Exclusive Interview: Zeb Wells and Matt Senreich Chat About Robot Chicken Christmas Special And More


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As a kid, and I’m sure was the case with most children, the holidays were always a special time for me. My family would curtail their normal arguments long enough to argue about how to dress the tree, we’d hit up a candlelit midnight service at the local Methodist church, then head home for the arrival of Santa and all of those sweet, sweet gifts. When I was about 14 or 15 we added a new tradition to this list: One. Early. Gift. Oh the pressure I would feel, staring blankly at the tree as my sister rummaged around trying to decide which package to tear to shreds. I, however, would usually pick something lame, like a thermal or some socks disguised in a better-looking box than socks should ever be in; one year I got the Korn voodoo doll from the Issues album. Again, I always picked the lame gifts.

I’ve since moved out of my parents house and chosen careers that forced me to work long hours while other people enjoy their holidays. I’m not bitter, but if you want to have fun when others are also having fun you may want to steer away from the culinary career. I’d say it’s been roughly 10 years since I’ve actually been able to enjoy that feeling of the early gift on Christmas. Thankfully, Robot Chicken has come along and figured out a way to restore that sense of childlike wonder that I lost so long ago. “How could a stop motion show on Adult Swim do such a thing?” you may ask and the answer is simple.

Robot Chicken’s Born Again Virgins Christmas Special.

It’s the perfect gift for someone like me and it premiers well before Christmas Eve (Monday at Midnight EST. Check local listings!) so it’s totally going to count as my early gift. But before I’m able to dive into a gift that is assuredly better than socks, I was able to chat with Zeb Wells (@zebwells) and Matt Senreich (@wizmatts) about the special, the holiday season, and what’s in store after the holidays.

ChefRich- “We’ve seen Christmas specials from RC before, but what sets this one apart from the rest?”

Matt Senreich- “For this one I think we just get completely sillier. We always try to heighten it a bit more with the silliness.”

Zeb Wells- “I think our sketches are weird enough when we cast a wide net, so there’s something about focusing on one idea that makes us get as weird as humanly possible. The Christmas special usually has some of our most bizarre pieces, if you will.”

Matt-Christmas or DC or Star Wars are usually our stronger episodes because they usually focus us from our normal ADD mentality.”

What are some of your favorite Christmas presents that you have ever received?

Matt-Well I’m a Jew, so I haven’t ever received a Christmas present.

Zeb-I WILL BE DEAD IN THE GRAVE BEFORE YOU RECEIVE A CHRISTMAS PRESENT! I can’t really talk about Christmas presents because people will think I’m a snob. I asked for the GI Joe aircraft carrier everyday for 6 months, and Santa brought one to me as a child. I played with that for years and years. I can’t talk about it here because everyone thinks I was a rich kid.

Any special holiday traditions? Will we see turkey, ham, or lasagna on your tables come dinnertime?

Matt-Again, I’m a Jew.

So you’ll be at the movies. Got it.

Matt-Or eating some Chinese food.

Zeb-I’ll actually be spending Christmas in NYC. Never done that before. I don’t think I’ll see any Jews there, though.

Matt-Oh, what sets this special apart, we have a puppet thing which we’ve never done before. We got some of our puppet friends from Greg The Bunny and recreate an Emmet Otter sketch. It’s kinda…I guess it’s live action because it’s puppets. We recreated the sets, we shot it live and I’m really curious to see what people think about it.


What’s the office like around the holidays? Any funny Christmas Party Stories?

Matt-We have our party tomorrow called “The Winter Ball.” I think everyone’s supposed to dress up for it, But I told myself that after I turned 35, I was only gonna wear hooded sweatshirts and cargo pants. So I might just put a tie around my hooded sweatshirt.

Zeb- Yea someone is usually a little too eager to dress up as Santa Claus just so people will sit on their lap so we try to keep an eye on that.


What were your favorite holiday claymation specials and did they have any impact on you getting into the animation industry?

Matt-Y’know, I always loved Rudolph growing up. It’s one of those things where you watch it every year. Weirdly enough, it had no effect on me going into this industry whatsoever. If anything, I feel as if I appreciate it infinitely more now only because I work in this industry. I don’t think I ever expected to fall into the stop motion world when I started my career. Not in a bad way, I just started in comic books. It was just an unconventional path. I don’t know about you?

Zeb-All of those Rankin/Bass specials tend to blend together, but I remember that you always wanted to watch them when they were on. Back in the day when it came on television and if you didn’t watch it you didn’t get to see it until next Christmas. It always had a heightened level of excitement about it.

Matt-Yea, for the kids today, there was no DVR back then.

Zeb-If you missed it, it was done and you went to bed crying.

Nobody wants that?

Matt-Not true. I totally want that for Zeb.

Would you consider Seth MacFarlane the best Santa or the bestest Santa?

Matt-Oh my God, Seth MacFarlane is the king of Santas! He is, in my mind, the only Santa Claus that exists.

Zeb- He caries an entire sketch in this episode with just his voice. Santa Claus is behind a door and he has to paint a picture with his acting.  And baby does he ever!

Matt-You wonder why this man is worth as much as he is then he does a sketch like this and you’re like “Oh, it’s because he has all this fucking talent!”

Your DVDs are always jam packed with special features. Care to elaborate as to why you guys feel as if you should go the extra mile with the special features while other shows add little to nothing to their DVDs?

Matt-I think it’s because we’re DVD fans. When we get DVDs, we want all this stuff. I know the only DVDs I watch or buy are the ones where I can get this kind of stuff. Otherwise I can just watch it again on Netflix. It’s a lot of work for very little payoff. The DVD market is not as big as it once was. It’s just sad, you keep hearing that DVD sales across the board are doing less and less, so I’m curious to see what the next market will be to find all of this ancillary content. 

Who can we expect as guest stars for the special?

Matt-We got Brecken Meyer, Seth Macfarlane, our lovely puppet folks (Drew Massey and Dan Milano), Jason Ritter is in this episode. Seth and Jason go back a ways. I liked him on Parent Hood and he had that short lived show called Us And Them. Hugh Davidson plays a great Easter Bunny.

Zeb-If you wanna talk about kings of roles, Hugh Davidson is the king of the Easter Bunny.

So after the Christmas Special we’ve got Season 7. Care to talk about any of the guest stars coming up or any of the sketches we can expect?

Matt- Season 7 is one of those things where I’m realizing who we like and what we like. You can see that we like Game Of Thrones because we’ve got a lot of the cast on this season. George R. R. Martin plays himself. Who else do we have? We have Key and Peele playing roles.

Zeb- You can see what shows we’re watching just by looking at the cast list for this season. That’s basically how we pick our people. Or who’s Twitter feed we’re following in the case of The Iron Sheik.

DC Villains Special: Any details you can give us on that? How obscure do the villains get?

Matt-It’s really not even the villain’s special. It’s everybody.

Zeb-The villains just drive the narrative.

Matt-Yea. We have sketches that tie to everybody. But what can we say that we’re allowed to say now? It really is the villain’s story. We follow Lex Luthor’s saga from start to finish.

Zeb-It’s always interesting to see which characters pop for us. We saw a bunch of characters pop in the first DC special so they get a lot of airtime in this special.

Matt-Oddly enough, Gorilla Grodd has a big role in this one, which is really…yea, surprising and enjoyable for us.

So when can we expect to see Season 7 and the DC Special?

Matt-I believe they launch in early April. I don’t know if that’s been firmed up, but that’s what Adult Swim was talking about last.

 So beyond this animated holiday treat, it looks as if Robot Chicken will be delivering us a bunch of new material right around the Easter holiday. Why must we keep our mythical holidays so far apart? But in the true spirit of the holiday, I guess we should all try to stop being greedy and not rush the greatness that is sure to unfold when the season and DC special are finally ready to air. And when they do, you better believe that BubbleBlabber will be here to cover them!

Make sure to check back Tuesday for our review of the special and catch a sneak peek right HERE!

(@chefrichBB) hopes you have a great Christmas or a great Wednesday, which ever way you choose to look at it.