Eric Kaplan

June 12, 2013

I'm Eric Kaplan writer for such shows as Futurama, Big Bang Theory, Love Me Cat, Ask Me Anything


I'm a comedy writer and a philosopher. I'm working on a book about the philosophy of logic, comedy, and mysticism and Santa Claus. I also have a new puppet interview show I'm launching called "Love Me Cat" which has a kickstarter campaign: I play a cat who wants to be loved but his problem is that he's hideous. My sidekick is Owly, an owl played by Community writer Andy Bobrow. You can also look at "Love Me Cat Trailer" on youtube to get a sense of the vibe.

I'm up to talk about anything. Shows I've written for include: David Letterman, Malcolm in the Middle, Futurama (I wrote Jurassic Bark) Flight of the Conchords and Zombie College.

I also run the animation studio Mirari Films which did the Drinky Crow Show and Hey It's Fluffy among other projects.

Also I'm qualified to teach metaphysics, philosophy of science, aesthetics and medieval philosophy and have taught courses in philosophy of personal identity, Heidegger, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and Foucault, philosophy of language and philosophy of mind.

I am happy to be on reddit and would like to hash things out with everybody. Ask me anything you're curious about. It should be an interesting discussion!

Best, Eric Kaplan

Welcome to reddit, Mr. Kaplan!

I am /u/Minifig81, I have decided to ask every person who is an announced AMA a few simple questions:

These books will be compiled in to a spreadsheet with your name and the date you did your AMA, so that if you revisit us on a future date, I can remind you of what you were reading the last time you visited our fair site.

Thank you for time!

As per Mod request, I am to ask you one personal question on top of my Reddit AMA Books Project, so I have decided to ask you; How can we get Futurama back... again? :)

Reddit AMA Readers who wish to see the Reddit Books AMA Project will have to wait, as I'm still compiling information. I don't know how long I should wait to share it (I've been thinking a month), but I have promised the AMA Mods that I'm going to share the data eventually.

I am currently reading "Bringing up the Bodies" by Hillary Mantel -- it is fiction. I recommend "Fads and Fallacies" by Marvin Gardner.

I guess you mean Martin Gardner.

yes thanks for fixing that


1)Zombie College 2)the ducks -- divide et imp era

I was not expecting Zombie College. That is probably the most intelligent I have read in response to the second question. Thank you I enjoy your work.

thanks I'm glad you do!

Which Futurama character is your favorite to write for?

Zoidberg -- he is like a marvellous crab man

What about me, Bender?

you are also good

We all love Zoidberg!

that is one funny crab-man

that is one funny crab-man

props to David Cohen and Billy West

Bite my shiny metal ass!

hey, there's no call for that kind of invective. this is the internet!

He's my favorite too. Zoidberg is a perfection. Thank you.


Crab? I thought you were some kind of outer-space potato man.


What's your favorite episode of any of the shows you've written?

I like Jurassic Bark a lot -- but I can't play favorites!

Saddest episode ever. It still gets me :'(

sorry! you are from the UK?


great country!

It's dolomite, baby!

hells yeah

no offense but I hate you so much for that episode.

I get that a lot

Watched it again for like the 10th time last night. It hits me right in the feels every time :'(

but you like to or you wouldn't watch it 10 x

That used to be my favorite episode... until Bender's Big Score came along and retconned the whole thing, took all the emotional punch out of the episode and kinda turned me off from the new episodes


Awesome! Can you provide proof?

Edit: Sorry, didn't realize this was scheduled.

sure -- ask me a question that only I would know the answer to?

What is your favorite color?

sky blue

I can't help but ask another question, who was responsible for the Komodo 3000 Special episode of Malcom in the Middle? My older (and only) brother and I love that episode.

I don't know!

Was that after your time on the show? It struck me as your sense of humor. :)

was what after my time? Komodo? I don't remember what that was

What was your favorite book growing up?

Probably Alice in Wonderland!

Where did you get the idea for writing "Jurassic bark''?

Well I wanted to deal with the pathos of being a guy in the future who has left his life behind and everybody he cared about. I have been interested in fossilized creatures since I was a kid. Originally it was going to be Fry's Mom but David Cohen thought it would be too upsetting.

Would there have been the same ending for the mom story? That would truly be upsetting.

I don't know! Can you think of a better ending?

I don't know, I think the ending was pretty darn good as it was. Funny that it was changed for being "too upsetting," when that episode is considered by most of the people that I know to be the Saddest Thing Ever (TM). How does it feel knowing it's renowned for being so sad?

I feel glad I made an emotional connection!

Something about Bender trying to murder Fry's fossilized mom wouldn't have quite the same comedic effect.


You're the only person to ever make me cry at a cartoon.

I hope you're happy, you glorious bastard.

I didn't make you cry -- you wanted to cry and you used the cartoon as an opportunity

I'm going to use this excuse the next time I get in trouble with my girlfriend.

"I didn't make you angry! You wanted to get angry, and you used the fact that I didn't do the dishes as an opportunity!"

go for it -- let me know how it plays out

Every time I watch that episode I cry... Well done. Also huge fan of your work, thank you.


I love-hate you. Really.


I can, one where futurama isn't cancelled after this season. Wtf can you guys just do Hulu or net Flix or even just a website??? Pleassssssseeeeee?????

you are asking like the wrong person -- I would love it if it were picked up. Get your friends to write a letter writing campaign to netflix! I will sign the petition!

Some science fiction cartoon writers just want to watch the world burn.

As somebody says "when I am dead let the world be destroyed by fire; I will not care; I will be safe." Selfish!

I'm glad you went with Fry's dog, and I think in a sense it makes it even sadder since the dog can never wrap his mind around Fry never coming home. It's not much of a leap for many people to imagine a beloved pet waiting for them even when they will never come home again. It was a beautifully crafted story line (in the way it worked seamlessly with the overarching story and style of Futurama) and one I never expected in this type of show. Totally caught me off guard and I had to fight back tears watching it with friends! ... thanks for that btw you bastard :P

feelings are good

There'll be no Pazuzu saving him from that aging fountain.

Pazuzu! Pazuzu! PAZUZU!

You made my wife cry from that episode. It was the only thing that got her to start watching Futurama with me (she said it was dumb before that). Then the episode with Fry's brother naming his son after him was extremely sad also, to both her and I.

it's funny how we like to feel sad

You mean my girlfriend wants to cry every time she puts on that episode? I didn't know she was so unhappy. I will end my relationship with her this minute so she can be happy again and pursue better things in life.

I lovehate you.

People don't only cry because they are unhappy

It wasn't just an emotional connection I had when I watched it. I felt like part of my spirit was also crying. It was terrible.

it's good to feel things -- if you can feel deep sadness you can feel deep happiness. it is better than being numb

Did you know about the real-life examples of dogs that wait for their owners after their owners pass away, like Hachikō and Lao Pan, before you wrote Jurassic Bark?

I had a dim memory from Ripley's believe it or not. Greyfriars Bobby too.

They speak raves about the mathematician guy that wrote Futurama, but I like you, the "philosophizer", better.

you can like us both!



I realize you're probably done by now, but who chose the song ("If it takes forever")?

As a competitive ballroom dancer, it's now one of my favorite foxtrots...

my grandparents used to sing that song

That was a perspective shift that felt like a wake-up slap to the face. Mind = blown.


Do you have any writing pet peeves?

What is your preferred method of writing - ie computer, paper and pen, lying on the floor dictating to an assistant?

I've been typing since I was ten so I type but there is somethig to be said for pen and paper -- it gets you out of the left hemisphere a little

Best part about being left-handed, only people in their right mind.

well put noble son of a good family (or daughter)


well sure it could be picked up anywhere. for these networks it's all about the bottom line so if the fans make it clear to netflix or anybody else that they are really committed to the show it will make it more possible. the means of distribution are getting much more democratized.

Great AMA! so what has been your favorite thing you have worked on?

Love Me Cat!

Who is the moron that canceled Flight of the Conchords?

I don't know if it was cancelled it may have been that J & B wanted to move on to other projects actually but I'm not sure -- I was not involved at htat point

Futurama good

you good

i good when watch futurama

good good. Good.

No, no. YOU good.

oh mama we both good

But aint Big Bang theory good too


Am....I good?

very good

big bang theory bad

hard to argue with that -- not because I agree but you don't give much of a purchase for an opposing opinion

I think this is really Eric Kaplan. Reddit screens people before they do an AMA so that it's all verified.

Does Chuck Lorre have a tattoo? When did BBT wrap the last episode?

I'm not privy to that info. BBT wrapped last ep in april

Is this the end of BBT? I hope not.

not at all


whyfore Bazinga?

When you wrote your Flight of the Conchords episode, did you have to incorporate songs that already existed, or did they get written afterward?

they already existed



Is there any relation to Motivational speaker And NEw York Times bestseller Steve Kaplan?

we are descended from Moses' brother Aaron

Oy vey.

I think?

I'll have you know, I'm glad you responded. This is the first time someone has responded to my AMA question. Now for the real question.

Futurama is one of my favorite shows. I was sad to see it being canceled... Again. What are your thoughts about that and do you think it'll be back on the air like before?

if the fans make it clear that they love the show and they are numerous then there is a strong possibility. Hollywood is a business.


that's a rather personal question

Here's a good proof question! what happens to fry in SE06EP04 and Why?

I don't know -- what is the title of that episode?

Favorite BBT character to write for?

I like Sheldon

It's been really cool working on Love Me Cat. Just wanted you to know!

I'm glad you have been enjoying it!

I'm glad you have been enjoying it!

do you know how I can get a picture up on this site? I just took a picture

Ah yes! You have to share it via a link so it has to be hosted somewhere. If you email it to Warren or Chelsey or me, we can post it on Love Me Cat's tumblr and give you the permalink to it to share here. (If that would work for you.) I don't think reddit will let you embed.

I emailed it to you if you are Steven!

Yup I emailed it back with the URL from rachael.


Is it likely that Futurama could live on past the final 13 episodes of the 7th season? Additionally, what was it like working with Matt Groening?

we can control the future. Matt Groening is a terrific guy -- very nice and an American icon. He is very down-to-earth and accessible and funny -- like a normal person despite being a world-bestriding colossus of culture.

I don't have much to say during this AMA other than "Thanks for writing on Futurama" and "I will be stealing the phrase 'world-bestriding colossus of culture' from now on."

sounds like a plan!

One of my favorite things about Futurama are the touches of continuity and foreshadowing, e.g. Nibbler's shadow in the pilot. I don't expect you to spoil anything outright, but is there any scene or shot that fans should look more closely at?

it's good to look at everything

Agreed! I fully intend to keep doing so.


What is your answer to people that criticize Big Bang Theory for stereotyping geeks and nerds in a negative manner?

Btw, I am not one of them. I really like the show.

I think that is a good thing to think about. Basically the show is based on actual characters. It was co-created by Bill Prady based on his experience as a computer programmer and with other computer programmers. So it should not be viewed as commenting about everybody just these particular people.

So what your saying is a bunch of computer programmer's can land a hot babe like Penny?

no -- just one particular one


1)How so? What is the argument? 2)Disagree. We have them argue about Frege and psychologism.


  1. They are particular characters with the level of interest that they have. I think of them more as scientists than as fans of obscure pop culture. I am sure there are real people who know more about e.g. manga than our characters. What I don't understand entirely is the source of the animus.

2.Well I know a lot of people like that -- and used to be like that a bit more myself. I used to be more interested in books and abstract theories and less good at picking up on social cues or figuring out where other people are coming from. We did not assign him a disorder -- we are just portraying a particular character. To me it seems pretty realistic as a portrait of some people. But it shouldn't be viewed as a general statement about everybody, or everybody smart, or everybody who likes fantasy RPGS.

As a meganerd myself, I've always said that the Big Bang Theory is as accurate a portrayal of being a nerd/geek as ER was of being a doctor. That is, based in reality but amped up for entertainment purposes.

that seems judicious

I have a theory of why people feel like egglestone and I am really interested to hear your feelings on the matter.

Big Bang Theory, though dissimilar in style, has a similar appeal to the show The Office (at its inception) - there are a few crazy characters (Michael Scott, Dwight Schrute) who generate humor by being extreme caricatures of real-life people we interact with on a daily basis. Then there is a character that we can identify with (Ryan Howard the "new guy", and eventually Jim/Pam); we invest ourselves into these characters and see ourselves in them as the show goes on.

On Big Bang theory, I would argue that the 4 "nerdy guys" are all, in a way, the "caricature" type in the vein of Michael Scott. Therefore, the character who people can identify with is Penny. Non-nerds are happy to put themselves in Penny's shoes the same way that people might identify with Pam Beasley on The Office - she isn't the most successful or intelligent character, but she often one-ups the nerds with her practicality. People with nerdy friends love the show because they project themselves onto Penny and their nerdy friends/family onto the 4 guys.

This is why the show is unpopular among nerds. We can't (or don't want to) identify with the 4 nerdy guys. And we can't identify with Penny because she is the anti-nerd in the group. I also think that the laugh track kills the "nerd jokes" because the audience laughs at the follow-up explanation or counter-punch rather than the joke itself.

I commend you for reading this far if you have...

TL;DR Do you think that the lack of a relatable nerd on Big Bang Theory is what causes its lack of popularity among "actual" nerds (like on reddit)?

I'm not sure -- I don't grok the whole "I am a nerd" meme. I feel like nerd is a hostile term. I don't view myself as a nerd. I just like to read a lot, don't care about fashion and enjoy fantasy RPGS.

Thanks for answering!

Does that mean that you don't personally identify with the 4 guys on Big Bang, or that you don't consider them "nerds"? (I didn't mean nerd in the pejorative sense, but rather in the "let's take this word back!" pro-nerd sense.)

I don't accept the word "nerd" like I don't accept the use of the "f" word for gay people or the "n" word for African-Americans. It causes more hurt and confusion than it helps

Wow. Now I feel like I said something really offensive for using that word so many times. Sorry dude.

I'm not offended -- I actually think people put themselves down and over-categorize themselves. Like I love D&D and Star Trek but I don't like Star Wars or video games. So if you call me a nerd based on the first two you'll be surprised by the second two.

Wow. Now I feel like I said something really offensive for using that word so many times. Sorry dude.

Also try watching BBT as if it is you and your friends teasing each other, not some bad outside people making fun of you. Cause when I hang out with my friends we tease each other and that's the spirit in which the show is written.


why do you think the character of Bernadette is sexist?

I think something that turns a lot of people off is the way some of the jokes are presented. I think the point at which I really stopped enjoying the show was a particular joke where Sheldon installs Windows Vista and says it's a more user friendly than Windows XP. This is pretty much wholly untrue and could be a joke about the way Sheldon differs from other people, but it's just a straight joke with a laugh track and no reaction from anyone else. It just feels like we're supposed to laugh that Sheldon care's about his OS's user friendliness. I feel like that kind of humor is cheep and borring, like making jokes about girls going shopping or a dad wanting to watch a football game.

It was a while ago that I stopped watching, around season 3 I think, but I remember seeing a lot less jokes that where funny and worked around a particular element of math or pop culture or philosophy and a lot more jokes that where funny because this character likes math or pop culture or philosophy. A really popular comparison is the Dungeons and Dragons episode of Community. The comedy is about how absurd these people are or the tensions going on, not JUST because they're playing a table top game.

However, your thing in number 1 does bring up some really important questions. I think I would have taken to the characters a lot more and enjoyed the show more if I treated them like fully realized people instead of shoe-horning them into nerd archetypes. The advertisement campaigns for the show certainly encourage doing that, but I really don't remember anything about the writing of the show that encouraged treating the big four as paragons of geek culture or whatever.

I think that is a particular joke about Sheldon's approach to life -- but if you disagree about the OS then that's cool.

That thread of thoughtful answers and the use of grok have decided to give another chance to BBT. Thank you.



I think you slight the complexity of these characters.

The term is not itself hostile, only certain uses of it could be.

I don't care for it.

If you embrace the word and make it your own, and wear it as a badge of honor, it's no longer hostile. You've conquered it, and conquered those who might use it to belittle you.

I get that argument. To me it feels reductive.


well I don't think you can look at Amy's relationship with Sheldon and say she is a female stereotype. Or Penny's response to Leonard going away.

Just wrote a paper on the problem of the philosophical zombie. What are your thoughts on phenomenal consciousness? Also, are you a proponent of semantic externalism?

phenomena are real but they matter more than people think -- red incites to action, blue calms -- you can't just switch them!

enjoy fantasy RPGS.

System of choice?

....please say Hackmaster, please say Hackmaster....


I think geek is more hurtful than nerd. Nerd implies the person is well read, academic, intelligent. Geek... good with computers, not so good with people or hygiene. I'd rather be called the former. Besides, dial-a-geek and such services... Driving around in those stupid little cars. Some seriously degrading stuff!

geek is a guy who bites heads off chickens in the carnival

What do you think of the criticism that the show romanticizes an abusive relationship between Sheldon and Amy? Sheldon is derisive of and abusive towards Amy, even physically so, and yet the other characters who see this happening are more concerned with whether or not Sheldon will have sex with her, not with whether or not he'll stop being mean. That this relationship is portrayed as being in the interested of the two characters seems very problematic to me.

I think they are two broken people trying to find intimacy

I think that an appropriate definition for a nerd is "understanding of subject x is higher than the socially accepted level in the group" ie. being good in physics and talking about it with football players is nerdy, but go to cern and you are a rock star with a 2 mill noble prize.

that's interesting

have you ever done puppets before Love Me Cat? do you operate the puppet by yourself?

I operate the puppet by myself and my inexperience is rather visible I'm afraid but I am working on it and mean no disrespect to more experienced and skilled puppeteers

How much do you incorporate your study of philosophy (especially metaphysics) into screen writing?

Is there something especially geeky that you managed to sneak in, and no-one noticed?

Great work btw. Enjoyed a lot of your shows!

yes -- I put in a whole discussion of Frege in the Big Bang Theory and nobody noticed

In Series 4 Episode 03 – The Zazzy Substitution? Not only was it my favorite episode, but I squeeled during that dialogue. Thank you for that nerdy moment.

I'm glad you liked it! Yes!

I don't particularly like the show, but I'd be interested in watching that/those episodes. Could you point me to them?

the Zazzy substitution

Hi Mr. Kaplan. Ardent fan of the big bang theory here. One quick question, on the big bang theory, do you ever wish you had taken Sheldon's persona in a different direction? What would you have done with it?

no -- it is more organic -- Sheldon grows based upon the writing and Jim Parsons' performance

Do you think it is a coincidence that the tiny URL for your Kickstarter campaign starts with the same three letters as the initials of your Futurama colleague Ken Keeler?

there are no coincidences

Correct. Keeler controls everything.

all hail the hypno-Keeler. how's his play doing? I want to see it.

When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all.

like a thief in the night

What was your favorite idea that didn't get put into a show?

I have wanted to do something from the point of view of an idea or a story but have not figured out how that could be in a show!

That's very vague, so it's tough to try and help you. But the only thing I can think of that might work with that would be to use a character to have an idea, then use that character to keep adding on to the idea in order to further the plot/story.

I don't want to have a character have an idea -- I want the idea itself to be the character!

Well in order to that you'll have to personify the idea as some kind of character i'd think. The first thing that pops in my mind was the pensieve from the Harry Potter movies. Maybe you could somehow pull an idea or a memory or something out of someone and use it to narrate a story.

If it's an idea, it can narrate how it came to be (for example, the idea of a plane telling the story of how it went from just an idea to an actual physical thing).

If it's a story/memory it can simply just recount what happened to itself(the same way a person tells a story about themselves) that made it into a good story.


Do you mean to say from the personification of an idea or story? Sort of like the Endless from The Sandman comics, or like the last song from each album of Thrice's Alchemy Index. Or something more abstract?

I'm not familiar with those so I can't answer

There is a wonderful short story on that topic, as I recall it's about a professor teaching what a sentence is, citing examples. Gradually it becomes clear that the examples are the voice of a thought that has become self-aware. I can't for the life of me remember who wrote it or what it's called, sadly, but I'll dig through my books to find out if someone's interested.

that sounds pretty good

Hey Eric, thanks for your contributions to comedy and animation! Could you speak a bit about your time working for Letterman? How much has the landscape of late-night has changed in your opinion in the decade + since you were with him? Were you able to transfer over any of the stuff you learned/did for it to your projects afterwards? Thanks again and enjoy your summer!

it was a very intense comedy boot camp because we did a new show every day. you really had to learn to write fast and not to be attached to your ideas. that definitely transfers to sit com writing for sure no doubt! I have no particular insight into the late night world since I left since I retire early.

First off, thank you for doing this, I love your work and always get excited when I know one of your episodes are coming up on a series I'm watching/rewatching

What other great television writers would you suggest current and retired?

Second question, will you keep the beard indefinitely?

Andy Bobrow! Yes until there is a groundswell against it.

Yes!!! P.S. Malcolm in the middle is probably my all time favorite series. Loved both of your work on that show.


Malcolm in the middle is a GOD DAMN CLASSIC! You sir, are awesome.

thanks although the credit really goes to Linwood Boomer

howd you leave that off your resume up top? way more impressive than big bang theory

bbt is more current

Do you think your philosophical background helped you to be a better comedy writer?
What kind of metaphysics do you enjoy studying??

Thanks for doing the AMA!!

yes -- I think philosophy and comedy are both about holding irreconcilable perspectives in the mind at the same time. I like metaphysics that feels like an imaginative exploration of what reality could be -- I like metaphysics that present new possibilities to me that I never considered before


I read up a little bit. I think they express themselves too much in dialogue with other philosophers for my taste. I have not read After Finitude. I like philosophy that I can apply to my actual life, not philosophy that requires me to take a stand on a bunch of other philosophers.


thanks man I wrote from a position of near-total ignorance. I will check them out. Any philosophers who like HP Lovecraft sound cool!

Hi, Eric, huge fan here.

I was wondering what advice you might have for someone who's looking to getting into TV comedy writing.

use the internet. keep writing and get stuff on the internet and connect with a fan base. kill your darlings!

On that note, what's your favorite King book?

King Henry IV Part 1

What do you mean specifically by "use the internet?"


"Kill your darlings" -George R.R. Martin

Ernest Hemingway got there first

What is your favorite episode of Futurama and why? Futurama is my favorite, thanks for doing this!

I really liked "Hell is Other Robots" and the "Farnsworth Parabox". I am personally attached to Hell cause it was my first. I like Parabox cause it really stretches the mind, man.

dude... there's like a universe in all of us.


Do you think they did a good job animating "pulling your own universe box out of the other universe at the same time as they pull their box out of yours" bit? Because I feel like that's something you would write into a script and then get punched in the back of the head by the animators.

looked good!

What was the most complex script you ever had to write for Futurama?

Where did the idea for Bender come along?

Also, Futurama has been and will always be one of my favorite shows of all time. Thank you for granting the world such a great show, or contributing to it.

I stuck my head into the writing on the first movie which was super-complicated. Any time you leave the world of linear causation behind be ready for some late nights. Bender came from Matt Groening's dreamworld where he was menaced by homicidal robots. I do not know where Matt Groening's dreamworld came from though, so questions only lead to further questions. You're quite welcome -- thanks for watching -- it makes it all worthwhile

Also, you should make a character in a show after my user name. If you ever did that, I would go out of my way to make sweet passionate snu-snu to you. That is if you had that power.

Again, thanks for your writing and doing this AMA.

I will take that offer in the spirit in which it was intended

I am an avid Futurama fan and I have watched/listened to every commentary on every episode on every DVD... My questions are these:

  1. What is it like watching an idea of yours become reality, in knowing all the steps that need to be completed and refined like the rough sketches, sending it to Korea, the voice actors, sound production and final touches? Do you actively keep up with how each episode is progressing or after the script is written are you pretty much out of the loop?

  2. During the commentaries they mention that the writing staff would stay back extremely late some nights to finish a concept. Did that ever happen while you were working with them? If so, how late are we talking? 7 PM or more like 2 AM?

  3. What is it like to work with David X Cohen? He seems like a fantastic bloke and I wish he had a more social presence, Twitter comes to mind. Any chance you could ask him to do an AMA also?

Thank you for the work you have done so far for Futurama - hopefully it won't be your last (bring it back)!

1)It is very heartening and humbling 2)yes involved in all steps 3)4 am 3)David COhen's is a delight as a writer and as a human being You should ask him! Sent it out on the twitter-verse!

Thanks for replying! That's quite late, I never would have expected that!

I will see if I can contact him, thanks for the suggestion Eric!

you bet!

I searched everywhere to try and find a contact email for David and couldn't find anything, and now to my surprise I see him doing an AMA on the 1st of July! I am assuming it was you or another more talented redditor, so thank you to whoever it was!

it wasn't I. maybe it was just in the zeitgeist

You said you're writing a book about Santa Claus. I'm curious about your thoughts about Santa Claus as a philosopher?

I think he is a symbol of the (potential) graciousness of reality

Hey Eric, I love your work.

Futurama, Malcolm in the middle and Flight of the Concords were three of my favorite shows of all times. My question to you is, what the fuck happened with The Big Bang Theory, man?

be more explicit! I sense the over-all tone is one of frustration but I need more to go on!

Did Sheldon and Amy engage in coitus? What body part did the number 14 refer to?

well that is part of the deliberate ambiguity of the text!

What was your favourite show to work on? Given you've written for so many (Malcolm in the Middle being my personal favourite).

Also, who's your favourite philosopher?

favorite show -- love me cat, zombie college (tie) favorite philosopher -- Isaac Luria

Would you consider a sliders reboot?

Edit:sliders the tv show about quantum tunnels and parallel worlds

the little burgers? what do you mean?

What elements of the two industries in which you've worked, comedy writing and academia, would best benefit the other (ie what can profs learn from comedy writers and vice versa)?

an excellent thoughtful question! I think I may like them each doing their own thing to be honest -- comedy responding to the needs of the audience, academia setting its lights by a distant star of truth. maybe academia could be a little more human and comedy a little more idealistic? Good question!

  1. You studied with Donald Davidson. Why do you think he's treated more as a historical figure that gets examined but not interacted with, as opposed to, say, David Lewis with whom philosophers still interact?

  2. I'm thinking of dropping out of my PhD program. What got you to make the final decision?

  1. I think Davidson was very guarded and well-defended. But I wasn't aware of that. I feel sometimes when arguing with him that it's hard to get to the real issues because his chess moves are so adroit
  2. I put my thesis on hold and worked to get another job. I didn't actually drop out I just took other employment

Thanks for the quick reply! Was it a hard move to switch?

did you end up dropping out?

Hey, cool that you remembered!

I am staying this year to fulfill my contract (and I still need a job!) but I've already let my advisor and the chair know that it will be my final year. I'm currently applying to law schools; I'd rather be a writer, but we can't all be so lucky.

People have been really supportive since they've all considered it at various points.

go for it. you can be a writer -- just keep reading and writing. good luck.

How does one get into that business? Do you need connections to the studios? Or do you just send in scripts hoping to get picked up?

there's no one size fits all answer -- basically you have to be an opportunist and use all the opportunities you have and make opportunities -- I think the main thing these days is to get your stuff out there on the internet and connect with fans and with other creators

On the Internet in what capacity? For comedy writing are you referring to animated shorts and live action sketches, or does it extend to web comics and witty articles and the like? Where do higher-ups snag their fresh writing talent?

I heard a high profile show has been hiring people off twitter feeds

Despite Big Bang Theory being one of the most highly watched and rated comedy shows it also has a very vocal group of detractors. How do you feel about that? Is it ever frustrating knowing that the show is so well received by most but loudly disliked by a strong minority as well?

sure -- I want everybody to love me. They should come on the AMA and we can finally work this out.

i think sheldon is the most annoying fucking character ive ever seen. a lot of the show is funny, and i like intelligent humor when its done well, but i cant watch your show because of sheldon.


thanks for the response :)

it may be too late for a response but if you happen to check back in, also curious if you have any commentary on how it may be different/similar writing for Sheldon (which you have) or Abed of Community (if you're familiar with his character). It seems safe to suggest both are on the spectrum and in so far as being sitcom characters that makes them comparable and a novel character. *not that all on the spectrum "must be the same" or anything like that.

I'm not familiar with Abed

Because of your zombie expertise, what are your thoughts on World War Z? Too late on cashing in on the Zombie 'fad' or will be a huge hit?

I didn't see it! But I think zombies are a metaphor for human life stripped of meaning and becoming only a struggle for life qua life

so youre saying americans ARE the zombies

good take!

zombies are cool what you got to watch out for is djumbies -- that's a zombie possessed by an evil demon spirit. WAAH

thats some scary shit

no fooling

I worked in retail, and there was a large % of customers that I felt were like this.

too bad!

why do all the characters on big bang theory wear long sleeves?

I think it has something to do with how shirts are constructed

I should have included the word long. is there a specific reason as to why they only wear long sleeves? My girlfriend and I have been trying to figure out this mystery for too long. Thanks for the AMA I have been watching your work for over a decade now.

I don't know!

Wait so you wrote for Futurama (a show almost unanimously loved by the tech audience) and then Big Bang Theory (a show almost unanimously hated)

What happened?!

why is it hated?

Well I got about four episodes in before they had "Halo Night" where they then had sounds that weren't Halo, had the actors randomly mash buttons, had Penny say "whose head did I just blow up?!" which you can't do in Halo. I literally just walked over and shut off the TV after that. The show is rife with stuff like that. It tries to pretend it's for "nerds" but it's actually just for people who play angry birds and think they're 'nerds' and it's kind of just a slap in the face for the people that they are allegedly trying to pander to.

Not trying to hate on you specifically, I don't know how much Reddit you've been on but TBBT is not a popular show around here it's pretty much just scoffed at.

I'm not trying to pander to anybody. If you watch more recent episodes I think you will find it more accurate I don't play Halo but I do play D&D and the D&D episode is mad accurate.

Did you really just ask that? Bing Bang theory is up there with Two and Half men for worst shows ever thrown onto a television (personal opinion). It pains me to know that you could contribute to something as beautiful as jurassic bark and something as horrid and BBT.

I want to make you happy! Why do you dislike BBT so much? Maybe you are wrong?


yeah I wrote a reply too but I couldn't post it! Do you want to try again?

Because as the show has progressed it has moved from joking with the nerds to making fun of them.

this is getting interesting! Cite a joke that you find to be laughing at rather than laughing with and we can get to the bottom of this finally!

Well I don't literally mean pander I mean like the main demographic of viewership.

I tried to watch it again once because someone said there was a funny episode where they referenced TNG, which is one of my all time favorite shows.

It's just so awful and cringey and I would go so far as to say a desecration of TNG. That's when I vowed never to watch TBBT again.

what was so awful and cringey?

What kills it for me is:

1) The laugh track/'live studio audience' - If the show has to tell me when I am supposed to laugh, it fails as a comedy.

2) The writers/actors often don't understand the references that they are attempting to make because (See Halo mention another persons comment)

3) While the show appears to be about a group of smart guys who is socially inept, it is really a show that ridicules people for being different. It is like watching Revenge of the Nerds but in shorter doses and the nerds don't win.

4) Bazinga. Catch phrases are not funny, they are for douchebags and poorly written characters.

I don't know if any of the episodes I have seen had your work in them, and I don't mean to offend you as a writer, but this show really is the worst.

1)So you don't like Seinfeld or the Mary Tyler Moore Show? 2)Not true. 3)That's an interesting critcisim -- please say more 4)That has been used much less recently.

Thanks for your feedback!

I actually don't watch the show really, just relaying what I hear all the time from friends.


The whole show is a circlejerk for "normal" people who want to laugh about nerds and feel better about themselves by doing so.

what are "normal" people? Can't you be a nerd and a "normal" person?

Pretty much here's another good example of how people view the show


My biggest problem with the big bang theory is that it became really stale really fast. I watched a couple episodes and they made me push wind out my nose a bit, but all the episodes become Sheldon doing something symptomatic of his aspergers and Leonard getting mad.

It's definitely not near the worst show on television. There is some total garbage on TV these days (see MTV). That's probably mostly the reddit hive mind talking.

well check out the D&D episode from last season if you want

Hey, love all your answers in this thread but just wanted to respond to this one in case you really would like a further answer since it seemed like you were genuinely asking why that would seem offensive.

I think "pandering" has a negative tone to it, like you're trying to make a certain group happy at the expense of others. I don't believe for a moment that's the intent.

I totally understand where /u/Wizuhd was coming from though (though I don't speak for him and he might disagree). I spent a significant portion of my childhood and adolescence being mocked, ridiculed, and even beat up for being "too smart" or "nerdy." And while part of me always wanted those jerks to just get where I was coming from, it seems insulting that those things that so negatively affected my life have become popular and desired by those same people. This has nothing to do with you or the show, of course, but I think a lot of us feel like it's unfair that those who made us feel bad get to enjoy the things they made us feel bad about.

I have been teased too. I feel for you. But I would say imho you shouldn't let those experience define you. You will have something in common with every human being, and something not in common with every human being. I would not let the dichotomy nerd/popular kid be the lens through which you see all people -- you will miss a lot. In my opinion. I know these are volatile issues and I appreciate your candor.

The average man/woman. Should have put "normal" in quotation marks.

okay but average along what dimension? Human beings are multi-dimensional. You can be of average height but not average in yodelling ability.

As someone who loves TBBT, please, please, please, number one. My boyfriend and I watch religiously, but despise the laugh track.

ok but you know it's a live audience laughing right?

I'd just like to say you are dealing with the TBBT hate (which i don't subscribe to but understand how it must wind folk up) pretty damn well.

May i suggest playing them in front of a team of those kind of people before release. Though it might be hard to find that many overly precious whini... ah no. It's right here.


Thought I'd drop in and contribute to the discussion. Hopefully this isn't too long, and sheds a bit of light on why there are so many people who strongly dislike the show, despite not having watched it in ages. My opinion of the show has changed pretty drastically throughout the years. I think a lot of the criticisms of the show come from the early days, when lots of viewers (myself included) saw the characters as pretty one-dimensional, and one-joke.

Raj, for instance. If he was involved with a joke, the punchline was either "Ha ha, he's Indian" or "Ha ha, he can't talk to women." There were probably exceptions, but those two jokes were repeated often enough that I think it put off a lot of new viewers, as they couldn't get past the repetitive/shallow nature of the early episodes.

Now, as with pretty much any long running show, the characters have gained a bit of depth and colouring, so that their personalities and relationships with each other can lead to new jokes that aren't hemmed in by the one or two personality traits they had at the beginning of the show's run. Also, the addition of the fantastic actresses to the regular cast has allowed the show to have many great new comedy parings and a lot of emotional depth that has really surprised me.

I really enjoy the show now, and I thought the DnD episode was fantastic. I do still think that Sheldon can be a bit of a showstopper though. While I'm really enjoying the tender and emotional parts of the show, I feel like in some scenes Sheldon's inability to act like a functional human being loses its humour, and instead lessens the power of some of the scenes. In particular, when the gang was reading potential letters from Howard's dad, for me at least there was something about both the lines and the performance from Sheldon that slightly undermined what was a sweet and funny scene. I just didn't think it needed the cheap laughs there, no matter how much it did make sense for Sheldon to "ruin" that moment.


A lot of opinions of the show are based on the early season(s), when the characters hadn't grown beyond what many saw as stereotypes. Personally, I like how the show has grown, and the sweetness it has developed, but I think some of the old character traits drag it down very occasionally, as they've lost their novelty.

thanks so not Raven -- that is very heartening

I enjoy BBT but I will say that I do so with reservations.

A lot of times it feels like a very cliche sitcom - the same tropes we've seen in most sitcoms over the past at least 30 years. The characters are intelligent and it's obvious to anybody watching objectively that the writers know what they're talking about, for the most part(although no comic nerd on Howard's level would ever have doubted Wolverine's claws were bone), but it's not the writing that's any smarter - just the characters saying the dialog.

The most original character, Sheldon, is just a photo negative of the Joey. Instead of being dumb as Hell but charismatic and social he's a genius but with (we don't say it but it's) Aspergers.

And it's even more frustrating when we look at the credits and see some really good writers like yourself writing Sam and Dianne in the 2010s.

It's safe comedy and I get it. Safe works, and looking at how well the show is doing, it apparently works well, but there are those of us out there that want something better, especially out of creators and a cast that are clearly capable of more.

safe and danger are both ideas no?

I think as a pretty simple example of what is being talked about can be seen in season 1, episode 3. At the very beginning, it's clear that the guys are playing some kind of MMO, analogous to World of Warcraft. I thought it was a pretty cringe-worthy scene that really wasn't accurate. Laugh track plays as a couple of them are shown wearing headsets, in front of their laptops, in the same room. I think the difference between a show that jokes with nerds vs making fun of them is that people that have played MMO's can easily make a connection to why such a strange set-up would be necessary (usually, raids involve tons of people, not just your close personal friends, and there will be a need to communicate - hence, headsets) while a show that laughs at them ignores this, or rather assumes the audience wouldn't understand.

I suppose now, I think the line "tonight, I spice my mead with goblin blood" is pretty funny, but I mean c'mon, who would say such a ridiculous line hehe. I'm not offended and I take it all lightly and I also realize that many aspects of MMO's are ridiculously absurd. I've even met people that were into the game so much that I felt their behavior was comical or ridiculous. As such, I have no issues with how they were "playing" the game, because I believe the joke was more about how they were playing, rather than making a joke about "why would anyone want to play a game like that??". I don't think that line is defined very well in the episode though.

To be fair, I agree not all episodes are the same and at the end of the day, I enjoy watching the show with my family. I do believe though that a lot of the dissatisfaction with the show is warranted.

In any case, thank you for your fantastic work and great sense of humour. I love futurama, and for whatever reason, I never get tired of watching 300 big boys.


It's not unanimously hated. don't listen to people that say that. It's popular with the target demographic (older people than us 20 somethings) as it was made to be as well.

I don't like it because of the live studio audience or laugh track and because the humor just doesn't click with me the way it does for futurama. I think sitcoms in the current style are a dying breed

also: Jurassic Bark was one of the best episodes of futurama, top 3 by far!

I have no crystal ball

because its a show about smart people, but the jokes pander to idiots (yes i realize this says more about the audience than the show) also the characters are not very likable (and i cant get over that kid being the kid from roseanne)

I think I may be an idiot

To be fair, I haven't given it that much of a chance yet, I don't have cable right now.


God damn, you're all over this thing! props to you. You don't avoid difficult questions and you actually engage in it like a conversation.

If you have time: What episode should someone whose only seen bits and pieces of Big Bang theory watch to get into it?

maybe the d&d from last season?

I know you are getting a ton of replies, but this blog post is really articulate about the problems that (I think) most people have with the show. It might be a good thing to read when for the sake of this sort of discussion.

I would rather people formulate their problems in person than read some essay

an excellent reply

i suspect you are not

but humor is subjective anyway

I suspect I am!

Because, no offense, it's just incredibly banal.

Have you even seen the youtube vids with the laugh track edited out?

well that is like taking a jazz solo and editing out the applause -- of course the timing will be wonky

The laugh track. It is so excessive that it overpowers the rest of the show.

it's actually the live studio audience enjoying the show.

I'm not trying to say everyone has issues with the show brought up in that post, or that they should, or even that they have to dislike Big Bang. But I know that I have had issues with Big Bang for a long time that I could never express properly and when I read that post, I found that someone had the same thoughts I did but was extremely articulate about them in ways that I could not be. Maybe that is the case for other people, maybe not.

well I don't know what to say about that! But I am in favor of people having their opinion's clarified!

In other words, a studio jazz album? Of which there are many fantastic examples?


As an avid D&D player I thought the treatment it got was about as accurate as you could do on TV. Any more accurate showing would have been slower, sloppier and far less entertaining. It actually made one of my friends more open to the idea of joining a table top RPG at some point.

I thought the show dipped down for a season or two but this last one has been good. At some point it just began looking like the show was based on laughing at nerds more than with them. I think the key is the extreme social awkwardness, too much of it just gets insulting because that is how many people see us (fictional stories have amazing power to sway the opinion of people who know noting about the real thing).

here's the thing, c_programmer. I think if I took the comments I make about my friends and my friends made about me and showed them to an outsider they would think that we were enemies. Given the context though it is good-natured, even loving.

Yeah, that D&D Episode was awesome. Except you butchered Sheldon's character. Someone with Aspergers (that is what Sheldon is supposed to have right?) would NOT have had that drastic of a character shift. Ever.

he is not supposed to have any diagnosable syndrome

are you joking?


Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones?

I like BB more cause it feels more "real" but I have enjoyed Game of Thrones as well.

I just want to say I think the Futurama episode Three Hundred Big Ones is one of the most underrated. Throwing everyone into the same situation and seeing what each of them does with it was a great way to explore the characters.

And then there's the Whale Biologist. Please tell me that was your idea.


oh its my cake day

happy cake day

The orange blur at the end of the episode, following the coffee cup counting gimmick (brilliant), is my second favorite futurama moment, only behind the advice that the deep space probe who collided with God gave to Bender.

Thank you.


As a comedy writer, do you have any kind of comic spin you can give us on this NSA situation?

people want to have their neighbors spied on so they feel safe but feel bad if they themselves are spied on. it's a conundrum!

Why is futurama canceled?

it has to do with ratings and money not the creative quality of the show

It makes me really sad that Futurama is being cancelled, but the Simpsons is still on the air :'(

I think they should do a theatrical movie

do you think that futurama will get another chance? maybe on netflix or one of these new streaming sites.

I hope so!

What would your casting choices be?

Rondo Hatton, Hillary Clinton, Tyler the Creator, and David X. Cohen

Futurama's got to have some great viewership on Netflix. I can only speak for myself but I've watched through the whole series on Netflix 3 or 4 times.

I'm really hoping it can come back from the dead again.

me too

Who owns the rights? Are we getting to a point in animation and the TV series where its possible for artist to continue a series independently from major channels if the show is cancelled? Or even produce independent series online for relatively cheap? I'm thinking along the lines of the recording industry and how it is moving towards independent record production.

it depends on the deal but in principle sure


that's impressive

It has something to do with the creative quality because I haven't been watching because I think the newest season is pretty weak.

sorry raoh! I hope you will like it more in the future!

I would buy everyone I know a ticket to a Futurama movie!.


Is there ever rating and money, then suddenly the execs say: "I can't stand the quality of this show!" ?

in rare instances I have heard of subjective judgments like that coming into play.

There are literally hundreds of worse shows on that should be cancelled first.


Isn't Netflix starting to get into content generation? Any chance they could fund new Futurama episodes? It's a shame quality shows are cut and brainless drivel is mass produced.

good idea

evident by TBBT's success. not creative. not funny. wildly profitable. still on tv.

that's hurtful!

How many of the jokes you write are inspired by real life events?


Why is Futurama, a cartoon about delivery people so witty. While The Big Bang Theory is set up so juvenille.

in what sense is it juvenile?

Ok wrong word not juvenille, just more in your face rather than suttle and witty. I get it is more of a sitcom and you kind of have to work with constant flow of laugh tracks and jokes, but when I watch it I feel like I am bombarded by "Look we are saying smart/nerd people stuff" now laugh. You sorta answered that earlier by saying it is based on real experiances, but the dialouge just cringeworthy sometimes. Hopefully I don't sound like a dick, I really do appreciate the knowledge you pass on to the fans through your writing.

well give it another chance. I think the discussion between Sheldon and Amy about Frege and logicism is subtle and witty, but it's cool that people have different opinions. But let's talk about a particular joke or story rather than in generalities.

For me it's the cheap sitcom setup: statement-funny comment-pauze for laughter-repeat

yet futurama has a lot of jokes all around and all of them are a lot better than BBT

the worst Futurama joke is better than the best Big Bang Theory joke? I disagree but at least the discussion is starting to get scientific!

Can you tell me your stance on the sitcom setup?

I do enjoy BBT though, although in my opinion the laughtrack sometimes ruins the good parts

it's a filmed play

and the discussion between Sheldon and Amy about memetics was not so subtle, but still solidly written, superbly acted, and really funny. The fact that you write so effectively for different types of shows and the "genre restrictions" that come along with them is a testament to your talent and your understanding of comedy writing in the first place. I happen to be a fan, but even if I weren't, you could still use a lot of what you do as good examples of the different types of "formulas" you might have to use to accomplish getting a laugh depending on the format, so to speak. Keep it up... I'll definitely check out your book.


Silders the tv show about quantum tunnels and parallel worlds...would you consider rebooting it? I think you'd do a wonderful job I miss that show


I love Futurama, its one of the greatest shows written and I thank you for being a part of that. That being said, I hate Big Bang Theory and cannot stand watching it. Most of its criticism from the actual nerd community is that its a show about geeks and nerds made solely to make fun of them, not a show for nerds and geeks that partakes in humor and inside jokes that only the nerds would understand.

Do you feel like that's an accurate criticism to have? and what do you do as a writer to make the show like that/avoid that?

I don't think that's true. It is a show about scientists. We have lots of jokes that are specifically about science. I don't think "geeks" and "nerds" should call themselves that -- it's disrespecting yourself. Say that you're scholarly, or you like to read, or you don't care about fashion. I don't know that humor that only nerds would understand means. I put in jokes about Frege and logicism -- that's humor that only people who know about that might understand, maybe. But you don't have to be a "nerd" to like science. I know analytic philosophers who dress great and love sports. Why are we allowing this hostile classification to make divisions among us?

I don't mean it in a hostile classification, I am proud to be a geek, nerd, gamer or whatever anyone calls me because I loves video games, fantasy, reading comics and everything else that comes along with it, and I feel most people are okay with it too. Watching BBT sometimes comes across and jock writer and producers snapping the towel on caricatures of the stuff we love

I am not a jock I assure you! You should come on Love Me Cat and you can have your input heard more -- it is a show where the viewers are more in charge. I love fantasy too -- did you ever read the Worm Ouroboros? You should! I think you would like it!

Haha no no, I love your writing and think you're great, I just meant the show's writers as I whole, I wasn't trying to single you out or anything :) I'll definitely check it out though, I love hearing everyone's views and seeing where everyone else is coming from on topics. I haven't read that, but I've picked it up a few times in the bookstore

I mean I can ride a bike and stuff

I keep seeing you refute the idea of geeks and nerds as valid social constructs, but isn't that basically 80% of the show's humor? Oh look, a girl in a comic book store! A foreign creature!

All the scientific references and jokes about Frege can't counteract that a lot of people see the show as making fun of nerds and geeks because of this depicted separation between them and normal people. A lot of the jokes seem to be along this formula: A nerd makes a joke. A normal person gives them a weird look. The nerd realizes their awkwardness and retreats into silence, or further escalates the awkward situation through bumbling ineptitude.

that is not how I see it

Who are you to say that identifying as a nerd or geek is insulting to ourselves or depreciating? Why can't it be a positive word? Oh that's right, because your show perpetuates the view that nerds should be laughed at and their difference be seen as a negative. For being such a "philosopher" you sure have a weak sense of morality in terms of seeing the negative impacts your work can bring on society and certain groups of people. Please, justify how your hollow and often sexist writing in the bbt contributes to society. I don't expect a great answer from you as most of your responses have been abnormally short or not well thought out.

if you can say that my writing has a negative impact, then by the same token I can say that others speaking (in this case using the words "nerd" and "geek") has negative consequences.

Do you look back at some episodes that you have written and wished you did something differently?

I regret nothing

Which show was hardest for you to write for?

for pure hours and relentless schedule Late Show with David Letterman

Hello Mr. Kaplan! 1. Are there still new Futurama episodes in progress? 2. Which do you enjoy more: writing scripts for a) cartoon series or b) sit coms ?

Thanks for the AmA!!

it depends upon the show and the script. I believe the next season is coming out soon. And call me Eric

thanks Eric! I hope I'm allowed to asked another question..

Is there a specific genre you would like to write about, but never had the guts to do so?

I've always wanted to write a simple emotional story like "The Bicycle Thief"

Thanks Eric!! I hope I'm allowed to ask another question..

Is there a genre that you would like to write a script for, but haven't got the guts to do so ?

yeah I'd like to write a simple emotional story like "The Bicycle Thief" -- no bells or whistles just honest human relationships and emotion

Ohh sorry... my internet had some issues .. Thanks for your patience. :)

Keep up your good work!! (Big Bang Theory is really good in my opinion!!)

thanks man!

How did you get your "big break" into writing for television?

Steve Young at David Letterman read my stuff and gave me advice. So did Donick Carey.

Thanks for the response! Out of curiosity, what was some of their advice?

the main thing is to start to think about writing as a producer and not a consumer. so for example people might think it would be great to have Dave go as a date to the prom for some girl. But in reality it wouldn't be great cause everybody would just be like "Oh this is so cool -- can I have your autograph?" Stuff like that.

What's the reference you are most proud of - whether it be intellectual or obscure film/TV history?

I am most proud of referring to Frege's criticism of psychologism

What was your back up career in case you didn't become as successful as you are today?

philosophy professor

What are your thoughts on Descartes?

I think he made a bunch of errors we are still recovering from -- mind/body dualism, the correspondence theory of truth, internalism...

By recovering, do you mean that he was too influential with his (alleged) fallacies on those topics you listed?


Furthermore, If you had to recommend one philosophy book to read, what would it be?

Dialogues of Plato

How did you come up with the idea for Dirty Magazine and Hal Grieves in Malcolm in the Middle? I still love the Takei call.

Dirty Magazine actually happened to me in high school. I was the editor of Argus and Nikki wrote a story about girls getting harrassed and I thought it was great. Then when the faculty got wind of it they fired me and shut down the show. Then the ACLU supported us and Donna Shelala. It was quite a brou-ha-ha. I love the Takei call too!


Well I like my old teacher Bert Dreyfus (What Computers Can't Do) and I like the Order of Things. And no.

Why is Futurama so great but The Big Bang Theory so bad?

I find that question somehow tendentious -- can't put my finger on it, but somehow...

I just recently fell in love with the Big Bang Theory and want to thank you for the endless hours of comedic joy you've given me. You're awesome!!

You're awesome too!

Thanks!!!! Now I think you're even more awesome!!! And seriously thank you a million times for the awesomeness that is Sheldon Cooper; I laugh in every single scene you write for him.

now I think you're even more awesome!

As someone watching Futurama for the first time, starting from the beginning, what's one thing I should keep an eye open for?

just have fun

Big fan. You're a very unappreciated part of TV show making and I just want you to know that there are people out there, like me, who when we watch shows like this, can identify your humours and writing style anywhere.

thanks! that's great to know!


no kidding! how's it in Zimbabwe?

who is going to win the stanley cup; CHICAGO BLAWKHAWKS !!!! or boston or CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS !!!!!!

this AMA is a less powerful oracle than you seem to believe it is

yeah who are you to tell me what is and what isn't bro

did I?

if i was to meet you in person and try to approach you would you pieface me and tell me to get lost unless the camera's were rolling of course then you would shake my hand but quickly go and wash them afterwards

how do you know?

do you enjoy the works of nietzsche

a lot -- beautiful writer

What are some of your favorite Fry quotes?

I like someone has a headache - -is it me?

Hey, when/ how did you know that you wanted to write comedy?

I wrote comedy in elementary school -- little plays and stuff like that. my friend Andrew encouraged me in college to try it profesisonally.

Where did you go from there? How does someone just try and write professionally?

I wrote for magazines and then eventually submitted samples to Late Show with David Letterman.

what percent of comedy writers are high all the time?


I love the laugh track on big bang theory. It really helps me forget how shitty the jokes are.

I think that irony is a bit cudgel-like, but can you give me an example fo a joke that you like?

If you could write for any show on tv right now what would it be?

I like Big Bang

how much were you involved with creating the alien language in Futrama?

not at all

When writing BBT do you add "LAUGH TRACK" at the end of every line?

it doesn't have a laugh track -- it is shot in front of a live studio audience. why does that bug you?

Ok, the live studio audience laughter makes it nearly impossible to watch that show. It's literally EVERY line that the audience is told to laugh. You have to have seen the plethora of videos with the laugh track removed right? It's awkward as hell. As a comedian I can't stand when to be told to laugh.

do you perform in front of a live audience? Do they laugh? If they laugh don't you pause before the next joke? I don't get this discussion at all.

I do. But my act has punch lines. With BBT it seems that every sentence no matter what it is garners uproarious laughter. For example:

Sheldon and Leonard are playing chess

Sheldon: "Checkmate" Audience: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

I just don't get it.



animation needs many more jokes per minute


That would be very flattering but I have a job for this season

Why is Futurama so funny and Big Bang Theory so awful?? Are you responsible??

I am responsible for all my actions!

Futurama is so good that it will always make up for Big Bang Theory in my heart! Thanks for answering!!

thanks good talking with you!

Just wanted to say, Jurassic Bark is one of the best Futurama episodes. Crazy enough, watched it yesterday with my little brother-in-law, telling him how good it was.

thanks man -- I appreciate it! did he like it?

Yes. Now I have a question. Would you be able to write for a new episode about how Fry later changes his mind and does clone him? or do you get picked for certain episodes and have to stick to a certain topic?

it could happen!

What do you do in your spare time when youre not writing and working?

sometimes bike sometimes tool around wikipedia

I've never seen Ask Me Anything.

What's it about?

some joker goes online and people complain about laugh tracks

Out of all the shows you have worked for, which has given you the most creative freedom as a writer?

Zombie College

Why do you think people find The Big Bang theory amusing when it is clearly the least funny show not generated by TBS?

that is a somewhat tendentious quesiton don't you think?

Why do you think is the main reason for the cancellation of Futurama, even though it was a fan favorite?

just money calculations I would guess -- I think it was a mistake

do you have a favorite ep of futurama?

I like Hell is Other Robots cause it was my first

What do you think about the division between analytic and continental philosophy? Do you think it is important to have a balanced faculty (half analytic half continental)? Or do you think that students can be better educated in a more self-coherent environment? Do you think there is going to be a reconciliation in philosophical thought any time soon?

I think it is foolishness

I think it is foolishness

I have no particular experience or wisdom about faculty hiring decisions. But I am more interested in philosophers directly engaging questions that bug me and not in their scholastic labels. That sort of academic infighting and group-think is part of the reason I feel more comfortable writing outside of academia. There is good work being done under all banners and bad work too.

Why not Zoidberg?

why indeed?

One must not ask "why", but rather "why not"?

one must ask both

Can you tell them to cut back on the laugh track (yes I know it's live, but come on...) for Big Bang theory?

It's a different experience. If you watch a concert film of a band you like it will be different from listening to an in-studio recording.

I appreciate the answer, but lets be realistic--all of the laughs that made it into the final edited version of the show aren't all authentic reactions. I don't think all shows with laugh tracks (when I say laugh tracks I'm including live audience as well) are automatically bad because they have laugh tracks, but the way it's edited for BBT is just obtrusive to the point where it's distracting. Take Seinfeld for example. It has a laugh track, but it's a lot more subtle and doesn't seem as forced.

Comparing it to a live concert is a false analogy. Live concerts don't have signs to tell you when to applaud and they don't have microphones strategically placed to make the applause louder.

Sorry if I come off as an asshole, but your answer doesn't reflect reality.

no you come across as impassioned

What can you do with live action that you can't achieve through animation?

Thanks for the shows and the IAMA

there is something emotionally expressive about a live action human face which I think you don't get in animation at least not animation on a t.v. schedule. The face carries a huge amount of information that we are processing unconsciously with our right hemisphere and limbic system.

Huge fan of BBT since day 1, and redditors definitely are vocal about their displeasure with it overall. Haven't seen much love for it yet, but the D&D episode had me dying, Howard nailed it. No real question, just want to say don't take too much stock in the haters, every single one of those characters feels genuine to me.

I think hate is just backwards love

Jurassic Bark made me cry and I am a full grown man, well done

I'm glad!

Same. You sadistic, beautiful bastard. I absolutely love that episode, but every time it pops up again, I just refuse to watch it. Ughhh, so not cool! Great job, man. You beautiful, sadistic bastard

it's all right to feel things

A few weeks ago, there was a photo floating around of an old dog looking sad, sitting in the rain. There was a caption somewhere along the lines of "Philip still has not comes back." One of the more popular comments was "Too soon, man, too soon." For an episode that is more than a decade old, it still deeply affects people. Just for your comment, I decided to go back and watch the episode again. I made the firm decision of remaining ambivalent. Instead, my eyes still watered pretty good by the end. Great job, man. It was a really great episode. Very smart, very clever, and it had a lot of impact

cool thanks i'm glad you liked it

What is the writing process like? Is it different depending on what show you're writing for?

very much so -- Big Bang is room written other shows you go off and write a script then come back and re-write it. TV writing is much more collaborative than other forms of writing -- e.g. sonnets, philosophy, short stories, plays

Last year I was cycling around Europe for 6 months. I was in the French Alps for a period of time, and speak no French at all. There was a three day period when I got a hotel room to relax, and the Big Bang Theory was the only thing playing in English. It was a show, and I watched it. I guess that brings me to the very obvious question - have you ever jerked off a baby bear?

it is obviously a trick question -- baby bears are immature and cannot produce semen. Nice try mon freer

With average I mean people who casually play videogames and have basic knowledge in how to use computers. Obviously, the characters are anything but "average" in BBT. Their nerd-ness is presented in every situation and this is what bothers me and possibly others. As you stated, human beings are multi-dimensional. IMO the characters on BBT aren't.

why do you think that e.g. Bernadette is not multi-dimensional?

I've actually debated this with the bf - we weren't sure. I thought that it was, but it still sounds a bit cheesy. As in, inserting someone yelling, "YOU LAUGH NOW!" would have the same feeling to it. Other than that though, thanks for the awesome show(s)!

Here's an analogy -- if you are watching a horror movie in a theater and everybody screams that will change your reaction. It is not that they are telling you when to be scared. It is just that enjoying live entertainment is a group activity or a communal activity. If you don't like it that's cool but it's not some nefarious plot to trick people. It's a natural way of responding to entertainment and goes back to the stone age.

everyone is a caricature.

There is no development and everything is TOO exaggerated.

You know how in older films they create a caricature of the nerd with the glasses and the dorky things they say and people mock them for it? The show does the same thing, but then after making fun of it they say "but yeah it's so cool" On top of that it is obvious these aren't truly based on real people, and is more a conglomerate of every nerdy thing you can think of ever, and you can just tell how fake everything is.

Basically you're a bully who throws the nerd in the locker then acts like his friend

I'm not a bully. I am sweet. Also I play D&D a lot. Way too much for a grown-up.

Thanks for the response, was really not expecting it. I'd also like to thank you for your work on Futurama, I love the show and am counting down the days until the final season. That's cool that they film it in front of an audience but I still find it very distracting from the show. I never noticed it in shows like Seinfeld or Drew Carey but with TBBT it is just too prominent. I've heard with Seinfeld that they would ask the studio audience to calm down because there would be minutes of applause every time Michael Richards burst onto the set so maybe asking TBBT audience to hold back a bit would help.

I'll mention it

That's a yuppy fucking audience then. They laugh at the dumbest shit and make the show- that's already not very funny- unbearable to watch.

I'm sure it hasn't been sweetened in post, either.

it hasn't

ok but you know that it is common practice to pay actors to be in the audience. Wasn't there something on 60 Minutes (or another one of the news shows) in the last year where they interviewed a guy who purposely laughs really loud to instigate other people in the audience to laugh?

no our show is really popular (although not on reddit apparently) -- there is no shortage of fans to be in the audience - in fact there is a waiting list

Well he has most, if not all, of the characteristics on the autism/aspergers spectrum. You would have to be willfully ignorant not to see it.

that may be so but fiction is one way of approaching the human condition and psychological diagnosis is another way. I don't think it's correct to say that Macbeth is say a homicidal maniac. Shakespeare is giving you a different set of tools to analyze somebody like that than the DSM IV is.

Thanks man! I'll check it out if it's on amazon or netflix!

did you like it?

I'm in an MFA program. I write humorous stories. How can I do this for television? For money, though.

start to write scripts and then find people to read them. sorry I can't b more specific but that's the idea -- teach yourself to write scripts and then find an audience. It will be a surprising road but if you take it in good spirits can be a fun one. "An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly construed"

I've been having this adventure where I grade a hundred papers and I can't afford to put food in my mouth.

so maybe time for a mid-course correction!

Hi Eric! Thanks for doing an AMA! I have 2 questions: 1.How does a qualified teacher of all the topics above ends up writing for TV shows? (Darn good ones if I may say) 2. As a writer for The Big Bang Theory, you may have knowledge of science, physics etc, but I would assume not all the writers do. How does one write about these topics without an extensive knowledge of it? Do you have professionals sitting with you and checking facts?

1)I actively pursued a career in writing -- it took a while but it was a fun road

2)Well a lot of stuff is out there on the interent and we have a science advisor -- Professor David Satlzberg of the UCLA physics dept.

I want to thank you for Futurama & The Big Bang Theory. Both are great shows.

I think the problem people have with BBT is that the jokes are either too nerdy or not nerdy enough.

The problem with Futurama is that it's been cancelled.

My question is rather silly but I'll ask it anyways. Who is the Doctor Who fan & who snuck the TARDIS & the Doctor into the episode of Futurama?

I don't know -- maybe the doctor himself? Thanks for the explanation!

Which show, if any, surprised you the most with its success?

proof of identity -

I've got to go but people with more questions can just write to me -- I'm on reddit. Thanks for all your interest! Best, Eric

We love BBT at our house. Thank you for all the laughs!


What's the difference in writing for a show like Flight of the Conchords, or Malcolm in the Middle (maybe even Futurama), where the comedy can often be quite 'smart', or non-traditional, compared to writing for BBT, where the setup is a lot more like a traditional 'straight forward' sitcom?

(I hope you don't take offence at my use of the word straight forward; I mean the humour in BBT is probably more accessible to a newcomer than in any of the other shows I mention)

To be honest a big difference is we do our show in front of a live studio audience and if they don't laugh at it we change it. On a show like Futurama we can do a one percenter but on BBT we face the live studio audience. That's a big difference. It doesn't mean we can't be subtle and smart (in my view) but we do have to be accessible as well.

Thanks for the reply! :)

thanks for your question!

A lot of people on reddit seem to really hate The Big Bang Theory for some reason and you are getting quite a bit of flack for it in this AMA. I just want to say as a Physics graduate student I am not offended by any of the 'shots' at nerd/geek culture and I actually enjoy the show and appreciate the subtle jokes that are woven into the dialogue.

I haven't been paying close attention in the latest seasons but I noticed early on that there is often a connection between the physics that is on the whiteboards in the apartment and/or office(s) and the theme of the episode. Is this an intentional planned part of each episode? Or are the equations decided after the fact by David Saltzberg.

thanks but I think hate is just misdirected love

I don't hate Big Bang Theory as much as the rest of reddit. It's a primetime comedy sitcom, I think we can forgive the occasional factual slip when it comes to already obscure video game/comic book/meme references.

I DO, however, take a lot of issue with Penny as being one of the worst female characters on TV right now. Why do male nerds get validated as emotionally complex if eccentric characters, but Penny and Amy get the one-dimensional "women! amirite!?" schtick? I'm not trying to bring you down (HUGE Futurama fan), but I'm curious what the writer's room looks and sounds like in 2013 when talking about women.

do you think Penny's response to Leonard leaving was one dimensional?

I feel like you just read the first sentence of his comment...

sorry -- the comments were coming pretty fast -- I may have misread it

So... Westboro Baptist Church actually loves gay people?

they seem to be obsessed with them in a peculiar way -- I'm just saying!

Tell that to the Westboro Baptist Church.

I think that the hatred they have for homosexuality could well be because some of them have homosexual inclinations that they are repressing, so I stand by the idea that strong unreasoning hatred has some aspect of love mixed into it.

What's some of your favorite shows on television that aren't written by yourself? Past or present.

I really like the BBC I, Claudius

Big Bang Theory is very well written, great job. Malcom in the Middle, also extremely creative. Thanks for all the great entertainment!


How did you get your start as a writer? At what point were you making enough writing that you didn't have to work in another job?

when I got my job at David Letterman

How did you land that job?

I bugged people and got htem to read my writing samples

Who did you base Howard's role in the D&D episode off of? I almost died choking on Dr. Pepper when he came back with that Christopher Walken Voice.

that was pure Simon and simon pure

Hello Eric, i am a huge fan of BBT and i must say you writers still keep the high standard of the show. My first question - during first season, Sheldon did not appear to me as a pure asexual being(which he is now, well until latest episodes) and from the dialogs i thought of him just as a shy boy. Have you switched to his asexuality because of the humorous potential or was he supposed to be that way from the very beginning? Second question, what female character is most fun to write?

they are all fun. I don't think he is asexual.

Hi Eric. Thanks for taking the time to do this AMA.

I've noticed you responding to a lot of 'Big Bang Theory''s detractors. Speaking as someone who doesn't particularly identify as a "geek" or whatever I think people's issue with it is that it seems to be a particularly regressive proposition. Now, don't get me wrong, old-fashioned comedy definitely has its place but I think this, along with some potent nerd rage over what can be seen as poor attention to detail, is a justifiable argument as to why it does seem to receive a lot of negative feedback.

However, Reddit and similar communities do tend to be somewhat fickle. I think 'How I Met Your Mother' is equally poor (in my opinion) but it is loved by the same community who bashes 'Big Bang Theory', so I wouldn't take it to heart. In addition I think your stellar work on 'Futurama' should absolve you to a large degree.

I guess my question would be that, despite the two examples you have cited to defend 'Big Bang Theory', would you say that you are particularly conscious of writing something that has more of a general appeal and is "easier" when you write for 'Big Bang' than you are compared to, say, writing for 'Futurama'?

writing for a more general audience isn't easier! It's arguably harder.

Thanks for answering - I can totally understand that. Do you find that writing for 'Big Bang' has become more high-pressured due to its huge success or does that make it more of an enjoyable challenge?

enjoyable challenge

Awesome! Glad to hear it. While it's not my cup of tea I can appreciate that you're getting to work on different things and it's hopefully giving you enough bread to keep writing! It makes many of my friends and family very happy so you have their gratitude and many laughs. Cheers! x


Would you be interested in being a guest on my podcast to nerd out about tv and film?


I'm a huge fan of Futurama and big fan of the episodes you've written. I loved the original seasons as well as the movies, but I feel as though the writing has gotten lazy. I feel like all of the characters on the show have gotten significantly dumber (especially Fry), but not in a funny way. I can sit and watch every episode from the original seasons or the movies without a problem, but will only return to a select few of the new batch of episodes.

With all that being said, do you have any opinion on the quality of Futurama since it's return to television?

very great episodes very talented writers

How involved is matt groening in the comedy writing


I'm seeing a lot of the same kind of conversations here about BBT vs nerd culture, and wanted to share a thought: You keep making the very reasonable point that you can't really address overall subjective tone and impression, but would be happy to discuss interpretation of specific joke/eps/characters etc.

Unfortunately, you're not asking this of FANS. I can't quote a joke I didn't like because my brain never reinforced that synapse. Nothing in BBT is mightily offensive or horrifying, so it doesn't cement itself in memory as a trauma.

If I had time I would sit down and rewatch some eps to cite (probably with Wil Wheaton, since I so desperately wanted to like his arc) but today is not the day.

Generally my impression of the show is that character traits and remarks that I would consider normal conversation among my friends are held up intrusively as "<pause for laughter>" beats on BBT. This makes me feel like my life is being portrayed as something to laugh at.

The jokes that read AS jokes are sometimes awkwardly inserted into dialogue where they don't seem to fit, and it feels as though the character is being interrupted by the writers and forced to deliver words they don't believe.

My two cents. Probably TLDR but I tried.

*Apologies in advance if I repeated something already covered here; I really tried to read everything first but I have a work thing this afternoon and didn't want to miss this window.

well remember this is a show for a wide audience not a show just for you and your friends. but that said it doesnt mean we are mocking you and your friends. I would never mock D&D -- I love D&D. I am the DM for the BBT writers dungeon. I think you might be projecting maybe? You do't have to like it, but it doesn't mean it's meant to mock you and your friends.

I recognize your point about the wide audience goal and for that specific reason I typically don't bother watching anything on regular network TV until there's a season or two finished and vetted and I know what I'm getting into.

Some of the frustration with BBT among nerds is that everyone you know who DOESN'T identify with those characters' lives and interests watches the show and wants to tell you about it because they assume it's your favorite thing.

If there was a personal angle on the criticism I made (and I didn't intend there to be), that is probably where it arises from: I didn't seek out this show. It was presented to me over and over again by people who assumed I'd like it because I "totally sound like Sheldon right now".

those people sound obnoxious

They are. But that's not the same thing as badly-intentioned; they guy at a convention who wants to tell you about his character isn't any less obnoxious than BBT fans who really want me to see this show. They both suffer from a misjudgement in objectivity, but really want to share something positive. That's why I tried to give the show a chance.

everybody doesn't need to like the same thing. that is a totalitarian idea.

I notice some of the Zombie College actors are the same from Futurama (i.e. Tress MacNeille's who's very talented). Many think of Futurama as Matt Groening's show, but I notice David X Cohen talks the most on the DVD commentaries (he has a nice voice!), do you think most of the decisions are just as much his choices as, if not more than, Matt's? How about Drinky Crow Show? Although I think it's a good show? Was it fun to work on? I love Dino Stamatopoulos' work (especially Moral Orel)! I see another cartoon you worked on with a shared actor as Futurama (David Herman)

Drinky Crow was really fun and I did it with my studio Mirari so it's close to my heart - I know every single animator personally. Yes many of the ZC voice talent were from Futurama. Yes David is a co-creator of Futurama.

Any chance of another Futurama revival?

sure! here's hoping!

Your work on Drinky Crow was absolutely incredible. It's a huge favorite of mine, the writing was totally sublime. I've loved a lot of the stuff Mirari has put out and I hope it keeps going strong. Would love to see you helm another series again, maybe have Dave Herman involved? That man is ultra talented.

I saw a small pilot for Achewood and it looked like it was animated in the same style as Drinky Crow but I have no clue who did the production work on it. Is Mirari involved?

thanks! I don't know about ache wood

Tried this one before, lets see if it works this time:

I'm going outside the standard here, but lets see how this plays out:

[Just skip the hard one if you like, I wont hold it against you]

How did you get your most used password? Was it generated or something you chose yourself?

Do you like cats? A lot of people here like cats? If yes, what kind of cat (you can go with personality or races, i'm not a cat person myself)?

Do you have something you want to get checked out at the doctors, but don't know if it's just something thats supposed to be there, or don't want to ask about?

Could we be internet friends? I could send you a message like once a year on this account with "sup homie?", and you'll answer like "nothin much, see ya next year"?

What colors are you ambivalent to?

Have you ever been in a canoe? How was it? Did you or somebody else fall out? Did you laugh or help?

Do you like to write? If yes, have you ever wanted to write something crazy, like people would be either "damn he's The Hawke" or "okaaaaayyyy....."?

Who would win in a fight: Manics or Megalomaniacs?

If you could make any kind of movie you wanted, what would your characters name be?

What book is on your night table, or the last one lying there?

Have you ever painted a wall? If yes, did you like it?

How many cups do you have? If none, how many wine glasses?

Do you like tractors? My dad has 3. They are kind of old, but do the job :)

What is the scariest animal you have ever touched? If no, what animal would you like to ride as a horse?

Do you like pigeons? I'm not really a fan, but it's cool to see them fly away in groups when kids run up to them :)

Canon or Nikon? If none, do you like instagram?

How many languages would you like to know? Or are you waiting for a babel fish thingy like I am?

If parrots ganged up on you, who would win in a verbal smack down battle (I gues theese parrots are awesome at smack downs)?

I used to have a dog, have you lost a pet?

I know this is an Ask Me Almost Anything kinda of ama, but I want to get a little personal, what makes you giddy, like the one thing you never can stop laughing at even if you tried? For me it's midget sheep, they are awesome :)

Do you like adventures? If yes, would you like to join my D&D group? We play once every third month.... Everybody has a job now.... :(

So how about that Dinklage (Am I spelling that right?) rocking GoT?

Could you do a cameo on a webseries thats awesome but don't have the funding to really get out there? I'm not thinking of a specific one, I'm just paying it forward by being lazy and getting others to do good work for me.

What time is it? What time would you like it to be (year not necessarily this one we're in right now)?

If you could be a wizard, what kind of wizard would you be? Good or bad? Illusionist or Conflagurationst?

Puppies or mittens in -40C?

I need new socks, where do you get yours? I buy mine from my grandma with hugs and kisses :)

What do you do if you really need to fart on set, but you know it would be wrong to cut or pause the scene just so you could walk away for a while? Silent Killer or Atomic Attack (since your poop atoms gets into everybodys faces)?

2+2 or 3+5?

Thank a bunch, hope the hard one wasn't to offending! Good luck on your next adventure! :)

I'm not sure what this is

Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

Also, do you think your interest in philosophy has had an impact on your creativity?

sure -- everywhere -- everything -- I have an interest in life which gets me interested in philosophy and other things too -- hope that's not too vague!

I would just like to say that "Jurassic Bark" & the "The Devil's hands are idle playthings" are probably the best episodes of anything ever in existence. Curse you for making me feel things.


You're a cruel, cruel individual for Jurassic Bark......... gets posted and reposted often, and everytime everyone here suffers the feels....

I can be cruel but I can also be kind if needs be

Are you only doing this to promote your kicksterter?

I would like to promote hte kickstarter but I am doing this to connect with fans in general

Eric, I am currently getting my PhD in Biochemistry and am often torn over whether I should spend more time learning some philosophy, particularly epistemology. Given your background of working with scientists (Futurama and BBT come to mind) and as a philosopher, what do you think?

More generally, do you think science education in America/World should teach more epistemology and other philosophies as part of the general curriculum.

no I think it would not be a productive use of your time

Hey! thanks for the reply. It's why I never did any serious reading. Any time I would think to do it I would end up reading a journal paper instead. Love your work. Look forward to new stuff (love Drinky Crow btw).


Can you tell us a little about how futurama was inspired?

David Cohen and Matt Groening wanted to do a comedy in the future

Hi! I have never asked a question in an AMA but here it goes!

I see that you have studied and taught a lot of philosophy. I am currently in college studying philosophy! So here are some questions:

  1. What is your favorite subject of philosophy to study? Why?
  2. What is your favorite subject to teach? Why?
  3. Did your studies in philosophy help you, in your opinion, become a better writer?
  4. After college, will I be as homeless as they say for studying philosophy?

I like foundational issues and I like teaching phenomenology, sure they helped me, I would not look to philosophy to pay the bills -- you should have a plan

Have you ever tried writing for video games?

no I would love to

By any chance you can elaborate the Ferge conversation?

AMy is a neuroscientist and says that when she understands the brain she will understand physics cause she will understand the brain of the physicist. SHeldon says that that is the rankest psychologism and was debunked by Frege.

i love you. i generally try not to watch tv except for futurama

You are great


I'll take that under advisement

Love the writing you do on TBBT. How much longer do you think that show will last, given its high popularity?

I hope a long time

What do you think of Bruce Eric Kaplan?

very witty cartoonist and observer of contemporary mores. I really like Girls also

Penny or Bernadette?

everyone is special

What was up with the sexual references in the first episodes of the relaunched Futurama? Based on either your direct knowledge or your guess or what someone might choose to believe if they were to hear it from a not at all completely reliable source in a back alley?

human beings are sexual creatures -- I prefer the term "erotic" cause it suggests that desire and longing reach down into the physical but also up into the sublime!

How do you feel about the cancellation of Futurama? Also, on a related note, please don't cancel Futurama.

I feel bad!

Hey Mr K! Which cartoon or sitcom do you wish you'd written? And what's a favorite scene from any other cartoon or sitcom?

I wish I wrote "Chuckles Bites the Dust" of Mary Tyler Moore show. But it was impossible. Somebody else wrote it.

Why in big bang theory is there laughing after every sentence from a character, even when its not funny but just a conversation? Is that on purpose?

you are hearing the laughter of the audience watching the show

I know that...but my god..after every sentence...its a funny show but so much laughing!

they are stoked to be there

Just wanted to say Parasites Lost is one of my favorite Futurama episodes, do you remember how you came up with the idea for that episode?

thanks man -- my mother is a biology teacher and I love invertebrates.

What's it like working with they might be giants?

great -- they are very sophisticated and post-modern

What is, in your opinion, the greatest thing you have ever done?

my family -- although I can't take more than partial credit

Do your ideas stem from real life events or are they mostly fictional?

from the rich beating blood stream of life!

I and my gf really like TBBT, sometimes we don't understand because of our poor English tho, and still waiting for the next episode

I'm glad you like it -- it is probably a decent way to learn English

I am so sorry there is so much Bbt hate on here. I personally love the show. Which of the characters is your favorite to write for?

I like them all. I think hate is backwards love

No, 'evol' is backwards love.

not "spelled backwards". "Backwards".

Touché. This is a great AMA.

you are great

As somebody who has trying to get into comedy writing, where would you suggest I start? I have a mountain of stuff written but I don't know what to do with any of it?

I think you need to start doing little videos and putting them on line

thanks so much for replying, it means a lot to me! I will certainly start trying to get some videos up. Also, if its okay, i have one more question. How did you start getting work as a comedy writer?

I wrote comedy as a kid and in highschool and in college -- my first job was with SPY magazine

Did you know your last name means tiger in Turkish?


Is it me or is this nowhere near as fun (or as funny) as it should have been? Bland answers, doesn't seem very engaged with the questions... I dunno. Odd.


Well now I feel terrible. I am a big fan of your work, anyway, if that's at all redeeming. walks away embarrassed

I don't want you to feel terrible! I want you to feel happy! Go you!

Eric Kaplan, you are far too nice - a gentleman if ever there was one. You know what? GO YOU! Good luck with your book, I'm looking forward to reading it.

no such thing as being too nice

Do you think of jokes in advance and place them in the show when appropriate, or do you write the show with jokes in them?

If the above is true, what is the longest you waited to use a joke?

no we don't keep a file of jokes or anything

How can we get the scripts that Bill Prady keeps tweeting pictures of from Big Bang Theory. By the way, Big Bang Theory is hands down my favorite show since X-Files. Thanks for your work.

thanks! talk to Prady!

Are you responsible for "bazinga"?

no -- that would be Stephen Engel

So we're both Kaplans...did your family come through Ellis as well? Polish by any chance?

Anyways, I hope you're prepared to feel the wrath of thousands of nerds who can't watch Jurassic Bark cause of the feels. Also, thanks for the laughs.


What would your advice be to an aspiring voice actor?

work on your acting -- become as good an over-all actor as you can



Why are you using kickstarter?

to find an audience for Love Me Cat

I wish you a lot of success with Love Me Cat, but I don't understand why people who already have connections and the funds go the route of asking their fans for money.

well it's really a way to get the fans to feel ownership. The fans get stuff and have a chance to collaborate in the show. Because LMC will succeed or fail based on finding an audience.

Wow! I am excited for this! Thanks to the countless others on YouTube I now enjoy watching shows on my computer and no longer even have cable/tv. What made you decide to go the YouTube route?

seemed like a cool way to connect with the audience directly

How did you come up with Hypnotoad? All glory to him!

can't explain how!

I don't care what people say, I like Big Bang Theory


Can you tell me the meaning behind the lyrics to "Layla" and your inspiration for writing such a beautiful piece of music?

I don't understand

He's thinking of Eric Clapton. He doesn't realize you're the guy who used to play for Manchester United.

thanks for clearing that up

He's pretending to think that you are Eric Clapton.

that has been a popular joke since I was twelve

What is the answer to the greatest question of all time?

Q: "What is the most important question and what is the answer?" A: "That is the question and this is the answer."

How do you feel about the success of shows that have a cult fan following such as futurama and shows that an everyday person watches like big bang theory. And how do you feel about futurama being cancelled and picked up again and cancelled again?

they should pick up Futurama again. I am sort of a needy person so when I write something I want everybody to like it.

thanx for Roswell that ends well, Farnsworth parabox, late Phillip j fry, prisoner of benda. i love the whole series but these ones stick out for me.

time travel code, supernova + microwave, forward only time machine, head jar powder, what other ways can you now make time travel possible in futurama?

time travel is cool but it is paradoxical

How do you write such a great show like Futurama and write a shit show like BBT at the same time?

that sounds like a tendentious question!

I didnt mean that you were a bully per se, just the show is.

And I'm not trying to say you don't do any nerd things. I'm sure when you write about D&D it's very realistic then. The problem is, how the show portrays, comic book enthusiasts, or gamers, or LARPers, or people interested in the STEM field or just "nerds" in general tends to get a couple things right and then paint the rest on to get laughed about by the audience.

Basically it seems like a show for dumb people who like to think theyre smart and nerdy. Not to mention, for how pedantic Sheldon's character is supposed to be, he gets a lot of things wrong.

let there be peace between us despaxes!

Well, you have an incredibly cooperative audience then. The way they can go from jet-engine-decibel laughter when someone walks into the scene, to silence and back and forth every 2 lines of dialogue is fucking amazing.

they are big fans


I guess I should have said anti-social personality disorder though cause "homicidal maniac" is not exactly in the DSM!

Big bang theory is one of the worst shows I have ever seen yet futurama is one of my favorites... How did you manage that?

that has to do with you, me, and our complex relationship

Okay, so I have a business plan, a pitch, and a season's worth of scripts... How do I get in the room to sell them?

it doesn't work that way -- you need to get some fans first

Who's your favourite character of any show you've written for?

Love Me Cat

What is your networth?

what is your password?

Do you have any pets?

I have five pets -- Love, Hate, Pride, Shame & Ingenuity

There's an episode of TBBT where Sheldon listens to Chinese lessons in order to go to a Chinese restaurant and tell them that they incorrectly made his order. Taking the premise that he has a perfect ability to remember things, how is it possible that he in the end said all the wrong words?

Thanks in advance.

no idea!

loved jurassic bark. loved malcolm in the middle! i feel like viewers never gave it due respect. i have never seen anyone go as in depth into thread responses and having back and forth with redditors. eric kaplan, you are one of my favorite writers, now you have shown you are pretty fucking cool too. love it.

thanks fecklessness! I think you have more feck than you give yourself credit for!

I love your shows!!!!!!


Where does the inspiration for Sheldon's Character/persona come from?

I think it was inspired by Bill Prady and his friends

Watching some of the stuff you guys come up with, it's easy to think "These guys must be way too busy to ever see a doctor 'cause it's obvious they're self-medicating" (that's not quite the way we usually put that) but I suspect that self-medicating would tend to get in the way of your work so probably your brain just naturally works that way. Is there a way a non-creative-type thinker can develop the habits of thinking creatively, free-associating ideas, seeing multiple possible answers to all of life's questions, etc., if that makes sense? Or do you just have to be born that way?

yes -- I don't accept that there is such a thing as a non-creative person. I would read Plato's dialogues and develop your internal Socrats. Challenge your scripts and assumptions and you will naturally re-gestalt things.

yes -- I don't accept that there is such a thing as a non-creative person. I would read Plato's dialogues and develop your internal Socrats. Challenge your scripts and assumptions and you will naturally re-gestalt things.

also like if there are two things you think are the same thing about how they're different, if there are two things you think are different think about how they're the same, if there's something you think is good try to see how it's bad, if there's somebody you think is bad try to think of a way in which he's good

I'm doing phil at Berkeley now. Did you leave anything that I can look out for on the bathroom walls of Moses or scratched under the tables of Howison?

I hope not! Say hi to Professor Barry Stroud

I will! And if you haven't read his newish books, check them out.

what's H. Ginsborg writing these days?

Ah! I can see you have good taste among the faculty. As far as I know, she's been doing normativity & the third Critique. She's publishing a collection of papers soon.

nice. what are you working on? am I remembered?

Totally understand that. The thing is, very few other shows with the "laugh track" bother me/us. Maybe it's too loud? But, I guess that would make me "too old."

could be!

What is your Favourite British T.V Show?

Monty Python's Flying Circus




More seriously, what do you think of those satirical comics?

not familiar with them!

How did you first get in to the TV writing industry? My friend is applying for fellowships and sending out specs, but what specifically got your foot in the door?

I happened to know people on some shows and bugged them and then bugged the people they told me I could bug

How do you come up with the various ideas for the episodes?

just from life

I'm interested to find out how someone with such a varied academic background landed a job as a comedy writer. How many different jobs did you have before you got your first writing gig?

I did a lot of work as an office temp for various places


sorry! You would enjoy LOVE ME CAT

Big Bang Theory is the funniest show on TV right now, and second only to Scrubs in all-time-ness. And I love Futurama. If I were saying this you in person, I'd also be buying you a beer. Cheers!

that is great!

What's the most helpful advice you were ever given about writing comedy?

that the story has to be intrinsically funny -- don't take an unfunny story and try to festoon it with jokes


it's true. we are part of a biological continuum and what is implicit in one generation can be explicit in the next one

How do you get started in writing for tv?

started writing spec scripts and handing them around and getting feedback & got my first job on David Letterman

Why do you think Big Bang Theory got so popular? Thanks for the AMA!

I think the experience of being an outsider is universal

Got another one on Futurama. How bad does Zoidberg smell? It is mentioned a couple of times, but how bad is it really? I like to think that it would be fun to hang out with him, so I'm actually worried about this.

really really bad. Like if you were going to take a horseshoe crab and stick it in a ski mask and then go out on a hot day for a jog for hours, that is like a perfumed garden compared to...well you get the idea

What is your creative process for writing an episode? I feel it would be hard to put so much character development and plot into a small timeframe like a 30 minute show. For example,"Jurassic Bark" is known as one of the saddest cartoon episodes ever. Did you intend for the story to be a tearjerker? Or, as you were writing it, is that just how it came out?

I had no idea it would come out THAT sad. But it is just like following the idea where it leads


no -- that would be Mr. Benjamin's son.


I hope you parted on good terms

Did you invent the Finglonger? Please tell me you invented the Finglonger. I'm going to invent a real-life Finglonger that redditors can wear to browse reddit with their Finglongers and type about Finglongers.


No I think that was David X. Cohen


I think you need to write to Futurama for that

this goes for all shows, how come the creator of a show doesn't write many episodes? for instance Seth MacFarlane only wrote 4 family guy episodes? does the creator help write the episodes with the writers or at least fabricate the basic plot? thanks

very often the creator will be involved but not demand a writing credit.

Oh my! I met you at my current job when you came in with a certain popular video game. I am not sure how much I can say but you were incredibly nice! I wanted to tell you how awesome I thought you are but I was unsure if that would cross the line...

I am baffled but thanks! What does that mean I came in with a video game?

You wrote for this video game and you were recording a character's lines. I believe the character was sea-themed for a popular online-multiplayer game. Sorry for being so vague! I don't want to get you in trouble. Or me for that matter.

I think I am getting credit for somebody else's niceness!

What do you think of the fan petition I created to Save Futurama Again?

great! keep up the good work! I wish you much success!

How do I become a comedy writer?

well just start writing first of all, and then find some way to get feedback and connect with an audience. Maybe youtube. Also participate in Love me Cat

I thought at first glance that Eric Kaplan said he wrote a show called "Ask Me Anything"

apologies. it was infelicitously phrased to be sure!

I have to ask, have you spoken with Netflix about the issue of Futurama continually being cancelled? I imagine what they did with Arrested Development could be applied to Futurama to great effect. I could be wrong, but it seems plausible. I know I would personally be absolutely thrilled for the show to continue... you know... forever perhaps...

that is a great conversation to be had! I would love to see new original episodes of Futurama on netflix!

Over the last several years, I've noticed a gradual shift in Big Bang Theory. It seems to have gone from a "laugh with the nerds" show to a "laugh at the nerds" show.

Is there a reason behind this, or was it just an inevitable change as the show became more mainstream?

Edit: For example, at lot of the more recent humor is basically built around the "Sheldon is socially awkward" premise.

that's interesting but i think it's the opposite -- what makes you feel that way?

Its a shift between the old seasons and the new.

A lot of the older seasons built their humor off referencing things that geekier fans would recognize, and on the interplay between the various 'types' of geeks. (Science vs SciFi, or Comic vs Gaming as examples)

The newer seasons seem to boil down to "Sheldon is socially awkward, put him in a social situation." "Raj can't talk to women. Lets make him try and date one."

It may not be an intentional shift, but I can't help but feel a little bit like the show is now poking fun at geeks as a whole instead of sort of letting us laugh at our own foibles.

When it first started airing, I felt like I was really supposed to identify with Leonard, as the sort of lesser geek surrounded by higher geeks. Now, I feel like the show is trying to push the audience to identify with Penny as the 'normal' person surrounded by 'wierdos'.

that's not how we intend it

I LOVE your work! I've watched Futurama, Malcolm in the Middle, and the Big Bang Theory. You made my childhood(I love Futurama, a lot!) but anyways, here's my question: I understand why some of the shows you wrote got cancelled but I want to know, how do you feel when a show you wrote gets cancelled?


I guess it's safe to say that most of the shows you write(You write really good shows!) makes many people(Including me) sad-face.

sorry! Right?

Is Myq Kaplan your brother?

don't know him but all the Kaplans are descended from the brother of Moses, Aaron, about 4000 years ago

Hey Mr. Kaplan, I hope your having a great time. Huge fan of both Futurama and Big Bang Theory, have been since the inception of both shows.

I really enjoyed the Futurama movies, specifically Bender's Game, which I though was horribly underrated. How was it different writing Futurama in long-form? I noticed that with that movie specifically, it really seemed like four episodes with a continuous story mashed together. Did you approach it as such? Or did the writing staff plan on doing four feature length films from the get-go?

that was a weird and complex needle to thread -- they were supposed to be BOTH a movie AND four episodes of tv to be aired on comedy central. It was tricky.

Well you guys did a great job. One more question: is the second half of the final season of Futurama still going to air on CC in July? Or was that part of the cancellation as well?

No it will air. Did you see Love Me Cat?

Great news! I didn't see Love Me Cat, but I just watched the trailer on Youtube. Funny stuff.

Thanks for the answers, and thanks (a million times over) for some of my favorite episodes of my favorite cartoon. You have no idea how much you've inspired me -- I eat every gas station bathroom sandwich I can get my hands on in hopes that parasites will form in my intestinal tract, granting me insane physical and mental prowess. I wouldn't do that if not for your amazing imagination, so thanks again.

good luck with that! thanks!

You're being asked a lot about Futurama, and I want to ask you stuff about it too. But to differ the questions a bit, what comedy or any genre show would you like to work on?

I would like to try writing a feature

Are you jewish? Nothing personal just wondering.


You might be gone by now, but I wanted to tell you that I appreciated how you basically designed a mathematical theorm and used it in a cartoon. It makes me happy.

Season 6; Episode 10 "The Prisoner of Benda"

Thank you for your work. I love it.

Thanks -- it is good to be appreciated! The theorem was by either Ken Keeler or Jeff Westbrook. I couldn't prove a theorem with a wet cat on a windy day!

Is your interest more in continental or analytic philosophy? Given that you taught classes on Foucault and company (dibs on the band name) I'm guessing you are at least sympathetic to continental philosophy. Do you feel the Phenomenological approach is a valid approach to do philosophy?

absolutely! Love phenomenology.

What is the most rewarding thing about the work you do/have done?

perhaps this AMA?

What is your favorite character from any of your shows?

Love Me Cat

Whats your favorite line you have written in any show.

Do you have any issues writing for characters compared with actors, Would you ever have a "Sheldon" line that is not a "Jim Parsons" line and so not make it into the show?

I really like the line from Andy Richter controls the universe "I'm a writer so my tool is language. The stuff that means stuff."

No the actors are like Seal Team Six -- they are a crack troop of professionals -- can take any line and say it as their character.

Why does bbt suck so bad

maybe you just don't appreciate it.

Where does boneitis come from and how can I avoid contracting it?

well don't jump the bones of anybody with it

Why did The Big Bang Theory become so terrible?

What is Matt Groening like?

Big Bang Theory is a delightful televised entertainment -- I can't imagine why it has earned your displeasure. Matt Groening is a prince among men.

Is Sheldon from BBT supposed to be high functioning autistic (Asperger's) or are the striking similarities coincidental?

He is a fictional character so he is supposed to be drawn from life. Applying the categories of psychological diagnosis to fictional characters is a risky and quixotic enterprise.

It's cool that you're responding to criticism. So many failed AMA's come to mind that have just failed at this.

I like to connect with the fans. If people have an interest in the show positive or negative I am happy to hear from them.

How the frakk can you NOT like StarWars??? Get the tar and feathers!!!!!!!!

I find it really dull -- cartoonishly bad plotting, goofy new age spirituality, paper-thin characters. It is not my cup of tea although I know others enjoy it.

What is, in your opinion, the best thing you've ever written that has been aired?

Zombie College and Drinky Crow Show

Say something funny.


You are the most vigilant answererer I have witnessed on AMA. no further questions.

your witness

Don't worry about the people on reddit saying the Big Bang theory is bad. Everyone I know that is not a reddit user likes it, including me

I am not worried

How do I write comedy?

well just start writing stuff you think is funny and putting it out there

Why are all the laughs in The Big Bang theory directed AT its nerdy cast? It seems as though we're supposed to laugh at them for being nerds. Laughing because Sheldon and Amy use over-complicated language to express mundane or sometimes abstract ideas. We're supposed to laugh that they want to dress up as superheroes. We're supposed to laugh because Raj can't talk to chicks unless he's drunk. We should laugh because Sheldon is often depicted to be socially inept.

And on the flip side, we're supposed to relate to Penny every time she exclaims or points out how ridiculous and nerdy the group, and the activities they like to partake in, are. Every time she doesn't understand something Sheldon says, or thinks he's being too unclear, or feels like his speech is incongruous.

The producers have made a show featuring a cast of geeks and nerds and made it okay for us to laugh at them. Has anyone ever pointed this out to you?

I don't think that's accurate. I make jokes about my friends and about myself that are EXACTLY the same as the jokes we make on Big Bang Theory.

Can I come write with you for BBT? I love that show, and I feel like you have written people I know in my life, but have never seen on screen before.

I feel like they're all my friends.

I love your stuff! Thanks for the inspiration and motivation!

thank you Magwise!

Does Kripke actually talk wike dis?

he is not a real person

Drinky Crow is amazing. That is all.


When is "Ask Me Anything" on and what channel?

sorry for the poor expression

Meanwhile Honey Boo Boo is set for another season...I hate people.

compared to what?

Why does it seem like the characters in Futurama develop, then basically reset to how they previously were?

well I think it is a conscious choice so somebody who hasn't seen the show before can still enjoy the show

Huge, yet mediun-sized fan here. I really hope to see futurama come back again. It's massively entertaining

That's massively hugely gratifying

Why is The Big Bang Theory so poular despite being void of any real intellectual humor?

We put in a whole discussion of Frege and psychologism in the Zazzy Substitution. I think that is highly intellectual.


neat! did you get a good grade?

How keen on marrying me are you? I ask only because i know every line to all of the original Futuramas.

I am sure you will make someone very happy

No question, just wanted to say thank you so much for so many amazing years of laughter, I hope I never get tired of rewatching Futurama and really hope Netflix picks it up.

Thank you Mr. Kaplan.

Thank you -- one is maximum and the other minimum?

what are the best lines you have came up with for bender or fry?

I had a good line for Bender that I think got cut. Bender: I'm only doing this because he seduced my sister. But no one knows that. Not even me.

What is the meaning behind the Alien pin Howard wears in Big Bang Theory?


Are you always the funny guy at parties?


Hi Eric! Just a quick question: when you're writing characters like those on Futurama, how much feedback to you receive/request from the voice actors on writing the jokes and how they should be delivered? I would imagine that people like Billy West and John DiMaggio would have a lot of input/need to collaborate on what works best for their characters.

Actually they are so professional they can execute any line we write



I love all of those shows!!... Except the Big Bang Theory... FUCK The Big Bang Theory

that is vehement!

Thanks for making me cry. You know why. (jurassic bark)

you're welcome

Why not Zoidberg good?

he good! he very good!

Futurama is the goodest show ever. The only TV show I ever watch.

you should check out Blue Planet

You very good.

you very good

With your academic training in philosophy, how did you end up transitioning to writing/television? Did you just one day decide "teaching is boring, I'd rather write comedy"?

basically. Actually I loved teaching but I wanted to connect with more people. I have a philosophy book coming out "Does Santa Exist?"

Thanks for answering! But seriously, where were you when I was taking my course on Heidegger?! Couldn't even crack a joke in that class everyone was so tense.

that's too bad!

Hello Eric Kaplan, My whole family is huge BBT fans and can't wait for the next season. My question to you is: Do you plan on showing Howard's mother in the new season at all?

I think that would be surprising -- we did show her a little last year

are you related to jason kaplan who is much funnier than you?

not familiar with the gentleman but he sounds cool

What would say is the biggest difference in writing for a show like Futurama compared to writing for a network television show like Big Bang Theory?

we have a live studio audience

Why did you choose the catchphrase to be "Zimbabwe"?

I didn't -- I don't have a catchphrase

Do your stories relate to any real life events of yours?

yeah zombie college was pretty much based on my life

How did you come up with the personality of Bender?

that came from David Cohen I think

what do you think about the next generation of cartoons? everything i see is an acid trip or super bizarre and korky. i get weird over tone shivers from adventure time. i think family sitcom cartoons are running thin. i find bobs burgers absolutely appalling. have you seen the new looney tunes?

most things are unoriginal but I'm sure there are some good ones. I like adventure time

The Big Bang Theory. Why?

how come?

Ah, I appreciate the feedback. I feel like the jokes in that show are really dumbed down and I honestly just can't stand it. Mostly I dislike the characters, but the "jokes" and "punchlines" are just awful.

I think some are good

Just seeing the words "Jurassic Bark" makes me heart ache.

it's a sad story

How can Futurama be so good and Big Bang Theory so bad if you write for both shows?

you should see my medium shows!

do you think futurama will come back again?


I'm probably too late, but:

Do you feel that The Big Bang Theory has run its course? My fiancé and I both love the show, but watching the last dozen or so episodes I can't help but feel like it's outlived its shelf life.

no I think there is a lot more to write about them

are you a dragon ball z fan?

no but I like Naruto

Futurama is incredible. I am honestly a bit surprised that one of it's writers is also a writer for the big bang theory. I'm not trying to be insulting but what is it like to simultaneously work on one thing that is so good while also working on another that has a comedic value that is on par with "saved by the bell"?

disagree with your assessment of BBT but will defend to death the right you have to say it!

Hi! Huge fan of Big Bang Theory and Futurama! I wanted to ask: if you had to play favorites, who would you choose as your favorite character in the Big Bang Theory?

Also, tacos or spaghetti?

Sheldon and Spaghetti? or maybe Amy?

As a philosopher, what's you're favourite theory you've come across during your education?

I think my favorite philosophers don't have theories. I like Isaac Luria and Chuang Tzu a lot.

How do you find it possible to write something as hilarious as Futarama but also write something as fucking nauseatingly terrible as The Big Bang Theory?

I'm not sure if that is a question -- it seems more like a statement

Love Me Cat sounds like it could be my hideous, anti-social cats biography. Good luck with it.


Wow - great AMA! So many questions answered. Thanks, Eric!

you are welcome -- it was interesting and bracing

When will your new show "Ask me anything" air ?

sorry for the infelicitous expression

Why do they use Bing in TBBT.

a joke

Do you create the plot, then try to find witty jokes surrounding it, or do you continually think of jokes, and find ways to work them into the plot?

we write starting at the beginning and push through to the end, making jokes as the situation suggests them

Really good AMA! So many responses from the OP! Thank you Mr. Kaplan, I'm going to go watch all the Futurama episodes you wrote.

I hope you enjoy them

Eric, my name is Erik.

Question the first : Did you write Jurassic Bark specifically to make me cry and tarnish the great people who spell their name better than you do? I will take my response off the air.

why does it tarnish you to cry?

Oh my gosh, I never expected you to read that, let alone reply! Good point, it shouldn't, it's a sad commentary on our gender roles in modern society that men can't cry. Seriously though, I commend you on your heart strings in that episode, I'm sure any pet owner that has ever watched that has gotten misty at least.

Hey, you, you are alright Mr. Eric. And I generally despise all Eric's in the world. Thanks for all you do.

glad to change your view of Erics. Now if someone would only challenge your unreasoningly positive view of Ambroses...

How does it feel having inspired a movie to be based off of Jurassic Bark's story with Richard Gere, the gerbil man himself, be played similar to Fry's character? I'd be pretty upset with this fact. I mean the Richard Gere part.

I may have missed something

What do you mean?

I didn't understand your comment

Haha okay, I'm sorry. I guess to make it short and sweet, did it make you upset when Richard Gere starred in a movie that had basically the same story as "Jurassic Bark"'s? The movie is called Hachi, incase you haven't seen it.

hmm! I didn't know that! I was kinda spooked by "Internal Affairs".

What is your favorite word?

What is your least favorite word?

What turns you on?

What turns you off?

What sound or noise do you love?

What sound or noise do you hate?

What is your favorite curse word?

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

What profession would you not like to do?

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

you I you & I them cat purr tin foil scratching @&*$ psychiatrist surgeon why

what gets you out of a writers slump? what inspires you, what gives you ideas?


Are you a Scientologist?

no -- why did I seem like one?

I'm an aspiring writer, what's the best advise you could give me in getting to work on such amazing shows?

just keep working on your craft, imitate stuff you think is good, get good friends who can give you feedback, then find people who can read it and help you out

I've never heard of the show "Ask Me Anything". Is it on Cable?

good point

How do you feel about Schopenhauer?

smart guy but seems like adolescent disappointment to me

Thanks to that episode of BBT with Dungeons & Dragons, one of my friends is now interested in playing with my group. She's exceptionally not nerdy, even a little, and thinks it sounds like fun.

Make more nerd things cool and/or appealing, yeah?


Your middle name is my first name :>


Did I hear correctly once that Professor Farnsworth is modeled after Hubert Dreyfus? Also, I have a stong interest in Heidegger; is there any noticible impact of his philosophy on the show?

some have said that! yes I think there's Heidegger in the show.

Why do people like Big Bang Theory?

they like the characters and the jokes

Is "Ask Me Anything" a new show you're working on?

you got me!

Futurama was very well written, thank you for that! I have a question concerning the very beginning of your writing career. Had you any formal training, in order to get a grip of writing technique, or you just went for it?

You mentioned you're a philosopher. Is it common in the "script writers scene" to have such formation? I'm always trying to connect movie anb TV scripts to authors in subjects such as philosophy and psychology, and I'm always impressed by the probable gigantic amount of reading you guys do in order to drop that one brilliant line.

no formal training but I wrote when I was a little kid

Why are you ending Futurama?

not up to me

My wife won't let me play the Jurassic Bark episode. Ever.

That said, I love that episode because it adds a lot of depth to the show, like early Simpsons when Bleeding Gums Murphy dies or the All In The Family episode where Edith is almost raped. Life happens, it's not all jokes 100% of the time.

Thank you for Jurassic Bark, sir.

you're welcome -- it's funny how people respond to this

I used to always listen to the audio commentaries for Futurama and always thought you guys were absolutely awesome. Thanks for the great show and making me want to pursue TV writing.


Why is Futurama good, but Big Bang Theory is painful to watch?

maybe you prefer one to the other

Why is futurama awesome and consistently cancelled yet big bang theory is effectively the posterboy for shit comedy yet lives on?

that is vehement

Please stop making the big bang theory so addicting me and my family once watched 6 episodes in a row cmon plz.

don't blame me for your lack of will power

If you could work on any show of your choosing, what would it be?

I like where I'm working

What's a co executive producer? Does that mean you threw in some cash?

no -- it means I'm a relatively senior writer

Mr. Kaplan, what is your favorite food?


When you retire, could you take up the hobby of writing more Futurama shows and publish them on the internet?

I like Futurama but I'd probably write my own stories instead

I wish you luck and millions of followers.


I've never heard of the show Ask Me Anything.

you got me

There don't seem to be many philosophy-related questions here.

Could you recommend some readings regarding personal identity? I have read the SEP article on the topic as well as snippets from Derek Parfit, but would like to go into more depth.

questions of King Milinda

Well, sheep don't seem too bad.

humans are better than sheep -- they can do more stuff

“When I hear somebody sigh, "Life is hard," I am always tempted to ask, "Compared to what?"”

-Sydney J. Harris

who is this? I like him!

For a second I thought you said "love me" which i was going to respond by saying "yes I love you".

By the way I enjoy watching The Big Bang Theory. Keep up the good work.


Of the cast members on "The Big Bang Theory" which ones your favorite and why? Also what's it like to work with cast?

they are all really nice

What do you think of Kaley Cuoco? 10/10 would bang?

she is a nice lady

Oh man. Drinky Crow. Is Tony Millionaire as absurd as his cartoon counterparts? His humor is out of this world...

I like Drinky Crow a lot and Tony is 100% American genius -- like Mark Twain

First off, thank you for all your writing, I looked up all the episodes you did for Futurama, and ALL of them are some of my most loved ones. Aside from Jurassic Bark, because as others have said, very sad and made me weep like a baby.

Thanks, and I love your stuff!

probably helli s other robots I don't think so it has a big affect on how I think about things

why does big bang theory suck so much fucking cock?

laugh track

that's rude!

What is your opinion on laugh tracks?

gives you a sense of watching show in a group - -sometimes good sometimes bad depending upon your mood

how do you feel about literally everyone ever hates the big bang theory?

I think that assessment may be biased

I also think it may be. In my opinion, objectively it isn't too bad. But people either love it or hate it because that's where the hive minds are going. The humor isn't as sophisticated as I would like, and I feel like it's directed more at the fans than with them, which I doubt is intentional. It is written well though. I absolutely love Futurama, by the way. You've done good work, and I'm confident you'll do more. Thank you for taking time to reply to me!


did you only do this AMA with the intention of bringing public awareness to your new project? how circuitous

that prompted it but I also like to connect with people

Any chance you could get the laugh track removed from the big bang theory? It's an enjoyable show, and ithe laugh track is just distracting.

no it's shot in front of a live audience

so my thought process went, Eric Clapton Fuck Yeah! oh wait Eric Kaplan Fuck! oh wait futurama and big bang theory Fuck Yeah!


Hi Eric, big fan of your work!

I see from another response that you wrote the episode "Girlfriends" for Flight of the Conchords, and you've also worked on Futurama which had the memorable "Amazon Women In The Mood" or snoo-snoo episode.

Although I'm aware you didn't write the particular episode of Futurama in question, I was wondering on your thought process regarding the comic portrayal of what is, essentially, female-perpetrated sexual assault and/or rape. Should we as a society laugh at rape at all? Or only when the victim is a man? Or should we be able to make jokes about anything?

And I also feel that this blogger makes an excellent point about Amy's "creep behaviour" and sexual coercion towards Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory. In particular I strongly agree with the point that, were the genders reversed, your audience would find scenes such as this disturbing, not funny.

I'm not moralistic about comedy -- I think if you tell people they're not allowed to find something funny it can have unintended consequences

Why is the "nerdy" writing so half-assed on Big Bang Theory? I realize the target demographic is not the science/tech-inclined, but Futurama made an effort to both be funny and nerdy. Whereas, IMO, Big Bang Theory is often trying very hard to compete for "Can we be worse than CSI?" in jibberish and nonsensical lingo.

it's not gibberish -- it actually means something

That doesn't mean it's employed correctly -- which, in my mind, is about the same as gibberish.

when is it not employed correctly?

A lot of the technical information is proximately true, but if one is to believe he is a genius IQ of 150+ (i.e. Sheldon), whenever he discusses computers, physics, or anything else often the statements are indicative of a shallow understanding. I can't think of many examples off the top of my head since my GF is the avid watcher.

I can remember some implausible situations given the premise he is a genius technologist. For example, he would only have copies of his speech on a USB drive? Why would an experimental physicist of his caliber (even considering extreme idiosyncrasies) be so dogmatic about string theory -- especially in opposition to theories like general planetary physics? Even his advice when trying to neurotically give help on consumer-grade routers at a retail outlet are somewhat vague -- and, one would assume given his nature, he could extract sufficient parameters of the user to map on to the available features (even considering his social dysfunction). If Sheldon's room (which is quite large) was sufficiently filled with helium -- at least enough to make his voice "squeaky" -- he would die. How did Howard qualify as astronaut with Arrhythmia?

Again, if I watched enough episodes I'm sure I could point it out. Whenever Sheldon is speaking "in his wheelhouse" it's clear he's not actually in his wheelhouse. I enjoy the character most when they are highlighting is social dysfunction, but often find his "look I'm smart" dialogues to be implausible if not banal. The more frequent thing I find perplexing is things like the Cartesian Coordinate system are touted as some kind of "oooo smart" thing whereas they are actually quite literally elementary (as in school).

Overall, I find the tone to be intended for people with little scientific knowledge -- it's a typical sitcom wrapped up in a different package. And, where typical sitcoms shine (relationships) it does fine, but it fails comparatively to shows like Futurama. Perhaps, that is why it is more successful.

of course it is intended for people of less scientific knowledge than scientists

Why would you wrote for something as great as futurama, and as bad as Big Bang Theory.

I guess, to be perfectly honest, and at the risk of seeming unco-operative, I've got to say that I disagree with your assessment of the Big Bang Theory

This is like the BEST AMA I've ever read. Eric answers everything!


what about zoidberg?

well put!

Ever since first year University, I've been somewhat interested in philosophy courses and took some whenever I could. Nietzsche was a bit of a hard read at the time, but now I love some of his work (especially his ideas about the Ubermensch).

For someone wanting to get into philosophy of mind and other interesting theories on his own, what books would you suggest to begin reading that are not too difficult to read and give great insight into humans and the world around us?

1.What Computers Can't Do 2. Bringing Heaven Down to Earth 3.Chuang Tzu 4. Dialogues of Plato

Not to be confused with Eric Clapton.

or Crunch, Captain

What would you say is the single favorite joke you have written?

hard to pick a favorite but I like the giant syphilis inside uncle Gabby saying "To life!"

How was it writing roles and such for Bryan Cranston, especially before he received his stellar fame as Walter White in Breaking Bad?

Also, I would like to thank the you and the whole Futurama team for the incredible show that should have ever been cancelled. Episodes such as The Sting from Season 5 will remain as great TV programming forever.

great -- he is super-charged super-man

I loved the "Jurassic Bark" episode!

What do you think of philosophy in academe? It seems to me that the whole program of metaphysical speculation has been abandoned in the Anglo-American tradition for language games and analytic philosophy. Is there a chance for foundationalism or has it been thoroughly discredited?

I think foundationalism has been thoroughly discredited by C.S. Pierce


you seem mad



regarding the canceled question: Why is there no kickstarter to bring Futurama back?

maybe cause it's owned by 20th

how did you get into television and writing ? Was this post college, did you have previous work or what? Thanks

I wrote for Spy magazine in college and then applied to shows after grad school

At first I thought this was an Eric CLAPTON ama :0

not he

Why is big bang theory written in such a way that being a nerd/geek is the punch line instead of the lead in?

don't agree with that assessment

Whats the meaning of Life?

humans as whole should make personal response to the unlimited

I'm a 19 year old college student and want to write for TV. I plan to move to LA when I graduate. What else should I do before I graduate and after when I'm actively trying to write professionally?

just practice writing and get good friends to give you honest feedback

How did you get started?

in what sense?

Why aren't there female characters in BBT that are into Star Trek, D&D, comics, LARPing, gaming, etc.?

Bernadette, Amy, and Penny don't seem to understand the guys' obsession with those subjects.

It'd be nice to see more female characters into such topics (or in a mathematical sciences field, such as math or physics), since the recurring scientific female characters are in the life sciences.

just kind of grew that way

Haha this makes sense.... No wonder I was picking up underlying philosophical points in futurama.

no wonder!

I just don't understand how a writer of futurama also was a writer of the Big Bang theory

how come?

I can write. Who do I talk to to get a lucrative and fulfilling career?

get an audience that likes you and people will seek you out

How does someone get into your line of work?

keep writing, connect with an audience, then pursue any opportunities you hear of

What parts of the BBT have you written? I don't find it funny. Its just puns instead of actual nerd talk. Maybe your parts are funny but I didn't see it since most if it isn't and I didn't like it enough.

And what is your proudest moment of Futurama.

Its strange, I hold Futurama in the highest regard and BBT in the lowest. How can you create something so good and also something so bad?

I am proud of the argument between Sheldon and Amy in the Zazzy substtitution and I am proud of the Sheldon Amy scene with the dice. Have you seen them?

Are you not Eric Clapton?

a little

Alright, start fucking and writing/drawing the damn hentai already........


What I don't understand is why you haven't done an episode(s) with a riff on the movie "Real Genius". Hilarious pranks using defense contracted weapons should be the dick & fart jokes of the millennial generation.

Raj's character is now painful to watch.

I never saw it

What is it like being a rock legend and getting to play with all the greats?

pretty good

What's with the lack of comma in the title, "writer"?

bad writing (or punctuating)

Will Reddit's love for Futurama overcome its hate for Big Bang Theory? Find out tonight on... A... M... A!!!

it was touch and go for a while

Why is big bang theory such complete and total trash?


What's your stance on laughing tracks?


Can you help me out with a basic overview (or to whatever degree of difficulty you like) of Foucault's theory of power-knowledge? Im having real trouble trying to understand it and its supposed to be independent research but a little help from somebody like you would always be appreciated! Now you probably wont see this but it was worth a shot :)

well I think it comes from a Heideggerian perspective in that the practices of a society determine what sort of things seem possible and how people "view" themselves and other people. So he doesn't view oppresison as something coming from outside that is squashing people down -- he views power as something that makes you the kind of person you are.

I went to school with an Edward Kaplan and I seem to believe that he may or may not be related to you. He mentioned either his uncle or cousin was working on Futurama at the time. This would have been 1997-1999.

He was a funny but really awkward kid. And apparently we hooked up with the same girl later in life after we had part ways.

Ring any bells?


Would you rather fight one hundred duck sized horses or one horse sized duck?

Also, I'm a HUGE fan of Big Bang Theory. Futurama, too.

the little horses -- I would pick them off one by one

Did you get to spend any time with Billy West? What's he like?

he's great -- I will have him as a guest on Love Me Cat soon

I would love to hear your views on Heidegger's apprehensions about technology, and you're own feelings about technology (obviously without which you're career might look much different). Cheers!

technology is fine. Heidegger is against viewing everything as resources and not being open to other interpretations of being

Okay—I remember one of my professors (a neo-Heiddegerian) discussing how much he disliked technology, and he pointed to Heidegger as the bedrock of that belief.

a lot of people misread H

I had one professor tell me a story about a student who auto-corrected every instance of Heidegger in a paper to headgear. Just an interesting tangentially related anecdote I thought I'd share.

that is a good example of bad technology

Hi Eric. Do you think that familiarity with different philosophy schools is helpful for a comedy writers (or writers in general)?

Love Futurama!

thinking about life from different angles is helpful, not necessary to learn philosophy

Just reading "Jurassic Bark" made my eyes watery.

Had you written it when (according to Wikipedia) the original concept was going to have Fry's mother as the fossilized subject?

Also, I'm experiencing a bit of cognitive dissonance with the knowledge that you wrote one of the handful of Futurama episodes that hit me squarely in the heart, and the knowledge that you are involved with one of the shows that Reddit (and others, I believe) loves to hate: The Big Bang Theory.

As a writer, do you feel that your ideas and jokes get transferred/translated on-screen accurately for Futurama as well as TBBT?

I don't think Futurama (and definitely not Jurassic Bark) ever elicited a groan from me. I've watched TBBT a handful of times and I've had to ice my throat numerous times due to over-groaning (as well as round out my forehead after slamming it against my palm, the wall, the table, etc.)

don't know why

Not sure what part of my comment this is responding to.

To clarify:

Just reading "Jurassic Bark" made my eyes watery.

This episode made me choke up, and this was before I had a dog.

Had you written it when (according to Wikipedia) the original concept was going to have Fry's mother as the fossilized subject?

Just curious if there was a significantly different tone to the episode; I think there are a lot of different types of relationships that people have with their mothers (versus with their dogs), so I was interested to know what themes would have been featured.

Also, I'm experiencing a bit of cognitive dissonance with the knowledge that you wrote one of the handful of Futurama episodes that hit me squarely in the heart, and the knowledge that you are involved with one of the shows that Reddit (and others, I believe) loves to hate: The Big Bang Theory.

As a writer, do you feel that your ideas and jokes get transferred/translated on-screen accurately for Futurama as well as TBBT?

I don't think Futurama (and definitely not Jurassic Bark) ever elicited a groan from me. I've watched TBBT a handful of times and I've had to ice my throat numerous times due to over-groaning (as well as round out my forehead after slamming it against my palm, the wall, the table, etc.)

TBBT panders to the lowest common denominator. It stereotypes geeks and nerds so the average joe can 'get' the broad humor and convince himself that he is part of an audience/culture that is appealing to geeks and nerds. It is, in fact, the complete opposite. I think that humor/jokes that slap you in the face are patronizing and demeaning to the audience. The role of Penny in the show is essentially a proxy for the dumb audience that is assumed.

Futurama, on the other hand, (I believe) is a show whose humor actually did appeal to geeks and nerds (at least more than TBBT).

Penny is much less dumb the last few seasons you should check it out. People have a special relationship to animals because animals provide unconditional love -- the relationship is less complex, as you point out.

Let's take this in a completely different direction (if you're still around):

I'm not sure what your relationship is with Chuck Lorre (aka Charles Michael Levine), but I just read that he created/wrote for Grace Under Fire, Cybill, and Roseanne before churning out the (again, just my opinion) vapid 2.5 Men, TBBT, and meh Mike & Molly. Do you think it's a reflection of television audiences wanting something different or just settling for something different? Maybe it's just a difference in perspective, but those older shows seemed to be much better (concept and writing) than the shows that I'm seeing his name on now.

Obviously writing and creating shows is something that people have to do for profit more than for fun, but are there any clear moments in your career (or your interaction with Chuck Lorre) where you've seen a bad idea (e.g. a joke that was too broad, felt like blatant pandering, etc.) get put into the final product and you could feel the profit > fun stick in your throat/drop in your gut/however you experience the sensation that I'm terrible at explaining?

yeah I don't see it that way. I'm proud of the writing on Big Bang -- it doesn't seem to me worse than Grace Under Fire. I think there's a difference between writing for a popular medium and writing say a villanelle or terza rima or something like that. You have to be aware of the audience. But that doesn't mean pandering, any more than when you talk to a friend of yours and take their personality into account you are pandering to the friend.

Sorry, I didn't mean to insult what you do, and I'm sure I could have stated my point much better. What I lack in tact I more than make up for in arrogance :o)

Again, it may just be my perspective, but it seems that television audiences are really asking (rather than settling) for shitty content nowadays. This is the generation of Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty, and obviously it's the purpose of most networks to generate a profit by giving people what they want (what happened to TLC was a result of poor ratings).

In that sense I would still consider it pandering, though, because the audience's need that is being gratified/fulfilled/indulged is (obviously, in my opinion) something distasteful and bordering on immoral.

I would hope that you (as well as all the other talented writers out there) have the ability to produce content that satisfies your needs and scratches your itch, without having to worry about censors, network bottom lines, and target audiences with their predilections for the perverse and inane.

I would especially enjoy seeing some material on metaphysics and philosophy. I've been particularly interested in linguistics, and if you have any papers/presentations on philosophy of language I'd love to read those.

well we need to draw a distinction between acknowledging where the audience is and pandering to them. it's an ethical distinction I think. So for example you wouldn't want to include racist content even if the audience is racist because you don't want to encourage that kind of behavior. I haven't seen honey boo boo or duck dynasty -- what in them rubs you the wrong way? I know some people are sort of prudish about for example sex and would consider any sexual references to be pandering, but I don't see it that way -- I think sex is a fundamental part of embodied human existence. Have you read "Being in the World" by Bert Dreyfus? Lot of stuff about language. Also Philosophical Investigations by Wittgenstein.

What philosopher most influenced your comedy writing? (Mine was Nietzsche - btw, love your taste in authors.)

probably Socrates

Best cliched tagline for "Love Me Cat" : One Mans Impossible Dream

Love Me Cat

Why didn't you tell me tasty things tasted so good?

you wouldn't have believed me

hey you have the same last name as me, kewl. I guess seeing that you're a philosopher, in what ways does philosophy improve your comedy?

both are ways of getting irreconcilable views in the mind at the same time

What's with the Big Bang's frequent laugh track?

shot in front of live studio audience

Have you still got your beard? How's that working for you? Man, I wish I could grow a beard...

beard's good. if you can't grow a beard, how about long hair?

Does anyone ever confuse you for Eric Clapton?



Breaking Bad

Hi Eric, What advise do you have for someone who wants to pursue graduate work in philosophy, but is terrified of the job prospects?

don't -- just be a free-lance philosopher

do you make up whats written on the signs and stores or is that the animators? those gags are always the funniest imo.


How badly do you think Nietzsche's work has been tainted by its association with Nazi ideology?

I think Kaufman undid that


Kaplan is good name -- associated with the test prep industry

You wrote Jurassic Bark? You sir, are a cruel genius. One of the best episodes of Futurama, and also the one episode of that show that can make me ugly cry every time.


Favorite philosopher?

Isaac Luria or Chuang Tzu

Ever wanted to make your own show? With blackjack....and...hookers?

hey I actually wrote the line "Your music is bad and you should feel bad"


lotta work on my emotional shit

You're the man!! Jurassic Bark - dem feels. What projects are you currently working on?

Love Me Cat -- check it out on youtube. Hey It's Fluffy

I've only read a few dozen comments so far so forgive me if I'm redundant (at least insofar as this post goes). I am an immense fan of big bang and futurama. But I'd like to know why the first 3-4 seasons of of futurama (and arguably big bang) were so much better than the rest. Other shows are bound to do this but I expected more of the writers and producers of both, some of whom (like you and Cohen) have a scientific and philosophical leaning. Have the staff writers changed? Don't worry, you could have the characters so the same stuff for decades or do nothing at all and I'd still watch and enjoy. Why? Because it will still be better than the other fare (barring game of thrones). Though big bang has been drifting into all the formula themes of dishonesty, mistaken ideas, relationship issues, and other petty paths that veer it toward a more typical sitcom, when there is really no need to depend on them just because it is known that they bring in a sort of wide, generalized demographic viewer. There will be plenty of viewers without having to pander--you tell your producers not to show their fear so clearly.

how so?

I'm not sure to what you're asking "how so". I love the shows you work on, I was just bitching about an apparent shift in direction where the producers of big bang seem to fear they're not going to get enough viewers with the format as it is and thus try to impose some themes that other more typical shows feature so that statistically it would guarantee viewers with tried and true story formulas.

we are doing the story lines b/c we're interested in the characters and where they will go -- we are not imposing anything in Machiavellian fashion

being a comedy writer, what's your favorite joke?

they're all pretty good

Awe man, maybe at least a short joke you find personally amusing?

There are two kinds of people in the world people who cry when they're happy and people who don't. People who don't wonder why the first kind of person cries. People who do wonder why the other people have never been happy.

Is there any obscure references that everyone misses but you laugh your head of every time you see it in futurama?

I like the aleph nought pled

I don't have a question but I wanted to say it's great how incredibly thorough you're being in terms of number of posts replied to, more than I've seen in any other AMA.


What made you consider writing? Did you write short stories in your past time as a youngster? What made the spark become a flame?

yeah I did write short stories -- as a kid -- they had twist endings

That's so neat! For some reason, I actually am interested in reading one of them now... Thank you for replying back! :)

that would be an archaeology project

Well you could probably write a mini-series involving you going on an Indiana Jones-esque journey to find the lost copies of your short stories. shrugs

some might be in Argus from Hunter College High School

Do you know my friend Michelle?

maybe! are you the economist?

Do you understand/appreciate my name?



of what?

proof that you are Eric Kaplan..?

who else would answer all this?

Who would win in a fight: Sheldon or Fry?

2d characters always win -- they can cut through 3d characters like a samurai sword

I love Futurama, but I just haven't been able to get over the BBT's portrayalo of women on the show. Bernadette is the closest thing to a happy medium I guess, but to me she's always felt tossed in there because people were mad that Penny is such a bimbo. I think my problem with the show is that I just don't find any of the ladies relatable at all- I can't get behind them and they just feel like props most of the time. I'm not saying I can't understand why anyone would like it, this is just one particular issue I've struggled with myself.

Penny got a lot smarter in the last few seasons

Are you at all affected by Futurama being cancelled? (I heard it was cancelled, may have heard wrong. Man, I hope I heard wrong. That show is awesome).

I feel bad

What's your Myers-Briggs personality type?


You are my favourite person.

thanks you are great

Why is so much television humor aimed at making one of the characters feel bad?

In BBT they all make fun of Sheldon. Sure, he's immune to their barbs, but still ... it's awkward and uncomfortable to watch them verbally abuse him.

they love him and dont' want him to feel bad

Do people generally think you're a funny person to talk with, or is it a talent that comes out when you're writing and have time to think of stuff?

I'm pretty funny if I'm in a good mood

Why are you using Kickstarter? Between your success and My Damn Channel's infrastructure it seems like you would have no problem raising the money, especially since the budget is relatively low. Are you mostly doing this as a way to promote the show and build awareness? Are you trying to build a community around it (hence the low, achievable budget)?


Obviously who am I to say what Kickstarter is or is not for, but free advertising for an established name seems at least a little antithetical to the way most people use it, ie trying to get funding for a project with limited resources.

you might be right -- I feel though that I'm upfront about it and people don't need to be involved. The thing is Love Me Cat gives people a chance to collaborate on something I'm doing, and I thought that would be of interest.

You even wrote ask me anything in stead of /AMA.. Not to shabby mang,,,,,

I thought that was what it meant

Hey Eric,

If you knew today would be the last day on Earth, what would you do?

spend time with loved ones

When are you going to write a Big Bang Theory episode on Bitcoin?

what's bitcoin?

"Gold for nerds" is the best answer here so far. Bitcoin solves the problem of people "copying" digital money and spending it multiple times. It's also antiestablishment in the vein of bittorrent (decentralized, democratized, resistent to regulation). It's sort of like bittorrent but designed for banking.

"bittorrent banking" gets close but has problems because people will likely think it's "free money" that can be copied. The reality is that bitcoin is a shared public register that is heavily protected with powerful encryption. Anyone can download and read all transactions. You can't spend bitcoins (add transactions) to the register unless you already have bitcoins.

It's pseudononymous (a technical term for not anonymous, but difficult for lay people to deanonymize). External data could be used to deanonymize, for example $/B exchanges are reqired to record government IDs, or a merchant may record your mailing adderess etc, so if you have access to that you could theoretically trace the bitcoins through the system.

I don't understand how to use it -- I got seven dollars in bitcoin but I am afraid to click -- I don't want no malware

Here is an explanation that I hope relates better to your shows.

In 1944, Niels Bohr asked: is it possible to play a game of poker without physical cards? One can play chess without pieces, but to play poker, you want to deal the cards and not reveal them until later. An even simpler question is, how can you flip a coin while on the phone with someone you don't trust?

Lots of brilliant mathematicians and cryptographers worked on these and related problems for decades. Bitcoin is one of the 'virtual currencies' - probably the most popular and widely accepted one right now. It differs from most other such currencies (like 'Borders bucks' that your characters probably still have:) in that there is no central authority to issue new bitcoins. Rather new coins are created (mined) by people who serve the bitcoin users community by verifying the transactions - confirming that no one has e.g. double-spent their coins. Any geek can become a miner, although the earning potential much less lucrative than it was a few years ago.

that's interesting -- so everybody is a policeman for everybody else?

The politest thing I can say about all this is that for a writer involved in projects tangentially connected to technology - you're a little out of touch. I guess a show like BBT is somewhat about how the masses perceive geeks and technology - so perhaps being behind the tech curve is an asset in this case.

I feel bad that I'm of touch on technology -- what do you suggest I do to catch up?

How long does it take you and your team to write an entire episode for a show?

couple weeks

So, what's the plan.? How do we save Futurama? Kickstarter? Web-site with subscriptions? Web-site with donations?

I would suggest bugging netflix with a huge petition -- like two millioin people who say they will sign up to netflix iff netflix makes another season

What is your favourite episode of the big bang theory?

I like the D&D one

How come you wrote for something as great as Futurama and yet also wrote for something as cripplingly unfunny as Big Bang Theory?

is it really unfunny or are you just mad at it?

Well....if I were 'mad' at it, it would only be because it's unfunny. Sorry if my comment sounded a bit flippant though, I didn't mean to offend. I don't really get along with a lot of American humour though, especially canned-laughter sitcoms.

did you ever look at The Mary Tyler Moore Show?

Big Bang Theory is bad and you should feel bad.

that is my joke! and it is being used against me! Oh the injustice! Or do I mean oh the justice? not sure!

How do you feel about all the animosity towards The Big Bang Theory from so many users on this site?


Mr. Kaplan, first and foremost a big fan. From Drinky Crow to Futurama and everything in between.

How do you feel that Futurama has been canceled for what seems like the 3rd and final time?


Why did characters in later episodes say "ask" instead of "axe"?

English evolved

You reply even to the most nested comments!!! You rock!!

you rock

Why does reddit hate the Big Bang Theory?

I think they feel like nerd culture is special and it is threatening to see it in a mainstream sit-com

Hi eric , really love your work (particularly jurassic bark) I have a strong interest in animation both from the production angle and in the writting that makes it so believable. I am wondering if you could offer some advice on how to get into that area?.I'm living in ireland, don't know if that makes a difference. Please keep writting great stories!

I'd say start animating and apply to studios -- there are studios in Ireland

Hey Eric!

Thanks for your time!

a lot -- I think the same impulse that drives me to think about philosophy drives me to write

yes -- I'd like to try just straight up story telling without any genre or comedy

What do you think about Quentin Tarantino and his movies?

on the whole good

do you feel like there is a glass ceiling for culture in America?

I don't evaluate culture like that -- I tend to think of it is as an organic outgrowth of geist

Why hasn't TBBT been on for 4 weeks?


I've noticed a massive range in the quality of big bang theory episodes compared to other sitcoms.

I've always assumed it's down to the writer, care to weigh in?

Bonus Round: Which episode/s did you write and I'll tell you as someone who has repeated each season >25 times if it's on the good list :p

they are all group written

Then Kaplan is at least partly responsible for the terrible portrayal of DnD + Online Gaming? :)


Big Bang Theory sucks. That is all.

you mean it's not as good as Robert Musil?

What was the hardest thing you had to overcome while creating Futurama?

it kept getting cancelled

Reply to this comment, it's all I want.


Is Big Bang Theory ending soon? hope not,if so will you write a spin off series of Big Bang Theory? P.S. love your tv shows.

no it's not ending

I notice there's alot of Community fans who hate on TBBT, care to weigh in?

Also, what do you think of the show (Community)?

I don't understand the animus

Do you honestly even enjoy the Big Bang Theory? Do you watch it yourself, outside of work? If you weren't a writer of the show, would you?

I do and I would. I am interested in a lot of the topics raised in the Big Bang Theory. Some of them I put there myself, so of course I enjoy them and would watch them. I also find my own jokes funny.

What is the key "attention getter" in writing this decade, has it changed since you first started?

no I am not familiar with the idea that there is one key attention getter -- it varies by context, don't you think?

Hi Eric, huge fan. How do you explain writing my favorite show (Futurama) and at the same time writing my least favorite show (Big Bang Theory)? That episode with Philip J. Fry and his dog... I cried at the end... was that your idea? It's genius.

yeah -- I don't know why Big Bang is your least favorite. For example on Big Bang there's a joke I wrote where they are discussing whether or not the anal sensation of spice you get after defecation after eating spicy food counts as proof that the anus has the power of taste. Now that is a joke that could easily have been on Futurama, don't you think?

I want to become a writer/actor for television, how did you get into the industry?

just hone your craft, get good friends who will give you honest feedback, keep doing it, and try to find people closer and closer to the levers of power who will read your stuff and/or watch you act

I totally thought ask me anything was one of your shows for a second.

I expressed myself poorly -- IN THAT INSTANCE! usually I express myself more okayish

How do you write things in BBT, do you have really smart people helping you, or do you just know a lot about theoretical physics?

Also I have quite literally seen every episode of futurama 5+ times, and can't wait for it to come back. Again.

David Saltzberg is a UCLA professor of physics and he is a science advisor on the show

Apart from my hair, I look absolutely identical to Leonard - it's freaky.

Any money to be made out of that?

maybe be Leonard at children's birthday parties?

What do you think are the political differences between Schopenhauer and Nietzsche? I admire both of them greatly, but find various aspects of their political affiliations ghastly. Its very odd, but I find Nietzsche to be part libertarian and part proto-fascist, while Schopenhauer seems firmly monarchist and conservative on most issues. Schopenhauer of course was more "Hobbesian" than Nietzsche, but both thought more-or-less that there should be different laws for different kinds of people. Schopenhauer valued sacrifice far-more than Nietzsche did obviously, but you don't see that show up in his political philosophy at-all, at-least to my knowledge. Thanks.

Schopenhauer was a straight-up reactionary in his life, although I don't think that is a logical consequence of his philosophy. Nietzsche in his life seems to have been a liberal -- he was anti- anti-Semitic and anti-nationalist. But certain aspects of his philosophy have given succor and encouragement to fascists. You can't draw a straight line from a thinker to a set of political decisions. And you can't draw a straight line from a thinker's personal politics to the political implications of his/her thought. Many intellectuals have their heads so much in the clouds that their real-life political judgment is terrible. Even Orwell whose thought is very positive and liberal made some really bone-headed calls when it came to actual politics.

Did you attend film school (for writing) or a more general undergrad? What were the pros and cons for how your education influenced or helped your career?

No I taught myself -- I think that's probably for the best.

This is long overdue, but thank you. You're awesome, and I appreciate your responses.

I will definitely check out those titles.

This may be hyperbolic (or completely wrong), but if there were a way to profit from racist content, I am sure there would be a network that would carry it. I'm sure there are enterprises that do profit from racist content.

I am familiar with the concepts of Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty, although I have only seen a few clips of Honey Boo Boo. The biggest thing that rubs me the wrong way about those shows is that they are prime examples of the decline in network content. They are aired on TLC and A&E, respectively.

Both these networks are pretty notorious for their change in content, which is reflected in the change in their names: The Learning Channel --> TLC; Arts & Entertainment --> A&E Network.

Both the shows are so-called 'reality' shows. The former focuses on a family whose daughter is in beauty pageants (I believe it was a spinoff of the TLC series about beauty pageants Toddlers & Tiaras), and the latter focuses on a family that built their fortune selling duck calls.

Reality shows are mostly junk. They are a tiny slice of someone's reality, and are usually NOT even that. The producers influence the 'storyline' because the goal is ratings. There is unfortunately the completely warped viewpoint that a reality show is on par with a documentary, and that the cameras are there as observers and nothing is scripted.

Someone at TLC has the light-bulb/lightning-strike idea to capture the oft-missed demographic of pedophiles and former-beauty-queens-that-miss-their-heydey-and-now-want-to-put-their-pre-school-aged-daughters-in-pageants and American suddenly discovered a secret itch that needs to be scratched.

Someone at A&E liked to laugh at nouveau riche, luddite hicks from Lousiana and figured that the ridicule of rednecks is a much more acceptable form of racism that can turn a profit.

As you mentioned, there is distinction between acknowledging an audience and pandering to them. I believe that any kind of for-profit enterprise will nudge this distinction because there are always ways to squeeze a few laughs by pushing the ethical boundary.

Sexual references have a very wide range, and I would say that a lot of sexual content is definitely on this side (i.e. the 'ok' side) of that distinction. However, I believe that in a lot of sitcoms the sexual references do reinforce stereotypes that could be considered sexist. If a show is meant to reflect society's views/values, then it really cannot be a vehicle for changing behavior. Of course, this is not the role of a sitcom (or a 'reality' show), but it is what distinguishes it from educational shows/documentaries/etc. and what pretty much 'absolves' that kind of programming of moral responsibility.

Going back to TBBT, for example, the characters are all very stereotypical. Geeks/nerds that are socially awkward and annoyingly quirky. The female characters all seem to be 'weak', except for Bernadette, who is strong to the point of caricature (shrill, bullying, etc.) It doesn't seem like anything novel or groundbreaking. Again, this is not the role of a sitcom, but it seems like many themes/episodes are recycled from sitcoms past. This is likely a reflection of a stagnant (declining may be more accurate) state of television audiences/society, though, so maybe instead of ragging on TV I should become an activist.

I feel like I rambled a ton and probably didn't even answer your questions well, so feel free to end this conversation if it doesn't grab your attention. I would really like to see original content from you that is outside the realm of for-profit TV shows. You seem like a really cool guy.

I disagree about the female characters. I think the human mind works by categorization (in part) so one person's stereotype might be another person's accurate characterization. I don't think any of the female characters are weak actually. But I think the concepts of weak and strong are pretty slippery -- cf. the bamboo vs. the oak tree.

Eric Kaplan, thank you so much for doing this. I have been wanting to reach out to you since seeing Jurassic Bark.

So, I have a compliment, a comment, and a question.

  1. You are pretty much the reason I started watching Futurama, which in my opinion, is not only the best, most creative, most intelligent show on TV, but also the most poetic. I've blogged and written an academic essay about Jurassic Bark. Your episodes are always my favorite and there's a pretty large part of me that wishes you had stayed on to write episodes after the renewal. Not just Jurassic Bark, but also Three Hundred Big Boys and Parasites Lost are among my favorite Futurama episodes. You're brilliant at exploring parts of the characters that are usually neglected. You're also a fantastic orchestrator - your best episodes use all the characters to produce a whole greater than the sum. Your episodes are also great because, by deepening the audience's connection to the characters, they make the other episodes more interesting as well.

  2. I'm writing a book-length sequence of poems (about my adventures with a porcupine) for which I have to say I draw most of my inspiration from Futurama. There are even some poems about Futurama. I've had five chapbooks published before, but I still feel very intimidated by the prospect of matching Futurama's wit and creativity. As a philosopher and comedy writer, I don't know how much of a poetry reader you are, but I would love to send you a copy of the book when it is finally published. I feel I owe it to you, for all you've contributed to the show that's been one of my biggest influences.

  3. What are your influences, from TV shows to poetry to philosophy? And what animated or non-animated shows would you be able to recommend to me, since I love Futurama so much for its ability to do anything and go anywhere, its sincerity, its character depth, its intelligence, and its poetry?

I don't know if you'll be able to reply to this post or if it will get submerged in the wave that is Reddit, but I really hope you do. I feel that my favorite of your episodes are about, among other things, the possibility of connection, so the possibility of connecting with you feels very important to me.

sure send a poem to my reddit account

Eric Kaplan, thank you so much for doing this. I have been wanting to reach out to you since seeing Jurassic Bark.

So, I have a compliment, a comment, and a question.

  1. You are pretty much the reason I started watching Futurama, which in my opinion, is not only the best, most creative, most intelligent show on TV, but also the most poetic. I've blogged and written an academic essay about Jurassic Bark. Your episodes are always my favorite and there's a pretty large part of me that wishes you had stayed on to write episodes after the renewal. Not just Jurassic Bark, but also Three Hundred Big Boys and Parasites Lost are among my favorite Futurama episodes. You're brilliant at exploring parts of the characters that are usually neglected. You're also a fantastic orchestrator - your best episodes use all the characters to produce a whole greater than the sum. Your episodes are also great because, by deepening the audience's connection to the characters, they make the other episodes more interesting as well.

  2. I'm writing a book-length sequence of poems (about my adventures with a porcupine) for which I have to say I draw most of my inspiration from Futurama. There are even some poems about Futurama. I've had five chapbooks published before, but I still feel very intimidated by the prospect of matching Futurama's wit and creativity. As a philosopher and comedy writer, I don't know how much of a poetry reader you are, but I would love to send you a copy of the book when it is finally published. I feel I owe it to you, for all you've contributed to the show that's been one of my biggest influences.

  3. What are your influences, from TV shows to poetry to philosophy? And what animated or non-animated shows would you be able to recommend to me, since I love Futurama so much for its ability to do anything and go anywhere, its sincerity, its character depth, its intelligence, and its poetry?

I don't know if you'll be able to reply to this post or if it will get submerged in the wave that is Reddit, but I really hope you do. I feel that my favorite of your episodes are about, among other things, the possibility of connection, so the possibility of connecting with you feels very important to me.

sorry I have not blurbed your poem book yet -- can you send it to me again?

Hello Mr. Kaplan,

My best friend passed away from bone cancer in March of this year. He was an avid fan of Futurama, having watched every episode at least 3 times each. He always said that the show was one of the few things that still made him laugh, even while he was going through the shittiest of times with chemo and radiation. I don't have a question, but i just wanted to tell you how much of an impact your writing made. So, thank you for writing such an awesome show, and helping my friend through countless hospital visits and days of not being able to get out of bed.

thank you for letting me know this

Hi Eric,

I am a budding comedy writer. My writing partner and I (based out of Toronto, Canada) recently got an agent, and have been taking some general meetings and pitch meetings with production companies. Do you have any tips on pitching or making a good impression in these meetings?

relax and be funny

1.) Can you describe what your life was like before you got your first big break in Hollywood? What mindset were you in? What were you doing? How did you get in touch with Letterman?

2.) Can you describe how the "group writing session" reward for "Love Me Cat" will work? It seems like it could be fun but could also be insane having a Google Hangout filled with 100 Kickstarter backers shouting ideas.

By the way, I just donated to "Love Me Cat," best of luck!

thanks! 1)was in grad school; wrote scripts and tried to get people to read them; I knew Steve Young from college 2)Probably text based so I can respond more quickly and also give more focussed attention to each idea

futurAMA. sorry, had to do it


Eric - When you give the advice to writers to "get your stuff on the internet", what does that mean specifically?

anything where you actually will get people to read or watch your stuff and you can develop an audience

Thanks for writing Futurama. Also, you're killing this AMA.

What would you consider the most underrated episode?

maybe crustacean

Hi Eric, loved your talk recently in Essex; with the notion of transcending paradox through mysticism would you place comedy as supplementing the mysticism or as working as it's own separate resolution?

I think at it's best comedy combines the best of logic and mysticism


probably opera and dirty magazine

I just wanted to say that Malcolm in the Middle and Futurama are my 2 favorite sitcoms ever.

I think my favorite episode of Futurama is Luck of the Fryish. Ad a guy who lost his brother at a young age this really had an impact on me. Did you have any involvement with that episode? And what's your favorite episode of those 2 series?

sorry about your brother, me too.

What is your opinion on the concepts of good and evil? Are they actual things or just shallow ways of describing other people?

I think evil is a privation of the good

Roughly, how many of the gags or jokes in an episode of Futurama are actually those of the person who gets the writing credit? Is there a large team that "gags up" an episode while the writer focusses on the plot? Or are most of jokes actually those of the writer?

Also, how does it feel to have written the saddest Futurama episode? You know which one I mean...

Edit: Grammar.

it's highly collaborative. good

What is your favorite philosophical work/argument/philosopher?

Isaac Luria

What is your favourite "go to" book for screenwriting advice/knowledge of the writer's craft?

Syd Field

What is your favourite sitcom to watch? (That isn't something you write for!)

I like Fawlty Towers

Wow, thanks for coming back and answering this!

Really cool of you

you betcha

What do you think is Nietzsche's strongest work?

really like the intro to human all too human

Are you Kaplan's Carpet Warehouse?


I just want to take a moment to apologize for being a bad sound designer. You have me a shot and I was terrible. :P

who is this?

Oh--my name's Casey. My wife used to be the after-school child care at your kid's school. You found out I was an out of work sound designer and gave me a shot putting together SFX for a CGI demo you were working on for a pre-Drinky Crow show about a struggling bachelor. I didn't realize until much later how big an opportunity I'd flubbed. You were awesome to give me the shot and I blew it. Always felt bad about it. :P

I remember! Don't worry about it!

Did you know that in Season 3 Episode 3 "The Gothowitz Deviation", squirting Penny with a water bottle or giving her electric shocks would not be negative reinforcement? It would be positive punishment. The "positive" and "negative" refer to giving or taking something from the person or thing being conditioned. Reinforcement and punishment would be to encourage or discourage a certain behavior. Since Sheldon would be GIVING Penny an electric shock to DISCOURAGE her from doing something wrong, it would be positive punishment.

you are correct

Now that I got that out of the way, how on earth do you write all those things for the characters to say? Do you Google random science stuff, or do you actually put it all together?

pretty much what you'd imagine -- reading stuff and talking to people more knowledgable than we are

What was with the whiny girl in the last futurama episode? It killed the whole episode.

I didn't see it

I watched it with my husband today. It just kind of turned me off from the rest of the story. I hope the next one will be better, but I still love Futurama anyway!

who was the actor for the whiny girl?

Can you settle a disagreement for me? For fun my husband and I like to re-cast movies with TV celebs - If you were going to cast the wizard of oz with the cast of the Big Bang Theory - how would you do it ? I'm guessing Penny would be Dorothy, Bernadette would be Glenda and only because she could pull it off- Amy would be the wicked witch - I think Leonard would be the tin man and of course Sheldon would be the wizard - My husband thinks Raj should be the scarecrow and Howard the cowardly lion - I think Raj is the cowardly lion - and Howard needs a brain - after all he doesn't have a Doctorate. thanks- we LOVE BBT

Raj might be Ojo the Unlucky

[No question]

Hey reddit community -- LOVEMECAT posted it's first ep today -- it is on youtube on a channel called "LOVEMECAT". Peace to you and your ancestors and descendants, both genetic and cultural. Eric

What's YOUR favorite episode you've written of Futurama or Big Bang Theory?

I haven't watched Love Me Cat yet, but I will definitely check it out! It looks hilarious.

did you like it?

Futurama is one of the best,yet somehow one of the most under rated animated shows of the past 15 years. The only thing close to Futurama was a Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein project called Mission Hill. Do you think there should be a channel for mature cartoons?


This interview was transcribed from an "ask me anything" question and answer session with Eric Kaplan conducted on Reddit on 2013-06-12. The Reddit AMA can be found here.