Grab your gavels for a big birthday: the late Judge Wapner would have turned 100 this month. It’s true. November 19, 2019 will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Albert Wapner, legendary TV judge and pop culture icon.
Britannicareminds us of his significance: “Born November 15, 1919, in Los Angeles, California. Died February 26, 2017, in Los Angeles. American jurist and TV personality who presided (1981–93) over The People’s Court, an immensely popular syndicated TV show in which plaintiffs and defendants from California small claims court argued their cases and accepted the judge’s ruling.”
Back in the early 90s, Paul Fey and I were creating (as Paul & Walt Worldwide) a lot of radio and TV content for King World, the show’s syndicator. When we were tasked with finding a fresh approach for promoting it, I wrote the script (below) for “The Ballad of Judge Wapner,” a funny, 60-second radio commercial celebrating what fans loved about the show.
Here it is, voiced by the late Lance LeGault. It’s now captioned with lyrics, also posted beneath.
Lyrics by Walt Jaschek
MUSIC: COWBOY BALLAD-STYLE, UNDER
COWBOY: He sits in judgment He stands for the law Kinda looks like a hero And sounds like your Pa
BACK-UP SINGERS: WAPNER!
MUSIC: HARMONICA WAILS
COWBOY: He smiles and he laughs His voice tinged with gravel But the bad-guys just gasp When he bangs his big gavel
BACK-UP SINGERS: WAPNER!
COWBOY: Judge Wapner.
BACK-UP SINGERS: JUDGE WAPNER!
COWBOY: When neighbors brawl When lovers refute When suppliers and buyers and liars dispute Wapner won’t let those lawbooks get dusty Got a buddy named Doug And a sidekick named Rusty
BACK-UP SINGERS: RUSTY!
COWBOY: With Wapner.
BACK-UP SINGERS: JUDGE WAPNER!
COWBOY: Doesn’t do it from towers Doesn’t do it from steeples He does it in court A court called “People’s”
ANNOUNCER: Judge Wapner rules on “The People’s Court”
Here’s a short video of creator at large Walt Jaschek (aka Walt Now) and his wife, the funny and brilliant Randy Rosenbaum, enjoying a “Pre-Muny” picnic in St. Louis Forest Park on Randy’s birthday, June 24, 2019. Watch for the comical “chair fail” near the video’s end.
P.S. You don’t see as much of Randy as you should on this site, and Walt is going to change that.
You can also read Walt’s naked script for this comic below — if you want to see how his brain works (and/or you’d like to hire him to write a comic.)
COMIC SCRIPT “NED AND THE NUDE” The Simpsons Writer: Walt Jaschek
Full-page splash. In the foreground is a cute, female ART MODEL, her back to us, her head turned so we can see her face. She is very, very NUDE. One long arm thrusts out and bends back to her hip. Framed in the space between her arm and body is our hero, NED FLANDERS. He is sweating. With one hand, he tugs at his pink collar. With the other, he hold a paint brush up to an canvas on an easel. But the paint is dripping and smearing: he just can’t focus!
CUTE MODEL: What’s WRONG, Mr. Flanders?
CUTE MODEL 2: Why won’t you…
CUTE MODEL 3: PAINT me?
FLANDERS 1: Well, I… [GULP!]
FLANDERS (thought 1:) Great gobs of GIDDY-GOO, man!
FLANDERS (thought 2:) Get a ho-ho-HOLD of yourself!
STORY TITLE: NED AND THE NUDE
END PAGE 1
1 – A classroom. From behind Ned. Across the room, the silhouette of the model, her hands on her hips. Ned is turning to look up — there’s a hand on Ned’s shoulder. And a cigarette burning from the hand!
Voice (from off): YES, Ned. You do seem a little… “UPTIGHT.”
2 – Reveal: Marge’s sister Selma. She is chain smoking, pontificating like a self-important teacher. Because in this class — she is!
Selma: STUDENTS! Did I not LECTURE this class on the need for a true NUDE FIGURE ARTIST to let GO!…
Selma 2: GO!…
Selma 3: [[cough!]]
Selma 4: GO?
3 – A three-shot. Ned, at his easel. On the left, a little behind: Marge, also painting at an easel. On the right, also a little behind: Barney.
Ned: Oh GOSH, Selma! You’re the best darn ADULT EDUCATION ART TEACHER here at EAST-LOWER SPRINGFIELD JUNIOR HIGH!
Ned: It’s JUST that…WELL…
4 – CU of Selma, scowling.
Selma: WHAT, Ned? WHAT?
5 – A shot past the model as Ned leaps up from the easel — he uses one hand to cover his eyes. With his other, he points to the model. He can contain himself no longer.
Ned (yelling): The HUMAN BODY is OBSCENE!
NED (yelling 2): And LOOKING at it is a mortal SIN so SEVERE it’ll yank your SPLEEN out!!!!
6 – 2-shot. Ned is artificially calm now, grinning sheepishly at Selma and making a circular gesture with his hand just above the surface of his canvas.
NED: Plus, I’d feel better with more time for the “UNDER-DRAWING.”
END PAGE 2
1- Exterior shot of East-Lower Springfield Junior High.
SELMA (from within): Are you GETTING this, class?
SELMA (from within): Ned is EMBARASSED — by THIS!
2- In foreground, Selma gesturing to the tableau behind her. The beautiful, nude model. Holy cow! She looks like Britney Spears! With gigantic bosoms! And this is no normal pose: she’s holding a whip! While sucking on lollipop. Wearing (as it turns out) fishnets! About to get into a bathtub! While a fan blows her big hair. In other words, a bunch of obvious cheesecake cliches.
(Selma’s word balloons hide the model’s naughtier bits.)
SELMA: Merely by THIS:
SELMA 2: A completely NATURAL, NORMAL BODY…
SELMA 3: …in a completely NEUTRAL POSE!
3- Selma leans in to taunt Ned. He holds his head in his hands.
SELMA (whispering): Is it because she looks like BRATNEY SPHERES?
NED: SWEET LORD IN HEAVEN! YES!
4 – Selma tosses the nude model a robe.
SELMA: ACHTUNG, my so-called “ARTISTS!”
SELMA 2: When deconstructing the NUDE…
5 – Selma dramatically pulls the straps of her Moo-Moo from her shoulders.
SELMA: You must DIVORCE yourself from POP CULTURE CONTEXT!
6 – Floor level shot, past Selma’s disturbing, naked legs. The Moo-Moo is bundled at her feet. And in the background, our cast so far (Marge, Smithers, Barney) gasps in horror.
SELMA: (from above:) And THINK only…
SELMA 2: SEE only…
SELMA 3: (Yelling): MASS!!!
END OF PAGE 3
1- Same exterior shot as panel 1 on previous page. But now legions are running out the front door, still wearing paint smocks, paint hats, and wielding wet brushes. Who do we see here? How about… Chief Wiggums, Doctor Hibbard, and Apu…
GROUP SCREAM: AAAAAAAAAAAA!
2- Back inside. Ned and Selma. Ned is holding two thick paint brushes covering his eyes so he can’t see. Selma is putting her Moo-Moo back on.
SELMA: Yeah, this won’t work EITHER, Ned.
SELMA 2: We need a QUORUM to meet MODEL FFES.
3 – Cut to: another part of the room. WILLIE, the Scottish groundskeeper at Springfield Elementary, is… ripping off his shirt! He’s really buff — super-hero buff! And he’s coming right at us!
WILLIE: HOW about THIS, Flanders…
WILLIE 2: …ye wee bit o’ POOFY-BOY?
SELMA (from off): WILLIE!?
4- Willie has pulled his pants off one muscuar leg, and has the other muscular leg in the air, pulling the pants from it. Flanders and Selma look on, amazed.
5 – Willie, lying on his side now on the model platform. We’re looking past Selma now, and only her arm and lit cigarette hide his nether-regions.
WILLIE: If it’s a BODY divorced of CONTEXT ye be needin’, PANSY-painters…
WILLIE 2: Grab y’r tubes of YELLOW OOOOCHRA…and HAV’ AT!
6 – CLOSE-UP OF NED. He is holding two paintbrushes in the sign of the cross, as if stopping a vampire.
NED: No! NO! I won’t rendereth WILLIE, EITHER!
END PAGE 4
1- Ned points to his own booty as Selma his fellow artists look on.
NED: I can’t gaze upon ANY “BOO-TAY” that’s not in its God-given GARMENTS!
MARGE: But NED…
2 – Two-shot. Marge and Barney in front of their easels.
MARGE: THEN you won’t PASS the CLASS!
BARNEY: Yeah! And you’ll be doomed to REPEAT it FOR-EVER!
BARNEY 2: Like ME!
3- Ned consults a huge, 3-inch thick catalog, which he evidentally carries with him. On the cover: SPRINGFIELD ADULT EDUCATION / SPRING “SEMESTER”
NED: B… But I NEED to pass!
NED: It’s REQUIRED for admittance to ART 199:
NED: “The Art Of The FAMILY CIRCUS!”
4 – Ned is on his knees, burying his face in folds of Selma’s Moo-Moo.
NED: PLEASE, Selma — Is there ANYTHING I can DO to PASS…
NED: …that DOESN’T involve PAINTING the PANTSLESS?
5 – Selma puffs out a smoke ring and Flanders stares hopefully through it.
SELMA: WEEEELL — I can think of ONE “academic OUT.”
SELMA: It’s not really FAIR…
SELMA: …but it doesn’t break any COMMANDMENTS!
6 – Close-up of Ned, fists clenched, delighted.
NED: I’LL DO IT!
END PAGE 5
Full-page panel. Taking up most of this panel is the nude figure of … NED HIMSELF! He is standing on one foot. The other foot is cupped in one hand, and the leg is bent accordlingly. . The other hand is behind his neck. He is contorted… and content. He looks almost like a human ice swan. And he has a rose in his teeth!
NED (thinking 1): SAY…THIS isn’t so bad!
NED (thinking 2):I guess if I can’t MAKE art — I can BE art!
NED (thinking 3):I feel so…LIBERATED! So LOOSE! So…FREE! But then…
NED (thinking 4):That could just be the BREEZE!
And, looking past Ned, in a small horizontal group shot at the bottom of the panel, simultaneously reacting to this pose, is…
SELMA (pleased, framing him with her hands): FREEZE, you gorgeous MAN-CHILD!