Hilbert Circle Theatre; April 12.
Joel Cohen walked on stage at the stroke of 8 p.m. and commenced to describe his “road to a seat at the table” as a writer and, now, also as a producer on the program TIME magazine called “The greatest TV show of the 20th century.” Summing up, for the creators and perpetuators of the family of five and their circle of recurring and one-time-only characters, the mantra of The Simpsons trumps comedy over civility, and supersedes elevating culture for commercial success. Every line is honed for comedic effect, be it lowbrow, highbrow, broad, narrow, cutting, empathetic, elevating, bordering on the perverse. The intent is shelf life of each episode with “timeless” situations rather than short-life allusions to current events. Censors do indeed monitor, and sometimes what they throw out is replaced by something over the top “they don’t get.” What makes this four-fingered family so alluring that a sizeable audience gathers to hear how the show is put together? “A family can watch it together” is the long answer. “It’s funny” is the succinct reply.