Thursday, November 05, 2015

Witch Wigglers

FIRST OF ALL. Jake did NOT mention Jerry Lewis on ADVENTURE TIME tonight, but "alternative comics" icon Gilbert Hernandez had him doing just that in the original version of the outline that eventually became the episode "Mama Said." I was disappointed that Jerry didn't make the final board! And now, BEHIND THE SCENES IN THE WRITERS ROOM: We got stuck around Act Three, I mean, sitting there with serious looks on our faces saying things like, "What does the giant mushroom WANT?" And it was slowing work to something less than a crawl. As a way of getting ourselves over the hump, we started typing in some bellowing dialogue, all caps, just as a placeholder, to give ourselves permission to see how the rest of the story played out, and the mushroom was saying "Things a Mushroom Might Say" (as they would have put it on the $10,000 Pyramid): like, "I HAVE LOTS OF VITAMIN B!" Well, Kent and I saw that this was really cracking Pen up, so we just starting piling on more to make him laugh, and Pen got into it and pretty soon we were looking up mushrooms on the "internet" and typing big, bellowing statements about them in all caps. And it was making us laugh even harder because we imagined trying to convince Kelsey Grammer to do the richly bellowing mushroom voice (as far as I know, that was never seriously considered, and I have no idea who ended up doing such a fine job). Long story short, we never did figure out what the mushroom wanted. But that little exercise loosened us up and freed us to finish the story. That's either a valuable writing lesson or a cautionary tale. So the "placeholders" became the thing itself. So when someone listened to a mix of the episode and said, "That dialogue made me think of Michael Kupperman," I reacted with surprise and horror! Because as a writer you never want to accidentally step on the other guy's territory - especially so in this case, because I am Michael's friend AND biggest fan. I realized they were talking about Snake 'n' Bacon, a couple of Michael's characters. Bacon is a strip of bacon who can only speak in bacon facts. So you can see the connection, which escaped us at the time. So promise me something! Help me pay proper tribute to Michael by buying one of his books today. His books literally make me cry with laughter, as I have mentioned here many times before. If you enjoy crying, please do as I say. Oh yeah! One more thing I just realized as I was watching: I got to use my trusty copy of OZARK MAGIC AND FOLKLORE by Vance Randolph to research dowsing rods for this episode. A lot of that didn't make the final cut either, but it was still fun to research: another good (?) writing tip... research is fun even if you don't use all of it! "These characters are called water witches or witch wigglers, and the forked switches they carry are called witch sticks," writes Vance Randolph.