Jay Kogen was one of the OG Simpsons writers. He, with his writing partner Wallace Wolodarsky, wrote such classic episodes as “Bart the Daredevil” and “Last Exit to Springfield.” He did an AMA yesterday to quench our undying desire for more Simpsons info. Here are the best parts:
On Phil Hartman:
Phil was a pal of mine from the Groundlings improv group in L.A. I saw him the night before he died. It was a tragedy. Horrible. Phil’s voice is pretty distinctive. Hard to replace. Easy to make new characters so, we just let it go. (I created Lionel Hutz)
On what he thinks of Family Guy:
It’s amazingly funny. Not as warm and real but very funny. Sometimes it’s mean for no reason but I do laugh alot when I watch… Family Guy is great. The folks at the Simpsons think it’s a ripoff of our show but it’s not. It’s a ripoff of many things but mostly it’s very funny and different from our show. I have watched many episodes. Aside from being too mean, it’s very dark and funny.
On his favorite Simpsons joke:
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.
On the characters he created:
I wrote (with my partner Wallace Wolodarsky) the episodes that introduced OTTO, BURNS, SMITHERS, ABE SIMPSON, KANG AND KODOS, HIBBERT, NICK RIVERA, FRINK, and hundreds more. My favs are Kang and Kodos because I drew them.
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.
On a certain celebrity guest star:
Weirdest was Micheal Jackson who wouldn’t let us use his name and we had to hire a guy to sing for him because he wasn’t allowed to sing. He asked for 20 cases of evian water and a room full of room heaters and he never drank the water or went to the room.
On the atmosphere in the writers’ room:
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.
On kids not being allowed to watch The Simpsons growing up:
We went in thinking the show is FOR ADULTS and kids under 5 should NOT be watching. We were fine with parents not letting their kids watch. We made it for ourselves and didn’t think that Homer or Bart SHOULD be role models. They are simply characters. Flawed characters. But they do have good qualities but anyone basing their parenting style on a cartoon has bigger issues than our dumb show.
On his favorite and least favorite characters:
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.
On his favorite Mr. Burns joke:
I weigh as much as my clothes and my keys.
On Conan O’Brien:
On Conan’s first day a pigeon flew threw a window and died in his office. I tried to convince him that somehow that was good luck.