‘The Simpsons’: Troy McClure’s 25 Best ‘You Might Remember Me From…’ Projects
Phil Hartman died 25 years ago this May. He’s one of the greatest Saturday Night Live cast members of all time, he was one of the pillars of NewsRadio and, of course, he was an indispensable voice on The Simpsons. He played several indelible characters on the Fox animated sitcom, but the one who’ll always be closest to my heart is Troy McClure, the shamelessly hacky actor who seemed to star in nothing but cheesy movies, godawful TV specials and dull educational films — not to mention the stunning sci-fi musical Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off!
But we only saw a fraction of Troy’s prolific output — indeed, much of his oeuvre was only alluded to through one of The Simpsons’ best running bits. Invariably, Troy would show up on screen, introduce himself, and then say, “You might/may remember me from…,” proceeding to list his recent credits, which always sounded completely ridiculous. The joke was consistently hilarious thanks to the combination of the silly/absurdist titles and the utter enthusiasm in which Hartman delivered them. Poor Troy might be a C-level celebrity but, darn it, he always sold his projects with gusto. The Simpsons was never the same without Hartman, or Troy.
With that in mind, let’s salute the 25 best Troy McClure projects referenced in that running joke. To put together these rankings, I considered both how funny the title was and also how potentially interesting the actual film/show/special sounded. This required me to wildly speculate about some of these made-up programs, offering up my best guess concerning what they might be about. In the process of compiling this list, I was reminded all over again what a genius Hartman was — and how he managed to make this character both pathetic and oddly endearing. Talentless Troy may be, but he’s also surprisingly versatile in his energetic ineptitude.
‘Here Comes the Coast Guard!’
This rollicking action-comedy-musical was a critical and commercial bomb at the time. But it’s been reappraised in recent years, with people appreciating its bighearted joyousness. Sadly, though, it failed to stoke viewers’ interest in more movies about maritime law enforcement.
‘Locker Room Towel Fight: The Blinding of Larry Driscoll’
This sounds like a basic-cable movie, doesn’t it? And who’s Larry Driscoll? Apparently, he was an important (and tragic) enough figure to merit a film starring Troy McClure.
‘Smoke Yourself Thin’
Of course Troy would hawk cigarettes in a badly dated educational film. The guy will sell anything if the payday is big enough.
‘The Verdict Was Mail Fraud’
‘Firecrackers: The Silent Killer’
The utter absurdity of this educational film’s title leaves me in awe: How can firecrackers possibly be “silent killers”? Also, do we see children get their fingers blown off?
‘Hydro: The Man With the Hydraulic Arms’
What are the odds that Troy played Hydro? Or perhaps he’s the wisecracking best friend? Regardless, you have to respect a film whose title explains its premise so succinctly.
‘Leper in the Backfield’
Now this sounds like a true underdog sports movie! Seems like the sort of challenging role that lands an actor an Oscar nomination — unless, of course, that actor is Troy McClure.
‘Five Fabulous Weeks of The Chevy Chase Show’
Hey, someone had to host this special.
‘Lead Paint: Delicious But Deadly’
Be honest: You want to see an educational film where Troy eats some lead paint.
‘The President’s Neck Is Missing’
Holy shit, what happened to it? Troy did a lot of subpar thrillers in his career, but at least this one’s got you hooked from the title.
‘Get Confident, Stupid’
Okay, perhaps this isn’t the best name for a self-help video — but, then again, you’re so insecure, maybe you’re starting to doubt your own judgment. Fear not: If we all learn from Troy’s example, we can start really believing in ourselves.
‘Alice’s Adventures Through the Windshield Glass’
This is one evocatively titled driver’s ed film, but it seems to me that Alice would probably only have one adventure like this, right?
‘The Decapitation of Larry Leadfoot’
Another driver’s ed film Troy hosted. Geez, this sounds even more harrowing than Alice’s Adventures Through the Windshield Glass.
‘Let’s Save Tony Orlando’s House’
Troy’s such a jack-of-all-trades that he’s even an ace telethon host. Why exactly Tony Orlando’s house needed saving is beyond me, but I’m glad our man Troy was on the case. Bonus points for inspiring the title of an excellent, swoony song from the superb indie-rock group Yo La Tengo.
‘Designated Drivers: The Lifesaving Nerds’
In recent years, alcohol companies have run campaigns championing the importance of that one friend in the group who’s willing to be the designated driver. In these spots, the designated driver always comes across as being just as cool and fun as his pals. But back in Troy’s day, public-service spots were just a lot meaner, I guess.
‘Man vs. Nature: The Road to Victory’
Too many nature films are about appreciating nature. Well, to hell with that: Only Troy has the guts to spearhead one that shows us the tools to finally defeat Mother Earth.
‘Christmas Ape’ and ‘Christmas Ape Goes to Summer Camp’
It would be silly not to include both of these cartoons that Troy did. Apparently, Christmas Ape was a TV special, and I assume that the follow-up was a pathetic attempt to turn Christmas Ape into a franchise. Troy mentioned his Christmas Ape character while auditioning to play Poochie on The Itchy & Scratchy Show, forever leaving us wondering what it would have been like if he’d voiced the rapping dog. (Another question worth pondering: What exactly qualifies a primate to be a Christmas ape?)
‘Two Minus Three Equals Negative Fun!’
Troy hosted a surprisingly large amount of educational films, and the ones we actually see on The Simpsons are uniformly terrible, by which I mean really funny. (Personal favorites include Meat and You: Partners in Freedom and Fuzzy Bunny’s Guide to You Know What, a sex-ed movie that contains the deathless line “And they never ruined their fun by giving in to their throbbing biological urges.”) But of the “You might remember me from…” films, the most tantalizing has to be this one, which has something to do with… math, I guess? By the way, there’s a record label called Negative Fun, and I desperately want to know if they took their name from this bit.
‘They Came to Burgle Carnegie Hall’
God, “burgle” is a really funny word. Also, I like the idea of Troy being part of a zany Ocean’s 11-like action-comedy caper full of other mediocre, has-been stars.
‘Today We Kill, Tomorrow We Die!’
For the record, this would be a fabulous title for an Andrew W.K. song. (Also, there’s a real movie with this name.)
‘The Greatest Story Ever Hula’d’
Look, have you ever tried to tell a story while hula dancing? It takes real skill. (By the way, I am assuming they don’t mean hula-hooping, although that would be difficult as well.)
‘Dial M for Murderousness’
So, was this a pallid ripoff of the Alfred Hitchcock thriller? Whatever it is, Hartman really sells the punchline by the way Troy says “murderousness.” Admit it: Doesn’t this sound way more menacing than a movie just called Dial M for Murder?
‘The Erotic Adventures of Hercules’
What’s funny is that, in the world of The Simpsons, it seems a lot more logical that Rainier Wolfcastle would play Hercules. Wolfcastle is the hunkier guy — I mean, he’s the Simpsons character modeled after Arnold Schwarzenegger. But probably blockbuster star Wolfcastle would have turned his nose up at being in this porn movie — whereas Troy would have gladly done it for the exposure (pun unavoidable).
‘Gladys the Groovy Mule’
If it was good enough for Fred MacMurray and Don Knotts, why shouldn’t Troy do one of those live-action, adorable-animal family films? I just really want to see how groovy that mule really is.
‘The Revenge of Abe Lincoln’
Of all the made-up films on Troy’s résumé, this is the one that seems most likely to come to fruition in the real world. You might be wondering, “Wait, so what’s the plot of The Revenge of Abe Lincoln?” My assumption is that, after being assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, the 16th President of the United States somehow rises from the dead to get some payback. Maybe it’s a situation like The Crow? Troy would be a great Lincoln — but he might be an even better Booth. Even better: He plays both roles.
Troy, if you’re reading this, call me: I’ve got some ideas.