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‘The Simpsons’ Fans Are Learning That They Might Have Been Misinterpreting A Classic Joke For Years

The beauty of The Simpsons, especially in the early seasons (when you’ve been on for 33 seasons and counting, season nine counts as “early”), is that you is that you can watch an episode 10 times, and not get a joke until the 11th viewing. Or in the case of “Bart Gets Famous,” until the joke is interpreted by one of the show’s writers on Twitter.

In the season five episode, Principal Skinner and Mrs. Krabappel call the Simpsons household after Bart goes missing during a field trip to the Springfield Box Factory. Marge is seen running down the stairs in a towel to pick up the phone, but she doesn’t make it in time, so they call Homer at the power plant instead. He’s also in a towel, and upon answering the phone, he says, “You’ll have to speak up, I’m wearing a towel.”

I always thought of Homer’s response as a brilliantly stupid non-sequitur, but that might not be the case. “I’m proud to say I’ve loved this joke and possibly misinterpreted it for nearly 30 years now,” The Simpsons writer Josh Weinstein (who would later serve as co-showrunner with fast food expert Bill Oakley) tweeted. “For 25 years, I assumed (and loved it) that it was just a non-sequitur but then someone explained it’s what people with long hair say when they have a towel over their wet hair (and ears) after a shower when they answer the phone. Makes 100% sense but also make me like joke less.”

To quote a one-dimensional character with a silly catch-phrase, ay caramba!

Weinstein’s original understanding of the joke — that it’s a non-sequitur from a character written like a “big, talking dog” — might not be wrong, though. “Don’t let people ruin it for you. It’s the silly joke you think it is,” writer Mike Scully tweeted. Weinstein wondered if he pitched the joke, to which Scully replied, “I want to say yes because it sounds like me, but not sure. Could’ve been David Cohen and my contribution was laughing.”

If your interpretation of Homer’s towel line ends up being wrong, just say, “I didn’t do it.”

(Via Twitter/@Joshstrangehill)