The Last Laugh is the fourth produced episode of Batman the Animated Series. It was the fifteenth episode to air, and made its debut on September 22nd, 1992. This episode once again stars Kevin Conroy as Batman, Mark Hamill as the Joker, Bob Hastings (although, not in his usual role as James Gordon—this time as an armored car diver), and introduces Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., as Alfred Pennyworth.
It’s April Fool’s Day in Gotham, and the city cannot stop laughing! The culprit of this case of the giggles though is due to Joker’s latest plot against the city. Joker has commandeered a garbage barge laced with his signature joker toxin, which while floating around the city, is covering Gotham in laughing gas. Batman (wearing goggles in a pre-Zack Snyder’s Nightowl world, by the way) is working in the cave when a commotion upstairs catches his attention. The laughing gas has reached Wayne Manor and Alfred has been infected. Batman heads out in the batboat to confront the clown and put a punchline on the Joker’s scheme.
This episode may be one of the more “child friendly” episodes of the series. Mark Hamill once suggested on Kevin Smith’s podcast that many of the decision in this episode were attempts to get around Broadcast Standards and Practice. Batman has a violent fight with a non-talking robot called Captain Clown. Joker’s toxin does not lead to death, but just insanity. These things highlight the tightrope that the creators had to walk between some of the more serious themes and kid friendly content. The director of The Last Laugh, Kevin Altieri, did this well. Altieri also directed Two-Face, Feat of Clay Part II, and P.O.V, as well as Harlequinade and Harley’s Holiday.
While some may see the child friendliness of this episode as a draw-back, I think that it gives this episode a unique signature and makes it a fun watch. This feel coupled with Shirley Walker’s fun rock-and-roll with a twist of polka mania score, The Last Laugh is a very enjoyable entry of Batman the Animated Series. Episodes like this, however, will later see improvement when Joker is teamed up with someone a little more interesting than Captain Clown.