Ski Mask Way: Delocated at New York Comic-Con 2010
If you are not familiar with Adult Swim’s Delocated (shame on you!), imagine Curb Your Enthusiam‘s Larry David as an even bigger jerk…in a ski mask…and you’ll start to get a feel for the “reality” that creator, writer and star, Jon Glaser inhabits as the eponymous main character. With Glaser unmasked at New York Comic-Con 2010, we got the opportunity to speak with him, albeit sans computer altered voice, about the continued success of Delocated and what lies ahead for the show.
In speaking with other Adult Swim creative talent this year, interspersed with the omnipresent unbridled hilarity, I gleaned three undeniable hallmarks of shows that will enjoy an extended stay on Williams Street (Williams Street Productions, producer and programmer for Adult Swim on Cartoon Network):
1) You are asked to extend your show’s running time rather than reduce it,
2) Adult Swim orders up more episodes for season two than season one, and
3) Mike Lazzo hands you a bag of money and fondly refers to you as “son.”
Two out of three is not bad, and things are definitely looking good for Glaser’s self-described “silly drama.” Following the success of season one, Adult Swim supersized Delocated by extending the running time to 30 minutes and green-lighting 12 episodes for season 2 over the original season’s order of 7. Even though he was comfortable with the “quicker” comedy of the 15-minute format, when the 30-minute option was presented, Glaser saw it as a natural extension that leant itself well to the show. While jokingly admitting that the time and work to create each show has “like, quadrupled,” Glaser is happy with the show’s maturation in the extended format:
Glaser: “It’s changed how we write the scripts and how we shoot things…maybe the tone has changed a little bit…it’s become a little more like, there’s that one line in the first episode, ‘it’s not a silly comedy, it’s a silly drama,’ (laughs) which I think is really what happened and I don’t think that was even intentional, but I think [it is] just a by-product of allowing things to sort of breathe a little bit and play out a little slower. But yeah, I think it’s been for the better too.”
The 30-minute format, of course, is familiar territory for Jon Glaser, who counts among his previous writing credits the critically-acclaimed Dana Carvey Show, with a staggering list of future talent including Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, and Louis C.K. Between hilarious anecdotes about the scheduling identity crisis that ultimately doomed the show, Glaser spoke briefly about the formative influence the experience had on the direction of his career:
Glaser: “That show and that job for me [were] amazing. It was my first [writing] job. I was doing Second City in Chicago, and even…pursuing writing as a career was not anything I’d even thought about. And then, to have the opportunity present itself…even at the time I was like, ‘yeah this is cool but I still wanna be an actor,’ and looking back it’s, like, the greatest thing that really happened for me. To be able to work with all these guys obviously was incredible and for me …it was just an amazing experience. So it certainly helped me as far as just even life, like, now I have more opportunities for jobs, now I can pursue writing jobs, which is what I’ve done quite a bit, it helped me and allowed me to get Conan, and so it really was everything…It was so good, it was such a good time, and it is crazy to look at the people involved, I mean, it’s nuts.”
In creating and filming Delocated, Glaser again finds himself working with a dream team of comedic talent. For his first foray into a main character role, Glaser called on the production talents of the multimedia collective PFFR, of Xavier: Renegade Angel fame, to assist with writing and production duties. Similar to other Adult Swim shows, much of the early casting, like Kevin Dorff and Eugene Mirman, are friends and former collaborators, while some of the new additions, like Steve Cirbus, Glaser, “really lucked out,” with acquiring through auditions. Surprisingly, despite the spontaneous feel of the character interactions within the show, Glaser revealed that the majority of the action on screen is scripted by John Lee, Vernon Chatman, and himself. With a great cast of talent in front of the camera as well as behind it, ad-libs still often make it into the finished show, but if you listen closely, you will notice that dialogue rarely overlaps “Jon” because of the constraints of disguising his voice in post-production. Besides literally staying out of “Jon’s” way, the other challenge of shooting a show with a disguised main character, of course, is running around New York City in a ski mask:
Glaser: “The summer was miserably hot to shoot in a ski-mask…the beard is a little more trimmed and I used to have a big huge head of hair…and even, like, the first week I cut it, like, in half, and then after the first week I was like ‘fuck it’…Look, I hate when actors complain. When actors go on talk shows and complain about the shoot it’s like, ugghh, who cares? But it was pretty hot and, I’m not making five million dollars, so (laughs)…But like, when I used to work on Conan, actors would come on and [say] like, ‘oh my god, we shot this scene, I was in the helicopter and jumped in the water, it was sooo cold!’ I was like, ugghh, who gives a shit? You made fucking ten million dollars, and you’re coming on TV and talking about how cold the water was? No one fucking gives a shit (laughs). Anyway, so yeah, I’m not gonna complain, but it was definitely hot…believe me, especially in the summer if we’re not shooting that mask was off.”
Later in the evening, Glaser was joined by the full cast and writers of Delocated at a Q&A panel for fans. While at the panel, Glaser showed fans the initial demo for the show, the majority of which became the pilot episode, and earlier, he described how instrumental the demo was in the green-lighting of Delocated:
Glaser: “I really think the demo that I made sold it. I remember talking to Mike Lazzo at one of the up-fronts and he told me that the demo helped, because you could easily hear that idea and go ‘I don’t know, I mean does that have legs?’ and even I was like ‘I don’t know, let’s see.’ So, the demo I think really helped them get the idea of the character, because I don’t think you could read the script, you just really have to take a leap of faith and go, ‘well, I can sort of see this character and picture how he sounds, let’s try it,’ and I can’t imagine them doing it without the demo.”
One of the funniest scenes in the demo as well as the pilot revolves around the mistaken assassination of Paul Rudd who guest stars as himself. Although Delocated does not feature many guest stars, largely because of the writing process, Glaser did reveal that a guest spot on The Office (“that would be fantastic”), or a crossover episode with Adult Swim stablemate Children’s Hospital (“free trip to L
.A.!”) are high on his wish list. Even higher on his wish list is a Delocated Holiday special:
Glaser: “It hasn’t come up officially but we’ve talked about that idea because I think it would be pretty fun…One thing I did was me with the mask and a snifter of brandy standing in front of my TV with a fireplace and very much like a holiday kind of photo, so it would be great to do one. It would just be fun as that character to do a very kinda ‘Bing Crosby-ish’, super-sincere, earnest Christmas special so maybe…hopefully (laughs).”
Along with the pending Season One DVD release, a holiday special would round out a very happy holiday season for Delocated fans. For Glaser and the cast, we foresee a season 3 greenlight in the near future, and at this rate, maybe a kick up to an hour-long format. No promises on the bag of money from Lazzo though.
Delocated airs Thursday at midnight on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.
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Images TM & © 2010 Cartoon Network/Adult Swim.