"A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Clown" is the one hundred-ninety-first episode of King of the Hill. It was first aired on December 4, 2005. The episode was written by Christy Stratton, and directed by Kyounghee Lim.
Bobby is in his classroom at Tom Landry Middle School; while his teacher starts to explain the students about poetry, he raises his hand to get his teacher's attention, but jokingly proclaims he was just stretches his arms, making the students in class laugh and annoys his teacher. Once the teacher resumes the poetry, she grows more annoyed as Bobby raises his pencil, claiming there somewhat magnet that has his pencil stuck until the school bell rings to release it that make the students laughs even more, much to his teacher's disapproval. In the Arlen First Methodist Church, Reverend Karen Stroup is explaining about the gods and their methods before she requests to have some kids to join her at the church's stairs. While the kids prepare to walk over to the stairs, Bobby wears his drooping spring glasses and makes eye jokes, making the kids in church giggle (including Peggy) with Hank and the other adults are shocked at this. Hank tries to get Bobby to stop before the latter walks away and greets a girl who snickers at him. Peggy snickers in amusement and a dismayed Hank spontaneously lifts his Bible up and reads through it in embarrassment.
Later that night at The Hill residence, Peggy is preparing dinner for everyone where Hank shows up at the table, smells the corn and confirms it. Unaware of Bobby and Luanne hasty chuckles, Hank sits on the chair and become more embarrassed by Bobby's whoopee cushion as his son makes a pent-up laughter. As Hank scolds Bobby for his behavior, he sends him to his room and Bobby complies before he makes another joke, only to be silenced by Hank where he leaves the kitchen with a plate of corn on the cob and taking his whoopee cushion. Hank is dismayed with Bobby’s clowning around becomes disruptive at home, school, church and even the Mega Lo Mart (which Hank won't take him there without him playing with the store's PA systems). Peggy assures Hank that she thinks it will be an outlet for Bobby’s creativity because he could sometime makes people laugh and some had give him as a gift while Hank compares it to Sander's activities. Luanne then suggests that Bobby take the course in clowning offered at Arlen Community College, assuring Hank that his age won’t be a factor, and Peggy and Hank agree to Luanne's suggestion. Hank is skeptical about that idea, because Bobby is thirteen years old to go college. Luanne reassures him by telling them about a student who's in her history class was twelve years, knowing if she asks him about his class where he would start laughing at her question even though she also went to his birthday party. Bobby pranks Ladybird with his whoopee cushion which was echoing from his room, much to Hank's annoyance. Soon after, Hank and Peggy talks with Bobby about the clowning class in the college. Bobby agrees with Hank was stipulating that he stops being inappropriately funny elsewhere. After Hank leaves his room, Peggy advises Bobby to get some rest or staying up would be funny before she leaves his room as well. Bobby is excited about the class as he rest on his bed.
Hank and his friends are seen sipping their beer and Bill contemplates about Bobby's clown class and comments about a picture of a clown above his head when he's growing up, assuming it was god for a longest time. Dale also replies that he has done 3 exterminations on some gay couples. Suddenly, Hank and his friends notice a kickball rolls into the alley and looks around for someone, knowing it belongs to someone which nobody will retrieve it. Dale examines about the kickball after it rolled right in front of them. Hank and his friends gets an idea, the residents start up a kickball game and they demonstrates the game with Boomhauer curve-tossing the kickball and Hank calls himself out of the game while Bill charging at Dale, who subsequently kicks it to Bill's face, knocking him down as Dale remembers his good old times.
After Hank drives and drops Bobby off at Arlen Community College with some advisement, Bobby shows up for his first day of class with a blue wig, rubber nose, polka-dot bow tie, and oversized shoes. Upon entering the class and meeting some student who was excited about the class and love of comedy, the clowning class instructor, Prof. Twilley, imperiously declares “Great clown are not born. They are made, right here. I make clowns.” He tells those who wore wigs to class that unless they can explain humor as he expresses it in an algebra-like formula that they've earned after Bobby answers correctly until he didn't understand it, they should dispense with the props, much to Bobby's disappointment. When Twilley asked to name a funny part of the body, Bobby suggests “Leg” which is incorrect until one of the student named, Boris guess the answer correctly due to his 9th time of the class that had almost makes him a clown which he appreciates it. Bobby also suggests “armpit”, but to still incorrect and Prof. Twilley compliments him on the pathos of his attempt, but declares that it’s still not funny.
Back at the alley, the residents start up a kickball game. After John Redcorn, Joseph Gribble were selected by Hank and Bill, Dale gets picked last, much to his outrage. The Bobby and Luanne returns from college, Bill ask him about his first day of his clowning class. But Bobby replies that he never learned to do any of that since Prof. Twilley knows everything specifically and he'll help him reaches his comedic potential and one of the celebrity who aren't funny. Hank is quite impressed by Bobby's improvable behavior. Bobby then walk back inside the house so that he can read some books to study. As a impressed Hank tells everyone about Bobby that he never did any jokes and he sees his son falls down on door, thinking that it's his prank until realizing that he indeed actually fall for real.
Bobby sees Prof. Twilley to ask why he’s not connecting with the class material after all his years of being otherwise funny. Twilley refers him to the “flow chart of funny” and assures Bobby that he hasn’t been “properly trained.” He assigns Bobby supplemental reading with some books.
The residents begins the kickball game, but Redcorn proves to be absolutely hopeless at the sport after he misses the ball, kicking it weakly and accidentally trips on it, injuring himself. Bobby keep their disruption down so that he can study, which Hank complies until he watches Dale pelts Redcorn with Kickball and saying that he's out.
In the meantime, Bobby is soon analyzing humor in the same pedantic manner as Prof. Twilley from the television after they laugh at this video, citing “Aristotle’s dictum” and “the ha-guffaw-aw-ha-ha formula.” Twilley is finally impressed enough to move Bobby up to the study of commedia dell’arte. Boris becomes jealous about this, because he had to take twice the clowning class. Bobby is quite happy to do that work.
At the School's playground, Bobby reads the book as he meets Connie and ask about college since their library that opens at every nights. Bobby replied that it's brutal and about today that he's studying on being the commedia dell’arte style character. He watches Clark Peters and Stuart Dooley pull a prank on the boy by placing a fart note on his back, causing Joseph to laugh at this scene. Still, Bobby remains unamused since Joseph's reception about both Clark and Dooley's prank was funny. Bobby refutes this by saying that it isn't funny after taking the clowning class, also realizing that Joseph isn't funny as well and claiming Connie to be hilarious. This drawing on a remark Connie, which she appreciates his claims and made that Clark Peters was “dumb as a dog.” But Bobby also comments what Connie is saying that “a dog as smart as a boy” that is wonderful. Connie and Joseph is confused about Bobby and his statement as he then develops an idea.
Bobby flips the script and creates a commedia dell’arte-type character: Tartuffe, the Spry Wonder Dog, “a dog as smart as a boy” and “a precocious trickster.” Twilley characterizes it as “magnificently absurd” before he and the other students applauded for Bobby.
The next day, Bobby asks Peggy to give some bacon when she's cooking it, because his celebration which she happily complies as she placed the Bacon on the plate with a spatula. When Bobby shows his father some comedic acts, Luanne becomes confused that she doesn't understand his acts. After Peggy gives the Breakfast plate for Bobby who starts acting like a dog, Hank is disapproved that he still doesn’t want Bobby doing his comedic act at home so Bobby doesn’t tell him about that Twilley helped with the choice of becoming a great new character, which Hank agrees with reminder of doing that in the clowning class since he did great about not being funny elsewhere and some encouragement. Hank request Bobby for a ketchup, before the latter tries to make a jokes about it, which to no avail.
Inside the hallway, Bobby then decides to work up a Tartuffe routine for the Tom Landry Middle School Talent Show after he notices the poster, complete with 16th century-style costuming. During class, the students ask Bobby to perform his comedy, knowing that he went to the clowning class. However, Bobby acknowledges about other topics with comedy that's funny or not, but it'll be awaiting at upcoming talent show, especially everyone else who is attending to perform as well.
Meanwhile, the second kickball game continue, Boomhauer then kicks the ball out of the alley after Redcorn failed to catch it as it start bounced away and everybody looks at him in disappointment for it, Redcorn insisted that anyone couldn't done anything right and everybody gets on with their lives.
On the day of the Talent Show, Prof. Twilley takes it upon himself to call Hank at work to get him to attend and show support for Bobby’s clowning. Hank is horrified when he hears the Professor tell Bobby to practice a freaky bit and leaves the office after realizing his mistake.
The Talent Show is about what expect the middle-school talent show to be: Clark Peters bangs on a drum kit and the cheerleaders do one of their dance routines. Hank arrives at the school by way of home from where he picks up some of Bobby’s old comedy props, which he calls “gag toys.” When Hank is about to enter the auditorium, Emily quickly spots and stops him since he needs to have a ticket for it. Hank tried to tell Emily that he needs give the comedy props to Bobby because it's urgent, only to get blocked off by her until she witnesses the boy running down the hallway and she tells Hank wait while she returns and then chase the boy down. Hank doesn't understand what he's thinking about anyway before entering the auditorium and goes backstage. Eventually, Hank meets up and tells Bobby that he doesn’t think Bobby's funny but he also thinks that his commedia dell’arte “jester crap” isn’t funny either, just weird, so he wants Bobby to do his old shtick to save himself from impending social embarrassment. Bobby, convinced that he is learning to be a “real clown,” goes into the stage as one of his classmates becomes confused at seeing Bobby's costume. Bobby begins his Tartuffe routine, but then soon realizes that his father's suspicions were true to his words, especially he’s losing his audience as they starts booing and jeering at him in bewilderment for his performance (except for Prof. Twilley, who's too oblivious about the audience's reaction). Fortunately for Bobby, Hank tosses Bobby’s whoopee cushion onto the stage and allows him to perform with it. Bobby starts performing his own fart jokes, making the audiences starts laughing in amusement, much to the dismay of Prof. Twilley and Principal Moss, who puts Bobby in detention as the audience cheers for Bobby wildly in standing ovations, and to Hank’s relief. (This echoes Hank's pulling Bobby out of the fashion show in "Husky Bobby" before Dooley and his crew start whipping donuts at the boy models.)
Inside the detention room, Bobby looks around and then notices the boy drinking his soda. Bobby attracts the girl, who's sitting next to him, her attention where he simultaneously puts his pencil in the boy's soda when he was about to take a sip on it before he's irritated from getting poked by the pencil's eraser and both Bobby and the girl laughs at the display. Soon, Bobby comments about the pencil in the can trick and it's always funny, but he understands about it and as he smiles in joy.
- Hank Hill
- Peggy Hill
- Bobby Hill
- Luanne Platter
- Dale Gribble
- Bill Dauterive
- Jeff Boomhauer
- Professor Twilley
- John Redcorn
- Connie Souphanousinphone
- Joseph Gribble
- Karen Stroup
- Principal Moss
- Clark Peters
- Ramon Alejandro
- Randy Miller
- Stuart Dooley
- Commedia dell'arte, which began in the 16th century, relied on stock characters with defined personae interacting with each other and behaving in specific situations. It can thus be regarded as a distant forerunner of improv comedy. Some of the stock characters continue to this day; Pierrot the Sad Clown, under the French name Pierrot Le Fou, was the antagonist in an episode of the 1999 anime, "Cowboy Bebop."
- Tartuffe was not the name of a dog character in commedia dell'arte; there was no such character. Tartuffe, however, was the name of the title character in the 1664 play "Tartuffe the Imposter" by Moliere.
- The episode title refers to James Joyce's 1916 novel, "A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man."
- Hank: "I thought I smelled corn, and this confirms it."
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Hank's On Board · Bystand Me · Bill's House · Harlottown · A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Clown · Orange You Sad I Did Say Banana? · You Gotta Believe (In Moderation) · Business Is Picking Up · The Year of Washing Dangerously · Hank Fixes Everything · Church Hopping · 24 Hour Propane People · The Texas Panhandler · Hank's Bully · Edu-macating Lucky