Steamed Hams but it’s a YouTube Explainer (Featuring Bill Oakley) | NowThis Nerd

Hi guys, I’m Mike and I hope you’re prepared for an unforgettable luncheon If you’ve been paying attention to the weirder wilds of the Internet lately, you’ve probably seen your fair share of Simpsons memes

Steamed Hams!?! Patented Skinner Burgers! In the 29 years since the show debuted, It’s changed the way we watch TV, the way we interact as fans, It even changed how we talk Eat my shorts, Shelbyville! Eat my shorts! Yes, eat ALL of our shirts! And Simpsons memes are just the next evolution in the way we experience the classic show How many times can I watch that shot of the Dud and be amused by it? Probably two or three thousand maybe? But after the 3,000th time, I need to mix it up a bit and that’s what people are doing That’s Bill Oakley He and his partner Josh Weinstein were fans turned writers turned showrunners, Yeahhh, y'know it's good

and the two were behind some of the Simpsons’ most iconic moments, including ‘Steamed Hams’ With Bill’s help, we’ll dive into the origin of the delightfully devilish scene, and shed some light on why the show is such fertile ground for memes He told us his favorites, too, so stay tuned for that

That’s when I realized this steamed hams thing is out of control, and people are going nuts with it But first, I hope you’re ready for some mouth-watering hamburgers [Offscreen] I thought we were having steamed clams Oh, no, I said Steamed Hams But It’s a YouTube Explainer Before ‘The Simpsons,’ most sitcoms existed in their own little bubble They didn’t really talk about the rest of pop culture, and they definitely didn’t have cable [SCREAMS] You didn’t see a lot of parodies or direct references to other entertainment, unless a cheesy guest star was popping in Billy Corgan, Smashing Pumpkins Homer Simpsons, smiling politely

That kind of humor was still mostly relegated to magazines, which had a huge impact on the Harvard Lampoon alums in the original ‘Simpsons’ writers room We all know those guys, we had Mad Magazine references, to all their memes and all their cartoonists 'The all ighty ollar?' Oh, ho ho ho, I get it! I don't know where those guys got there thing, but I think it's been passed along generationally and transformed from Mad to 'The Simpsons' ‘The Simpsons’ brought Mad Magazine’s cocky parody style to the medium of television, with a finesse only animation could pull off, all thanks to an unprecedented lack of corporate oversight

There was no pushback, that was the miracle of the Simpsons It was Sam Simon, Matt Groening and Jim Brooks who put this team together and executed the first couple seasons, and developed that aesthetic By the time we got there, it was already in force And the reason that it worked was that part of the deal was that executives could never give any notes They couldn’t come to the table read, all they were allowed to do was broadcast the tape that we delivered them

Today, it’s the fans making memes who have that same kind of freedom, but there’s no way they’d make us laugh this hard if we didn’t spend A Lifetime With The Simpsons Before the Internet, there was really no way of knowing just how many Simpsons fans there were Today, no matter what you’re into, you can just click on the subreddit and meet thousands of people who also love shows about Tiny Houses But back then, it was a lot more difficult I mean it's hard to say what the fan scene even was, because without the Internet, was there a fan scene at all? I mean there obviously were fans, they didn't congregate

Maybe you'd run into some other 'Simpsons' fans at a comic conventions It wasn’t until the Internet took off in a big way, after I left the show, the fans all came together and realized how many of them there were But until the advent of social media, after I left, I don’t think people were aware how many of them were out there By the 2000’s, the 'Simpsons' fandom had congregated into some pretty huge communities, and a lot of people spent their formative years there We'd be the number one show with people under 18, the number three show for people under 34, and then NOBODY over 34 watched As a generation of Simpsons fans grew up, their obsession with the show spilled out into the real world, using Simpsons quotes at the hint of any opportunity, and literally adding new words to our language

Seriously, open up a Google Doc and type embiggened No Autocorrect There’s always that one weird dude you knew who was always quoting Simpsons, but now all the weird dudes know that there are ten million other weird dudes like them all around the world So they’re embiggened and emboldened And, for lack of a better term, the worldwide community of 'Simpsons' fans has solidified

The fact that they've all gotten into their 30s now, all the guys who were quoting this stuff when they were 13 and 14 They've aged into a more respectable demographic, where they can publish these article and we all like them Memes are more than just pictures of Kermit with Impact font over them When Richard Dawkins coined the phrase in 1976, he was talking about ideas that spread and mutate across generations like DNA, And after 29 years, the best episodes of ‘The Simpsons’ are deeply embedded in ours Like, for example, the birthplace of ‘Steamed Hams

’ No, I’m not talking about Albany, It's '22 Short Films About Springfield' The Season 7 episode showcased the citizens of Springfield in a way we’d never seen before, brilliantly weaved together in a narrative structure inspired by ‘Pulp Fiction’ I went to the McDonald's in Shelbyville on Friday Night You know what's the funniest thing, though? It's the little differences Do they have Krusty Partially-gelatinated Non-dairy Gum-based Beverages? Mmm-hm

They call 'em 'shakes' Humph Shakes You don't know what you're gettin' If you remember, the episode 'The Front,' where Grandpa writes 'Itchy and Scratchy' episodes, at the very end there was a little thing at the end called 'The Adventures of Ned Flanders,' Hens love roosters, geese love ganders, everyone else loves Ned Flanders! We thought that was so funny

And the whole reason was, we were there when they were doing that, the episode was so short, because Mike and Al would cut the episodes really tight, So that was meant to fill– that was just filler Okeley-dokeley-doo! That never happened, with Josh and my episodes, they were always long, every single one of them we trimmed them down to the bone So right around that time, 'Pulp Fiction' had come out, and we were like what if we did a whole episode of those things? And we did it, and again, there was nobody there to stop us The episode was the perfect excuse for writers to have fun and flesh out their most beloved b-list residents of Springfield, and Bill jumped at the chance to grill up the perfect sketch for his favorite character: Superintendent Chalmers! Welcome! Chalmers had this really specific thing, where he would indulge like, for a minute or two he’d believe the lie or ask probing questions but then he’d give up And I thought that was hilarious, and so I wanted to write one where it was just that thing over and over again, with the lies getting more preposterous… Yes, and you call them steamed hams despite the fact that they are obviously grilled? He asks a question or two, and then moves on, which is what happens at the end

Good Lord! What is happening in there?! Aurora Borealis Aurora Borealis? At this time of year, at this time of day, in this part of the country, localized entirely within your kitchen?! Yes! He apparently, at least for a moment, believes that it's the Aurora Borealis He doesn't mind when Seymour says he can't see it he’ll indulge someone’s lie for a question or two, but then, he doesn’t care which is just don’t ask too many questions, Seymour, why is that student lying unconscious on the floor? Well, in many cases the floor is the best

ahem Chalmers is a subversion of one of Oakley’s favorite sitcom tropes, the only sane mane in town Like he just didn’t care enough He knows everyone in this town is crazy, and he developed a system of how he can get by, It’s a similar trope to another annoyingly rational character who made a big splash during Oakley and Weinstein’s time as showrunners: There is a parallel, in that Frank Grimes wouldn’t let up You idiot! You nearly drank a beaker full of sulfuric acid! The difference with Chalmers is that Chalmers is able to live in Springfield and succeed because he knows not to ask too many questions Whereas Frank just wouldn’t let it go

He wouldn't let it go I can't stand it any longer, this whole plant is insane! Insane, I tell you! And he died ‘Steamed Hams’ is the perfect two minutes and forty seconds of comedy

It takes everything we’ve learned over the years about these two character and the way they interact with each other, then places them in an escalating scenario that expertly pushes the comedic potential of their relationship right to the limit That was wonderful Yes, I should be– Good Lord, what is happening in there?! It should have been an instant classic, but it took people a little while to warm up I had no idea for about fifteen straight years after we did it that anyone liked it but six 'Simpsons' writers Certainly I had no idea that, in the past year, it's taken off to this crazy extent

22 years later, people have more than come around on Steamed Hams,' to the point where they’ve dedicated countless hours of isometric exercise to remixing, translating, and recontextualizing the scene in light of the massive impact of the show All to make some delicious, obviously grilled, Memed Hams Today, it seems like Simpsons memes are one step away from becoming Skynet You could log on to Frinkiac right now, search for literally any Simpsons quote ever, and have a handy shareable gif in seconds I even have a couple of them I keep on my desktop for quick references for things, like ‘don’t you ever get tired of being wrong all the time?' Don't you ever get tired of being wrong all the time? which I really like to send to political figures It’s an extremely slick database, but off in the wild west of the Weird Internet, they’ve developed a different kind of ‘Simpsons’ culture

Many of these things are super absurd, in almost kind of a Dadaist way It almost seems like some kind of modern art, which makes me feel classy to watch In image form, it’s lovingly referred to as Simpsons Shitposting, and the memes make the most of the imperfect ‘90s animation and glitchy VHS aesthetic we all remember from our stacked tapes of syndicated episodes That makes it funny too sometimes, the homemadeness of it, but sometimes they're really sophisticated and slick, which also can be good As for video, Simpsons memes grew out of the vibrant YouTube Poop scene, and added its brash, extremely self-referential style to the show’s own

[GARBLED YOUTUBE POOP GIBBERISH] 'Steamed Hams' might have the spotlight now, but even though it’s his baby, it’s still not Oakley’s favorite As much as I love the 'Steamed Hams' thing, I love those but they don’t make me laugh as much as the Dud, which makes me laugh like an idiot every– especially that cut of 30 different ones, that supercut of the Dud stuff, oh my god, that was the funniest thing I’ve seen in years Well, Seymour, I made it, even with your bullshit directions When you edit the 'Steam Hands' video, it's tough, it requires a lot more skill than modifying the Dud I still think the Dud is a little funnier than 'Steamed Hams,' even though I wrote 'Steamed Hams

' Hey, we love the Dud too, but as far as the Internet is concerned, the Mystery Date is over 'Steamed Hams have been at the top of the menu for months' “The first 'Steamed Hams' things where I was like, 'wow, this has taken off,' it’s the Australian grocery store thing, At that point, I was like 'this is out of control' This 'Steamed Hams' thing is out of control, and people are going nuts with it Heavens sake! Me roast is buggered! Creators around the world have chopped and screwed the original scene in some absolutely brilliant ways, and just like the rest of the Internet, Oakley has his favorites, too

I like the one that’s translated into Chinese and back, Oh, fart My barbecue was ruined I don’t know 'Metal Gear Solid,' but from what I’ve seen that one is the best one Ah, Superintendent Chalmers, welcome! I hope you're prepared for an unforgettable luncheon! I gather that people who are familiar with 'Metal Gear Solid' think that one is genius, and even me, not knowing it, agrees that it’s genius When people tamper with the video, it gets a little weird, although I like the 'Pulp Fiction' one that I think someone put up last week

Y'know, these hamburgers are quite similar to the ones they have at Big Kahuna Burger Oh ho ho, no! Patented Skinner Burgers! Old family recipe The genius of The Simpsons was in its mass appeal It was something everyone could relate to It's just modern America

'The Simpsons' has what is called a big tent, everyone can understand, it's about modern America Then that generation grew up and found another common denominator: The show itself From the Mad inspiration of its original attitude, to the early fan communities who inspired the 'Worst Episode Ever,' 'The Simpsons' have instilled a creative, self-referential spirit in everyone who grew up obsessed with our favorite family

And today’s meme creators are just the next logical step No one can predict what the next big meme will be, But in the same way ‘The Simpsons’ lack of studio oversight allowed it to become the greatest show ever written, The freedom and accessibility of the Internet is the perfect breeding ground for the evolution of its voice During the time Josh and I were running the show, it was the lunatics running the asylum Because we were able to do these crazy referential things like '22 Short Films,' that no network would have ever let us to get away with, and maybe Jim Brooks wouldn't have allowed us to get away with, So, that's In answer to your question, No, there was never any pushback, and that's why we were allowed to do these things that just made us laugh

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