George, Hi-Originally Posted by Channel Surfer
When we wrote our Simpsons scripts, it was always both of us sitting at the same computer, going line by line together (having first mapped out the story together, etc.) These days, we have a much more refined system that works much more efficiently, with the same great results, but that's how we did it then.
(A side note about that computer -- this was the very early days of the internet when most of America was not hooked up. Bill was a very early adapter, logging in to inform those early Simpsons websites about upcoming episodes, etc. This was when logging in was still sort of difficult, at least to me it was!)
When it came to running the show, we would often split the duties, like one of us would go the editing bay, while the other one ran the room. But we would always keep each other informed (like watching a cut of the show, both of us would watch it, then give the other one notes and that person would stay with the editor, do a pass, etc. This is an incredibly boring detail, isn't it?)
Do we have similar senses of humor? Absolutely. We've been friends since we were in high school in Washington, D.C., so our sense of humor sort of developed in tandem from that point -- we started a humor magazine together back in that high school and it was from that point on we knew we wanted to work in comedy (as teens, we both liked stuff like National Lampoon, SCTV, that sort of thing.)
And we've been working together so long, we often know what the other one is thinking or what the other one might do even if they aren't there.
We are different people, so we have different personalities, but we work very well as a management team, and we've always been big believers in the group effort, where we really listen to people under us (you never know where a great idea might come from), and when those people demonstrate their abilities, we place more trust in them -- for example, we would often have two rewrite rooms going at once, and sometimes one of these rooms might be run by a senior writer, like David Cohen or Steve Tompkins.
It also helped that we were close to Matt - he was one of our favorite cartoonists when we were in college and he was doing "Life In Hell", and when we finally got to work with him, we found we almost always agreed on things like tone, stories, that sort of thing.
We also worked extremely closely with the animators, and I think the trust and respect we gave them helped them really rise to the occasion. It also helped that we had animation geniuses like Matt and David Silverman and Brad Bird giving us and them advice.
Part of the reason the Simpsons is so great is because it's a mammoth group effort by some of the funniest, most talented people around. But is does fall on the showrunner/showrunners to lead the troops. That's one of the reasons why we're so indebted to people like Al & Mike and Dave Mirkin, they taught us how to be great showrunners.
Definitely more than you wanted to know! Ok, back to work.