Written by Tom Martin

When Cleopatra meets Ashley Angel from O-Town on a Spring Break dance show, her new relationship with Abe Lincoln is threatened. Meanwhile, Gandhi becomes an international rap sensation with the help of JFK as his manager. And Principal Scudworth? He chases a rascally skunk. (Ashley Angel from TV's manufactured boy band O-Town guest stars.)

Hey everyone! How’d you like this episode? Wasn’t that the funniest you’ve ever seen Ashley Angel, out of all the stuff you’ve seen him in?! What’s that? You’ve never seen him before? Did you have flashbacks to that time The Simpsons had Stephen Jay Gould as a guest star in episode 5F05 and you pretended to laugh, but didn’t actually know who he was until three years later when you happened to see a book he wrote on evolutionary biology on your smart, weird cousin’s bookshelf? Well, maybe someday you’ll be cool enough to “get” Ashley Angel’s revolutionary boy band, O-Town, just as you were smart enough to pick up Mr. Gould’s book and read it cover to cover to fully appreciate his appearance on The Simpsons. Until then, you’ll just have to appreciate this episode a little less than you would otherwise be able to. Sorry.

THE GREATEST JOKE EVER WRITTEN
I’ll be perfectly honest with you. Some weeks, I struggle to find the Greatest Joke Ever Written. Like, I find a bunch of really amazing jokes, but I think to myself, are there at least three individually funny things about this joke, or is it just another run-of-the-mill, hilarious joke? Well, I’m proud to say that this week is not one of those weeks. This week, I’m talking about the actual Greatest Joke Ever Written. Let me stress, however, the word “written,” because in execution, the joke loses a little something, partly because it goes by so fast, partly because it’s difficult to read, and partly because there was a really hot woman who worked in the office next to ours. Let me explain.

Here’s the joke: Abe, Joan and Gandhi sit on a couch watching Cleo dance on TV. Abe says “Man, I can’t believe the only way I can see my girlfriend is on TV.” Then Gandhi says, “I know how you feel, man.” Gandhi picks up a picture of Sarah Michelle Gellar, which is signed: “To Gary, Good luck ‘slaying’ that Cancer. Buffy.”

Woo! Yowza! Hachie machie! That’s a spicy joka!

There are so many great things about that joke that it’s difficult for me to put into words. But, as always, I will fight through it.

First of all: “To Gary.” All the scenarios that could have possibly occurred for this photo to be addressed to Gary are fun to think about. Did Sarah Michelle Gellar hear Gandhi wrong when he told her his name? (Would you think you heard someone wrong if he told you his name was Gandhi?) Did Gandhi pretend to be some Cancer-stricken kid, and make up the name Gary? Did Gandhi buy this photo off eBay from someone named Gary who is trying to pay for his hospital bills? Maybe Gary already died of Cancer, and Gandhi found this photo at a garage sale that Gary’s mom had to get rid of his stuff. I don’t know. But all these possibilities seem very probable in Gandhi’s world.

Second: “Good luck ‘slaying’ that Cancer.” This is awesome. The fact that a celebrity would try to incorporate the theme of their TV show in their autographs is funny enough (I mean, they must run out of things to write, so it makes sense), but the fact that she writes this about a terminal disease makes it even funnier

Third: she signs it “Buffy.” Now, of course the actress’ name is Sarah Michelle Gellar, but she will always be known as Buffy. I mean, did anyone see “Simply Irresistible”? I didn’t think so. This poor girl will forever be branded with the Buffy character, so it’s only appropriate that she sign her autographs with that name as well.

And finally: Gandhi doesn’t have Cancer. And he’s not Buffy’s boyfriend. He’s living a lie.

Now, unfortunately, when it came time to execute this joke on the show, little things kept it from playing out as funny as it is on paper. For one, we tried to get the rights to use a real picture of Sarah Michelle Gellar, but her people (or MTV, I’m not sure) wouldn’t let us. No big deal -- Carey Yost, one of our character designers, did a great drawing of her, and I think almost everyone recognizes her from the painting by the good folks in Canada.
Next, since it’s mostly guys in our office, and we needed a teenage girl’s handwriting for this sight gag, we naturally asked the hottest girl in the building. That’s Sascha, the post production coordinator on The Osbournes, who worked in the office adjoining ours. She’s sweet and plays a mean game of foosball, and she’s easy on the eyes, if you know what I mean. Now, I must have been busy doing actual work instead of hitting on Sascha that day, because the following day when I looked at what had been sent off to the animators, I was shocked and dismayed. Someone had told her to write “To Gary, Good luck ‘slaying’ that Cancer. Sarah Michelle Gellar.” Notice how it’s signed with her real name, not “Buffy.” I was horrified! We (and by “we” I mean “whoever told Sascha what to write, which was probably Phil because Chris has a girlfriend and has no reason to talk to Sascha”) ruined one-third of the Greatest Joke Ever Written! And it was too late to change it -- the artwork had already been sent to Korea, where they do the animation.

I died a little that day.

But then I played foosball with Sascha, and that made me forget about all my troubles.

WORKS OF FART
In the first drafts of the Skunky Poo story, there was a running joke where Scudworth kept accusing Mr. B of farting whenever he smelled the skunk odor. He used very colorful language, such as “letting one fly,” “stepping on the gas valve,” “squeaking one out” and calling Mr. B a “stink-bot.” So rather than being a very simple story of Scudworth chasing a rascally skunk, it was a story of Scudworth chasing a rascally skunk and Scudworth repeatedly blaming Mr. B for farting. But I guess this made the plot too complicated or something, because it was cut.

SKUNKEN TREASURE
Initially, when the writers came up with the idea of Scudworth chasing a skunk around for an entire episode like a Looney Tunes cartoon, the MTV executives were worried that the story was just a little too random. In the early outlines, all Scudworth wanted to do was eat a sandwich in peace, but the skunk kept appearing and distracting him as soon as he was about to take a bite. The network executives said that plot didn’t connect with the students in any way, which they were worried about. The writers, however, were confident that the skunk plot was a winner. Tom reworked his script so that the Shadowy Figures informed Scudworth that Chinese scientists were coming to Clone High to stick mind-control sticks into the students’ brains, in order to make the story related to the students. The Chinese needed the place to be nice and quiet, and the Shadowy Figures put Scudworth in charge of making the school presentable. This rewrite appeased the network executives, and Skunky Poo was saved. The plot was eventually whittled down to what you see on the screen -- Scudworth himself implanting mind control chips, but the story does relate to the students now. Sort of. Oh, who are we kidding? It’s about a dude chasing a rascally skunk for three scenes.

MEATING PLACE
When Abe and Joan drive from one airport to another to stop Cleo from once again getting on that plane, there was once a scene where they stopped for lunch. It went like this:

INT. CAR - CONTINUOUS

Abe’s driving.ABE: It looks like we’re going to make it with time to spare!Abe sees an Arby’s sign out the window.ABE: Arby’s sells five roast beef sandwiches for five bucks? How can they make money off a deal like that?JOAN: Maybe they’re not in it for the money. Maybe they just hate cows.ABE: Or maybe, it’s just a fantastic value.Abe pulls into the Arby’s parking lot.

TIME DISSOLVE:EXT. ARBY’S PARKING LOT - LATER

Abe finishes the last bite of his Arby’s sandwich.

ABE: I thought the fourth one was good, but the fifth... man!Abe looks at his watch and GASPS.

ABE: Where did the time go?! (CHEWS SANDWICH) Dinger! The car peels out.

LIKE A PHOENIX FROM THE ASHLEY
Ashley Angel from O-Town was a real sport about doing our show. We hadn’t decided who to use yet, and the script he was given by the MTV talent department said “Guest Star” in place of a name. (I.e., Over the phone, Abe hears Guest Star flirtatiously LAUGHING. ABE: Who’s there with you? CLEO: Just Guest. (GIGGLES) Stop tickling me! ABE: You call Professor Star by his first name?) In fact, when Ashley arrived for the recording, he said something about how it’s funny we call his character Guest Star throughout. I’m assuming he was either making a great joke, or he was just confused. In either case, I laughed.

Seriously though, Ashley was a funny guy, and he even improvised some jokes to make it his own. In the original script, his character referred to everyone and everything as a “bad boy”... as in, “let’s play that bad boy” and “let me talk to that bad boy.” Then, when Ashley came on board, he came up with the idea of calling everyone “dawg.” That plays especially funny in the dramatic scene between he and Cleo at the airport.

Ashley didn’t even complain about recording his dialogue in a closet. Really. Our normal, very professional, voice-recording studio was booked up on the day that Ashley was free, so we called Brian Hardin, the producer who mixes all the Clone High original songs by Liam Lynch, and asked if his home studio was available. Brian had just moved to a new house, where he wasn’t finished converting a bedroom into a studio, so the recording booth was still literally a walk-in closet. Maybe Ashley thought all cartoons are recorded this way. Who knows. But he was cool about it.

HISTORICAL JOKE GRAVEYARD
None this week! In fact, one was even resurrected from the grave:

You know that scene in the airport, when Abe runs up to Buddy Holly and asks to ride in his plane? Well, a version of that joke was animated in the original Clone High pilot, which was made for Fox back in 2000. The pilot was a nine-minute version of the show that Fox decided wasn’t good enough for their network, at which point MTV snatched it up, probably thinking it was way better than anything they have on their network. The original scene went like this:

Joan is at the party, depressed after seeing Abe and Cleo kiss. She turns to Buddy Holly, who's packing up his guitar.
JOAN: Hey, Buddy Holly. I'm ditching this stupid party soon if you need a ride.
BUDDY HOLLY: No thanks, we're good.
He gestures to a crappy, idling BIPLANE held together with duct tape. Richie Valens and Stevie Ray Vaughn are ready to go.
RICHIE VALENS: Hurry up, Buddy! We don't have much gas!
STEVIE RAY VAUGHN: And that lightning storm won't fly through itself!
A piece of wood falls off the plane’s wing.

Another interesting tidbit about this scene: in the final version in this episode, the legal department wouldn’t let us show Richie Valens, Stevie Ray Vaughn and the other people Buddy Holly names sitting in the plane. Or, if we did show them, we would have to pay a lot of money in royalties. Something like that. Anyway, I remember Phil being very proud about saving the studio a lot of money by visually taking them out of the scene, but keeping the joke in the dialogue. Kudos!

I just said the word kudos,
~Pun Dog