The revered and famously withdrawn Simpsons Writer John Swartzwelder gave his first major interview after leaving the show nearly twenty years ago. In an exclusive interview published today by the New YorkerSwartzwelder shared a glimpse into his early career and time writing on the iconic Fox animated sitcom.
Swartzwelder is known to have written some of the Simpsons’ The best episodes he’s written in his entire career – more than any other by a single contributor in the series’ history. He is widely regarded as “one of the greatest comedy heads of all time”. His work influenced a generation of comedy writers.
In the interview, the author remembered his application to Late Night With David Letterman 1983. “I handed him two or three pages of jokes with a cover letter that included his name, address, and telephone number. All of this was stuffed into a regular envelope with the words “Free Jokes Inside!” outside. Jim later told me that it was the surprising unprofessionalism of this template that intrigued him enough to open the letter. And he called me right away, ”said Swartzwelder.
While on Saturday Night Live, Swartzwelder recalled a joke he had always regretted never airing. ‘Tragedy hit the slopes of Mount Rainier this week when a stranded hiker had to eat the people who saved him just to stay alive.’ There was a big laugh at the dress rehearsal, but only a big laugh from a big man’s back. Everyone else just sat quietly in their seats, waiting for someone to tell them a joke. So it was cut. It’s a shame, ”said Swartzwelder.
Swartzwelder revealed the writing process for the Simpsons not intended for children or adults, but to make other writers laugh. He noted, “Fortunately, many other people, both children and adults, liked the same jokes that we liked.”
Of all the episodes Swartzwelder has written, he named some of his favorites, including “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge”, “Bart the Murderer”, “Dog of Death”, “Homer at the Bat”, “Homie the Clown”, ” Bart Gets “An Elephant”, “Homer’s Enemy” and “Homer Against the Eighteenth Addition”.
When asked about his eternal influence on the Simpsons, Swartzwelder noted warmly that he is grateful that the show’s legacy has brought viewers back home to see television writers in a new light. “The Simpsons I did something that I didn’t think was possible: It got viewers to watch writers’ credits on TV shows. When I was growing up we would look at the names of the actors and maybe the director, but that was it. Now, a whole generation of viewers not only knows about writers, they wonder how we really are in real life. And they want to know what we think. And look through our windows. It’s kind of progress, and we have it The simpsons Thank you for that, ”said Swartzwelder.