I’m not sure how it’s possible but it was 20 years ago tonight that my Dad and I saw The Simpsons LIVE on stage in London.
Okay, it wasn’t actually a ‘live’ episode (“It’s a terrible strain on the animators’ wrists”) but I got to see the cast of the show perform a script right there in front of me!
For a bit of background context, I was a MASSIVE Simpsons kid. For a few years, my bedroom was basically a museum filled with whatever Simpsons stuff I could find. Toys, books, cans, Kit Kat wrappers, Doritos tubs, I even had an inflatable chair shaped like Homer. Online shopping was still pretty primitive so I mostly relied on rummaging through boot sale stalls and charity shops.
The Simpsons was life. So when I found out about the show – I HAD to go.
I still remember sitting at the PC with my Dad as we bought the tickets. Looking back with years of frantic ticket buying experience, the whole thing was pretty chill. We picked up two tickets without much trouble and I’m going to sound like one of those people who saw The Rolling Stones play for 14p but the tickets were £7.50. On Ticketmaster. That wouldn’t even cover a booking fee these days.
My memory of the actual event is a little sketchy but here are some bullet points of what I think I remember:
⁃ The show started with a montage of British related clips from the series.
⁃ The cast performed the episode ‘The Cartridge Family’ written by the legendary John Swartzwelder. I’m guessing it was picked because of the “soccer” content.
⁃ The brilliant Tress MacNeille stood in as Marge and sisters for Julie Kavener.
⁃ The cast and crew (including Matt Groening, James L Brooks, Al Jean, Mike Skully, George Meyer, Ian Maxtone-Graham and Jim Reardon) did a Q&A with the audience. Since it was 2000, they were asked about whether the show will ever get a DVD release and if there will be a movie. They also discussed the types of notes they would get from Fox execs.
⁃ The cast took requests. The only one I remember was Harry Shearer doing Burns and Smithers stoned.
⁃ The show was part of the Simpsons Global FanFest and marked 10 years of the show on air in the UK. The FanFest was way more exciting to me than a new Millennium.
When we left, I picked up a nice little flag with the event artwork on (straight into the bedroom museum!) and met Harry Enfield, who signed my programme.
Although I only have a few memories of the event, it remains one of the most special live shows I’ve ever been to – right up there with Springsteen on Broadway.
It was maybe the second time I’d been to London and spending the day travelling and hanging out with my Dad will always be one of my favourite memories.
A few days later I entered a competition in a local newspaper and I won a complete set of the merch from the show. I still regret selling most of it when I moved out of my parents house, along with the majority of my collection.
20 years on and throughout lockdown, I introduced my kids to The Simpsons and spent hours watching together on Disney+. When restrictions lifted, we called round to my parents to rescue the bits I had left behind from the garage.
Did you go to The Simpsons-Mania Tour? I’d love to hear about the experience.
(Oh and it was only a couple years ago that I noticed our tickets said VIP. I have no idea what the VIP benefits were and will always wonder what amazing bonus thing we missed out on)