Legendary Simpsons producer David Mirkin (he’s the guy took over the show in Season 5 and ran it for two of the best years ever) is doing a little interview with the AV Club about his previous show, the cult classic Get A Life starring David Letterman’s former ward Chris Elliott, the complete series of which which is finally on DVD. The first part of the interview is up, and it’s good reading. I learned way more about Mirkin’s past life than from listening to Simpsons commentaries. Like, I didn’t know he’d worked with one of the Monty Python guys, and it’s insane that he’s had full creative control of just about everything he’s ever done. Here’s some choice quotes about his comic sensibilities…
On developing an anti-sitcom:
That was a lot of what The Young Ones was about, and bringing that same sensibility to this, which is to completely be the anti-sitcom. To turn that on its head. To make fun of it. To point out to people what happy horseshit all that other stuff was. And that’s one of the reasons this show was so threatening to certain network executives.
On working with former Monty Python guy Graham Chapman on Jake’s Journey, a show in which Chapman was going to play a time-traveling knight:
We were just about to start on it [and], to make a long story short, Graham pulled a very Python-esque joke and he died. [Chuckles.] Right at the very beginning of things. And I must say that talking to Graham in the hospital, just days before he passed, he was still funnier and more brilliant than I will ever be. Even in that state. Such a classy guy, it was heartbreaking and hilarious at the same time.
On Get A Life‘s laugh tracks:
What I always found interesting was, something without a laugh track, you really wouldn’t know if it was supposed to be funny. [Laughs.] If it was weird or disturbing or funny. That’s always what excited me if we wouldn’t have a laugh track. Obviously, what we did with the laugh track is, I tried to make the laugh track pervert the show, meaning it would laugh loud at things that were particularly inappropriate. So we kind of pushed it that way. We sort of made the laugh track laugh at the fact that it’s a laugh track. Very meta. Very bizarre on several levels. Yeah, that was how we evolved into not having an audience.