The Simpsons Folder

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The Simpsons Folder


1991 Fall TV Preview by Harry Shearer
September 13, 1991 © Entertainment Weekly by Alan Carter

You could say that Harry Shearer likes to give voice to his anger. When the comic writer and actor needs inspirations for one of his myriad Simpsons characters, “I tend to get them from people who have ticked me off in some way.”

There must be a lot of jerks out there, because Shearer, 47, has more voices than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They include Homer Simpson’s gruff, no- nonsense boss, Mr. Burns; the mellifluously droll Reverend Lovejoy; and Homer’s whiny, fast-talking neighbor, Ned Flanders.

Shearer-best known for his role in the 1984 film This Is Spinal Tap and for his short stint in the ’80s on Saturday Night Live (his synchronized swimming parody with Martin Short is an SNL classic)-never expected to become the vox populous of the Fox show. He had never done animation voice-overs before, and “I’m not the world’s best dialectician.” But “the producers made a deliberate attempt to go for actors to help give the characters three dimensions.”

Early on, Shearer learned the price he might pay for a particularly good voice. “I was asked to play Dr. Marvin Monroe, who has this very, very scratchy, irritating voice-it hurts to do it.” The producers liked the voice so much that the good doctor visits regularly. Not that Shearer is complaining. He says he loves the Simpsons job, which allows him the time to pen a weekly humor column for the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine and to vent his political humor on “Le Show,” his weekly national radio program.

“I’ve got the easiest and best job in the business,” he says. Just as long as Dr. Monroe doesn’t have to make too many house calls.