalkboard Gags

The Simpsons opens almost every week with Bart writing on a chalkboard. Currently there are over 400 episodes and even if you take into consideration the fact that not every episode opens with Bart at the board, that’s still a lot of gags. In fact, just the chalkboard gags alone make for more laughs than can be found in any number of hit sitcoms that have come and gone over the past twenty years. Not all of the Simpsons chalkboard gags are winners, of course, but those that are tend to linger in the mind. Herewith, then are the top ten Simpsons chalkboard gags compiled by a cross section of experts from all fields of life that live quite comfortably inside my own head.

10. I am not a 32 year old woman. This Simpsons chalkboard gag is in reference to the fact that the voice of Bart Simpson, Nancy Cartwright, was at the time a 32 year old woman. At the time, it was not well known that the voice of Bart belonged to a woman because Cartwright can pull off the voice of a ten year old boy with such expertise.

9. I was not the Sixth Beatle. What makes this chalkboard gag from The Simpsons funny is that it riffs on the idea that so many people lay claim to being the fifth Beatle. In fact, if count all the members that were ever in the Beatles, there were actually of six of them, including Pete Best and Stu Sutcliffe.

8. I do not have a cereal named after me. When Bart Simpson penned this one, there was not only a cereal on store shelves named after him, there was also one named after Homer. Bart’s was Bart Simpson Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch. As disgusting a cereal as you could ever find, but a collectible today.

7. I will not defame New Orleans. This Simpsons chalkboard gag came about one week after the show had written a defamatory song about New Orleans for its musical version of A Streetcar Named Desire. The people of that city apparently took issue of the fact that it was founded by pirates and whores. Amazingly, these people found the fact that a cartoon show pointed out their history far more offensive than the fact that drunkenness and nudity runs rampant in their city not just during the single worst part of living along the Gulf Coast: Mardi Gras week.

6. I will not wait 20 years to make another movie. The very first chalkboard gag of the season after The Simpsons Movie had been released.

5. A person is a person no matter how Ralph. Fun for fans of Ralph Wiggum and Horton Hears a Who.

4. I will not demand what I’m worth. A reference to the fact the voice actors were holding out for pay equitable to the billions of dollars that Rupert Murdoch and Fox make off The Simpsons.

3. It’s potato, not potatoe. A reference to the fact that Sarah Palin may not have been the dumbest Vice-President if she’d gotten elected. Although, at least Dan Quayle was not stupid enough to ever allow himself to be interviewed at length on national television.

2. I am not smarter than the President. Made during the reign of George W. Bush so, well, yeah, Bart was smarter than the President. Of course, Ralph Wiggum was smarter than the President. As was Funzo, the Capital City goofball, and the rotting corpse of Maude Flanders.

1. I will never win an Emmy. Although the Simpsons has won a passel of animation Emmy Awards, it has never even been nominated for Best Comedy despite being named nearly universally acclaimed as the best sitcom in television history. Meanwhile, here are a list of some shows that have won the Emmy for Best Comedy at the same time that the Simpsons was on the air: Ally McBeal, Sex in the City, Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond. Yeah, sure, whatever.

The Strangest Baseball Team Names in History

What would you think is probably the strangest team name in baseball? My all-time favorite name for a minor league baseball team was the Decatur Commies. I love the fact that in the middle of the 1950’s and McCarthyism, there was actually a baseball team named the Commies. Of course, the fact that in this case the Commie appellation was simply short for Commodores kind of screws the fun out of it, but the sheer irony of there being a Decatur Commies baseball team back then cements that as my favorite weird sports team name ever.

If you look through the history of baseball you will find that, especially in the early days of organized baseball back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, there were all kinds of really unique and original team names that make all of today’s Tigers and Bulldogs and Lions and Bears look downright boring, man! For instance, as a longtime New York Yankees fan, I would dearly love if the detestable Boston Red Sox were instead the more appropriate Boston Beaneaters that existed from 1883 to 1906. For one brief season there was even a baseball team called the Boston Rustlers which, let’s face it, makes about as much sense as the Portland Webfeet. Well, maybe not; I’ve only been to Portland once; maybe you should ask the people who live there about how many people in Portland have webbed feet.

When it comes to great baseball team names, the MLB simply cannot compete with either the minor leagues or the Negro League. Although many Negro League teams simply took what already existed in Major League Baseball, many others jumped forward with some truly memorable and unique names. You have to love the Atlanta Black Crackers for a variety of reasons, right? I’m also partial to the Indianapolis Clowns for some reason. But I suppose the absolute greatest Negro League baseball team name was one located in Louisville, Kentucky: the Zulu Cannibal Giants. Now is that a great team name or what?

Even so, minor league baseball team names just really took things into the creative stratosphere. Even the Portland Webfeet pale in comparison to some of the more outrageous minor league baseball team names. For instance, how many fans of The Simpsons realize that there actually is a minor league baseball team in Albuquerque called the Isotopes. A very famous episode of The Simpsons revolved around the Springfield Isotopes moving to Albuquerque and when it was time for the real team there to get a nickname, well, Isotopes was just too perfect. Here are just a sampling of great minor league baseball team names, many of you simply have to wonder how in the heck anyone came up with this as idea for a name, much less how they garnered the approval of the team or city.

Saginaw-Bay City Hyphens

Troy Washerwomen

Kalamazoo Celery Eaters

Terre Haute Hottentots

St. Paul Apostles

Lebanon Pretzel Eaters

Shenandoah Huns

Youngstown Puddlers

Des Moines Prohibitionists

The Ant and the Aardvark: A Lost Classic Cartoon Worthy of a New Lease on Life

Say the words “The ant and the aardvark” to people between the ages of 35 and 55 and you will instantly bring a smile to their faces. There are certain nostalgic touchstones to a generation’s childhood that often get lost in the passage toward adulthood as a result of pop culture forgetting even the most popular of entertainment. In some cases, such as The Brady Bunch or Gilligan’s Island, these touchstones of the past are consistently revealed to the next generation either in their original form or through a renewed attempt to infuse into them the psychic energy of contemporary times. And then there are cases like the incredibly popular Saturday morning cartoon series The Ant and the Aardvark that seems to seep from the consciousness and take up residence in the subconscious until the memory is forcibly pulled to the surface.

The Ant and the Aardvark was part of the Pink Panther-verse, a series of cartoons that originally aired in movie theaters before the feature film. This was in the late 60’s and early 70’s, marking the end of that particular lamented aspect that made film-going so much more fun forty years ago than it is now. Whereas today’s movie audiences are “entertained” by commercials that blast out with the volume turned up to 11, previous to the 1970’s movie audiences were routinely entertained by Tom and Jerry, Bugs and Elmer and the Ant and the Aardvark before the movie began. After these initial airings in movie theaters, the Ant and the Aardvark moved to television and became a fixture on the Pink Panther cartoon series alongside the panther himself and the later introduction of the inspector. What made the Ant and the Aardvark stand out from the Pink Panther was the introduction of dialogue. And what dialogue it was!

The voices were supplied by the nearly forgotten impressionist John Byner. Byner was an omnipresent figure in the 60’s and 70’s, doing his shtick as an impressionist on everything from The Flip Wilson Show to The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. The voices on The Ant and the Aardvark may seem funny without connotation to today’s viewers. The small red ant possesses the smoothly cool hipster sound of the great Dean Martin, while the blue aardvark has the deeply Jewish comic stylings of Jackie Mason, best known to modern television viewers as Krusty the Klown’s rabbi father on The Simpsons. The Ant and the Aardvark is dependent for most of its humor on Byner’s voice work because, like Tom & Jerry or Itchy & Scratchy, the plot is deadeningly repetitive. The aardvark spends the entirety of each episode trying to successfully eat the ant. Each episode introduces different complications, of course, including my favorite in which the ant gets this nifty little motorcycle. But what draws that smile to the face of those in that particular age span of which I wrote is the memory of that little ant who talks like Dean Martin and that overly Yiddish anteater. The one liners are hilarious and the ant’s almost utter disregard for the intent of the aardvark serve to give it a feeling that is absent from the similar Tom & Jerry stories. In addition, much like the Pink Panther, this cartoon also features a brilliant soundtrack, mostly one made up of a magnificent Dixieland jazz sound that you will be humming for days afterward.

The Ant and the Aardvark has been unfairly forgotten and deserves to be given a second chance at life. My own two young children watched an Ant and the Aardvark collection on DVD courtesy of Netflix recently and if the amount of laughter generated by them is any indication of how the cartoon would be received on The Cartoon Network, then it is time for that network that is now more than halfway to pathetic to buy the rights and create a whole new generation of fans whose faces will light up at the mention of the words Ant and the Aardvark.

Why the Most Despised Simpsons Episode May be its Best

Buy from Amazon

Do you have any idea what the most controversial episode of The Simpsons has been thus far? The one with guest voice done by renewed homosexual director John Waters where Homer Simpson goes Cheney over the possibility that Bart might turn out gay? Or how about the one where gay marriage is not only legalized but encouraged in Springfield? Surely the Simpsons episode where the whole family is imprisoned simply because Bart unwittingly bared his behind at the flag must rank high among the controversial episodes, right? Guess again. The single most controversial episode in the history of The Simpsons is the one where it is revealed that Springfield Elementary’s principal, Seymour Skinner, is not who he claims to be, but is, in fact, an imposter who has engaged in a very unique form of identity theft. The man that the townspeople had thought was Principal Skinner was actually, it turns out, a former street punk named Armin Tamzarian. Tamzarian slipped easily into the persona of the real Skinner when it was believed that that man had died during the Vietnam War.

The reason that this particular Simpsons episode is by far the most controversial is that in addition to the townspeople of Springfield being scammed, so were fans. Many fans who have ridiculously replaced their love of The Simpsons with the outright and second-rate plagiarism of Family Guy point to this particular episode as the beginning of the long downward slide of The Simpsons. In fact, while The Simpsons is hardly the perfect show it once was, it remains the most consistently well-written show on television and always has been. Sure, if the competition of 2007 was nearly up to the state of the competition in 1993 The Simpsons might have a run for its money, but when you compare the show to…well…anything else on television, for that reason if none other it is by far the best show on TV. The reason that so many fans find this episode to be irritating is that they completely missed the point.

The episode is titled “The Principal and the Pauper” and it can be found on the ninth season DVD. The commentary track on this episode should go a long way toward clearing up the venomous hatred that some fans direct toward it. The reason that so many people are disturbed by this Simpsons episode has to do with thefact that they completely miss the point. I am myself a huge fan of the film The Return of Martin Guerre, which the commentators adamantly point out was not the actual inspiration for the episode, but which is close enough to call that into question. Likewise, my first novel is about a guy who is routinely accepted as someone else despite the fact that he neither looks nor behaves like the person in question. In other words, I must immodestly admit that I got “The Principal and the Pauper” the first time it aired. I understood what the intention of this episode was about. Too many others do not.

To wit: During the commentary one of those involved suggests that he might have been taken aback to have found out that Mike Brady was not actually the real Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch. Fair enough. But immediately, the writer of this episode of the Simpsons counters with a very pointed retort: “Does it strike you as odd if you found that out about Mike Brady?” That is an excellent question and one that I bet almost never gets asked in the writing rooms of TV shows. When you think about it, it is really is odd that someone would get upset over the possibility that the real Mike Brady had been held hostage in the Soviet Union and that that nice guy we all wanted for our own dad was a fake.

He’s a character on a TV show!

What The Principal and the Pauper is really about is not the story of Armin Tamzarian and Seymour Skinner. It is about the fact that not just the people of Springfield, but so many millions of viewers of the Simpsons are so resistant to change and the introduction of something really unique-and entirely plausible-that something deep down inside them is offended. The discourse during the commentary track also goes on to suggest that this kind of close attachment between viewer and character very often derails an actor’s career. Tom Bosley will always be known as Mr. Cunningham; David Caruso was so identified with his character on NYPD Blue that his movie career sank and he returned to the small screen essentially playing the same character on a different show. Another insightful quote from the writer of this episode: “It’s a strange thing about humanity that they become more attached to unreal things.”

It doesn’t stop with characters; this idea can extend to the cult of celebrity. How many people have cried more over the death of Elvis Presley or Princess Diana than cried over the death of an aunt or uncle or friend? The Simpsons did an episode before this that touched on many of the same concepts; the episode that briefly introduced Poochie into the world of Itchy and Scratchy. But that was a cartoon with a show and it was quite obvious that the show was making fun of the long, demented history of TV shows that are sliding downward attempting to perk up interest by introducing a brand new character into the mix. What the Principal and the Pauper did that was so dangerous was not make it immediately obvious that this was a sharply pointed attack on the kind of fan whose attachment to characters-even a secondary character like Principal Skinner-obstructs their ability to accept change. If you are a Simpsons fan who hates this episode, deep down inside your problem is not that Armin Tamzarian can never be spoken of again; it’s that you take the back story of Seymour Skinner far too seriously.

Homer Simpson’s Most Useful Quotes

After nearly two decades and 400 episodes, it should come as no surprise that quotes from The Simpsons have entered into our lexicon. Any time you hear someone slowly enunciate the word “excellent” what you are hearing is an imitation of Springfield’s richest resident C. Montgomery Burns. And, as you probably know by now, Homer Simpson’s trademark cry of “D’oh!” was entered into the Oxford English Dictionary. What does that mean? Well, it means that D’oh is now officially considered an English word.

The great thing about The Simpsons quotes is that they are flexible enough to be used for multiple occasions. For instance, take what may be my favorite Simpsons quote of all time. Homer Simpson is preparing to address a gathering at a backyard barbecue when he says, “If I could just say a few words…I’d be a better public speaker.” The funniest thing about this scene is that Bart is the only one who finds it funny, doubling over and slamming his fist down on the table. This is a Simpsons quote that could be used before any public speaking engagement to break the ice. It’s self-deprecating and loosens the audience up a little.

Another classic Homer Simpson observation concerns one of the key differences between humans and animals. You know the type: What separates us from the animals is our ability to laugh, or our knowledge of our mortality, or the fact that we cover our nakedness. Well, Homer’s got the real truth: “Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It’s what separates us from the animals … except the weasel.” Let’s face it, weaseling out of things is a key component of the human condition. Heck, George W. Bush has made a legacy out of weaseling out of things. A pack of hyenas is more likely to take responsibility than Bush or most other people. Homer Simpson is very astute in his analysis, weaseling out of things truly is a necessary lesson to learn. Feel free to pass it on.

Except to weasels.

Homer Simpson also has the answer to all those who wish to be excused from jury duty. Don’t say your job can’t be done without you. Don’t say you have to take care of a sick relative. Homer has the best advice: “Getting out of jury duty is easy. The trick is to say you’re prejudiced against all races.” Every lawyer is looking to find the perfect juror and the perfect juror is one who is almost completely open-minded but comes with a built in set of prejudices. But if you explain that you are prejudiced against everybody, you can’t be trusted. You will be excused in the blink of an eye.

Labor unions have had a weird history in America. They began as saviors of the oppressed working class who were exploited to become little more than feudal serfs. After getting decent working conditions and an almost livable wage for many, however, they caved in to corruption and mob control. As a result, the labor unions of today are viewed with suspicion and have retained precious little influence. While labor strikes in other countries have contributed to a narrowing of the income gap between the owner and employee, strikes in America are virtually unknown. That is because Homer Simpson was absolutely correct in his assessment of how the American worker rebels against selfish, uncaring bosses: “You don’t like your job, you don’t strike. You go in every day and do it really half-assed. That’s the American way.” Yes, truly, you can see how Homer’s wisdom is expressed on the job every day. From customer service reps who provide no help to store clerks who wait until they finish their cell phone conversation before ringing you up, to Walmart managers who ignore the lines seven customers deep at the five checkouts they open out of the forty-five installed, American workers don’t resort to strikes to express their job dissatisfaction. They just do really lousy work. Unfortunately, the victim of this method isn’t the owner, but the customer.

And finally, Homer Simpson has advice for those who want to complain about anything. It’s really an almost Zen observation on how to achieve and maintain a spiritual level of content. The problem that most people have is that they are unhappy because of something that occurred previously. For instance, many of us are unhappy that Pres. Bush lied to us about Iraq in order to win approval for sending strangers to die there. If you find yourself unhappy about something, I suggest you take these words of Homer Simpson to heart. Study them. Consider the depth of meaning that exists in this deceptively simple observation. “Everything looks bad if you remember it.” Yes, no matter what your problem, no matter what it is that is causing your misery, the resolution to your discontent could not be simpler. Just stop remembering whatever it is that caused you to become unhappy. If you quit remembering it, it won’t seem as bad.