Make ‘Em Laugh was first broadcasted on November 5, 1994 with a script by Paul Dini & Randy Rogel and directed by Boyd Kirkland.
Using microchips stolen from the Mad Hatter, the Joker brainwashes famous comedians into committing crazy crimes in order to ruin their reputations. As it turns out, the comedians are the judges who tossed the Joker out of the Gotham Comedy Competition the year before. Now, the Clown Prince of Crime wants to seek his revenge, and Batman and Robin must foil the Joker’s plot.
A.V. Club, when they reviewed this episode, made a great point about the writing of this episode: “Paul Dini and Randy Rogel are veterans of the wackier world of Warner Bros. animation, having worked on Tiny Toons and Animaniacs, respectively. “Make ’Em Laugh” fits more with the tradition of those series than the rest of Batman: The Animated Series, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. If anything, it highlights the malleable tone and style of the series, jumping from high drama to low-brow comedy with remarkable ease.”
I mean, right from the beginning of the episode, you’re hooked, you’re ready for what the next half hour is about to offer you. I mean, the fact that Batman basically just punches the guy for the hell of it after he lets him get the puns out, that’s hilarious enough on its’ own merits and the episode just keeps packing on these great moments throughout the episode. It’s hard not to love this one.
Although, to be fair, I do have one little nitpick, the idea that Batman and Robin see these famous comedians being turned into ridiculous supervillains, their first thought was never that the Joker was behind all of this? I mean, yes, he stole microchips from The Mad Hatter but come on, the episode is literally called ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’. I mean, next, you’ll be telling me that Judge Doom is the bad guy in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
With that said, there’s so much to love about this episode, the animation is once again really good and Mark Hamill just gives it his all as usual as The Joker, especially when you consider this is the last produced episode of Batman: TAS with him in it in this design:
By the way, I didn’t add that music at the end of the clip, that’s the score from Tim Burton’s Batman by Danny Elfman, I have no idea why they decided to throw that in there.
Bottom line, Make ‘Em Laugh is about as great of a Joker story as you can get, great action, great animation, a surprisingly good dosage of comedy thrown in here, and it’s just an excellent, excellent episode.