“Alright, Kogen’s got Wolodarsky open in the end zone . . . he throws it . . . it’s complete, touchdown!” – Radio Announcer
Yesterday, Jay Kogen, one of the original writers who departed in Season 4, went on Reddit for one of their “Ask Me Anything” posts. He talked a lot about the old days of the show, working with Bryan Cranston on Malcolm in the Middle, and just television writing generally. I’ve pulled some of the highlights below, though there is much, much more at the link.
Turns out they had to fight for one everyone’s favorite sequences:
[–]nschug 717 points 21 hours ago
What is your all time favorite Simpsons joke? Also thank you for doing this.
[–]JayKogen[S] 2022 points 21 hours ago
We had to fight hard for Homer falling down the canyon in Bart the Daredevil and it worked well. My favorite was getting put in the ambulance then it crashing and him falling down again.
More on “Bart the Daredevil”:
[–]tedistkrieg 36 points 1 day ago
I wrote a research paper in college about the types of humor used in the simpsons and I used the most memorable scene in Bart the Daredevil with Homer falling down the gorge. I thought it was a perfect example of the humor used.
What made you decide to have him fall down the second time?
[–]JayKogen[S] 68 points 1 day ago
as I just wrote, i just thought going through that long bit again was pure joy.
[–]hollaback_girl 459 points 21 hours ago
What’s your favorite moment from in the Simpsons writing room? What’s your most memorable?
[–]JayKogen[S] 1155 points 21 hours ago
My partner Wally threw a cup of mashed potatoes onto the ceiling tiles and they stuck as a clump there. The potatoes remained there for many many years.
[–]JayKogen[S] 1855 points 21 hours ago
I also remember pitching a joke for one of the treehouse of horror episodes where Burns is taking Homer’s brains out of his head and puts it on his own with the brain stem hanging down and says "Look at me! I’m Davey Crockett!" and then laughing at my own joke(which I never do and is not considered good form) for five minutes, falling on the floor and possibly farting. Embarrassing but true.
On black Smithers in some (but not all) Season 1 episodes:
[–]ErikF 801 points 21 hours ago
When you created Smithers, was it your intent from the start to make him gay or was that something that evolved?
[–]JayKogen[S] 1485 points 21 hours ago
Originally he was gay and black. And we actually drew him purple in his first show. But we thought it was too much so we just kept him gay.
The oft asked “what is a writers room really like?” question:
[–]OccupyTamriel 305 points 1 day ago
How’s the atmosphere in the writers team?
[–]JayKogen[S] 680 points 1 day ago
The writers room is work. Sometimes fun, sometimes boring. We tend to work as a team. It’s not competitive. If you hear a great joke from someone else you laugh. The more good jokes that you get, the faster you get to go home to your family.
Love for Krusty but not Sherri and Terri:
[–]Cfeds77 209 points 1 day ago
Favorite and least favorite character and was there any episode you regretted?
[–]JayKogen[S] 406 points 1 day ago
In every episode there are moments and jokes that simply don’t come out right and when I watch them now I still cringe. But when I watch the ones I had nothing to do with I can’t see the mistakes. Just the joy.
[–]JayKogen[S] 601 points 1 day ago
I love Krusty and I wrote alot for him. I feel like I helped give him that good old comic feel. Least favorite? Sherry And Terry. We created them and nothing much came of it.
Here’s that Hollywood Christmas parade that was mentioned in Ortved’s book:
[–]brodesto 165 points 1 day ago
What is your most memorable moment while working in The Simpsons?
[–]JayKogen[S] 324 points 1 day ago
Wow, this is odd but I really remember being in a Hollywood Christmas parade as a Simpson writer and thinking that we very strange but amazing.
Not much love for Agnes:
[–]goingglobal 63 points 1 day ago
If you could change any of the characters on the show, who would you change and why?
[–]JayKogen[S] 173 points 1 day ago
Skinner mom bugs me. Not sure why.
On “Treehouse of Horror”:
[–]tedistkrieg 125 points 1 day ago
Did you get to choose to parody To Serve Man for the first Treehouse of Horror? Where did you get the idea for Kang and Kodos?
[–]JayKogen[S] 394 points 1 day ago
We did get to choose the parody. We pitched it. We wanted to spoof the Twighlight Zone. Kang and Kodos were named by Jon Viti who’s a star trek fan. They are all Trek names. I actually drew the aliens. My only drawing on the show. The artists couldn’t figure out what our description of a one eyed octopus with fangs and a space helmet looked like. so I drew it. Loved that. have it hanging in my house.
Apparently Wallace Wolodarsky kinda looks like Otto:
[–]cupofpens2 101 points 1 day ago
Which of your artistic creations most closely resembles you physically? What about psychologically and behaviorally?
[–]JayKogen[S] 241 points 1 day ago
Otto looks like Wally. None of them look like me. I’m alot like Homer on my worst days.
And here’s the pointless and obligatory “what do you think of Zombie Simpsons?” question:
[–]tallandlanky 104 points 1 day ago
How do you feel about the quality of the writing on the show today? I feel as if the current writers are trying to rely on zany antics and celebrity guests as opposed to writing deep, emotionally touching episodes.
[–]JayKogen[S] 105 points 1 day ago
I must say I find the show still great. Every episode still has heart but after 23? years they are still kicking ass. Al Jean and Matt Selman and the rest are great.
Questions like this are utterly and completely meaningless. Maybe Kogen really thinks that, maybe he doesn’t, but he sure as shit isn’t going to say, “They suck” or some variation thereof. He works as a television writer, he knows these guys, it’s just not fair to put him on the spot like that and expect an honest answer.
There’s more at the thread, and like many Reddit “Ask Me Anythings” it gets choppier and less organized as you scroll down (and you have to expand more of the comments to get everything), but it’s a fun read. When not answering questions from Simpsons geeks on-line, Kogen is currently working on a new show called Wendell and Vinnie that’s coming to Nick @ Nite in November.