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Former Simpsons Showrunner Explains All Those Baffling Jokes

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The Simpsons

Did you ever hear a joke on a classic Simpsons episode that left you scratching your head? Josh Weinstein, former showrunner of the series in its best years, gets those kinds of questions all the time, and this week he opened a Twitter thread devoted to answering the most common questions.

For the record, “Goodbye To A Shoe” was the bit in “You Only Move Twice” when to demonstrate his freewheeling attitude, Hank Scorpio spontaneously took off his shoe, threw it down the street and then told Homer “Have you ever seen a man say goodbye to a shoe before?” Homer replied “Yes, once.” Some thought Homer was referring to Scorpio himself. Weinstein says Homer was actually referring to some other incident where he had witnessed such a thing, the joke being it’s highly improbable to see it twice.

In “Time And Punishment,” Homer’s reference to being “the first non-Brazilian person to go back in time” is also intended as one of his weird nonsequiturs. It was not referring to any movie or TV show, so don’t feel dumb.

I knew this one already, but “cromulent” means nothing, though Josh has a vague definition for it: “[Cromulent] can be interpreted as a combination of ‘acceptable’ and ‘relevant.'”

I’ve always assumed “So I says to Mabel, I says…” was a direct reference to a popular line an old comic strip character said, or something, but according to Josh the line didn’t exist before they thought it up. In this case, the joke landed properly — it was intended to sound old-timey.

Moe repeatedly getting Marge’s name wrong, usually calling her “Midge,” is a reference to Midge Klump from Archie Comics. The staff simply found the name funny.

There was one case where someone explained a joke BACK to Josh:

The full thread can be read on Twitter. It will take you a while, but you will learn a lot.