*This interview was first published August 26, 2010.
Jon Glaser has provided you with many laughs you probably weren’t aware of. He has been writing comedy and appearing in sketches for 15 years now for The Dana Carvey Show, Late Night With Conan O’Brien, Human Giant, and many others. Most recently, he got what every writer slash actor slash improv person could dream of: the chance to take one of his characters he created for a sketch years back, and develop, create, write, and star in a show based on his own creation. That show is Delocated. The first live action comedy for Adult Swim. It’s second season premiered August 22nd in the hour long time slot with Children’s Hospital. The first season were all 15 minute episodes, and developed a cult following and became a critic favorite. The second season has expanded to 30 minute episodes and has already started off with a bang. Delocated is about a man in the witness protection program with his own reality show. It’s a must watch. MUST.WATCH. You will laugh multiple, multiple times. Imagine me grabbing you and shaking you as I say this, “Watch it! You don’t get it! It’s soooo funny!” Okay, sorry. It airs Sunday, 10PM eastern time on Adult Swim. Continue reading for a great interview with Jon.
Serial Optimist: Hey Jon, how are you?
Jon Glaser: I am just fine, thank you very much.
SO: First off, Delocated. Amazing. But we will get to that in a bit. How long have you been writing and involved in comedy? When and where did you get your start?
Jon: First off, thank you for the kind word about Delocated. I have been involved in comedy since I was a tiny, tiny, very tiny boy. I got my start at Second City in Chicago in 1993, doing the touring company, and then a main stage show in 1995. I have been writing comedy for professional money since 1996.
SO: What drew you to being a writer all this time? You have always been a great performer with Second City, in sketches, small roles in movies, and now starring in your own show. Was their ever a decision where you thought, I have to go down one road (writing) or the other (acting/comedian) or did you always know you wanted to blur the lines of both?
Jon: I had never really thought of myself as a writer, per se, but a high paying job as a writer on a high profile TV show called “The Dana Carvey Show” drew me into it. I never thought that I had to go down one road or the other. Thankfully, getting to work as a writer presented itself to me, and I have been able to travel down both Writing Avenue and Acting Lane. I like walking down Acting Lane more, but Writing Avenue is really nice, and has some cute shops, and I like spending time there as well.
SO: What is your definition of Live-Action Comedy, and what/who do you think really pioneered the genre? Is it a genre? Concept? Theme?
Jon: My definition of Live-Action Comedy is comedy that has live action in it. I do not know who or what pioneered the genreconcepttheme.
SO: Delocated. Tell us all about it, where the idea came from, and how you turned it into a 15 minute, then 30 minute show.
Jon: I had an idea for a witness protection program character and did it in a live show many years ago. The character/idea had a dumb joke attached, which was that he was an impressionist, and all of his impressions ended up sounding the same, in that low garbled voice. That character was in my writing submission for Conan, and I ended up doing the character on the show. After I left Conan, I always liked the idea of doing something with that type of character, without the joke attached, of a super smug douchebag who’s in the witness protection program, and came up with the idea of the fake reality show for this guy and his family. At first it was the traditional Adult Swim 15 minute format, and then we all decided to do 30 minutes for the second season.
SO: Were other networks involved in wanting to be a part of this, or did you always know Adult Swim would be the best home?
Jon: I first pitched it to Comedy Central, but they were obviously not involved in wanting to be a part of it since they passed. Thankfully, Adult Swim got the idea, and was thinking about getting into live action when I pitched it to them.
SO: Your character Jon has many “defining qualities” you could say, just little things he does that are hilarious. Like how he holds up and out his hand when saying goodbye, always being kind of “cool” and “sincere” yet still coming off as an asshole while doing it. Where do little things like come from? How do you develop a character like Jon? One that loves subs, says “bone zone” and “frrt”. Where does it all come from?
Jon: It comes from a lot of places, I guess. First and foremost, it’s just fun to play smug, confident, douchebag asshole characters. You get to say and do things you’d never say or do in real life. As far as the little details, it’s a combination of genius acting and sublime writing. Ha ha!!! See how much fun it is to pretend to be a smug asshole?!?!?!? The ‘frrt’ noise was stolen from my dad.
SO: I’ve been seeing all over Twitter, comedians and writers tweeting about how great the show is, and saying its something people just HAVE TO WATCH. Does that have meaning to you? Knowing your industry peers are like, “holy shit, what Jon came up with is just beyond amazing.”
Jon: I don’t do Twitter, and don’t follow it, but yes, if my peers like the show and have nice things to say about it and are Twittering about it, that means a lot to me. Except for Brian Stack, who is the biggest asshole in the world. Fuck you, Stack.
SO: What are a few of your current favorite comedies on TV right now? What do you watch?
Jon: I don’t watch much TV except sports and nature shows and kids shows with my son. Current shows, I like Louis CK’s new show Louie, and Big Lake, which is on the network that passed on Delocated.
SO: How different are certain writing rooms? Writing for Conan O’Brien and winning five Emmys, then going over to work with Human Giant. Are they all the same, in that a bunch of smart funny people get in a room and write some shit, or is it different depending on what network you are on, who is involved, etc?
Jon: I didn’t win five Emmy’s, I was just nominated. But that made me a 5-time winner in life. My experience with the writer’s room has been fairly similar from show to show. Lots of cool dudes and gals just goofballin’ around and coming up with funnybone ideas that you end up seeing on TV.
SO: Any small secrets you can give us about the rest of the season? Do you think Delocated could turn into the Lost of Live Action Comedies!
Jon: Ha ha. I hope it does not become like Lost, because I really liked that show at first, and then hated it by the end. But I kept watching all the way until the end, and it probably made the guys who made the show super rich, so maybe I do hope it becomes like Lost. As for show secrets, there was a punk rock legend cameo in Season 1, and there is another one in Season 2. See if you can spot both!
SO: If I called Jon (the character), and got his voicemail, what would I hear, what would it say?
Jon: “Hey, this is Jon. Welcome to the Phone Zone. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Leave it at the beep.”