Natasha Lyonne—Tablet cover model and star of Orange Is the New Black—voiced the role of Krusty the Clown’s daughter Sophie on latest Simpsons episode, a Christmas special called “The Nightmare After Krustmas.” Now in its 28th (!!) season, the role of Krusty’s daughter was thus voiced by Drew Barrymore in a 2000 episode called “Insane Clown Poppy.”
Krusty’s father, the late Rabbi Hyman Krustovski, has for years been voiced by Jackie Mason, who also appeared in this latest episode. Wrote Tablet contributor Zachary Schrieber when Krusty’s father died in the 2012 season premiere:
Krustovski the elder lived on the Lower East Side of Springfield and, like his father, and his father before him, served as a rabbi with hopes that his son would follow in his footsteps. But when Krusty decided to go into comedy, the two grew apart.
Even though Krusty didn’t go into the rabbinate, he was no failure. As a successful performer in Springfield, he should make any father proud. But it wasn’t simply Krusty’s chosen profession that angered his father; it was his rejection of the family’s traditions. Nowhere is this dichotomy better represented than the sandwich named after Krusty at Izzy’s Deli: ham, sausage, and bacon with a dash of mayo—on white bread.
Although Krusty is the most prominent Jewish character on the show, his Jewishness is addressed in but a handful of episodes, most notably the Season 3 episode, “Like Father, Like Clown,” in which Bart and Lisa helped reunite Krusty and his father, and the Season 15 episode “Today I am a Clown,” in which Krusty had a bar mitzvah. Although Krusty first tried to commercialize the event, much to the disappointment of his rabbi father, he later embraced the seriousness of the moment.
With the death of his father, Krusty’s Jewish identity has even less of a reason to be explored going forward. Still, Rabbi Krustofski may well return to Springfield in future episodes.
And he did on Sunday night.
Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.