I watched an episode of The Simpsons on DVD this evening: Bart the Lover. I was watching with the crew commentary on, and while Homer said a choice line, I heard this exchange (hopefully I have matched the correct voice to the correct name):
Matt Groening Is this “Population: One”? Is this “Dumpsville. Population: You”? Or whatever the—
David Silverman Yeah, yeah. “Population: You.”
Matt Groening I can’t believe that I can’t remember the exact thing, because I’ve heard that joke used so many times by other people. And I—so I was—I actually started wondering, did we originate that?
Jon Vitti I don’t remember who pitched it; I’d never heard it before that, though.
Matt Groening Cause I sure have heard it a lot since.
Mike Reiss (Overlapped:)
Yeah, it’s a room joke for sure.
I can verify that for The Bill Show, we stole the “Dumpsville” line (actually Homer says “Dumpville”) from The Simpsons. But it was an accident.
After Elaine is spurned by Matsuda, I thought Bill should console her as inappropriately as he could. I was writing with Dean, and I told him, “Bill should give her a sympathy card.” Dean laughed and said, “Yeah; ‘Welcome to Dumpsville. Population: You.’”
I started typing: “That’s great!” But Dean said, “No, Mike, you can’t put that in….”
But it was too late. I liked it and I kept it. It was only after we finished the play that Dean read what I had typed. He said, “Mike, we can’t say that! That’s from The Simpsons!”
But still, I kept it in. I thought it worked perfectly for Bill’s card. I thought Dean came up with the line.
And we said “Dumpsville” instead of “Dumpville”. So I thought that made it different enough.
But now, twelve years to the week after the episode first aired, and about six years since we wrote it into the play, I find Matt Groening pondering this contribution to the common vernacular. And he says “Dumpsville”, too. It makes me feel just a twinge guilty.
You know. For stealing.