Like many across the world, I consider The Simpsons a formative show in my life. Its particular brand of comedy shaped so many in different generations. When you have a show that's been on the air for over 30 years, writers come and go. But one casts a shadow longer than others. 

John Swartzwelder is almost a myth of a person. He penned dozens of episodes, and some of his are widely regarded as the best of the series. All in all, he wrote 59 episodes of the show. And recently, he sat down with the New Yorker to talk about his experiences. 

When it comes to writing that much, I cannot imagine picking a favorite. And neither can Swartzwelder, who told the New Yorker, "I don’t have one I prefer over all the others, but I do have some favorites I always enjoy watching. '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 vs. the Eighteenth Amendment.'"

I can tell you this, that's basically a list of my favorite episodes. And many fans feel the same way. 

And according to legend, most of those episodes are the way Swartzwelder wrote them in the room. He supposedly never had his scripts edited or punched up too much.

When told that they heard his scripts had over 50% of their jokes and situations intact from his first drafts, Swartzwelder said, "If those numbers are correct, part of the reason for my higher percentage might be because I always reacted with great dismay, rage, and even horror every time one of my jokes was cut. The other writers were more grown-up about it when their jokes were cut. And see what it got them? Now everyone is laughing at their percentages."

While these answers are funny, I think we should point out that no show is as good as The Simpsons without great collaboration behind the scenes and that helps every writer hone their skills. 

One of the best things a show like The Simpsons did was get the public talking about writers in general. We saw people like James L. Brooks, Conan O'Brien, Mike Scully, and Bill Oakley rise in the room and create singular works of comedy art. 

That's the legacy Swartzwelder seems most proud of, saying, "I’m certainly pleased that people still like the episodes I did. I would say that all the praise makes me humble, but, of course, praise does the exact opposite. But I am pleased by the attention. The Simpsons did something I didn’t think possible: it got viewers to look at writers’ credits on TV shows. When I was growing up, we looked at the actors’ names, and maybe the director, but that’s it. Now a whole generation of viewers not only knows about writers, they’re wondering what we’re really like in real life. And they want to know what we’re thinking. And look through our windows. That’s progress, of a sort, and we have The Simpsons to thank for it."

I loved hearing all these quotes. I think the more we hear about the writers' processes, the more we will get people trying to write for themselves, and bringing the best shows and movies forward. 

What were your favorite quotes here? Let us know in the comments. 

Check out the entire interview at the New Yorker.  

Source: New Yorker