What can you tell us?
Um, what can I tell you guys? Robot Chicken is doing a DC Comics Special, coming out in October. We’re going to debut the season with it, and then we roll right into our eighth season which will debut the 20th, so it’s right after that. So that’s our focal point right now. And we’re in the middle of production and I’m losing my mind.
So has there been anything DC’s, like, said, like, “Look, this is off limits. There’s no way you can touch this.”
You know, when we started the DC Special the DC Special focused on Superman and Batman and their relationship. And we were way too close to what the actual movie was about. So we had to rewrite the whole thing. Other than that thing they let us do anything. No, they’ve been really — yeah, they’ve been amazing. I mean, DC — we’ve known Geoff Johns for who knows how long. I mean, he’s written on Robot Chicken. And, um, they pretty much give us carte blanche on new stuff that we wanna do. Which has been really nice. So, yeah, it’s been good.
Are there going to be any real obscure characters in this DC Special?
We’re doing a lot of stuff with the Multiverse, so um — so we have a lot of characters. Not only just that, but a lot of versions of the characters. So, that’s, that’s — it goes in a lot of different directions with it. But yeah, we can play “the name game” and I’ll probably say “yes” to them. If they have an action figure, there’s a good chance they were — they have a cameo in this in some way, shape, or form. Yeah.
So does that mean that the Special is a Multiverse story, or is there just alternate stuff going on?
I think Multiverse — I keep calling it the “Crisis on Infinite Earths of Robot Chicken Specials”. Um, because, yeah, we, yanno we’ve had two Specials in this world. We thought why not break it open and travel to other — but we also have a reason for doing it. Which is, kinda, escalate. And I think in Robot Chicken fashion, it kinda explodes into that.
Do you have any, um, favourite guest stars for DC that you were excited to get in?
I was excited to get Adam West and Burt Ward. I mean we have such a great cast, and people coming back — so, you know, Nathan Fillion is back ... but when we got Adam West and Burt Ward to reprise Batman and Robin, I thought that was pretty special.
As to the overarching theme of the DC Comics Special, do you guys go into it and go, “Okay, let’s find the theme first.” Or did you start to write sketches and then start to notice —
— On this one, we knew we wanted to do something with Batman and Superman because of the new movie. Um, and we didn’t know what it was going to be, we didn’t really know what our take on it was going to be, and we didn’t have any guidelines of what it should be from either DC or from yanno the network or the producers or what have you — and then we just sort of found it.
Right. But along those lines, that’s exactly what we do. The first few days, maybe the first week, we just treat it like an episode in the normal season. And we start pitching sketches. Tons of sketches. And at the end at some point we say, “Oh, what do
we have here? Oh there’s a through-line here. Here’s a funny joke. I don’t like this sketch, but it can be used in something later." And sometimes [it falls into place] — usually maybe two hours before it’s due.
With this new DC Special, do you kind of do more of a, you know, wacky Superfriends kind of thing, or are you going to focus on the Superman v Batman version of the characters?
Um, we have our own version of those characters, I think, and it’s just tapped into the archetypes of who these people are. There are slight things might tie in to Superman v Batman. But, again, it’s focusing on that relationship, is really what it’s about. And I know what that relationship is in that movie trailer [of Superman v Batman that launched at SDCC] and what it looks like. You know, there’s a way to make of fun of that. Yeah. We might, we might, do a little bit of that type of thing. But yeah, not specific to that movie, no. I don’t think.
Do you think you might do a Marvel Special, or is it just easier to get the rights at DC?
Well, it also comes very organic. We have all worked together long enough now, where a lot of us have branched out, and our friends and family are all throughout Hollywood. So, Geoff Johns is a good friend of ours, and he’s over at DC, and so while talking it was like, “Hey, why don’t we do a DC Special?” So it’s probably not out of the question, but for now we’re just excited about the DC Comics.
There is something about Marvel. Like when Stan Lee was creating that run of characters in the Sixties, you know, and putting dialogue in their mouths, it seems like he was already having fun with the conventions of superheroes, um, kind of at the expense of DC. Just sort of easier to make fun of DC, cause they’re all so serious, they all wear capes, all so colourful. Yeah. And Marvel kind of takes the piss out of themselves, um, as a matter of course. So it’s tougher to get into what’s funny about Marvel.
How far along are you with Season 8?
Um, production takes about 14 months. And we’re in month 7 right now. So, yeah, it’s that point where you lose your mind.
We were talking with the Rick and Morty guys about the Simpsons things that they did. You did one as well. But what I thought was interesting was that it’s never been, sort of, quid pro quo. I don’t remember The Simpsons ever doing your show.
The Simpsons guys we met at an Emmy® party one day. And, um, it was like a mutual love affair. We always ask them to come in and play with us, but they’re always so busy working on their network show, that I don’t think they want to come to a late-night, cable access show. Um, but, no, they come and visit us all the time, and, uh, it’s a great relationship as I’m sure, yanno, [the creators of Rick and Morty] have as well. But, again, they’re the giants you look up to and just want to be like. Which is really nice. But, yeah, we’ll get those guys to do something for us.
Did you guys work out episode title gimmick this season? Can you tell us?
Yeah, it’s things found in the writer’s room. It’s really gross. It’s pretty — it got to be very difficult to come up with those titles after the first few, too. Every one is true, though. Which is what makes it grosser. I wish any of them were jokes. But they’re not. So when you read them, I’m sorry.
You guys got anybody new in the booth this season that stood out?
Um, well, the villain in, uh, this Special — Jonathan Banks is going to be playing it. So, he’s quite the main. I definitely have a love affair for him. But, yeah, he’ll be our main bad guy. But, yeah, it’s always an odd, obscure group of people that come in. I was weirdly enjoying the MTV world this year. I don’t know why I dove into all those people. You know, more Awkward. And, like, The Challenge. Weirdly. I don’t know why I get into my phases with things. Yeah. So we had Johnny Bananas come in. Like, that’s the name I shout out.
Are you excited by the comic potential of the new Star Wars movie?
Um, yes. Uh, how to answer this carefully? Um, yeah, we’ll have a Star Wars sketch this season, for sure. Um, whether it ties into this new movie, not really. But, yeah, it’s tricky with this movie before it comes out to make fun of, for me, personally. Let’s say that.
Now that we’re in this era of great toys, do you remember a great toy that, maybe, had great detail, and think, “Oh I gotta do something with that?”
Um, not so much about the toys, I guess. Um, just characters. Um, obscure characters, or really dumb characters, or characters that take themselves too seriously. Those are always big targets.
Anybody we can mine for comedy. When it comes down to the toy itself, although we started with using toys to, yanno, live action, when we’re creating sometimes certain toys aren’t very malleable. They don’t work very well for comedy. So we have to kind of create our own. So if some toy comes out, it might be like I want to use that doll — I mean, Seth is very particular about, “Oh this sketch, it has to be this guy from Mego, blah blah blah, cause it’ll be great!” But a new toy, not necessarily.
Originally, Star Wars toys were on something like a 4” scale. Now they’ve become more elaborate at a 6” scale. Are the newer, taller toys easier to work with?
Not really. [But.] There certainly are a lot of — sometimes, we’ll have throwaway gags that don’t really deserve their own puppets. Like in the first DC Special, there was a big fight scene, and we just took toys off of the shelves and threw them in the background, so that they’d be in the scene, but we weren’t going to make puppets of them. So in that case, yes, and sometimes it helps our puppet, uh, department if there’s stuff that they can cast moulds from that’s already a toy, or stuff they can break up and repurpose.
But it’s still stop-motion. As advanced as we get, and as good as it looks, and how better it looks, it still takes 14 months to do a season. You know, and it’s still the same old picture-move-picture-move-picture-move.
Do toy companies ever approach you and say, like, "We want to be on the show"?
Um, companies might have mentioned it in passing here or there. Um, probably the closest we came is that Mattel did our Baby Skeletor character, uh, as a Comic-Con Exclusive, and then I think it was on MattyCollector, and, uh, so we definitely wanted to put Baby Skeletor in the following season, so that people would remember who he was, and have a reason to buy that toy.
Although I don’t think, you know, our comedy doesn’t really comment on the type of toy. It usually comments on —
— but you know how marketing people are.
Absolutely. No, but I’m saying, we probably wouldn’t have been like, “Oh yeah, let’s do a whole Mattel blah blah blah.” The closest we got — he jokes about ridiculous toys like when the superheroes had cars, like when Hulk had a car, Spider-Man had a car. It was like, what was the point? You know, what used car salesman was having a lousy day because he can’t unload any of these things, you know?
Spider-Man has a car now.
I know, I know.
Where do you find new writing talent?
Everywhere! Um, you know we found people on YouTube. I saw an off-Broadway show I liked; I brought those guys in. Um, saw a Groundlings show; brought that guy in. I met someone at Comic-Con — two years ago? – and we brought her in this year. Um, random places — if they make me laugh, I’m going to try them out in some way. And that’s what it really boils down to.
You guys were talking about, kind of, bringing in new writers to balance out jokes that were from the 80s and 90s. Is that kind of a difficult balance to strike, or do you guys find they go together really well? Or is just really organic?
Well, I mean, the good thing about this show is, everybody says it’s … all retro. You can call it retro, but it was what the writers knew and what we enjoyed. And as we go on, you know, time gets longer, and we want to include all the things that people liked. So, as Tom was saying earlier, you know, people come in and pitch things — employees — cartoons that we didn’t even remember, you know — maybe it was from the late Eighties, maybe it was from the Nineties. We’re like, “Oh, I didn’t watch that.” But there’s a whole legion of fans of this one particular property who will appreciate that. And, you know, we’re the show where we’ll do the joke that four people will get. So if there’s a property out there that we haven’t touched upon, then we better.
Yeah. Sometimes it’s tough because a younger writer will keep pitching CatDog sketches. And we’re like — we don’t see what’s interesting about it.
It’s not an easy writer’s room to get into, also. There’s also a flow — and we all know each other so well, now, but, you know, it can be an intimidating room. So I think to go out there — it’s admirable for them to be like, “What about CatDog?” [Only to hear us say:] “Shut up! You don’t know anything about comedy!”
Now watch. We’ll have a whole CatDog