Archive for the 'Simpsons Alumni' Category


Highlights from Jay Kogen on Reddit

The Telltale Head12

“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.

Hee hee:

[–]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. 


Reading Digest: Alumni Success Edition

Lisa's Sax4

“I can assure you our preschool is of the highest quality.  Over 75% of our graduates go on to first grade.” – Miss Tillingham’s School for Snotty Girls and Mama’s Boys Administrator

It’s always nice to see people who worked on The Simpsons continue to do well, and we’ve got several of them this week.  Rich Moore (Seasons 1-5, 9), Donick Cary (Seasons 7-11), Greg Daniels (Season 5-9) and Mike Reiss (um, a lot of Seasons) all either have new projects in the works or are just getting some well deserved recognition.  There’s also a lot of great references and usage, a fantastic law school graduation gift, old Twilight Zone video, and a non-ironic award for being the biggest FOX marketing whore. 


Seattle Rep Workshops New Play Inspired By The Simpsons July 15-16 – Want to see:

Seattle Repertory Theatre will workshop and perform two public readings of Anne Washburn’s new play Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play July 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the Poncho Forum. A play with music, Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play is set in a post-apocalyptic world where episodes of "The Simpsons" gain new significance as stories from a fallen civilization.

What are you really looking at when you think you’re looking at something? – This is neat.  Some researchers hooked people up to devices that measure where their eyes are actually focusing when they watch video.  There’s a clip from There Will Be Blood, a 2008 presidential debate, and the HD Zombie Simpsons opening sequence. 

Disney Announces CG Comedy Adventure Wreck-It Ralph – Disney is making a computer animated movie about a video game character, and it’s going to be directed by Simpsons (and Futurama and The Critic) alum Rich Moore. 

Saban Brands plots Christmas special – In other Simpsons alumni news, Mike Reiss is producing an animated holiday special based on monkey cartoon characters that originally started out as clothing accessories. 

Deal Me In: Startups Pursue Variations on the Groupon Model – Donick Cary is working on a discount group shopping application that uses animation to get people’s attention.  Or something, neither the link above nor this one are super clear on just how it works. 

Film Geek: Favorite Star Wars references & spoofs, part II – There’s everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Futurama, including some Simpsons stuff.  I’ll admit to being slightly disappointed in the inclusion of some Zombie Simpsons while Burns having the “Imperial March” played for him gets omitted.  Oh well, it’s still a pretty good list.

The Twilight Zone: The Shelter – YouTube of The Twilight Zone episode on which the end of “Bart’s Comet” is based. 

VEGAS 2011: Ink honoured by Fox Consumer Products – Apparently the Krusty Brand Seal of Approval has its own awards show now:

The firm was awarded Agent of the Year at The Homeys – which are given annually by Fox Consumer Products to its partners for outstanding achievement.

Slow clap.  Slow clap. 

Apple/Samsung lawsuit revised: more products included – This isn’t the world’s greatest reference or anything, I just like the way it completely describes The Simpsons in the past tense:

Remember those Itchy and Scratchy cartoons that would show up in episodes of The Simpsons from time to time? They were like Tom and Jerry, but uncensored. One clip I can remember shows Itchy trying to outdo Scratchy by threatening him with a larger weapon than the one he was holding. Itchy retaliated with an even bigger one. And so, the duel continued until they had guns the size of the planet. That is exactly what this Apple vs. Samsung lawsuit is turning in to.

The man behind The Office has long history in comedy – Unlike the other Simpsons alums in this week’s post, Greg Daniels doesn’t have a shiny new project.  But here’s some deserved butt kissing for him anyway, including this fawning whoopsie:

In fact, it was The Simpsons connection that first endeared Daniels to Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the creators of the original British version of the Office.

When the British comedian discovered that Daniels had written Badman Homer, in which the Simpson patriarch becomes public enemy No. 1 after being falsely accused of sexual harassment by a feminist-leaning babysitter, they knew they had their man.

Review: Duke Nukem Forever (PC) – Heh:

Duke Nukem was one of the “raddest” video game action heroes of the late 80′s/early 90′s. It was a simple time – Unsolved Mysteries was scary, The Simpsons were funny, and the Australian Classification Board was run by SEGA.

Make your Franklin – This is a number of alternate images of a $100 bill, with Benjamin Franklin either altered to look like someone from pop culture or replaced by same.  They’re neat, if weird.  For example, the Homer one also has a Disney swastika.  Huh?

Top Five – T.V. Dads – Homer checks in at #3 here.

Top 20 TV Theme Songs of All Time – Lots of good nostalgia YouTube here, with The Simpsons grabbing the penultimate spot. 

Simpsons Video of the Week: Al Gore – Lenny, who’s got a guest post coming up next week, brings us video of Al Gore celebrating. 

The 2011 Tony Awards…In 10 Words – Here are your hosts, Tyne Daly and Hal Linden. 

Like Wearing Nothing at All, Nothing at All … – This Captain Marvel action figure bears a striking resemblance to skiing Flanders.

Natural History: Anthony Lepore and Mark Hagen – Nice reference:

Nature still does this sometimes, but as in Werner Herzog‘s Grizzly Man, there’s some element of collective dumb surprise when a modern man who frolics with wild bears gets eaten by one, as if nature hadn’t got the memo we’d already beaten it. A classroom nature film from The Simpsons sums it up best: Man Versus Nature: The Road to Victory.

Five Terrifying Treehouse of Horror Segments – Not a trace of Zombie Simpsons.  Excellent.

PlayStation Vita: It Only Does Too Much At Once – Excellent reference:

Fans of The Simpsons know the episode, "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" where Homer receives the green light to design his own car, an opportunity that proves disastrous when he throws practicality out the window in favor of bloated excess.

The point? Less is more. That, and Homer should keep his day job at the power plant.

It’s a memorable scene (Homer grinning from inside the automobile, his brother’s successful career evaporating before our eyes), one we cannot shake since experiencing PlayStation Vita, Sony’s new portable system. It’s without question one sexy piece of hardware, but the chance of Sony overextending itself is quite real.

I would drive a Homer.  I don’t know if I’d pay $82,000 for it, but I would drive it. 

A little touch of Springfield – I put this up on Twitter on Monday, but it’s too cool not to mention again.  A woman carved 71 plywood Simpsons figures for her son’s graduation from law school in 2008.  The picture is amazing. 

‘The Killing’ Gets Picked Up For Season 2 – Heh:

To paraphrase Homer Simpson, "I suppose ‘The Killing’ will be fun enough."

DRINK(s): Bartender Interview at the Beach Tavern – Moderate usage:

Homer Simpson once said, "The only guys who wear Hawaiian shirts are gay guys and big fat party animals." Mark Gill, bartender of the Beach Tavern, is the latter.

The actual quote is, “There’s only two kinds of guys who wear those shirts, gay guys and big fat party animals”, but I don’t think that would’ve worked as well in the sentence. 

The Wry Successes of Archer – But Do They Come Too Late? – This is a rather long discourse on the rise and fall of smart animation on things like Adult Swim.  I don’t agree with the main premise, that the fantastic Archer is behind the times, but I do agree with this:

The Simpsons was slipping in its old age, but still kicking (it’s never really been again what it was in the nineties).

If there’s one thing Zombie Simpsons does, it’s kick.  Mostly it’s audience, but still. 


Ned Flanders: Party Guy

“That was Edna Krabappel.  You only get one chance with Edna Krabappel.” – Sideshow Bob

Via comes an interview with Marcia Wallace.  She talks about her career, how she got started and, naturally, Mrs. Krabappel.  It’s a neat little read, but there’s also this nauseating bit about an upcoming episode of Zombie Simpsons:

Carol had better luck than poor Edna, she is looking for love in all the wrong places. I just did an episode last week where I have a romance with Ned Flanders. And there is going to be an online poll to ask America whether they should get together.

The only question I have is whether or not this is going to be more teeth grindingly painful to watch than the time they awkwardly shoved Marge and Ned together.  Since Zombie Simpsons is nothing if not adept at disappointing its audience, I’ll withhold judgment until I’ve seen it.  The online poll is a nice touch, albeit one that reeks of desperation to still be relevant. 

As much as we loathe Zombie Simpsons around here, we do love Marcia Wallace.  The interview is to promote an appearance by her and some other actors in Chicago this weekend (today and tomorrow).  It’s mostly people like her, recognizable actors who never become big stars.  The guy who played Phil Leotardo on The Sopranos and told Joe Pesci to get his shine box in Goodfellas will be there, as will Cindy Morgan of Caddyshack and TRON fame.  So if you’re in Chicago and don’t have plans for the weekend, you could do worse. 


Simpsons Alumni Update: George Meyer & the Mr. Burns Toad

Mr. Burns Toad

Both images from Conservation International.

“Why here’s the fellow.  Wiry, fast, firm proud buttocks, reminds me of me.” – C.M. Burns

Deep in the jungle primeval in Colombia, a couple of new species were discovered, a frog and two toads, to be precise.  One of them, pictured above of the genus Rhinella, was dubbed, in an excellent publicity ploy, the “Mr. Burns” toad.  Unlike that “Homer Simpson gene” from a few months ago, these scientists have a Simpsons alum to back up their gimmick.  Here’s Dr. Robin Moore:

"As for the new beaked toad, it is easily one of the strangest amphibians I have ever seen. Its long pointy snout-liked nose reminds me of the nefarious villain, Mr. Burns, from The Simpsons television series."

After seeing pictures of the new species, Simpsons series long time writer/producer and amphibian enthusiast, George Meyer said of the resemblance, "The toad’s imperious profile and squinty eyes indeed look like Monty Burns." Meyer is an active member of Conservation International’s Chairman’s Council.

Here’s the toad looking imperial and godlike:

Mr. Burns Toad2

(via Columbia Reports)


Simpsons Alumni Update: Lovitz & Shearer Interviews

Two quick alumni updates for you:

1)  Lovitz takes his show on the road – with a stop in Calgary – This is an extensive Calgary Herald interview with Jon Lovitz about three nights of standup he’s doing there this weekend.  This makes me sad that we missed another season or two of The Critic:

Arguably, Lovitz’s finest post-SNL moment came in 1994-95 with his animated series, The Critic, in which he voiced the lead role of movie critic Jay Sherman. The Critic got off to a shaky start on the ABC network but things were looking up for the show when it was picked up by FOX and programmed following The Simpsons on Sunday nights.

The Critic’s ultimate cancellation still baffles Lovitz to this day.

"We retained 90 per cent of The Simpsons’ audience, and The Simpsons’ ratings were way higher then than they are now. . . . People loved it. They watched it. . . . It was a hit. And they cancelled it anyway. I don’t know why. . . .

"That’s showbiz. There’s no rhyme or reason sometimes."

2)  Q&A With Harry Shearer: Voice of The Simpsons Speaking Up for New Orleans – Via Defend New Orleans comes an even longer interview with Harry Shearer.  With the exception of the sweet photo montage of Shearer with all of his Simpsons characters, there isn’t a lot of entertainment content here.  (It is a cool image though.)  But if you feel like finding out once again how obtuse and scientifically illiterate the American media is, this is pure heroin.  Also, Shearer rules.  But you knew that already.


Simpsons Alumni Update: Harry Shearer (He Just Won’t Stop!)

Harry Shearer’s documentary about how Katrina and the Army Corps of Engineers fucked New Orleans will be going to theaters one night only: Monday August 30th.  Trailer:

Local show times all across the US can be found here.  Give ’em hell, Harry.


Simpsons Alumni Update: Harry Shearer (Yet Again)

Harry Shearer went on the local New York FOX affiliate’s morning program yesterday to flog his new album, “Greed and Fear”.  It contains humorous songs about the recession, one of which you can listen to on YouTube.  The FOX affiliate’s website has video of his four minute appearance here

Far and away the best part is when he does a couple of Simpsons voices over the halfhearted yet squirming objections of the eminently replaceable local FOX morning people.  It starts around the 2:15 mark of the video.  The hostess implies that he’s not allowed to do any of the voices and he then proceeds to do Burns and Smithers.  She then, as if this would do anything but encourage him, mentions that he’s under contract not to do those things.  She’s laughing all through this, but it’s a nervous laugh and you you can tell she’s at least a little skittish about violating FOX rules like that.  Hi-larious. 

The only piece of Simpsons news, and it’s not really that, is comes when Generic FOX Morning Guy asks about a sequel to the movie and he calls it “inevitable”.  But then points out that the actors are the last to know. 


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