Ah, to be a fly on the wall of the writers' room during the early days of "The Simpsons." Well, we'll do you one better: onetime "Simpsons" scribes Al Jean, Mike Reiss, Jay Kogen, Jeff Martin, and Conan O'Brien all gathering on O'Brien's online chat show "Serious Jibber-Jabber" for an in-depth convo about the early days of the iconic animated series, their personal lives, and more. And while the series is intended to be more contemplative and less jokey, with this group of comedic geniuses (Jean, Reiss, O'Brien, and Martin all attended Harvard!) gathered in a spirited round table, the jokes write themselves.
[Related: Best 'Simpsons' Guest Stars Ever]
You'd think, with an idea like "The Simpsons," there'd be no hesitation to jump in with both feet, but that wasn't the case. Kogen, whose father was also a TV comedy writer, tried to dissuade his son from signing on with the animated juggernaut, saying, "You're nuts. Don't ever do that. You'll ruin your career." As it turns out, father doesn't always know best.
From Harvard to a flophouse? Those early days in the writers' room were magic, as O'Brien said, but far from Hollywood glamorous. In fact, their first creative space was "like a heroin den in a bad part of town," O'Brien joked. Martin remembers his wife and daughter, 2 years old at the time, coming to visit in matching sundresses and then vowing later to never visit again.
Insights into the last episode: Reiss shared that during the first season, Matt Groening already had ideas for how the series would end. "We've had a lot of episodes that could have been great last episodes," added Jean, "like Maggie talking, like the behind-the-music parody. I think when it comes, it may just be something like that."
For now, this crew of comedy virtuosos -- most of whom left the show in 1993 -- will always look back on their "Simpsons" experience fondly. "This is a special thing, you know, the highlight of my career and the career of almost everybody that's been there," Jean reminisced.
[Related: Nat Geo's 'The '80s' Miniseries]
To watch the "Simpsons" writers' reunion on "Serious Jibber-Jabber With Conan O'Brien," visit http://teamcoco.com on April 15.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Mike Reiss