For Simpsons fans who have a very strong opinion on which specific assortment of episodes represent”the good ones,” the mere actuality that mythical writer John Swartzwelder gave a very rare interview to The New Yorkerought to be enough to click that link ASAP and see whether he has anything to say about “Homer’s Enemy” or the story that he got special approval to work at home and then bought the booth he was able to write in at his favorite diner and had it installed in his house (yeshe addresses both things). For anyone else, here’s the pitch: Swartzwelder is arguably (possibly arguably) the ideal writer to have functioned The Simpsons, responsible for nearly all of the best jokes at the top episodes until he left the show in 2003. He is also famously reclusive and rarely ever gives interviews, meaning this is not just an insight to some dazzling author’s creative process, but one of the few insights of this sort actually –and also the interview occurs to be really funny.
In the interview, Swartzwelder clarifies that among the reasons he got into humor writing was because it looked like an easy job, or at least a project where he can do anything he wanted whenever he wanted. He speaks about getting a big laugh from a play he wrote as a child, but not from what he thought was the funniest part, and how he later mailed unsolicited packets of jokes to Late Night With David Letterman in hopes of getting hired. He briefly wrote for SNL and on several sitcoms, but writing jokes for comedy zine (like:”They can kill the Kennedys, why can not they make a cup of coffee that tastes good?”) Got him noticed by Simpsons producer Sam Simon, who brought him into work on the show.
The whole thing is really interesting, even when you’re strangely not a fan of classic Simpsons, and it includes details on how the writers worked, which episodes are Swartzwelder’s favorites, and also the way his approach to writing episodes could involve getting through it as quickly as possible (despite poor jokes and placeholder lines) then go back and update it later. He takes credit for introducing the word”meh” to Simpsons canon, he explains that he writes Homer as if he is a talking dog (“One moment he’s the saddest man in the world, because he is only lost his job, or dropped his sandwich, or unintentionally killed his family. Then, another second, he is the happiest man in the world”), and dismisses Simpsons fans with”Swartzweldian” as an adjective because it seems so awkward, Preparing a Wonderful one-word punchline: