Homer and Bart could also be among the many most generally identified characters from “The Simpsons” — however tucked within the background, and much from the highlight, is one author particularly.
John Swartzwelder, the famously reclusive author who labored for the Fox present between 1989 and 2003, has opened up in a uncommon interview with The New Yorker. Swartzwelder mentioned writing 59 episodes throughout that point — essentially the most of any author within the present’s historical past — together with well-known ones, corresponding to “Homer on the Bat” and “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge.”
Due to his work on a small comedy zine named Military Man within the late 1980s, Swartzwelder acquired himself a job interview with “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening and its producer and author Sam Simon. However Swartzwelder wasn’t employed to be on employees till after he’d written three episodes, just because the present didn’t find the money for to pay writers full-time. Now, “The Simpsons” is contemporary off its 700th episode, with the funds and affect to match its longevity — see: the show’s upcoming “Star Wars” crossover.
However Swartzwelder remembers a less complicated time earlier than “cancel” tradition, the place artistic freedom reigned and writers got whole liberty from head community honchos.
“The executives weren’t despatched advance copies of the scripts, and so they couldn’t attend read-throughs, though they very a lot needed to. All we needed to do was please ourselves,” he advised the magazine.
What’s extra: The present’s writers didn’t produce materials for youngsters and adults, however fairly for themselves.
“Comedy writers. That was the viewers,” he mentioned. “Fortunately, lots of different individuals, each youngsters and adults, favored the identical jokes we favored.”
That offers cause for the existence particularly of “The Itchy & Scratchy Present,” a violent cat-and-mouse present inside “The Simpsons,” that acquired a cross as a result of a loophole.
“We might present horrendous issues to the youngsters at house, so long as we portrayed them being proven to the Simpsons’ kids first,” he mentioned. “By some means this additional step baffled our critics and foiled the mobs with torches. We agreed with them that this was improper to point out to kids. ‘Didn’t we simply present it being improper? And, look, right here’s extra improper stuff!’ “
As for the writing course of, Swartzwelder mentioned typically writers got here up with their very own concepts — adopted by two days within the writers’ room, then a number of rewrites. More often than not, about 25% of the fabric stayed — aside from Swartzwelder’s stuff, which he famous had a a lot increased fee of inclusion after the brutal revisions.
“If a joke survives all that, it’s most likely fairly good,” he mentioned, including that he was most identified for his offbeat laughs about unusual, old-American characters — corresponding to alcoholic former TV Western stars — just because “I’m outdated.”
That additionally contains coining, and popularizing, phrases — and Swartzwelder claimed credit score for the phrase “meh.” He additionally revealed why Homer Simpson stays an icon of comedic characters: In a earlier interview with showrunner Mike Reiss, information emerged that Swartzwelder had written the character of Homer as an enormous canine.
“One second he’s the saddest man on this planet as a result of he’s simply misplaced his job, or dropped his sandwich, or unintentionally killed his household,” he mentioned. “Then, the following second, he’s the happiest man on this planet as a result of he’s simply discovered a penny — possibly underneath one in all his useless members of the family. He’s not truly a canine, in fact — he’s smarter than that — however for those who write him as a canine you’ll by no means go improper.”