In celebration of two decades on television, the writers of one of America’s most dysfunctional family shows, The Simpsons, chose to focus on the character of Jewish entertainer, Krusty the Clown (born Herschel Shmoikel Pinchas Yerucham Krustofski).


In a case of art imitating life, the episode’s plot focuses on poor Krutsy and his show’s rating issues, as TV executives force poor Krusty to add a new co-host to his show. Despite initial tensions, Krusty soon bonds romantically with his new co-host, Princess Penelope, voiced by The Devil Wears Prada star Anne Hathaway.


While she is a Princes she is no JAP. (Jewish American Princess.) Romancing a non-Jew leads to conflict with Krusty’s father, whose voice is familiar to fans as Rabbi Hyman Krustofski (voiced by Jackie Mason ) — who can’t quite restrain the guilt under the chuppah. “Friends, loved ones,” says the rabbi, “we are gathered here today to marry a Jew and — a Congregationalist? Is that even a thing?”


In moment of out of character clarity, Krusty ends the ceremony. He has decided that his bride is too good for him. Yet, a distraught Krusty soon follows his beloved to Paris for a reunion. Princess Penelope seems to show appreciation for Krusty’s Jewish roots, proclaiming him her “Borscht Belt baby” in the episode’s closing scene.


The Krusty character is no stranger to family feuds. In a memorable 2003 episode, “Today I Am a Clown,” Krusty discovers that he doesn’t have a star on the Jewish Walk of Fame. He files a complaint at the head office (“Where the chosen get chosen” as the sign on the wall declares), and finds out that because he never had a bar mitzvah, he’s not eligible for a star of his own. Krusty, devastated, states, “I thought I was a self-hating Jew, but it turns out I’m just a plain old anti-Semite.” Krusty visits his father, Rabbi Hyman Krustofski, who is forever saddened that Krusty did not enter the family business of the rabbinate (“A jazz singer, this I could forgive. But a clown!”). Hyman tells Krusty that he decided for forgo the boy’s bar mitzvah out of fear that his jokester son would make a “mockery out of the whole ceremony.”


Poignantly, Krusty’s marriage wows seem to mirror the larger cultural zeitgeist. The American intermarriage rate in the 1920s was no more than 1%. Compare this to today when the intermarriage rate hovers around 50%.


Jewish intermarriage has been a staple of American comedy; while all-Jewish families have become a rarity in film and TV. The short lived series “Arrested Development,” created by Mitchell Hurwitz, depicts a dysfunctional Jewish family that makes Krutsy’s seem like a haftarah reading. Ironically, the fact that Jews feel comfortable producing a show that makes them look so unsavory simply proves how far we have come.


Could the shortage of all-Jewish families be because Jewish comedy writers themselves are often intermarried? Maybe today's comics are still just “writing what they know.” Perhaps it’s simply that all-Jewish families don't get ratings. It's one of the oldest rules in theater, conflict makes for both high drama and low comedy. To cite just one example, the conflict inherent in a “mixed marriage” provides show plots for programs from “I Love Lucy” to “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”


Yet I would like to see some all-Jewish couples on film and on TV for a change, beyond Gerald and Sheila Broflovski on South Park (exception like this merely prove the rule). Anybody that thinks a Jewish husband and a Jewish wife is not cause for comedy has clearly never been to my house!

Simcha Weinstein is a best-selling and award-winning author. His latest book is Shtick Shift: Jewish humor in the 21st century (Barricade Books). He can be reached at