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"Arthur the Unfunny"
Season/Series: 2
Number in season: 13B
Original Airdate: United States April 8, 1998[1]
Canada September 9, 1998[2]
Germany February 11, 2002[3]
Written by: Joe Fallon
Storyboard by: Stéphanie Gignac
"Water and the Brain"
"Sue Ellen's Lost Diary"
Read transcript

"Arthur the Unfunny" is the second half of the thirteenth episode in the second season of Arthur.


Arthur decides to learn how to make people laugh.[4]


Arthur opens the episode in the style of Seinfeld, with a stand-up comedy routine as he attempts to tell a joke. He messes up the setup, and accidentally spoils the punchline, then walks off in shame, abruptly ending the intro

Arthur the Unfunny

Arthur starts writing a letter to Buster about how the Elwood City Public Library is having a fundraiser. Mrs. MacGrady is having a bake sale, Mr. Crosswire is raffling off a car, and Muffy is setting up a backyard carnival. Arthur and his friends choose to be clowns at the carnival, so they practice doing funny things. Arthur tells a joke Buster told him, but nobody finds it funny. Francine and Muffy fear that Arthur will ruin the carnival.

Arthur practices his piano, and Kate starts laughing. Arthur continues to amuse Kate by making silly faces. Meanwhile, in The Sugar Bowl, Muffy decides that Arthur can't be a clown until he can learn to be funny.

Sue Ellen comes over to Arthur's house to teach him how to juggle, but he struggles with it. Brain teaches him jokes, but Arthur doesn't understand them. Binky shows Arthur how to make funny faces, but he is unable to do that as well. Even after Muffy hires Pickles to teach Arthur, he is still not funny.

Arthur admits that he is not funny. On the day of the carnival, he is the piano player. He starts to play the piano off-key and make silly faces, like he did with Kate, causing everyone to laugh.

Pickles tells Arthur that he found his own style of humor, and congratulates him. Buster reads Arthur's letter and finishes the episode with his trademark laugh.







  • "Thick shake" is a term used outside the United States for a milkshake made with ice cream.
  • More sound is audible from the Reads' computer than usual. In particular, one can hear a startup chime followed shortly by the hard disk drive motor spinning up. A few seconds before the scene change, one can also hear the hard disk drive heads in action.
    • The chime sound reveals that the computer is most likely a Macintosh computer, although the case is more typical of the PCs from that era.
  • Sue Ellen is a clown, but on the day of the carnival, she is not present.
  • The location that Buster and his father are in when Buster receives the letter from Arthur is Venice, Italy.
  • When Arthur is telling jokes to his friends which they do not find funny, his laugh is used from the Buster Makes Sounds title card.
  • Nigel Ratburn is absent from this episode in person. He is mentioned by Francine, and Arthur imagines himself turning into him.

Cultural references[]

  • The beginning of the episode before the title card with Arthur performing a stand-up routine may be a reference to Seinfeld.
  • While Arthur does his speech of apology, the girls hum along to the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
  • The front license plate on the car being raffled off is "EMC2," a reference to Albert Einstein's equation for special relativity, "E = mc2."
  • Brain mentions Simon van der Meer, a Dutch physicist and Nobel Prize laureate.

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