Vernon Chatman’s (Wonder Showzen) demented and nightmare inducing comedy The Heart, She Holler will be returning to Adult Swim sometime later this year and some of the shows cast and producers were at Comic-Con this year to show clips from the upcoming season and to talk to press about what fans can expect to be disturbed by this season. Collider participated in a round table with Patton Oswalt along with executive producers John Lee and Alyson Levy where they talked about how it’s like to create a show on Adult Swim, what fans can expect from the upcoming season, if Patton would ever create a show on Adult Swim, and if there is such a thing as something being too nightmarish for the show. Hit the jump to read more.
So the real important thing is if you guys are going to get to pick up some cool swag while you are here because that is what Comic-Con is really about outside of this promotional machine, right?
Patton Oswalt: I’ve already had some swag thrown at me. You never know where the swag is going to come from, though. We were trying to get on the TV Guide yacht and people were…
Oswalt: They have a yacht!
Lee: It’s not like they rented a yacht? There is an official TV Guide Yacht?
Oswalt: It looked pretty official to me. There was a helicopter pad on it.
Lee: It’s either a desperate move to get a yacht and a helicopter or it is a sign of success.
Oswalt: Or they are branching out into meth. But something is going right for them. We were being ambushed with baskets of things.
Lee: Just baskets of the mini guides?
Oswalt: And they were saying, “We love when people tweet stuff.” I’m like, “Am I going to go through the bag and tweet each item?”
Lee: I brought things at our panel: dirty shirts. Shirts that got stained in our basement because we have a leaky basement.
Oswalt: You should have brought just, like, a bag of laundry. “Can somebody do this? Can somebody clean this and bring it back to us at the hotel? Thanks.”
Patton, when did you first become aware of Vernon Chatman’s work? Can you share your thoughts on what you think makes him so stand apart from all of the other comedy directors and creators going on right now?
Oswalt: The fact that he can work with the disadvantages that he has. Being attached to let’s say a John Lee and having to compensate for that is just miraculous. It really is. He is like Brian Wilson and John is like Mike Love and Dennis Wilson all in one.
Oswalt: Oh, yeah. Doing the bongos. That was pretty amazing. He and I started doing stand up together in San Francisco and then later on he started showing up and writing on shows. He always had a very odd approach even when he was just being a stand up. He really did. I was such a fan of Wonder Showzen and when Vernon asked me to do The Heart, She Holler it was just like, “Yes.” but only if you hire John Lee and that is how we got him.
I feel like you would also be a fan of Final Flesh, which he did. How was that like when you first saw that? Did that surprise you that that came from Chatman’s mind?
Oswalt: What was Final Flesh?
Lee: Final Flesh was this…PFR had an art show in 2003 and we made a video, which was the first installment of it.
Oswalt: Why haven’t I seen this?
Lee: You can get custom made pornos online. Like you can have two women dressed up as cavewoman going, “Oh, Patton! Oh, Patton!” but we wrote a Luis Bunuelesque script with no sex. So that was part of our art show and then Vernon took it and made 3 more. He made a feature film out of it. Have you not seen it? I thought we gave it to you.
Lee: It’s a nightmare, but it is a good nightmare.
Oswalt: I know about the new book that he just put out, which is the same thing of getting…
Oswalt: I’m surprised too! Why haven’t I seen this?!
Lee: It is one of those things that you give with trepidation. You’re uncertain. It can scare off a certain person.
Oswalt: Right. You wanted me back for the second season then you really get what I look at.
Lee: Now we have something to dangle with this little carrot, but you don’t want to eat that carrot.
Oswalt: Exactly, because it is shiny for some reason. [laughs]
John, when did you first meet Chatman and how did the collaboration begin?
Lee: I still barely even know the man. I feel like I haven’t really met the true Vernon Chatman. I search and I search and I dig into his chest for his heart, but I don’t know.
How does the collaboration process work between you two?
Lee: It is fairly uninteresting. You sit in a room and you talk about stuff. Then you write it down.
Is there such a thing as something being “too nightmarish” for you guys?
Oswalt: I would genuinely like to see…
Lee: Something that made us uncomfortable?
Lee: This season we have something that is precedent setting from the Networks Standards. It’s a sexual act that has never been on air before. They can’t even explain it so therefore they can’t even take it away. We tend to find a weird thing that we want to do and then we find the puzzle that gets it to where it makes sense so that you can do it instead of just showing something offensive. It’s finding the weird little steps where the next thing you know something disgusting is happening where you are like, “Well, that makes sense.”
Oswalt: That is what makes your stuff extra creepy. It all is logical. It all comes from “Of course, that would follow if you create…”
Lee: “Yeah, of course, you are pulling ghosts out of your chest…”
Most shows on Adult Swim give the impression that there are no studio hands coming in and telling you what to do. Is that true or not because it does feel that way.
Lee: Yeah, they are great. It’s kind of amazing. For this show in particular, and even when we did Xavier: Renegade Angel, we just sent in a drawing or we sent a poem this time and they just send us a bag of money. It’s so that we can just make the show totally free. They don’t…
Alyson Levy: But they said that this time this was the first season ever of anything that [Adult Swim Vice President] Mike Lazlo had no notes on the scripts. He had zero.
So they are not paying attention?
Lee: They pay attention. [laughs] I think it’s more that they are trying to understand. You know, we win the fight because we write these very cryptic scripts that no one can understand, and that helps to our advantage where they are just like, “Okay, fine. Just do it.”
Is it hard to work with comedians or is it just a lot of fun?
Lee: It is terrible!
Oswalt: I don’t make it easy. I do not make it easy for him.
Patton, it feels like a lot of your fellow comedian friends from 90s like Vernon Chatman or David Wain have shows on Adult Swim now. Is that something that you might be interested in doing? Would you be interested in doing a little 10 minute show there?
Oswalt: If I came up with an idea that I really, really like then absolutely. I’m a huge Adult Swim fan and that has put me at a disadvantage because I don’t want to be the C- thing on that network. So I’ll wait till… I mean, all of the stuff that is on that network is people who have been thunderstruck. Like something took them over and right now that just hasn’t happened to me in terms of a TV show. So I’m just going to wait. I’ll wait until something really hits me.
Lee: You need to eat that Final Flesh carrot.
Oswalt: I got to have that carrot and then boom I am there.
What would say is the biggest difference going into season 2? What is the biggest difference with the show? Did you try even more things in season 2?
Oswalt: You guys definitely went deeper into the Hoss character in terms of how deep does his plan go and you put up…what is kind of fun is that you keep putting these obstacles in the real world and you’re like, “Well, there is no way that he could have had any plan in place to take care of this…” I think this season especially all of the main characters are way more aware of how god awful their situation is and they are a little bit more focused on trying to escape it.
Lee: There is a little bit more of trying to get the hell out of The Holler.
Oswalt: And it seems that The Holler is inescapable.
Is there a finite ending?
Lee: To life or just to the show? That is what there is. That is all there is: a finite ending.
Does it make it harder for a show like this to really have a chance to get out there and show what they can do with the internet being what it is and everyone now having their own original programming thanks to youtube and channels like that?
Lee: I don’t think so. It doesn’t seem so. It seems great to have a little place that is like that. And it all comes from Adult Swim – all of this weirdness. And it is just great for us to have this strange little home. Like we should be doing other things in the world and we should leave Adult Swim but it’s so hard because they let you do whatever you want. It’s kind of embarrassing that it is a job. It feels like nonsense.
It’s a channel that I wish existed when I was a teenager.
Oswalt: That is actually how it was in the 90s and Vernon was one of the main hubs of “You got to watch this thing that I got.” because we lived in San Francisco and there was this placed called Naked Eye Video and that is where we got a lot…there was this guy that worked that basically had the…like he would be renting the weird Nekromantik film and then he would go…
Lee: Or just you would be renting it?
Oswalt: And then he would do the classic “Bring this back to me.”
Patton, is there any chance that you might follow Brian Posehn’s footsteps and write a comic book series? I know that you have written some in the past.
Oswalt: I’ve written a whole bunch. Right now, I just don’t have the time. That is such a huge time commitment. I have two very specific ideas that I want to work on, but I am going to give myself some time to actually develop them the way that I want to.