IT'S A TESTAMENT TO THE QUALITY OF THE writing (it does take fourteen writers to do an episode) and the quality of the cast that means The Simpsons is the only mainstream American cartoon ever to make the transition from TV to the Edinburgh Fringe. Performing for one night only, Simpsons — Mania Tour 2000 was the first show to sell out on this year’s Fringe and did so in a record 50 minutes. Surely a real indicator of the continued appeal of the series.
The performance has come about partly thanks to a break in the recording schedule for the next series of The Simpsons and it means Dan Castellaneta (who pays Homer, Krusty and Barney Gumble among others) can not only make his appearance in Simpsons — Mania Tour 2000, but can debut with his own solo show Where Did Vincent Van Gogh?, a multi-voiced comedy about an actor pulled up short in the middle of a less than wonderful performance. ‘The advantage of me being actor and writer is that in the midst of doing something on stage, if I feel like some other thing will work better, I can do it right there,’ says Castellaneta, phoning in from LA before his week-long trip to the UK. ‘I don’t need permission from the playwright or have him get angry with me.’
It’s a happy return to the stage for Castellaneta who started out as a theatre actor in the early 80s, doing straight roles ~’ before a break into television in 1983. He landed a job on The Tracy Ullman Show, playing sketch characters, before being asked to voice the up-tight father of an odd, yellow, animated family for a skit on the show. The quintet of four- fingered folks from Springfield starring in that skit went on to become the central figures in one of the most successful TV series ever.
Castellaneta is among the most recognisable voices in the world, responsible for one of the singularly most expressive catch phrases ever — ‘D’oh!’, inspired by the exasperated cry of Scottish comedy actor James Finlayson in the Laurel and Hardy movies — but is rarely recognised on his travels around the globe. It’s ironic that until he opens his mouth he is an unknown. He’s ambivalent about the peculiar nature of his
14 THE LIST FESTIVAL GUIDE 10-17 Aug 2000
As Edinburgh goes SIMPSONS crazy, DAN CASTELLANETA, the voice of Homer, says this one’ll run and run. Words: Mark Robertson
actually prefer the anonymity.’ Simpsons - Mania Tour 2000 brings ' together the entire cast of The Simpsons with
, the exception of Julie Cavner who plays " Marge. They are to perform a classic _ episode of the TV series in celebration of the tenth anniversary of their first appearance on British TV. To make the
event even more of an occasion, it I, will be hosted by the man who .' / invented the whole shebang, Matt ’ Groening.
If Homer fans were not quick enough to sate their Simpsons appetite and get a ticket for Simpson: — Mania Tour 2000, they can console themselves with another Fringe show. In MacHomer, Canadian actor Rick Miller has cunningly told the v story of Shakespeare’s Macbeth using the voices from The Simpsons. ‘I
perform all the voices myself with Marge and Homer as the Macbeths and Mr Burns as the King, but Bart only has a very small role as I’m not very good at the voice,’ admits Miller bashfully. ‘Everyone else - Barney, Police Chief Wiggum, Millhouse, Lisa - are all in there somewhere.’
With South Park’s infantile appeal on the wane and Matt Groening’s latest creation Furturama still to get a full screening on terrestrial channels, America’s most dysfunctional family still reign supreme on the animated hero stakes. ‘When we started with it I didn’t even know if the United States would take to it, never mind the rest of the world. I had no idea,’ says Dan Castellaneta. ‘Lots of other things I was in I thought were
going to go massive, and they weren’t so I just
stopped thinking about it. I knew it was good, that was the main thing, even if it had only gone on to do fourteen shows.’
The Simpsons has now done a little over
200 more episodes than Castellaneta first
predicted and shows little sign of declining in
popularity. So how much life does the actor think it’s got in it now? ‘Well, we’re right now
in the middle of recording,’ he reveals, ‘and I think Fox wants another series.’
rise to fame. ‘It’s kind of a double- edged sword,’ he says. ‘You hope to have the kind of fame where you’re not required to audition and/ ' where you get offered better parts, I ' but as it stands I don’t have a / higher profile than any other actor
in LA. But, whenever I do one of my own projects, the name , recognition always helps. So it is a double-edged sword, but I ~
.I 1&le ’1;le i Yt'nrdloy Smith is Lisa
SImpsons - Mania Tour 2000 (Frlnge) Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, 14 Aug,
\ Where Dld Vlncent Van Gogh? (Fringe) 1 Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, 14 Aug, ” -r 7pm, £12.
Macﬂomer (Frlnge) Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, untll 28 Aug, 5.30pm, £9l£10 (£8/£9).