Though Bart remains 10 years old, The Simpsons begins its 23rd season Sunday, September 25th on FOX. Not just the longest-running animated program in American television history, The Simpsons is also the longest-running American sitcom, and beat out Gunsmoke to become the longest-running primetime, scripted series.
The brainchild of Matt Groening, The Simpsons originally appeared as a series of animated shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987. Executive Producer James L. Brooks liked the popular shorts, which were then developed into a stand-alone, half-hour program and debuted as such on December 17, 1989. Bart (Nancy Cartwright), Lisa (Yeardley Smith), Maggie, Marge (Julie Kavner) and Homer (Dan Castellaneta) hit the big-time that night and have reigned on FOX ever since.
The show at times stirs up controversy for its portrayal of a dysfunctional, but loving family, and not only cemented the phrase “D’oh!” into the minds of millions, but also launched dozens of other catchphrases. From “Don’t have a cow, man!”, “Ay Carumba!”, “Eat my shorts!” and “Cowabunga!” The Simpsons has its own vernacular that continues to penetrate pop culture. Nancy Cartwright’s interview (she voices Bart Simpson, Ralph Wiggum, Nelson Muntz, Todd Flanders, Kearney, and Database) is now available online. As Mr. Burns would say as he craftily twiddles his fingers, “Excellent.”
Cartwright was originally going to audition for the role of Lisa, but when she saw Bart Simpson described as “Ten years old, school-hating underachiever and proud of it”- she knew that was the role she wanted:
On Bart Simpsons’ memorable catchphrases:
On how she differentiates between similar characters (“Nelson” v. “Kearney” and “Ralph” v “Todd Flanders”):
On how people who criticize the show respond when they find out she plays Bart:
On The Simpsons‘ place in American pop culture:
About this interview:
In her Archive interview, Nancy Cartwright describes how she got her start as a voiceover artist. Active in speech club in high school, she discovered her talent with voices and pursued Communications in college, first at Ohio University, then at UCLA, to be closer to the industry. She recalls training with acclaimed voiceover artist Daws Butler, her first professional job on Richie Rich, and her on-camera work as a guest actor on Cheers and as the lead in the television movie, Marian Rose White. Cartwright then details her work on The Simpsons, originally a series of sketches on The Tracey Ullman Show. She recalls going in to audition for the part of “Lisa Simpson” and walking out with the role of “Bart Simpson.” Cartwright outlines the recording schedule of the show, other characters she voices, expanding the show to a half hour program, her Emmy win for Outstanding Voiceover Actor, and her favorite episodes. She also comments on other shows to which she’s contributed (Rugrats, Kim Possible) and speaks of her extensive charity work. Jenni Matz conducted the interview on March 17, 2011 in Northridge, CA.