Taking Humor Seriously: George Meyer

Posted by Michael Pinto on Aug 25, 2006 in Animation |

There’s a great article at the New Yorker which a profile George Meyer, the writer behind “The Simpsons”. The article dates back to March of 2000, but it gives some great insights into the show:

Taking Humor Seriously

“Most of the creative work on “The Simpsons” takes place at big tables in two nondescript conference spaces at Fox, which are collectively known as “the rewrite room”—or, simply, “the room.” This is where stories are conceived, fleshed out, and tinkered with, and where Meyer, according to his colleagues, is the master. He is considered by the show’s executives to be so valuable in the room that he is seldom excused from editing duties to produce complete scripts of his own. Instead, he spends almost every weekday reshaping and polishing the work of his collaborators.

Last summer, I accompanied Meyer to Fox one day and sat in on a long rewrite session, during which he and half a dozen colleagues were fussing over a crudely animated early version of an upcoming episode. Most of the jokes and ideas proffered by the writers at the table provoked no reaction whatsoever. (Polite laughter is considered counterproductive.) The atmosphere was less that of a comedy club than of a high-school classroom in which none of the students have done the assigned reading—evidence that the toughest audience for a comedian is a roomful of other comedians. I sat near the back wall and observed a phenomenon that Mike Reiss, a longtime writer, had alerted me to: “Simpsons” writers involuntarily glance at Meyer for approval when they pitch lines of their own. (Ian Maxtone-Graham, another writer, recently told a reporter, “I would rather make George Meyer laugh than get an Emmy.”)”

Taking Humor Seriously

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