Josh Weinstein, "The Simpsons" Josh Weinstein, "The Simpsons"

It’s been a while since a Twitter thread blew my mind with every other tweet. Josh Weinstein’s study of ambiguous Simpsons jokes did just that.

Strictly speaking, this isn’t a thread so much as a multi-pronged discussion between Weinstein and legion Simpsons fans. It began when Weinstein, a writer and showrunner on the series in 1992–97, invited people to point out gags and lines that confused them in past episodes; he would try to explain.

Weinstein began by bringing up the notorious “The Great Hank-Scorpio-“Yes Once”-Goodbye-To-A-Shoe Debate” — a throwaway (pun intended) gag from the episode “You Only Move Twice” that inspired a Buzzfeed article:

For the record, this is Weinstein’s take on the matter:

Fans swiftly took the chance to settle debates of their own. Time and again, my mind reeled as I learned that my own interpretation of a line was the “wrong” one — like here:

In some cases, questions from fans elicited some nice trivia:

In other cases, Weinstein himself grew confused:

Weinstein’s tweets contain nuggets of insight into how comedy is crafted: how writers think of their viewers, how chance and error are incorporated into writing, what ages well (or badly) and why, etc.

But apart from anything else, the discussion is really entertaining: each question-and-answer made me ponder the craft of the joke in question, and laugh all over again. So much for the old dictum that humor is ruined when it is explained.

Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit is Deputy Editor of Cartoon Brew.

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