Ken Keeler, like most well educated mathematicians in America today established his career writing for two animated sitcoms with the most over-educated writing staffs in TV, the Simpsons and Futurama.
“1729, a historically significant integer to mathematicians everywhere”
Keeler graduated from Harvard University summa cum laude with a degree in applied mathematics in 1983. Seven years later he received his Ph.D. in the same field.
Taking a chance with the pen…
Keeler realized soon after mastering mathematics at the education level that there were very few jobs available in the research and educational fields. However, looking at his friends from college who went on to become writers, they all were receiving decent jobs. Keeler decided that if he did not give writing a chance, he would forever regret it. He took a research job at Bell Labs while he sent out a résumé to the David Letterman show; from which he was soon offered a job. Keeler's years with David Letterman, however, were not terribly happy ones.
The Nuclear American family…
In 1994 Keeler was hired as a staff writer for the Simpsons; where he would go on to write such classics as “Two Bad Neighbors” and “Brother from Another Series” which featured David Hyde Pierce playing the brother of Sideshow Bob (Kelsey Grammar). Sideshow Bob episodes are considered among the writers of the Simpsons to be the most difficult and rewarding to write because of the brilliant idiosyncrasies of the character. Keeler’s most proud moment in the Simpsons saga is the episode “Principal Skinner is an Impostor.” While at the Simpsons Keeler had the opportunity to write for the short running sitcom the Critic, which was created by former Simpsons’ writers Mike Reiss and Al Jean.
Into the future…
Keeler stayed with the Simpsons until 1998 when he was offered an opportunity to start writing for Futurama, created by Simpsons creator Matt Groening and Simpsons writer David X. Cohen. At Futurama Keeler became one of the elite writers to write in all four seasons and wrote many of the finest and most endearing episodes of the series, including “Godfellas” (in which Bender tragically plays ‘god’ to the tiny inhabitants of an asteroid, and then meets a ‘cosmic deity’ in the end) which he won a Writers Guild Award for, and the final episode (so far) of the series “The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings”. While at Futurama Keeler also held the position of Co-Executive Producer, and was promoted to Executive Producer by the end of the series.
Singing and dancing…
Keeler is also responsible for many original songs in the Simpsons and Futurama, including the opera in Futurama’s final episode:
Fry: A deal's a deal, even with a dirty dealer
Robot Devil: Very well then, I'll take what I want from Leela
Leela has promised me her hand
Leela: Fry, you do not understand!
I should have revealed I've been deafened by Bender
the shame. The Shame!
But I feared you'd stop writing this musical spledor
Deception's the curse of my whimsical gender
He gave me mechanical ears
Effective, though just a bit garish
In return, without shedding a tear I agreed
That I'd give him my hand...
Robot Devil: In marriage!
Simpsons DVD Commentaries
Futurama DVD Commentaries