Interview with Simpsons' Great John Swartzwelder ⚐03 May 2021
John Swartzwelder, writer of some of the greatest episodes of The Simpsons (like “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge”, “Homer at the Bat”, “Krusty Gets Kancelled”, “Itchy & Scratchy Land”, and many many many many more), which contained some of the greatest lines from the show, like:
“Y’ello? You’ll have to speak up. I’m wearing a towel.”
“We are now approaching our final destination, Itchy and Scratchy Land. The amusement park of the future where nothing can “possa-bly” go wrong. Uh, possibly go wrong. That’s the first thing that’s ever gone wrong.”
“My eyes! The goggles do nothing!”
If you like The Simpsons, those make you laugh. And you will like this interview with Swartzwelder, who responded to this interview with the same comedic wit that he wrote his episodes or his insanely funny detective novels.
John Hughes was another writer who was working in Chicago advertising at the time. He has been credited with the famous credit-card shaving test, for Edge. Did you know John?
John and I had a few mutual friends, so I knew who he was, but the only time I ever sat down with him was when he tried to hire me to work for him at Leo Burnett, one of the biggest, richest, and boringest—to me—advertising agencies in town. Charlie the Tuna, Tony the Tiger, that sort of thing. I almost took the job, because the money was good and the view was terrific, but I discovered I wouldn’t have an office of my own. I would have to work in a kind of horse-stall setup, in the middle of a huge open area full of similar horse stalls. See those tragic figures down there? One of them is going to be you.
Well, I’d always had my own office, so I said no. Later, when John was making a million dollars per second directing movies, it occurred to me that maybe I should have taken that job, after all. When he went to Hollywood, I could have hung onto his leg. Nothing wrong with horse stalls, when you think about it. Horses like them.
I agree. I’m looking through your window as I type this next question: What do you make of the compliment “Swartzweldian”?
I guess I understand what they’re driving at, and it all sounds very complimentary, and I thank everybody for that, but I can’t help thinking “Swartzweldian” is about the most awkward-sounding word in the English language. I mean, I thought “Oakleyesque” and “Vittiriffic” [after “Simpsons” writers Bill Oakley and Jon Vitti] were bad, but “Swartzweldian”!
So how would you describe your sense of humor, your comedic sensibility?