Badass Writer of the Week acknowledges a single badass moment in writing every once and a while. Feel free to makes suggestions in the comments section or tweet us at @WritersBone.
By Sean Tuohy
We’ve asked it before, and we’ll ask it again...
Who doesn’t love “The Simpsons,” that belly laugh inducing, yellow-skinned family of five that shows up our television screens every Sunday night?
During its glory days “The Simpsons” mixed topical humor, goofiness, and the right amount of heart into each episode. The show has a large writing staff filled with talented young writers who pump out jokes and stories a mile a minute. Many well-known names have written for “The Simpsons,” but one name rises above the rest is arguably the most responsible for the success of the show: John Swartzwelder. The 6-foot-5 reclusive writer is almost unknown outside of “The Simpsons” world, which is a shame because he has done so much to shape and change the pop culture landscape. Swartzwelder has penned nearly a sixth of all Simpsons episode and during the golden years his name is always in the credits. Swartzwelder is known for his tight-lipped ways and refuses to do audio commentary for “The Simpsons” nor does he do interviews. To be honest, many hardcore fans think Swartzwelder does not exist at all, but a name the writing staff made up to use when they all work on an episode.
I don't believe that.
I know John Swartzwelder is real. Something in my writing bones tells me that he is very much alive. Over the years stories have emerged about him, like the one about him refusing to come into “The Simpsons” writing room because smoking was banned. He loves to smoke while he writes, so he just started mailing in scripts. That’s a badass move.
It’s known that Swartzwelder did most of his best writing at a small café in Los Angeles. He would sit in one particular booth and punch out a script while smoking (Young folks, there was actually a time when you could smoke in cafés. It was an awesome smoked-filled time).
Well, sadly the city of Los Angeles banned smoking in public indoor locations. That meant that the café would no longer allow Swartzwelder to do his thing the way he wanted to do it. Swartzwelder did what any smoker would do. He moved outside.
Wait, no he didn't.
He bought the booth from the cafe and had it shipped to his house!
Swartzwelder could not part from this booth. Maybe it was made from a magical tree that gave him powers to become a great writer. Or maybe Swartzwelder just has trouble saying good-bye. Swartwelder went on to write for “The Simpsons” for a while, and helped produce the big screen version of the show, and has penned several novels.
He has yet to give an interview.
The booth's whereabouts remain unknown.