Simpsons writer says
"hi-dee-ho" to Wave
By Anton Vidgen
"I see many young people in the crowd
so I'm going try and limit my use of the word motherfucker,"
was one of the first phrases Simpsons writer Tim Long
told a packed crowd at The Wave yesterday.
Born in Manitoba then moving to Exeter, ON,
Long said he always wanted to come to Western, but decided against
it when his false identification was seized by bouncers at The
Ceeps. Deciding life at Western was useless without ever being
able to enter the renowned bar, Long opted instead for a bachelor's
degree at the University of Toronto.
Toying with the idea of becoming a professor,
Long soon decided a "professor ranked somewhere between
a pickpocket and hobo."
Long started his career in comedy writing
at Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher in 1994 then
moved to The Late Show with David Letterman in 1995,
becoming lead writer in 1997. But the cartoon industry beckoned
and Long fell in with The Simpsons in 1998 and has
been there ever since.
The audience was treated to excerpts from
Long's favourite episodes, from the crazy cat-throwing woman,
to the gay steel mill and Homer's fantastical dream of the land
One of the biggest dilemmas for the writers,
Long said, was deciding how stupid Homer should be. "At
no point should Homer be stupider than a dog," he remarked.
"The question then is, what kind of dog."
Long said writers took many opportunities
to test the limits of both TV viewers and network executives
alike. In one episode Long wrote, Principal Skinner was caught
in a volleyball bag and asked hamster Nibbles to assist him.
"Nibbles, chew through my ball sack," Skinner said
in the show. According to Long, the line barely made it past
Long's favourite character? "I'm partial
to Ralph Wiggum; he's sort of a retard-Confucius," he said.
Inspiration for the show? "Salt, lime
What makes Long laugh? Curb Your Enthusiasm
and The Onion Web site.
What are his bosses like? "The people
who run the FOX network - in a strictly high school sense -
"One thing that has kept the show going
are the celebrities," Long said, adding British Prime Minister
Tony Blair, actor Sarah Michelle Gellar and rocker Keith Richards
have all made recent appearances. "These people are so
keen to get on the show, we can treat them however we want,"
Long told of one time where he was driving
with the boy band N'Sync in California. "If I crash the
car," he recalled asking himself, "am I doing Western
civilization a favour?"
Long said The Simpsons is likely
to end in 2005 with a feature-length movie coming to screens
one or two years after.
"I learned everything I wanted to know
about the show," said Andrew Hemphill, a second-year biology
"We never thought he would be standing
in front of a crowd with a beer in his hand," said Dorothy
Long, Tim's mother.