After 20 years, I've circled back to reevaluate the Clouds (motivated primarily by a learned hatred of lawyers, and government in general). I think Wikipedia does a fine job of presenting the work indicating:
The Clouds can best be understood in relation to Plato's works, as evidence of a historic rivalry between poetic and philosophical modes of thought.
The work appears to almost literally poo poo Philosophy. link to play
Student: He was up on the roof, looking up with his mouth open, studying the motions and revolutions of the moon. Well, just then, suddenly, right out off the darkness, a lizard runs by and shits on his face!
Strepsiades: Ha! Love it! A lizard, shitting on Socrates’ face! Good one!
Is there a significance to the 3ʳᵈ place reception / grading that the play is said to have received? Is this grading historically accurate, or is it included in the play itself? I suppose the fact that Aristophanes was not sentenced to death indicates something...