September 12, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 9  

Front Page >> News > Simpsons writer says "hi-dee-ho" to Wave


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Simpsons writer says "hi-dee-ho" to Wave

By Anton Vidgen
Gazette Staff

"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 of chocolate.

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 FOX censors.

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 and tequila."

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 - are retards."

"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," he added.

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 student.

"We never thought he would be standing in front of a crowd with a beer in his hand," said Dorothy Long, Tim's mother.



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