The Simpsons writers’ room was the origin of many of the greatest jokes in television history. It was also a total dump.
On a recent episode of the Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend podcast, host and former Simpsons writer Conan O’Brien was asked by guest Ed Sheeran if he had any stories about his time on the animated series. “What’s funny is that, you know, I was there from… let’s see… Simpsons fans know everything, and they get upset that I don’t know it because I was there and I was there during a fairly early stage considering how long it’s run,” Conan said. First off, yes, we do. Secondly, “a fairly early stage” is a nice way of saying “the golden era.”
After sharing how episodes were pitched, O’Brien discussed the urine-soaked hellhole (or pee pee-soaked heckhole) that was the Simpsons writers’ room. “So many people think, ‘Oh my god, this epic television show known for its really good writers,’ these people I got to work with are insanely talented, and the room is just awful. The room is terrible,” he said. “It looks like the worst — I mean, it did at the time, I think it’s much nicer now — there was just a bad shag carpet. Sofas that if, y’know, you’re in your first year at college or university, you just get them off the sidewalk.” You can see it for yourself here.
The writers would “sit there and eat fried food” (and Butterfinger BB’s), and O’Brien sat next to another writer who “smoked all the time… so when I die, it will be because of him.” Sounds like John Swartzwelder.
You can watch a clip from the podcast above.