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Dan Harmon talks ‘Community’ movie, Hollywood & elections

Larry King NowJul 11 '16

‘Rick and Morty’ creator Dan Harmon joins Larry King for a forthright discussion on his latest series ‘Harmonquest,’ the possibility of ‘Community’ movie, and why he’s been dubbed by the Hollywood Reporter as the industry’s “most controversial” showrunner. Plus, Harmon offers his take on the 2016 elections...or as he calls it, a two-man race between Hillary Clinton and “an orange monster.”


Acclaimed showrunner Dan Harmon, creator of ‘Community’ and current co-creator of the animated series ‘Rick and Morty,’ talks with Larry King about the upsides of animation, his sometimes tumultuous experience on ‘Community,’ and his views on writing and good comedy.

When asked what made ‘Community’ work, Harmon answers without hesitation: sincerity. "I think that what destroys comedy always is a lack of sincerity,” he says. “I think it’s people trying too hard to do anything other than make themselves laugh."

Harmon also discusses the mistakes he’s made, the upcoming election, and the lessons he has learned growing up on the internet. “It was that Chevy experience that finally made me realize – oh, my right to swing my fist ends at other people's noses,” Harmon says of his often-public working troubles with Chevy Chase. “I can't involve other people in my compulsion for transparency."


*Posted Online on Ora.TV on July 11th 2016:

"Very much so – in my case. In animation, a good chunk of the animation that we love is what is called board-driven, which means that the artists are sort of leading the dance. With their very tech-savvy, derived John Kricfalusi kind of – he did 'Ren and Stimpy' - like that animator's instinct for – I'm going to choreograph something visually that's going to make you laugh. That's a huge part of animation. When something is board-driven, it means that the artists are driving it and the writers are sort of playing catch-up." – Dan Harmon on whether writing is still true writing for animation.

"The resistance by the audience is lowered by anything that's not flesh and blood. It makes – it lets you trust things a little bit more." – Dan Harmon on 'Anomalisa' and the effect of animation on the audience.

"Definitely a net positive. You won't hear me complaining about having that experience at all. A lot of regrets about, for instance, what you've mentioned, like my public kind of silliness with Chevy. That was, you know, me being unprofessional combined with pretty bad luck about who was recording what or leaking what to the internet when I did something that was sort of – I played voicemails that I was getting from him in the midst of a little fight I was having with him - it was my attempt to therapeutically turn something that was kind of eating away at me into laughter for a hundred people." – Dan Harmon on his ‘Community’ experience and his rocky relationship with Chevy Chase.

"When I was 25 I would blog and I would name names because it was a different culture. It was that Chevy experience that finally made me realize – oh, my right to swing my fist ends at other people's noses. I can't involve other people in my compulsion for transparency." – Dan Harmon on using the Internet as a ‘hiding place.’

"Yeah. I mean I wish he were sitting here so that that didn't seem scandalous to say, because I doubt he would disagree. I mean I think that's one of his charms too. That when he walks into a room, the temperature changes. He's unignorable. He refuses to be ignored. Which is really kind of – it's wonderful about him and that was the great thing about that character, that it was based on something real from the core of his being." – Dan Harmon on whether or not Chevy Chase was difficult to work with.

"Sincerity. I was as obsessed with that show as any viewer could have been. So I think that previous to the Golden Age of Television, what we're calling now, the typical unfortunate relationship was that because there was so much money in TV and the audiences were so large and the stakes were so high, there was almost an encouragement for there to be a disconnect between the people producing the show and the people watching them. If you were good at making TV, if you were experienced, it was because you weren't really a viewer of it." – Dan Harmon on why ‘Community’ worked.

"I think that what destroys comedy always is lack of sincerity. I think it’s people trying too hard to do anything other than make themselves laugh."

“Oh god, yes. I don't even know what I am outside of what people think of me." – Dan Harmon on whether he cares what other people think of him.

"I think they don't understand that it's not a public utility. I mean from my interactions on the Internet and things, I think they think that we're elected officials and that we can lose our jobs if they hashtag enough – and I really, I want them to understand that no, this is like fishing or welding or anything else where if you're interested in it, you need get into it, and come out here and help." – Dan Harmon on what people get wrong about Hollywood.

"I think it'll be comfortable. I think that's the appeal, right? It's the known. And I think the odd thing is that we didn't even realize maybe two years ago how coveted comfort was going to be... she's the known quantity, she's the politician that's running in a two-man race between her and an orange monster." – Dan Harmon on what a Clinton presidency would be like.

"There's an addiction there to adrenaline which is an unhealthy work flow. My advice to stuck writers who are on their own is to get unstuck by proving how bad you are. Stop trying to prove that you're a good writer to yourself. That's what's probably got you stuck." – Dan Harmon on writer’s block.