‘Simpsons’ writer John Swartzwelder gives rare interview

Homer and Bart could also be among the many most generally recognized characters from “The Simpsons” — however tucked within the background, and much from the highlight, is one writer particularly.

John Swartzwelder, the famously reclusive writer who labored for the Fox present between 1989 and 2003, has opened up in a rare interview with The New Yorker. Swartzwelder mentioned writing 59 episodes throughout that point — essentially the most of any writer within the present’s historical past — together with well-known ones, comparable to “Homer at the Bat” and “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge.”

Thanks to his work on a small comedy zine named Army Man within the late Eighties, Swartzwelder received himself a job interview with “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening and its producer and writer Sam Simon. But Swartzwelder wasn’t employed to be on workers 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 recent off its 700th episode, with the funds and affect to match its longevity — see: the show’s upcoming “Star Wars” crossover.

But Swartzwelder remembers a less complicated time, the place artistic freedom reigned and writers got complete liberty from community honchos.

“The executives weren’t sent advance copies of the scripts, and they couldn’t attend read-throughs, even though they very much wanted to. All we had to do was please ourselves,” he instructed the magazine.

"The Simpsons," which recently aired its 700th episode, owes much of its longevity to writers like Swartzwelder, who gave the show its witty edge in earlier seasons.
“The Simpsons,” which not too long ago aired its 700th episode, owes a lot of its longevity to writers comparable to Swartzwelder, who gave the present its witty edge in earlier seasons.
©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett C

What’s extra: The present’s writers didn’t produce materials for youngsters and adults, however reasonably for themselves.

“Comedy writers. That was the audience,” he stated. “Luckily, a lot of other people, both kids and adults, liked the same jokes we liked.”

That gives cause for the existence particularly of “The Itchy & Scratchy Show,” a violent cat-and-mouse present inside “The Simpsons,” that received a go as a consequence of a loophole.

"The Itchy & Scratchy Show," a fake cartoon within "The Simpsons" allowed the writers to get away with some dark themes.
“The Itchy & Scratchy Show,” a cartoon inside “The Simpsons,” allowed the writers to get away with some darkish themes.
twentieth Century Fox Licensing/Merch

“We could show horrendous things to the children at home, as long as we portrayed them being shown to the Simpsons’ children first,” he stated. “Somehow this further step baffled our critics and foiled the mobs with torches. We agreed with them that this was fallacious to indicate to kids. ‘Didn’t we simply present it being fallacious? And, look, right here’s extra fallacious stuff!’ “

As for the writing course of, Swartzwelder stated typically writers got here up with their very own concepts — adopted by two days within the writers’ room, then a number of rewrites. Most of the time, about 25% of the fabric stayed — aside from Swartzwelder’s stuff, which he famous had a a lot greater charge of inclusion after the brutal revisions.

“If a joke survives all that, it’s probably pretty good,” he stated, including that he was most recognized for his offbeat laughs about unusual, old-American characters — comparable to alcoholic former TV Western stars — just because “I’m old.”

That additionally consists of 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 moment he’s the saddest man in the world because he’s just lost his job, or dropped his sandwich, or accidentally killed his family,” he stated. “Then, the next moment, he’s the happiest man in the world because he’s just found a penny — maybe under one of his dead family members. He’s not actually a dog, of course — he’s smarter than that — but if you write him as a dog you’ll never go wrong.”

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