No Holiday is Safe From ‘Robot Chicken’

We chatted with the writers and creators of 'Robot Chicken' at New York Comic Con about pushing buttons, dream guests and their new holiday special. (Adult Swim photo)
We chatted with the writers and creators of ‘Robot Chicken’ at New York Comic Con about pushing buttons, dream guests and their new holiday special. (Adult Swim photo)

Since its inception in 2005, “Robot Chicken” has been known for pushing every irreverent and nostalgic button — and being a favorite among the stoner set who has found a home with the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming. In seven seasons, “Robot Chicken” has lovingly skewered everyone from “He-Man” and “Star Wars” to pop-culture icons like Lindsay Lohan and has had an impressively long roster of celebrities who have stopped by to poke fun at themselves and everyone else.

“Robot Chicken” has also done nine specials, including ones about Christmas, “Star Wars” (a fanboy favorite of its creators Seth Green and Matthew Senreich) and one that paid homage to DC Comics. This holiday season will be no different as “Robot Chicken’s” 10th special tackles … well, its lengthy title pretty much says it all: “The Robot Chicken Lots of Holidays But Don’t Worry Christmas Is Still In There Too So Pull the Stick Out of Your Ass Fox News.” The special premieres Sunday, Dec. 7 at 11:30 p.m. ET.

During the “Robot Chicken” press roundtable at New York Comic Con in October, Senreich was asked how they got away with mentioning Fox News in the title. “Um … I think because the episode title is so long, when you look at it on the DVR, that part will maybe get cut off …” to which executive producer John Harvatine IV concluded, “So maybe no one will know?” with a laugh.

Poor Santa not only has to deal with an existential crisis in “Lots of Holidays,” but also a horrible new neighbor when Superman builds his Fortress of Solitude 20 feet from the Claus’ North Pole home. There are also skits about a dark Mother’s Day spent in the Disney cemetery, Theodore from “Alvin and the Chipmunks” singing about blowing a homeless man and a rap about Hanukkah gelt that includes a line about getting “more hot cocoa than Ice-T’s dick” — so basically, the special leaves no stone unturned.

“We moderate ourselves, but we’re also TV-MA, so it’s that careful balance between the two,” Senreich replied when TheBlot Magazine asked if there were any buttons “Robot Chicken” just won’t push. “There’s definitely limits for ourselves, but when you sit in a room with all your friends, and you’re laughing about things — you know those moments where you go, ‘Dude, that’s too far,’ everybody has those,” he added with a laugh.

With so much pop-culture desecration done in the show’s nearly 10-year history, what could possibly be left for “Robot Chicken” to do?

“We’re still waiting to find out,” writer and actor Breckin Meyer shared. “We’re going to start writing in January for the new season, and the good thing with our show is they keep making fun products out there and properties. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ was one of my favorite movies this year, and as soon as it started, I was like, ‘I can’t wait to do this on ‘Robot Chicken.'”

Executive producer John Harvatine, writer/actor Breckin Meyer and co-creator Matthew Senreich of 'Robot Chicken.' (Photo by Tom Roarty)
Executive producer John Harvatine, writer/actor Breckin Meyer and co-creator Matthew Senreich of ‘Robot Chicken.’ (Photo by Tom Roarty)

TAKING LAUGHS SERIOUSLY

As with most TV shows, “Robot Chicken” skits and scripts are brought to and/or fleshed out in the writers room.

“I’m lazy, so I don’t like writing, so my stuff usually comes out of the room,” Meyer shared. “My whole goal with ‘Robot Chicken’ is to make Sethy laugh — he’s going to be so pissed I’m calling him this, it drives him mental — but that’s how the show started, making each other laugh with action figures.”

For a skit to make it to the show, there needs to be a 3-to-1 vote between Senreich, Green and the show’s two head writers. The remaining four writers do not get a vote “and they hate us,” Senreich confessed. “It’s pretty awful, that room is not a fun place to be,” which is to be expected considering there’s a 90- to 95-percent rejection rate.

The first “Star Wars” special took about 16 weeks from writing to completion, and Senreich said a 20-episode season takes about 14 months to finish. “That’s why we’re in year 10, but only season seven!”

WISH LIST

When asked who’s on the wish list for future guests, Mr. Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford, is No. 1.

“We reach out to him every season, and he’s always very busy,” Senreich said. “I’ll continue to go after him, and we’ll see what happens.” And he’s not the only one who wants the elusive Ford. “I’m the same way,” Harvatine added. “We’ve gotta get him, it’s getting sad.”

“My favorite thing we have in the office is the official document we had to send to Harrison Ford’s agent when we first did the ‘Star Wars’ skits, where we said we’d like to offer the role of Han Solo to Harrison Ford; he passed,” Meyer said, laughing.

For Meyer, having J.K. Simmons do an “Oz” sketch was “an all-time get,” but Senreich’s favorite guests were Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise. “I’m a huge ‘Cannonball Run’ fan, and watching them interact exactly how they did onscreen — you can see their long friendship come to life in front of you — it was unbelievable for me, I was trying not to geek out too much.”

And as for guests he didn’t like?

“I will say one … and then you can look at the list,” he said with a laugh.

“The Robot Chicken Lots of Holidays But Don’t Worry Christmas Is Still In There Too So Pull The Stick Out Of Your Ass Fox News” airs Sunday, Dec. 7 at 11:30 p.m. on Adult Swim.

Watch the trailer:

Nikki M. Mascali is the editor of TheBlot Magazine.

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