On a recent episode of his Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend podcast, the former late-night host was asked by guest Ed Sheeran about his time as a writer and producer on the series from 1992 to 1993. As it turns out, the experience wasn't nearly as magical as many might believe.
"So many people think, 'Oh my god, this epic television show [that's] known for its really good writers,' these people I got to work with are insanely talented, and the room is just awful. The room is terrible," O'Brien teased. "It looks like the worst — I mean, it did at the time, I think it's much nicer now — there was just a bad shag carpet. Sofas that, if you're in your first year at college or university, you just get them off the sidewalk."
He noted that the writers would often "sit there and eat fried food" in the dilapidated room while waiting for inspiration to strike. "There was a writer who smoked all the time who sat next to me," O'Brien recalled, "so when I die, it will be because of him."
They also got up to some pretty strange hijinks in between penning Emmy award-winning episodes, too. "It wasn't sexy or fun or cool at all," he admitted. "I remember, we all chewed up some caramel and put it together into a big blob and mashed it up into the ceiling and then tried to get things to stick to it because you'll do anything to pass the time."
Earlier in the podcast, O'Brien, who penned classic Simpsons episodes such as "Marge vs. the Monorail" and "Homer Goes to College," explained the process of pitching an episode and the joy of getting it approved.
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images; FOX Conan O'Brien; Homer Simpson
"I would go and say, 'here's what I think should happen,' and I would have all these beats and ideas for an episode," he explained. "And, if they liked it, there was a little gong in the room… if the executive producer was really laughing, someone would get up and bang the gong and say, 'That's going to be an episode.'"
He added, "I remember the couple of times where they banged the gong when I said my episode and I was so excited."
Listen to O'Brien talk about the Simpsons and ceiling caramel in the clip above.
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