Thursday, January 17, 2019

Book Review: Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets and Outright Lies from a Lifetime of Writing for The Simpsons, By Mike Reiss with Mathew Klickstein

The Premise:
Writer and former Showrunner, Mike Reiss, recounts his life working on The Simpsons and a bunch of other, non-Simpsons enterprises.

The Good:
The Simpsons! While I admit I haven’t watched the show in years, it was a nice walk down memory lane*. The book is written** in a conversational style that is feels like you’re having a conversation with Mr. Reiss, complete with jokes a-plenty and funny anecdotes. What I most appreciate about the book is his honesty in regards to the realities of the process—the hours are long, the pressure is intense and the food is lousy. And the rewrites! Every single joke is poked, prodded, twisted, turned over and mulled until the perfect joke presents itself. I liked that he presents the process as it is and not as people envision it being—a lone writer retreats to a room and emerges with a pristine, perfect script. Creativity is a team sport and may the best joke win.

The Bad:
The non-Simpsons stuff! I actually didn’t mind the non-Simpsons stuff, it’s just that I’m not as familiar with The Critic or any of his other works. I also felt that, for a memoir, there were some opportunities for introspection that were missed. Why does he think so few women are hired in comedy? Was the Apu controversy an unintended result of hiring a predominantly Harvard Alum staff? Who is the sexiest Simpsons’ character? Is it Hans Moleman?

The Verdict:
Buy it if you have a long flight and want something light to read. Read it if you loved the first ten years of The Simpsons. Burn it if you want to try and be funny, but always take jokes waaaaaay too far. And finally, full disclosure, “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

*Side note: I own “The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family” which highlights the best moments and quotes from the first 10 years of episodes. I think I’ve read that cover-to-cover at least seven times.

**Or co-written? Or ghost-written?