Best 'Simpsons' Moments: Castmembers Share Their Favorite Contributions to Celebrate the 500th Episode

David Cohen co-created Futurama with Matt Groening, but before that he wrote some of our favorite episodes of The Simpsons (like "Lisa the Skeptic" and "Much Apu About Nothing") and before that, he earned a master's in computer science from Berkeley, and before that, he went to Harvard where he was president of the Harvard Lampoon and earned a degree in physics.  

Cohen's favorite contribution is to the episode "Lisa On Ice" because the scene in which Bart and Lisa fight ("I'm going to be kicking air, like this, and if any part of you should fill that air it's your own fault") is based on how he and his sister fought as kids. But, as well he should be, Cohen is also proud of this line sung by Troy McClure from a rather memorable in-episode musical: "I hate every ape I see/From chimpan-A to chimpan-Z."

Luis Escobar has worked on The Simpsons for 18 years. He started as a character layout artist, later became a story reel artist, and is currently a storyboard artist. You can follow him on Twitter and read his illustrated blog to learn about what all of that means. He thought answering my question would be difficult, but it ended up being a easy, in part because he worked on the 500th episode:

I happen to have storyboarded Act 1 and a small part of Act 2 on the 500th episode. It was the very first full act I've ever had to storyboard and was one of the most difficult assignments I had ever been given to work on, mostly because they gave me less time to do it than they usually give the storyboard artists. This was in part due to the circumstances surrounding the 500th episode. They were planning to show part of Act 1 at the San Diego comic con that year, but at the last minute they decided not to. Nevertheless, in spite of all the complications that came with doing the assignment, I managed to finish the storyboard on time. I'm very happy and proud of the way it turned out.

Michael Price  penned the 500th episode, "At Last Long Leave" and the Annie award winning "Yokel Chords," along with several other episodes. Price likes the Mets, is married to the writer Monica Holloway, and is remarkably tall (possibly taller than Ian Maxtone-Graham). He also wrote >Lego Star Wars: The Padawan Menace.

Price said that his favorite contribution to the show is Homer's summation of what Christmas means in a speech he wrote for "'Tis The Fifteenth Season" ("Let's just say that on this day a million years ago, a dude was born who most of us think was magic--but some don't, and that's cool . . ."). He wrote the episode, and although scripts tend to change significantly from start to finish, Price said this speech "pretty much stayed that way through all drafts of the episode."

Taylor Allen has worked on The Simpsons since 2006 when he got a mysterious Deep Throat-esque phone call asking if he was interested in PA'ing on the then unannounced Simpsons Movie, which made him feel like he had discovered plutonium by accident. When not editing The Simpsons, he writes and shoots short films, resulting in two IMDb pages. (By the way, if anyone knows how to fix that, he would like this one and this one joined into one). 

Most people on the show would say my biggest contribution ever came the day that I 'accidentally' hit reply all to an email regarding the building owners turning off the A/C every weekend, and I argued how that was both energy inefficient and hellish for those of us working overtime on weekends. But outside the intangibles of all the better artwork that come out of a well climate-controlled building, I'd say my proudest contribution to The Simpsons has been the time I decided to add a song of my own choosing to a montage in an upcoming episode-- when the re-write came back there was a script note from Al Jean saying 'please clear.' I felt like I had influence over how the budget was allocated on the episode and it was intoxicating.

Liz Climo, a native of northern California, is a story reel artist currently working on The Simpsons. She lives in Eagle Rock with her husband and two little dogs. She posts illustrations and comics regularly on her blog.

My favorite personal contribution is probably the acting I get to do on the show. I know that may sound strange, but while my job on the show is as an artist, my drawings are not really what end up standing out since the final product always looks more or less the same. When I get a scene, I have the freedom (with the guidance of my director, of course) to act out a scene as I please. I listen to the voice track (which is recorded beforehand) and figure out what acting will work best. When I get a really funny scene, this is especially fun because it's always a challenge to make the acting as funny as possible to help sell the joke. The same applies when doing a scene with a lot of action or physical comedy.



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FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

As a person who has loved the Simpson's since The Tracy Ullman Show, I feel the need to bring up that I was the person who came up with the word 'meh.'  It first came about when a group of friends and I were walking down the beach.  (around '91 or '92)  One of my friend's says to me "what the hell is that on your foot?!?"  I look down and it looks like either oil or feces, so I just replied "meh" and walked down to the ocean to rinse it off.   Anyway, I got enough of a laugh out of that that the word became part of my lexicon and has been ever since. 

So when the Simpson's episode aired with the word, I was giddy.  I went to all of my friend's to show them that the word had actually made it into an actual Simpson's episode.  At the time, they all just blew me off and said they probably got it from somewhere else.  It was only after searches came back saying "The Simpsons" episode made up the word that my friend's had to concede that I had been using it for roughly a decade prior to the airing.

MANvsGEORGE
MANvsGEORGE

Denise, what a fun insider look at the people who bring The Simpsons to life! It's stunning how much work is involved in creating and sustaining the show -- and how much heart and soul and personal quirkiness goes into it. I love reading about these personal-fave moments. More, please! 

It would also be fun to hear someday about the most misunderstood episodes (e.g., episodes that generated hate mail from groups they expected to love the episode, and fan mail from groups they expected to hate the ep), if that makes any sense. :-)

Denise Du Vernay
Denise Du Vernay

Thanks! It was a lot of fun to collect these stories. I especially like Dana Gould's episode inspired by the experience he and his wife had adopting their daughter from China and David X. Cohen's contribution to the season six episode "Lisa On Ice" (which he didn't "write") based on his childhood fights with his own sister. The second is a prime example of how, although one writer creates the original script, the revisions and the final product are usually very much a collaboration. I like the idea of collecting some more Simpson moments inspired by the writers' personal experiences.

As for the misunderstood/hate mail-generating episodes, there are a few famous examples ("Bart vs. Australia," "The Principal and the Pauper," "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday," etc.) but I'll bet there are more to be gleaned. Great idea!

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