Squidley

Squidward Clarinet

“Without My Clarinet, The World Is Drab And Colorless.” -Squidward  

Squidward playing the clarinet is a revolution for young kids who want an instrument. Many parents have been approached by their children asking for “Squidward’s instrument.” It could be argued that SpongeBob SquarePants has launched a whole new generation of clarinet fans. With the introduction of Squidward and his clarinet Squidward has kept clarinets cool. 

Though there is some debate as to whether or not it is really a classical clarinet due to the cartoon, less detailed representation, it is most definitely meant to represent a clarinet. In The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, Squidward’s superhero alter-ego, Sour Note, uses a “real” clarinet. It is referred to as a clarinet many times throughout the SpongeBob cartoon series. None more famously than the time SpongeBob informs Squidward that he used his clarinet as a plunger. 

“Squidward, I used your clarinet to unclog my toilet!” -SpongeBob SquarePants, “Graveyard Shift”

The clarinet has been described as the instrument rescued from obscurity by Squidward. Those who play often find themselves assailed by comparisons with Squidward: “OMG you play the Clarinet like Squidward?” To which you can only reply: “Yeah, just like Squidward. The world-renowned clarinetist.”

Nothing would make Squidward happier than having his name alongside the greats such as Benny Goodman, Anat Cohen, and Artie Shaw.

The Clarinet is popular in SpongeBob’s world

  • SpongeBob has played the clarinet. 
  • Patrick has played the clarinet.
  • Gary has played the clarinet.
  • Squilliam also plays the clarinet.
  • And of course, Squidward plays the clarinet.

This sad cartoon sea creature, in particular, has become a favorite to the millennial crowd. Squidward Quincy Tentacles (born October 9, 1972) is the grouchy yin to SpongeBob’s optimistic yang. He views himself as a cultured and educated individual that is unappreciated by his small-minded friends and neighbors. Squidward is pretty sure that life has dealt him a raw deal and this gap between what he thinks he deserves and what is, fosters bitterness in his soul. With the average SpongeBob episode being about 11 minutes long, at one point Squidward cries out, “Why must every 11 minutes of my life be filled with misery?”

His friends and neighbors rarely show appreciation for Squidward’s artistic endeavors and torture him regularly, even going so far as to have an “Annoy Squidward Day” every February 15th. Is it any wonder he views life antagonistically?

Beyond just being a cashier at the Krusty Krab, Squidward tries his hand as an art teacher at the Bikini Bottom Adult Learning Center. His love for classical culture in all of its forms, art, music, and vocabulary is his central identity. As an art lover, his many self-portraits are displayed prominently around his Easter Island house.

Does Squidward Play The Clarinet? 

From the beginning of SpongeBob SquarePants, Squidward plays the clarinet. One whole episode is dedicated to his dream of becoming a world-famous clarinet player (This page is proof that his dream is a reality). 

For Squidward, clarinet playing is his favorite hobby. So though Squidward plays the clarinet, the problem is that he is awful. Though it might be that Squidward is the world’s best clarinet player, seeing as he is the only one who has been able to play under the sea! 

Despite all his practice, he plays off tune and rarely coaxes a beautiful melody out of his clarinet. Instead, his sounds like an animal dying painfully slowly. The show regularly reminds us that Squidward is terrible at the clarinet. Blissfully or willfully ignorant of his own shortcomings, Squidward regularly comments that he is “unrecognized talent,” when the truth is he has been a failure at everything he has tried, art, dancing, and music.

Much to his credit, Squidward is constantly practicing. Yet to the annoyance of his neighborhood in Bikini Bottom, he practices with his window open. Much like the “way-too-serious” karaoke singer who thinks they will be discovered, Squidward imagines that someday he will be considered awesome.

Squidward is like that one friend who always is talking about how great they are, but in reality, just works a mediocre fast-food job and is mediocre in talent. He has a hard time seeing himself accurately. Squidward’s ego projects an image of culture and refinement, yet he fails to recognize he is neither. This dissonance sets up his ongoing disillusionment and subsequent depression and outburst of anger. 

What Does Squidward Call His Clarinet?

Squidward’s clarinet, also fondly called “Clarry,” is one of Squidward’s only friends. They first appeared together in the episode “Bubblestand.” Oddly, the clarinet Squidward loves has identical pajamas. Fueling the conspiracy that Squidward is insane, Clarry talks (The Official Uniform episode). Squidward loves Clarry to the point that he treats it as though it were sentient. He sleeps with Clarry and has a matching small pillow for it.

Clarry and Squidward performances are not well received by critics or neighbors. This cherished clarinet has been passed down the family from Squidward’s ancestor Squidly. Though there are times when Squidward plays the clarinet well, the vast majority of the time he stinks. Even in his dream in Sleepy Time, when Squidward and his clarinet played to a royal audience, it came out poorly.

In the context of living in community and practicing with others, Squidward’s clarinet skills seem to improve dramatically. Squidward moves into a gated community with other squids and suddenly he is a decent clarinetist. Maybe he plays better when he is enjoying life and in a good mood. Maybe we all get better in all areas of our life when we are in community. Whatever the reason, his playing improved.

Squidward Plays The Clarinet Well In The Following Episodes: 

  • Bubblestand
  • Christmas Who?
  • Best Day Ever
  • Squidward in Clarinetland

Squidward’s Clarinet Is Destroyed

It would be easy to place the blame on Squidward’s clarinet skill, however, the problem is also with the reed (Every clarinetist nods). In the episode, “Best Day Ever,” the old malfunctioning reed on Clarry, the clarinet, is replaced with SpongeBob’s tooth and immediately plays much better! Another factor to consider might be that Clarry has been destroyed numerous times.

  • In “Sweet and Sour Squid”: Plankton tries to trick Squidward into giving “the formula.” Plankton steals the clarinet, and is subsequently wrongly arrested for “music disturbance.” During the arrest, Squidward’s clarinet is dropped on the street and promptly run over and crushed by the police.
  • In “Snooze You Lose”: After a bad audition, the clarinet gets forcibly wrapped around Squidward’s head by the unhappy conductor. 
  • In “I Was a Teenage Gary”: Squidward’s house falls over and Clarry is destroyed by a falling painting.
  • In “The Two Faces of Squidward”: a fan steals Squidward’s clarinet and the mob gathered breaks it into little pieces. 
  • In “Sandy’s Rocket”: Patrick and SpongeBob are in Squidward’s House. They shake all over and wind up destroying everything, including the clarinet. 
  • In “Food Con Castaways”: Clarry is destroyed in Squidward’s failed attempt to calm the beast. 
  • In “Sleepy Time”: Squidward’s dream alter-ego, Wolfgang Amadeus Tentacles, snaps his Clarry in half out of anger. (I know that this shouldn’t count because it was only a dream…sheesh!).
  • In “Jellyfish Jam”: Clarry is ripped in half and danced around while on fire.
  • In “Best Day Ever”: Squidward destroys his own reed for who knows why.
  • In “Restraining SpongeBob”: Patrick uses Squidward’s clarinet as the toilet plunger in Krusty Krab’s restroom. 
  • In “Squidtastic Voyage”: SpongeBob has to go inside the body of Squidward because Squidward has swallowed his clarinet’s reed.
  • In “Naughty Nautical Neighbors”: Patrick and Sponge Bob demolish Squidward’s house, and in doing so, destroy everything in the house, including Squidward’s beloved clarinet.

The Christmas Wooden Clarinet

Squidward receives a driftwood clarinet from SpongeBob. The button on the base of it says “push.” When pushed, three wooden figures that bear a resemblance to Squidward playing his clarinet, pop out of three holes, playing the tune “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.” SpongeBob even has thoughtfully carved Squidward’s name on the side of the gift clarinet. Squidward loves the gift and feels “seen” by SpongeBob. (From the Christmas Who? episode.)

Conclusion

Squidward plays the clarinet poorly and citizens of Bikini Bottom do not like it. He cares and is disappointed by their lack of appreciation, but continues to press on. This is arguably Squidward’s best quality. He believes in his art. When it really comes down to it, you have to pursue the art! What if Van Gogh had stopped creating because no one wanted to buy his paintings and laughed at him? What makes a person or calamari great, is less what they produce, and more the passion by which they pursue their dream. 

For a beginner or long-time clarinetist, it is easy to love Squidward. His visible joy when he is playing his clarinet has a zen quality to it. In not judging that moment as good or bad Squidward is able to enter fully into the moment.

At first, I was mystified by the draw and fondness many have for Squidward’s clarinet efforts. It is clear that many clarinet players sympathize with Squidward. Perhaps they also are not Anat Cohen in quality but that does not make their efforts any less valuable. Squidward is the poster child for everyone wrestling with their instrument, yet every day pushes through imperfection and mediocrity to strive for something greater.

Squidward Clarinet Quotes

  • (Squidward plays his clarinet by an open window. Someone knocks on the door and he answers): Doctor: “Yeah, uh, we’re from the pet hospital down the street, and we understand you have a dying animal on the premises.” (Squidward slams the door shut)
  • “Even better, I have a clarinet recital immediately after work today! So ain’t nothing gonna ruin my day.” -Squidward
  • “Why must every 11 minutes of my life be filled with misery?” -Squidward
  • Squidward: This is unacceptable!  Mr. Krabs: What?  Squidward: This! [points at his clarinet]
  • “And now, for some soothing sounds from Squidward’s clarinet. Thank you, thank you.” -Squidward
  • “Hello my friends, you are looking at a genius.” -Squidward
  • Squidward: Just don’t touch my clarinet!
  • SpongeBob: I promise nothing untoward will happen.
  • SpongeBob: “Shut your mouth, you mediocre clarinet player.”
  • Squidward: “Mediocre?”
  • Squidward: In between stanzas of a clarinet solo he says, “I rock.”
  • “Beautiful and talented! what more do they want?” -Squidward
  • “If you smashed my clarinet– so help me, Neptune– I will…” -Squidward
  • “Hey, come back! I need my clarinet! Come Back! Where are you?” -Squidward
  • “Yes, my clarinet! Which I am the proud owner.” -Squidward 
  • “A clarinet is not owned. Why don’t you tell me why you’re really here?” -Eagle 
  • Eagle: This is a sacred place where clarinets live without persecution. You need to learn respect. Squidward:  I’ve learned… I’ve learned respect…    Eagle: I don’t believe you.
  • “I tried to get my clarinet in there… [weeps] Impossible!” -Squidward
  • “Squidward I used your clarinet to unclog my toilet! “— SpongeBob
  • “I love you more than Spongebob loves jellyfishing, Sandy loves karate, Mr. Krabs loves money, and Squidward loves his clarinet. Baby, I need you like Plankton needs the Krabby Patty secret formula!”
  • Squidward: Spongebob I have a confession to make (takes off hat).  SpongeBob: you’re bald?  Squidward: No I’m not bald, I’m alive! “Without my clarinet, the world is drab and colorless.” -Squidward

Squidward Clarinet Meme

Squidward Playing Clarinet Gif

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