As the longest-running scripted series of all time, The Simpsons has built up its fair share of folklore surrounding how the series comes together. Just last week, How I Met Your Mother actor Josh Radnor (of all people) gave the world another anecdote to add to the history books.
In an appearance on the podcast You Made It Weird, Radnor told host Pete Holmes about a conversation he had with longtime Simpsons producer Bonita Pietila. He asked Pietila about a specific episode—one of his favorites—from 1993. The season five, episode two installment is a Sideshow Bob-centric parody of Cape Fear called “Cape Feare.” It’s a classic, and one of its well-known bits involves Bob stepping on a series of rakes after freeing himself from the underside of the Simpsons' car, which they’ve driven to their new home on Terror Lake as part of their new life in the Witness Relocation Program. The rakes scene is one of those jokes that lasts so long it goes from funny to annoying and back to funny all over again.
Here’s what Radnor had to say about his conversation with Pietila: “I said, ‘I love the rakes so much,’ and she said, ‘I’ll tell you a story about the rakes.’ She said, ‘It was the one episode that we're short on time-wise and a writer goes, ‘What about more rakes?’’ That’s why that’s in there. Which I thought was amazing.”
And there you have it. A classic joke from a classic episode was spawned from a simple need to fill time. To listen to Radnor tell the story, skip ahead to about 1 hour and 14 minutes in. He notes that, in syndication, the scene is shortened for time (irony of ironies), so make sure you watch the clip above for the full effect.