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SDCC 2014: ‘Rick and Morty’ Press Room

David Kane ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon, the creators of the hit animated series Rick and Morty, sat down with some journalists at a round table to answer questions about the upcoming season two on Adult Swim. The conversation was light and fun, opening with Dan hinting at a costume his fiancé made for him that he wanted to wear around the convention. It turned out to be a costume for Birdperson: a character Harmon voiced in the last episode of season one.

I asked if there was a story or trope they were dying to parody on the show, and Justin said that stuff sort of creeps in as they write. One example was when they notices their plot evoked Aliens, and they played with that while not trying to be too on the nose. Dan said he wanted to alter the direction for the show ever since noticing the first season’s tendency toward parody. He didn’t want to fall into this “competition with South Park that we aren’t going to win.” When Rick and Morty talks about political satire or pop culture they say they’re always five minutes from hearing South Park did it.

Justin told a story about production for their second episode “Lawnmower Dog”: when they were almost done, someone approached them saying South Park just aired an episode that made fun of Inception, which “Lawnmower Dog” was prepared to do. They were satisfied by the differences between the two parodies, but Dan said they couldn’t even embrace that frustration in an episode because South Park did that too with The Simpsons. He said he believed that if they stick to sci-fi and character as the subject of the show, then they should be safely distant from the other satirical animated shows.

One journalist asked if they’ve ever considered how similar the show is to a “buffed up Doctor Who?” Dan and Justin agreed and said they are not personal fans of the British series, but the show has writers that are, and the nature of the show is probably not unrelated to its success. Several ideas from the old show found their way into Rick and Morty, like the idea of the Doctor being with different companions, and the idea of the Doctor as the protagonist while also being the most mysterious character. “We aspire to be him but don’t relate to him.” The companion is the audience surrogate who asks the Doctor the questions we want to ask him, to which he always gives a mysterious British response. Dan wondered if it was a British thing with other stories like Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy and Roald Dahl books always having similar mysteriously intelligent characters that the audience has to adapt to. They recognize that relationship existing in their show, and try to recreate that feeling with Rick as the Doctor and Morty as the companion.

Dan mused on the relationship, saying, “You think the things that keep you from being fulfilled and being successful are sci-fi related: you think that if you get a better Palm Pilot, a better car, a better girlfriend, you’re going to somehow magically become satisfied, but that’s just not true.” And Justin chimed in, “Start listening to Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now if you wanna get fucking satisfied! Nah, just kidding.”

Right before they left the table, one journalist said he was doing a piece about the funniest comedians at Comic-Con telling the dirtiest joke they know and asked them for a contribution. Justin jumped right in: “Yeah, huh, a butthole and penis walk into a bar,” and Dan interrupted, “no, not a bar, they walk into a…”

“Vagina,” they said in tandem.

Justin continued, “And they start fucking and shitting everywhere. And then a fucking abortion happens, and the shit, like, runs in and starts killing people. And then somebody gets fucking… you know what, I’m not even gonna say, but it’s awful. And the punchline? Good luck.”

Harmon threw in, “humanity’s the punchline.” “The fact that we’re all gonna die someday, that’s the fucking punchline. Mortality. Alright thanks, everyone!”

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