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SXSW 2013: Ryan Quincy on “South Park,” “Out There” and autobiographical storytelling

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If you haven’t watched our new animated series “Out There” yet, you are missing out on one of the most evocative high school shows since “Freaks and Geeks.” The adventures (and more typically misadventures) of Chad and his best friend Chris living in the small town of Holford are so reminiscent of adolescence and pre-adult post-child existence it can be a bit painful to watch, when it’s not making you laugh out loud. The show stems from the mind of Ryan Quincy, who also voices the lead character, Chad. While Ryan has been pretty open about his awkward high school years, we sat down with him at SXSW to dig for even more dirt. We talked about shotgunning beers, raising kids and casting “Out There.”

Hi Ryan, have you been to SXSW before?

No, this is my first time. This is my first time to Texas, even.

Really? Have you had a Lone Star beer yet?

I did! I had two last night.

Did you shotgun them in true Texas style?

I didn’t. I wasn’t hanging around with the right people to show me how that’s done, I guess.

Apparently not. Do you live in New York or LA?

LA.

What’s the comedy culture in LA like these days?

It’s pretty diverse. The UCB Theater. Justin Roiland, who is a cast member on our show is from there. A lot of the cast members like Kate Micucci and Megan Mullally and Fred Armisen of course are from diverse parts of the comedy scene. I like that we got a diverse cross-section of the alt-comedy culture for our show.

When you were casting the show did you seek people out to be in the show?

Yes. Fred was top of the list for the Terry character and Megan Mullaly was one of the first people to sign on. Pamela Adlon, well, the whole cast is so versatile. We were looking for people who could do more than one voice. But originally I wanted to have kids to do the voices, like the Charlie Brown stuff. But Kate Micucci won us over as Jay and then Justin Roiland and myself do the other kids. But casting itself is tough. You generally have an idea of what you want – and I wanted to do more naturalistic voices and not cartoony broad voices.

You worked on “South Park” before and now you’re creating “Out There,” what draws you to working with cartoon children?

I think it’s just that age where you are on the threshold of childhood and adulthood. For the South Park kids, they are eight-year olds and will probably always eternally be eight. What I’ve found more interesting with 14- and 15-year old is there’s just more angst and melancholy and also more humiliating stories to get through at that age.

How much of “Out There” is drawn from your personal experience?

A lot. It’s very autobiographical. About every episode there is something mined from my teenage-hood. I passed out in Sex Ed class. There was a blizzard that cancelled Halloween, so they postponed it to the spring and we did trick-or-treating in the spring and that’s one of the episodes. I bragged to my dad that I could drive when I was 14 and he said, ‘Alright let’s see if you can do it’ and he handed me the stick shift and I drove it into the neighbor’s fence and I ran out crying and left my dad to deal with it. So there’s been a lot of stuff. It’s been kind of cathartic to deal with it and have an outlet for some of these stories.

Has it been cathartic? Or is it more like painful reliving?

It’s been cathartic. It’s been good. It’s been fun to see the stuff come to life.

We’ve been asking everybody to share awkward high school memories, but I feel like you’ve been pretty open about them already.

Yeah, but there are always more. I was just telling someone about taking this girl to a dance and I worked at a Dairy Queen at the time and I was the only boy who worked there and I think the girls – They were kind of bully girls, mean girls – and I think they all kind of had a crush on me. They knew I was taking this girl to the dance. While I was in the dance, they took all the whipped cream and hot fudge and everything from the ice cream store and decorated my car with it and it just looked like a banana split on wheels. I walked out to that with my date.

What did your date say to that?

She was really embarrassed. It was just really bad and awkward.

Where did you grow up?

Small town named Holdridge, Nebraska, about 5000 people.

How many were in your high school?

About 350. My class had about 90 people.

Have people in your town reached out to you about the show yet?

Oh yeah. Everyone wants to identify with who it is in the show. They say, ‘Oh that’s so and so’ or ‘That’s me!’ but there’s no one really specific. It’s all cobbled together. I’ve used some names, like Johnny Slade, there’s a guy I went to high school with whose last name is Slade, so he thinks that’s him. It’s funny, but on Facebook a lot of them will use the character pictures and use them as their profile pictures. I think it’s been fairly positive. It’s more or a love letter or a tribute to growing up there and those people and those experiences.

Did you feel at the time like you were having an awkward high school experience or is it only in retrospect that you realized that?

I am always having an awkward experience. I don’t feel like my awkward years are over. I still do stupid things. I just feel like that’s my lot in life. High school was extra weird.

You have kids now, right?

Yes, I have a son who is eight and a daughter who is five.

What are you going to do when they hit high school?

I’m going to be really over protective. It’s not going to be pretty. I feel like I’m going to be very paranoid, like I’m going to be following them. It’s not going to be good. I need to prepare myself. I feel like they’re at these ages where we’re past the diapers and sleepless nights and we’re in a nice period, right now, but then it’s going to get nuts. We’ll see. I’ll do my best to guide them.

Where did the idea for “Out There” come from?

It was based on growing up in a small town in the Midwest. I made a lot of home movies growing up, just stupid stuff. Hanging out at the 7-11, setting stuff on fire, just the things that happen when you’re bored in a small town. We never come out and say it, but it predates computers and cell phones. I am also a big fan of “Over the Edge” – Matt Dillon’s first movie – I wanted to do an animated version of that. Something that has angst and melancholy, but is still funny. But it’s also about two best friends. It’s about that first real friend you have, a best friend. That bond is kind of the precursor to all your relationships. I wanted to do something about two best friends.

Do you have one of those from real life that this is based on?

Yeah, yeah, there are a few of them, but they are kind of Frankensteined together, made up of all different parts. Sadly, my best friend died the day after I found out “Out There,” the day after I pitched it back in 2008, I found out that my best friend died of a brain aneurysm and I never got to tell him. “Out There” is dedicated to him and his memory.

Want the latest news from Out There? Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @IFCouthere.

“Out There” airs on IFC on Fridays at 10/9c

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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