JohnBlabber : With all these popular shows out for zombies, vampires, i mean they are even bringing back The Muensters, Ugly Americans couldn’t picked a better time to be on the air.
Devin Clark: Yeah, it’s really funny. I mean, I find it fascinating just having been such a huge comic book fan and growing up and being obsessed with kind of all these horror and science fiction and fantasy genres that right when I was starting to like come up with ideas and create concepts that were clearly influenced by absorbing way too many sci-fi movies and reading way too many comic books.
It was right at the same time that within pop culture, when there was this huge explosion of like awareness, especially horror. You know, it was like right when I started coming up with the idea for the Web show that turned into Ugly Americans it’s like there was just the inklings that like people were getting into this. Well, obviously Twilight is a big success, as far as books, but the movies hadn’t started. Then, it just seemed like the cultural zeitgeist of like loving horror stuff just exploded at the exact same time as we started getting on air.
Which is really exciting for us, because it just increases the awareness of like what we’re poking fun of. You know, and a lot of fans like understand and know the whole mythos of vampires a lot more than they did ten years ago. So (a) people know what we’re jabbing fun at, and (b) there’s a ton of new material for us to be making fun at, you know, like these books . You know, we have an episode coming out and these seven episodes that kind of – you know, we have a little homage to The Walking Dead, so it’s just really great. Yeah, it’s a cool time to be a nerd.
John: What is your favorite thing about working with these characters and why?
Devin: Well, I think, when we were going into the first season, we were still trying to figure them out. So we had pretty specific starting points for them. You know, it was like the jerk boss and kind of like the deadbeat roommate with Randall the zombie and we know that Callie would be like this kind of maniacal bad girlfriend figure. But the kind of depth that the actors brought to them really opened up the possibility for stories.
And, when we brought Michael-Leon Wooley in to do Twayne, and, you know, we wanted that big, deep bass voice to be the main tone, but we saw that Michael had like a lot more tricks to him. He could like pull off this kind of naïve little kid thing and all of sudden it just opened up Twayne to be this kind of like total momma’s boy, you know, like wimp, and, at the same time, be able to turn on a dime and become this big terrifying demon.
So I think more than anything it just allowed – you know, the writers fed off the designs, initially, and then they were influenced even more by seeing what the actors could bring to the table. So that just really helps in knowing what kind of stories, what kind of humor we can write to for the actors and just gives the characters a lot more depth.
I mean, it’s funny. And, of course, Grimes who is like just this jerk, kind of like the counterpart to Mark and that Mark was kind of like this bleeding heart trying to help everyone and then Grimes is just like this brutal throw everyone in jail kind of character. I don’t know. Yeah, Twayne’s character just goes into pure insanity. I don’t know if he has layers as much as just total chaos, as far as his character. But we have a lot of fun with him, too.
John: And you forgot to mention Twayne’s gambling addiction, too.
Devin: Wow and a gambling addiction, right. Yeah, it’s like we setup the fact that he like played originally in Earth, Wind and Fire. He’s obsessed with performing and dancing and singing and he has 15 children. It’s ridiculous.
John: Do the actors get to be in a room together to act out the scenes or do u guys record one by one?
Devin: Unfortunately, I mean, a lot of animated shows are able to get all their actors together when they do record. Unfortunately for us, you know, we’re split between two coasts, so about 70 percent of our actors are here in New York. But Natasha was there, who plays Callie. She’s in L.A. Michael-Leon Wooley is right now back in L.A. Pete Holmes, who does a lot of our utility characters, like Fishman and Martin and a lot of other like guest voice kind of stuff. So it’s difficult for us to be able to get the actors together.
We were able to do that on a couple of occasions for this second run of the second season. We have one episode featuring Jon Benjamin, who plays, basically, in order to take a job as a delegate of the consulate to Atlantis, Callie has to get a sex change and Jon Benjamin plays the male version of her. So, when we were doing all the dialogue between Matt Oberg, who plays Mark, and Jon Benjamin, we were able to get them both in the booth and get some just really hilarious improv and off the cuff jokes that half of what we ended up putting in the episode wasn’t even scripted stuff. It just stuff that they’d come up with off the cuff.
So we’re hoping to do more of that in the future because we have such an hilarious voice cast that only gives us more material to work with.
John: Do the actors get to do a fair deal of ad-libbing or is the script pretty regimented?
Devin: Yeah, essentially record the actors individually. We don’t really get them playing off each other very much but just most of the do stand-up comedians and a lot of them are improv people. You know, if they have a joke or that they can beat a line, we’re like totally open to that. For instance, a lot of the stuff that we write for Kurt Metzger, who plays Randall, it’s like he’s just a really funny guy and he’s got a pretty offensive sense of humor. So if we write any jokes that are kind of like gross-out stuff, it’s like no matter how like rude we think we’ve gotten the jokes, it’s like he’s going to beat it. He’s going to do something funnier, you know, but come up with an even more bizarre and creative term for some kind of sex act. So we definitely let them have as much freedom as they want, when it comes to like doing improv and coming up with funny bits for the episode.
John: How do the ideas of guest stars come up? Like Bobby Moynihan as Jerry, I could not have imagined ANYONE else playing that role.
Devin: Being a new show, we don’t have the luxury to be able to like, yeah, we’re going to write this part specifically for an actor. You know, it’s like so many of these people that we’ve pulled from like SNL and a lot of these comedies actors, I mean, they have pretty crazy tight schedules. And for a small show like ours, it’s like we’re definitely like reaching out to people with the hope that they’ll say yes. But we could never really write with the fixed expectations that they’re definitely going to do it.
So I think when we’re looking for voice actors we have a kind of like a specific tone in mind. Obviously, for Jon Benjamin’s character, since it was the male version of Callie we wanted like someone with like a really deep, manly voice, just to counter play the fact that she was a woman and now she’s a man but like, yeah, make her really manly.
But, typically, yeah, we have an idea in mind and then we’re just really psyched whoever we’re able to get. And, you know, it’s funny. Even going into our second season, we were able to get some really fantastic voice actors, like just a huge lineup. I’m pretty psyched at how willing people are to get onboard the show. We got Janeane Garofalo for this run of episodes. That same episode that has Jon Benjamin we were able to get Ed Helms in there Yeah, yeah. I don’t know. We’ve got a lot of really great voice actors in there, as well as just local comedians as well that are just knocking it out of the park.
I mean, besides obviously being very funny and quick witted guy, there’s something about the tone of Jon Benjamin’s voice which I just find entertaining within itself. And it’s like that voice, he can be saying anything and, I don’t know, I find it hilarious.
John: Who is your dream guest star?
Devin: Oh, man, I have a lot of actors that I love. I don’t know if I have a dream one. I’ve been watching, there’s this British show called Snuff Box. One of the actors – I mess his name up. I’m pretty sure it’s Dave Berry. It’s either Dave Berry or Todd Berry. Oh, Todd Berry is the other comedian. Anyway. And he’s got this crazy just like deep British crazy accent. It just seems like – it strikes me as like a voice that would be perfect for animation. But I don’t know. I have a crazy long list. That’s the one that – I only just saw that episode recently, so that’s fresh in my mind.
But I don’t know. It’s exciting. It’s funny whoever we’re able to get onboard it’s like such an interesting translation seeing how these comedians that you associate so much with their look. It’s like to see how their expressed in animated form is like sometimes it adds a little different twist than you might expect, like I never would associate Janeane Garofalo as like, oh, yeah, that’s a voice for animation. But she knocked it out of the park and she did some really funny stuff with her part.
John: Do you think itd be possible to have an Ugly Americans feature film either direct to DVD OR something in theaters?
Devin: I think when we went out to kind of create the premise of Ugly Americans and build out this world we wanted something that would really just feel like lush, fully-formed universe. So, initially, that was just that we could have an endless supply of ideas of for stories and new episodes. But I think it really did give it such a great feel as a world and the city of New York and the world of Ugly Americans that, yeah, hell yeah. I mean and we’re poking fun of cinema and genres all the time. We go very out there with the look of the show. So Ugly Americans as a movie, for sure, we could definitely pull that off.
Will they give us money to do it? That’s another question. I just have my fingers crossed for another season, so a movie would be like shooting the moon.
John: Yeah. I mean, you know what, I’d be more than happy to setup a Kickstarter fund to see that movie made. I don’t care.
Seriously, right? I mean, I just today like started a Kickstarter fund to like reboot this videogame that I played like 20 years ago called Wasteland, and I was like, what? Fricken’ amazing. You can do anything with Kickstarter. But how are there still fans for this videogame? But no problem. They raised $100,000 in like a week. I thought it was pretty crazy.
John: Can you shed any light on if you guys are currently working on season 3 of Ugly Americans and if there are concepts you would like to explore next season?
Yeah, we have a whole pile of like unused nuggets of story ideas that we’re just jonesing to use. It’s like every time the writers get together they’re coming up with plot points for different storylines. It’s like they just generate an insane amount of ideas. So, yeah, we’ve got ton of more material that we would love to execute. It’s like I think it’s just a matter of like, you know, when people tune in and get we get enough numbers, Comedy Central will say give us more. So we’re just waiting right now to see how we do and hopefully those people who own Nielsen boxes tune in, so we can do some more episodes. But no word yet. Fingers crossed.
John: Definitely. And, you know what, fingers crossed over here at BubbleBlabber.com. Thank you so much, Devin, for taking the time to talk with me. Any last words you want to give to our readers?
Devin: No, I guess I would say tune in, like I said, so we can keep doing more episodes and I thank everyone for watching.
John: Definitely. And, you know what, we’ll get that Kickstarter started up right away just in case.
Devin: (laughs) Yeah, yeah, the backup plan.
John: That’s right!
Are there questions you wish we asked to Devin Clark? Well FUCK YOU! You can ask him yourself on his new Reddit! An all NEW Ugly Americans is on tomorrow night after South Park so check your local listings. Plus come back here for the full preview tomorrow afternoon and a review Thursday morning.