by Jon Salzberg
Did you know that the fictional character Krusty the Clown from The Simpsons is, in fact, Jewish? Like many famous Jewish entertainers, Krusty changed his birth name from Herschel Shmoikel Pinchas Yerucham Krustofski
and is the son of Rabbi Hyman Krusofski. Krusty is the long-time host of Bart and Lisa’s favorite TV show, The Krusty the Clown Show, which is a combination of kiddie variety television hi-jinks and cartoons including The Itchy & Scratchy Show. Krusty is often portrayed as a burnt-out, addiction-riddled smoker, who is made miserable by show business but continues on anyway. He has become one of the most featured characters outside of the Simpson family and has been the focus of several episodes. In the 3rd season of The Simpsons, Krusty starred in a famous episode entitled, Like Father, Like Clown, which was a parody of The Jazz Singer. In this episode, we learn that Krusty’s father, Rabbi Hyman Krustofski (voiced by Jackie Mason), strongly opposed Krusty’s wish to become a clown and make people laugh, wanting the boy to go to yeshiva (rabbinical school) instead.
However, Krusty performed slapstick comedy behind his father’s back and when Rabbi Krustofski found out, he disowned his son, and didn’t speak to him for 25 years. Krusty later reconciled with his father with the assistance of Bart and Lisa. It was later revealed that Krusty did not have a Bar Mitzvah service, because Hyman feared he would violate the sanctity of the rites by “acting up.” Krusty had two adult Bar Mitzvah ceremonies: a Hollywood gala, and then a simple ceremony intended to reconnect with his father.
In 2003, Krusty was included in a special history of Jewish entertainers’ exhibit at the Jewish Museum in New York City.