aired May 23, 2015 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube clip: https://youtu.be/PO1sDbOFvbo
Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of May 17, 2015.
I’m just wild about Harry, but he’s not wild about us . . . anymore. Last week was a sad time for television viewers–not a tragic one, just sad–because the producers of “The Simpsons” announced that one of their main voices, a crucial shard of their audio mosaic, Harry Shearer, would not return for the last two seasons of this legendary program. I know, I know. “The Simpsons” without Harry Shearer is like “The Dick Van Dyke” show without Mel Cooley. It’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet without a salad bar. It’s like a rabbit vibrator without those extra ears on the bottom. Or sure, it still does a competent job, but your clitoris knows something’s missing.
Harry Shearer, a nice but strange Jewish boy, will always hold my allegiance, not just because of “Spinal Tap” and “A Mighty Wind” and “The Simpsons,” but because he was also a devoted fan of the early Chabad Lubavitch telethons. He would hold parties for friends and cheer for John Voigt, and presumably do a shot every time the Rabbis started dancing. That kind of mockery blended with admiration is something I aspire to every day.
I also aspire to make $7 million a year, something that will never happen unless I hit Lotto and get in Bill Gates’s will. Harry Shearer could make $7 million for the next two years. All he has to do is continue voicing characters on “The Simpsons”: Principal Skinner, Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns, Kent Brockman and the goyische Reverend Lovejoy. If a studio offered you $14 million to stand in front of a microphone and say funny things once a week, would you turn it down? My God, for $14 million, I would bite off the penis of a live goat three times a day and five on Shabbos.
But Harry Shearer is above all that. Negotiations may not completely be finished, but Shearer has so far turned down the opportunity to make a paycheck so astronomical, Stephen Hawking couldn’t count the zeroes. And Shearer turned it down on principal. Principal and interest. If you believe his tweets, Shearer is mad because his contract doesn’t allow him the leeway to do other projects. Which is weird considering he’s done bunches of small movie roles, a stage play on the West End, and a weekly podcast for NPR.
On their side, the “Simpsons” producers still hope for a change of heart. They say Shearer’s contract is the same as all the other major players, and there’s only so much they can bend before they start looking like Mr. Burns.
The weird news is that showrunner Al Jean has stated that instead of retiring characters, as they did when Phil Hartman kicked the bucket, “The Simpsons” will keep Shearer’s menagerie and just recast them with different voices. Really? Ask yourself, has Kermit really been Kermit post-Jim Henson? Don’t we still feel trauma about the two Darrens in “Bewitched?” And can you watch later episodes of “Cold Case” without wondering “Whatever happened to that pretty blonde actress who starred in the show?” before realizing, “Oh, it’s still her”?
I certainly hope Harry Shearer reconsiders and brings us two more seasons of “oodley doodleys” and “Smithers” and “Boo-urns.” But if he must be sprung from Springfield, leave his people be. It’s a big city. You can have new neighbors and school administrators and evil bosses—just as in real life. And all those fans who bitch on the internet, “Oh, `The Simpsons’ has been in a rut since the third season” – now they’ll say, “Oh, `The Simpsons’ has sucked since the third season, but at least they’re not in a rut.”
And you know, if they’re looking for new faces in Homer’s neighborhood, this does coincide with the last season of “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.” So there’s a meatball, a French fry and a shake that are busy house hunting. Just keep Lisa away from Carl. No good can come of that.
This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York.
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