Homer Simpson Suppressed
Dan Castellaneta, who is the voice of Homer on The Simpsons, and I have long been fans of each other's work. I was impressed by his versatility as an actor on The Tracy Ullman Show, as well as his live appearances with an improvisational troupe and his own one-person, multi-character show. He in turn enjoys my writing and has attended several of my stand-up performances. So, when Danny Goldberg, who runs Artemis Records, invited me to do another album, I felt comfortable asking Castellaneta if he would consider introducing me in Homer's voice.
He said it would be "an honor and a pleasure." I was very excited.
We agreed that the best approach would be for him to do the introduction from an offstage microphone, so that the audience could maintain their image of good old blustery Homer Simpson while they listened to his disembodied voice. And then Dan would hand me the mike and I'd walk onstage. Before the taping of Irony Lives! at Genghis Cohen in Los Angeles, I sat next to Dan/Homer as he was introducing me, and I felt as though I was being sucked mysteriously into Cartoon World.
I've always preferred apologizing in retrospect rather than asking for permission, since I've never had any assets that I could be sued for, but understandably Artemis Records felt it necessary to ask Fox TV for permission to include Homer's introduction. Now, at the beginning of my performance, I mentioned that the introduction might not be on the album because attorneys for the Fox network wanted to hear the entire album before granting permission. The audience laughed. I explained that Fox owned Homer's voice when it was done by Dan.
But they kept holding off making a decision. Then, when Fox asked for seven copies of the advance CD, I realized that they would most likely refuse to grant permission. The word in the industry is, "Never mess with Fox lawyers, they're worse than Disney."
Fox continued to stall, and release of the CD had to be postponed from July to August. Finally, I was informed by an attorney for Artemis Records that, "Unfortunately, Fox declined our request, and in doing so failed to go into any detail as to what their reasons were." I assume that it was because the album includes such tracks as "Terrorist Attacks," "In the Guise of Security," and "My Cannabis Cup Runneth Over."
Well, Fox TV may own Homer's voice, but not the following transcript of what he said. And so now, I'd like to introduce Dan Castellaneta introducing me:
There have been many great counter culture heroes that I have admired over the years. Steve McQueen, Dr. Demento, Dr. Denis Leary, and Wavy Gravy. Mmmmm, gravy.
But even some counter culture heroes go much too far and step over that line between dissent and in-dissent...sentcy. I'm speaking of Paul Krassner.
The first problem I have with Paul Krassner is that the only song I like that he wrote for The Jefferson Airplane was, "Crown of Creation." And even then his name is spelled K-a-n-t-n-e-r even though it is pronounced Krassner.
Second, I have a problem with the fact that he is an atheist. If there is no God, then who has placed a pox upon me and mocks me every day? Of whom do I live in fear and mortal terror? Buddha? I think not. He's way over in China where thankfully he can't get at me.
I also have a problem with his constant use of words such as "penis," "Larry Flynt," "premature," "ejaculation," "CIA," and on several occasions he has been known to use the words "Bush" and "Bush Jr." in mixed company. Did I mention "penis"? Yeah, here it is"penis." (Laughs) Heh heh heh. (To self) Penis. Let's see, where was I? I mentioned, "penis," "gravy," "Buddha," "God," "Jefferson Airplane." No. That's it. Will everyone please put their hands together for that raving, unconfined nutlet's hope that he opens with "Crown of Creation"Paul Krassner!
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This kind of censorship by Fox is not a 1st Amendment issue, since it isn't being done by the government. Nevertheless, I couldn't just ignore it. So I leaked the suppressed introduction to Real Audio on my Web site, paulkrassner.com, then spread the word exponentially, and in the first five days there were 58,000 hits; at the peak they were coming in at the rate of 2300 an hour. At this writing, there have been 287,601 hits. I daresay that more people will have heard Homer's introduction this way than would have heard if it were on the CD.
The irony of Irony Lives! is that Fox's attempt to disassociate themselves from the album has already begun to backfire. But the question remains: Who ever thought that some day Homer Simpson would become an intellectual property? And, answering my own question, I slap my forehead with the heel of my hand, uttering Homer Simpson's sacred mantra: "D'oh!"* * *