The Simpsons' Mike Reiss Talks About Unexpected Success and Superheroes' Jewish Origins

In 1989, Mike Reiss was hired with longtime writing partner Al Jean to join the original staff of The Simpsons. What he believed would be a six-week summer job turned into a gargantuan hit, now in its 22nd season. He and Jean were the series showrunners for more than two seasons, overseeing the writing of some of The Simpsons' most enduring episodes. (Fans should seek out the DVD releases and listen to the commentary tracks, dozens of which feature incredible anecdotes and insights from Reiss and Jean.)

Although he continues to work on The Simpsons, Reiss went on to create The Critic and Queer Duck. He has contributed to The Oblongs as well as the screenplays for the Ice Age movies and The Simpsons Movie. As prolific as he is, he has also found time to write 17 children's books, beginning with How Murray Saved Christmas.

On Monday, July 25, Reiss appears with the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival at the Castro Theatre following a selection of Jewish-themed episodes from animated TV programs, including the classic “Like Father, Like Clown” from The Simpsons. At the event, he will discuss the contributions of Jewish writers to animation and comedy. Reiss spoke with us recently from his home in New York City.

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