The Nitwits: Jim Carlson

If you remember the show Laugh-in or have watched it in reruns you may remember a skit where a dirty old man (called Tyrone and played by Arte Johnson) would ask little old lady ( named Gladys played by Ruth Buzzi), “Do you believe in the hereafter?”
“Yes,” replies an innocent Gladys.
Tyrone would then say, “Then you know what I’m here after.” This then had Gladys bopping Tyrone over the head with her handbag.

Another would have Tyrone ask “ Would you like to go to a play? Gladys hits him with her bag.Final Taxi Logo
Tyrone: “Would you like to go to a concert?” Gladys hits him again.
“Would you like to go to a funeral?” Tyrone would say as he falls off the park bench.
It was a regular running gag on the show.

NBC collectively called these two characters The Nitwits when they went to animation in the mid 1970s as part of the series Baggy Pants and the Nitwits. Buzzi and Johnson both voiced their respective roles in the cartoon. This series was animated by Warren Batchelder. (Listen to Final Taxi podcast on Batchelder)

These classic characters were created by the mind of Jim Carlson. He created other characters and jokes for Laugh-In and other shows. Jim Carlson has taken the Final Taxi at age 75.

A long-time writer for this and many other series, it was Carlson’s mentor, who was comedian Morey Amsterdam, that saw his talent and helped him get into the comedy business.

Besides Laugh-In, Carlson wrote for such live-action TV series as Hee-Haw, Adam-12, Emergency!, CHiPs, The Bionic Woman and the original Battlestar Galactica.

He and Terrence McDonnell were frequent collaborators. Together they wrote the 1986 ABC special The Mouse And The Motorcycle. Combining animation and live action, it earned Churchill Films and ABC Entertainment a Peabody Award that year. Their 1987 TV special Dorothy Meets Ozma Of Oz also combined animation and live action.

They wrote the 1988 theatrical animated feature Pound Puppies And The Legend Of Big Paw, which featured the voice of Nancy Cartwright the year before The Simpsons debuted. ( Cartwright is the voice of Bart Simpson)

They were executive story editors of the 1987 animated series Spiral Zone for Atlantic-Kushner-Locke. Based on a line of toys, it aired for 65 episodes in syndication.

I will try to forgive Carlson for one of the stinker he gave us as he was one of many writers for the 1993 MGM incarnation of The Pink Panther, which featured a talking panther and aired in syndication over two years. I don’t understand the reason Pink Panther or Tom and Jerry need to talk.

The writing team also worked for the animation show Beetlejuice, and the X-Men cartoon.

He was still actively working on his next television show at the time of his death. He was also to have been a faculty member at the Rock-Solid Writing writer’s conference in Castle Rock.

Jim Carlson left his legacy in writing over 700 episodes of comedy, drama, children’s and family programming as well as four feature films and countless video programs.

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3 Responses

  1. Who posted this, please? Curious.

    Son of Jim

  2. I write the Final Taxi- Ron

    FinalTaxi (at) gmail (dot) com

  3. Ron, how did you get the information about my father, please? Thanks, Jeff

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