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Director / CrewHappy Canada Day! I'm Rob Cohen, comedy writer for The Simpsons, The Big Bang Theory, and the documentary Being Canadian. AMA!

Jul 1st 2016 by BeingCanadianMo • 23 Questions • 91 Points

I'm so delighted and honoured to do this AMA on Canada Day! I love my home country, but after decades of non-Canadians asking me crazy questions about (or being completely uninterested in) Canada, I made a documentary Being Canadian that tries to finally answer the age old question... what does it really mean to be Canadian? I talked to so many amazing Canadians like William Shatner, Seth Rogen, Mike Myers, Will Arnett and more, a bunch of almost-as-amazing non-Canadians, but now now I want to hear from you! AMA!

Here's my proof!

Edit: Hey all. I've really enjoyed answering all your questions on this beautiful Canada Day. Thank you so much! Being Canadian is currently available on iTunes and Amazon, and you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I do hope you watch and enjoy it!

Q:

Do you ever worry when you're writing dialogue that it may only be funny to you? (not trying to insult, not that I could anyway you could just throw your Emmy at me. :~)

A:

All the time. I have gone over the same "joke" far too many times, trying to perfect it, then asking myself who else may find it even close to funny. Writers psyche themselves out like this all the time.


Q:

Whats your favourite episode of something you worked on?

A:

Hey there. I would say from a directing standpoint, it is episode 8 of the new Netflix show "Lady Dynamite", starring Maria Bamford. The whole show is incredible, and was literally the most fun I have ever had at work ever. From a writing standpoint, probably "Flaming Moes" from "The Simpsons".


Q:

I think of the Flaming Moes episode everytime I have to cut the grass.

A:

Then, pitch your idea to close friends, to see their reaction. If they all ask the same question, like "why does the guy need to constantly eat pepperoni?", you may want to examine that. And talk to a therapist about your obvious love of pepperoni.


Q:

Do you have any directing advice?

A:

I would say direct as much as you can, because all experience is valuable. Using an iPhone, you can shoot incredible things, and edit on your computer. You don't have to show it to anyone, but it will for sure build confidence, and you will learn your own sense of your style. Then, when they day comes.... and it will... where you get an opportunity, you have all of this secret info in your head.


Q:

What is it like writing a character like Sheldon Cooper?

A:

It was very very fun. Jim Parsons is a genius, and the nicest man on this or any planet. He is truly the one to get credit for Sheldon, but we loved coming up with his unique reactions to normal things. He was like Spocks weird nephew.


Q:

Hi Rob, thank you so much for sharing your brand of humor with the world!

  1. Do you have any favorite characters to write for?

  2. Are there any jokes you're responsible for that ended up being taken in the wrong way, or went somewhere you hadn't expected?

A:

Wow. Thanks so much. Very kind! Here are my answers.

1) I love writing for characters that are a bit cocky or crazy. I have helped out on some stuff with Will Ferrell, and Ben Stiller, and when they were playing those attitudes, it was a blast. Rob Burgundy is a perfect example of the weirdos I love writing for.

2) Sure! Many times. The one that pops into my head first is... and I am not thrilled to admit this... but years ago on "The Ben Stiller Show", I wrote a sketch starring a marionette cop. And he was very gruff, and shot up some bad guys. The next day, I got a call from Fox, our network, and they REAMED me because they were convinced I was mocking an actual dirty cop trial in Detroit that was in the news. I explained I was just doing a dirty, violent puppet sketch, but they made me write an apology to the city of Detroit.


Q:

How much writing is required in a documentary?

A:

A lot, actually. Most regular movie scripts average 100 - 110 pages. Ours was 134 pages, because you have to write out all of the voice over, and direction, but then also have to write the way your archive footage and photos are presented. Next time, I will make a doc on how to make toast.


Q:

Which Canadian team do you think will do best next NHL season? What are your thoughts on the Hall/Larsson and Subban/Weber trades?

A:

I think we all agree it will not be my Calgary Flames. Oy. I think those trades are pretty wild, but the Subban one really surprised me. You?


Q:

Which Canadian team do you think will do best next NHL season? What are your thoughts on the Hall/Larsson and Subban/Weber trades?

A:

If I am allowed to pick one other episode, I would say "Krusty Gets Busted". Genius across the board. You?


Q:

Great pick. Other than Homer's Enemy, I'd have to go with Homer vs the 18th Amendment

A:

So you are old school?


Q:

Seasons 4-9 are my Millwheelhouse

A:

Snap!!!!


Q:

Where was worst place you bought a poutine outside of Canada? I heard most places don't serve the gravy hot enough to melt the cheese curds

A:

Outside of Canada, the worst poutine I ever got was at Dodger Stadium. A brief and VERY misguided attempt on their part one night. It was a train wreck. I also have had terrible poutine in New York. The cheese curds were really cold, and they guy told me that proved they were fresh. You?


Q:

Mine was also in New York. Can't remember the stores name but I think they closed a few months later.

A:

Was it Closey Magoos?


Q:

I remember the place I went being popular for having "Canadian Poutine" and I believe actually had Poutine in the name. This was almost 5 years ago though.

A:

Royal Canadian Pancake House?


Q:

I actually think the place was called T Poutine.

I found the news report about the place that made me take a side trip to the place during my visit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfxYVw5w4pg

A:

It's not that hard to put hot gravy on cheese fries. But yet, places keep failing. The poutine in rural Quebec is the best in the world.


Q:

Have you worked with your brother a lot? Do you argue?

A:

We have worked together on a bunch of stuff, and get along very well. We have a very similar sense of humor. And I am taller, so I usually win.


Q:

Is Canada the dream ?

A:

That's a general question, but my answer is that I love so many things about it, and wish one day to go back there. No place is perfect, but there is something so unique and magical... to me... about Canada. And I will admit, I have dreamed of it on occasion.


Q:

Hey Mr Cohen, I'm a big fan of Big Bang Theory and your other work. If there is one thing that the U.S. possesses that the Canadians don't that they covet above all other things, what would it be?

A:

Thanks! The one thing I think Canadians wish they had that the U.S. has... would be such external confidence. Canadians are becoming more and more vocal about their national pride, but the U.S. is the best in the world at telling the world how awesome they are. You will never hear anyone ask what country Clint Eastwood is from. He IS America. But we Canadians hilariously feel obliged to tell everyone who else famous is Canadian.


Q:

A couple questions -

  1. What surprised you the most about the U.S. when you first visited?

  2. What is Canada's greatest export and why is it Rush?

A:

Here are my answers. I hope they satisfy.

1) The first time I visited the U.S., I was a kid, and my biggest surprise was seeing a palm tree. I had only seen those on "The Flintstones", and dragged a palm frond around for days. But I also loved how extroverted everyone was.
2) I agree with you that it is Rush. No other answer will do. 3) However, Rush aside, I would say humour. We have so many amazing and hilrious people that we have sent out into the world.


Q:

What's your best memory from working on The Simpsons?

A:

I would have to say being in some of those recording sessions. The core cast is so talented, and watching them do the voices was the best. And also some of the guest stars. I was there for the Michael Jackson record. Very cool.


Q:

What are your thoughts on Martin Short?

A:

I think he is a genius, and was one of my comedy heroes growing up. He is also a very proud Canadian.


Q:

Hi Rob! I'm looking to leave the pee-pee-soaked-heckhole that is England and emigrate to Canada. Whats the one main thing I should remember when I steal your jobs/benefits?

Also, what's your favourite Simpsons quote that wasn't written by yourself?

A:

Hey there. Congrats on your own personal Brexit. The one thing you should remember when you steal our jobs is to apologize. No-one will fault you for taking their snowplow job if you back out of the garage apologetically. Politeness is our Kryptonite.

My favorite Simpsons quote would be from an episode called "Lisa the Vegetarian", where a cowboy tells a little boy "If a cow got a chance, he'd eat you and everything you ever cared about." Brilliant.


Q:

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A:

Hey all. I've really enjoyed answering all your questions on this beautiful Canada Day. Thank you so much!"Being Canadian"(beingcanadianmovie.com) is currently available on iTunes and Amazon, I hope you watch and enjoy it!"