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Delocated Creator/Star Jon Glaser

DVDTalk Interview: Delocated
Creator/Star Jon Glaser

Reality television has made stars out of just about everyone, so why not a guy in the witness protection program? Well, besides the obvious problem with giving publicity to someone who's supposed to be hiding. But that's easily solved with a jaunty ski mask and some voice alteration, as shown by the adult swim series Delocated. The man behind the mockumentary, comedy writer Jon Glaser (Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Dana Carvey Show) spent a little time, sans mask, with DVDTalk's Francis Rizzo III, and talked about what a difference 15 minutes can make, taking over at Dunder Mifflin and why beards and masks don't mix.

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DVDTalk: Has the change from 15 minutes to 30 minutes affected how you do the show?

Jon Glaser: I'd say no. (laughs) Yes, it certainly has, obviously in so many ways. Just from the obvious amount of time to fill and how much you're shooting, but other than that it's changed the script and how we shoot things. Maybe the tone has changed a little bit, just so things have got to expand a little bit and it's become a little bit like that one line in the first episode, "It's not a silly comedy, it's a silly drama." Which I think is really what happened and I don't think it was ever intentional, but I think it's a byproduct of allowing things to breathe a little bit and play out a little slower, but yeah, I think it's been for the better too.

DVDTalk: How did that change come about?

JG: I think the networks sort of broached the subject. It had been talked about, but never seriously, and then they sort of gave us the option, which I think is great because we were thinking about it. That's really how it came about. It seems like it was a natural extension of the growth of the show, otherwise it wouldn't have come up.

It was more, I think "Can the show be a half-hour?" And if it hadn't, that would have also been great. I mean, doing the 15-minute format was very fun. One of the things I really love about the first season doing the show is having it be a little quicker and cramming it all in there. It was pretty fun, but I was glad it changed. Either way, it was great.

DVDTalk: What's it like taking on a lead role?

JG: I don't know if it's really affected me so much, but I kind of enjoy it. I like doing [writing and acting] and I'd be happy if I wasn't the main character on the show, but, I guess as an actor, maybe not much changes, doing the specific character, but there's a lot of responsibility as far as the writing goes.

DVDTalk: Is it mostly improv?

JG: Everything is scripted. We put together outlines for each script and get them in shape before I sit down to write the scripts. There's a lot of improving and alot of that ends up in the show, but the vast majority of what you're seeing was scripted, even if it's very loose.

DVDTalk: Do the other actors have a lot of input into the writing?

JG: No, it's just me and John [Lee] and Vernon [Chatman]. The actors in the show are all very funny and very good improvisers, so there may be scenes or lines that end up in the show that are improvised, but the writing process is just me, John and Vernon.

DVDTalk: Did you work a ski mask into the show to avoid being noticed on the street?

JG: No, I mean, I get asked that question a lot. I didn't set out to think of an idea where I wouldn't be recognized. It really was just coming up with an idea to work with a stupid, funny character I liked, and it was a nice byproduct that I don't get recognized.

It's all about accessorizing. We definitely try to think "More hats." I remember in the first season, when we had the golf episode, I just loved wearing that hat. It looked nice and funny. So that's why I had this idea that's in the demo. I made a demo that I turned in with the scripts when I pitched the show because I didn't want the network to just rely on the script to get the idea. I really wanted them to see it and hear it. So I put together the demo. You see him drinking coffee, wearing a driver's hat with an Ahab beard. It's been in existence before but we might get to do it this season. It's a really stupid.

DVDTalk: You need an attention span to enjoy Delocated. Do you get notes about that?

JG: No, [the network is] super awesome about letting the show be what it is. It's just nice to be able to do that show, because I really think that's what the show has to be. Obviously there are moments that are fast and funny, but as far as the pace of the show, it always has to be tight, but there's never any push from the network. I don't think the show could have been a half-hour if it was a major concern. Obviously it's way different from crazy short animation, but thankfully they've been pretty awesome.

DVDTalk: How involved is PFFR in production?

JG: They're really involved. They were hired as the production company and one of the main reasons I hired them was just because I know John and Vernon and they're extremely talented, funny writers, as you know from Wonder Showzen and Xavier, which are amazing. The three of us do all the writing together, John directs some of the episodes, and they also serve as the executive producers, so they're very involved. They're always on-set or least one of them is. There's also Alison Levy, part of a gang their gang, and she's one of the EPs. So they're pretty involved in the show.

DVDTalk: Do you think there's a parallel between Jon and Michael Scott on The Office?

JG: Sure. You could just reduce it to "They're both jerks." It's just fun to play the unaware asshole who's full of himself. That sort of an archetype of a character. Super-confident douchebags.

DVDTalk: Maybe you could be the new Steve Carrell.

JG: I can't imagine. The only way I'll do it is if they let me wear the mask. Have that guy be on The Office. That would be fantastic.

DVDTalk: Did the network get the show from the pitch?

JG: I really think the demo that I made sold. I remember talking at one of the upfronts and I was told the demo helped. Because I think you can easily hear that idea and go "I don't know, does that have legs?" Even I was like "Let's see." The demo I think really helped them get the idea of the character. I don't think you could read the script. You just have to make a leap of faith and say "I can sort of see this character and picture how he sounds, let's try it." I can't imagine them doing it without the demo.

DVDTalk: Can you describe the demo?

JG: The demo is basically me as the character, just shots. Me playing hockey and sipping coffee and petting my dog. Then there is the Paul Rudd scene we shot for the demo and we ended up just putting that in the pilot. We did reshoot that scene. I knew him a little bit and asked him to do it and he was very nice to do it. We shot at a friend of mine's clothing store. She let us shoot there and then I had Eugene [Mirman] in there, because he's in that scene, and then a quick cut to a shot of him doing stand-up in Russian. The shot of me working out, on a treadmill. I remember we were shooting the first season, and they were like, "What the fuck?" There were holes in the mask, and I remember I cut holes to put Walkman headphones. An iPod? Why would I say Walkman? Just headphones in the mask. So shots like that, the Paul Rudd sequence, and then the shot of me in the underwear photo shoot. That's where the original idea for the underwear billboards came from. So we had a sequence of me, looking very cocky in my underwear. We shot a friend's photo studio. And then the final thing in the demo, was me singing with the band Yo La Tengo. Jon met this indie rock band in the witness protection program, who now go by the name Bo La Flengo. So I went to their rehearsal space and they all put on masks and I sang a song for like 30 seconds. So maybe five minutes total was the demo and it was pretty fun to make. I'm glad I made it now. We're going to try to put it on the DVD.

DVDTalk: Speaking of which, Is there a plan for a DVD release?

JG: Yeah, we're just starting to put it together now, going through and picking out deleted scenes and stuff like that.

DVDTalk: Are you doing commentaries?

JG: Yup, we'll probably do a couple of episodes, not every episode, but there will be a little bit.

DVDTalk: Is there a holidays special in the works?

JG: It hasn't come up officially, but we've talked about that idea, because it seems pretty fun. When I was pitching a show, I sent the main exec on the show photoshopped ideas for the show. I took a photo of my son, who at the time was 10 months, at a photo studio in K-mart here in New York in Astor Place. I took him there, grabbed some shitty sweater from the rack, and put it on and went into the studio and I was all prepared for a speech about putting the ski mask on with the baby and figured there's be some middle-aged person working there, but it was young hipster girl with a lip piercing and she was like "This is just my day job. Are you a skateboarder?" I told the idea and she was like okay. So we pulled this winter scene background and I held my son with a ski mask on and made like Happy New Year greeting cards and sent them. One time, I did this with a mask and a snifter of brandy, standing in front of my TV with a fireplace on it. Very much a holiday kind of photo. It was fun as that character being Bing Crobsy-ish, super sincere. So a Christmas special, maybe hopefully.

DVDTalk: When you shoot, do you do a version of the altered voice?

JG: It's all done in post. I'm assuming the people who come and work on the show know the show, so it's just one of those things. While we're shooting though we have to be very careful that not a lot of dialogue overlaps, which is sometimes tricky. When we adjust in post, my voice has to be in the clear, otherwise you have to do a lot of re-recording or ADR. For the most part it hasn't been too big a problem. It's always tough when you have to re-record, but it's a weird thing to do, to have to be thinking about it and try to be spontaneous in conversation. When we start ad-libbing, we have to be aware. We always remind everyone to be aware.

DVDTalk: Is it hard to shoot in a ski mask for bearded fellow like yourself?

JG: The summer is miserably hot to shoot in a ski mask. The beard is a little more trimmed and I used to have a big full head of hair and I buzzed it for the summer. During the first week, I cut it in half and then, after the first week, "I was like, okay I can't." I hate it when actors complain about the shoot. Who cares? But it was pretty hot and I'm not making $5 million. When I used to work on Conan, actors would come on and say "We shot the scene and jumped from a helicopter into water that was so cold." Yuck. Who gives a shit? You made $10 million and you're going on TV to complain about how cold the water is?

We shot in a hospital in Queens for two days. Not a functional hospital, and it was so gross and humid in there, with no air-conditioning. Just a disgusting old hospital. But it was not that bad. It was pretty fun. Everyone's hot, our sound guy has his gear, and he's fucking dripping. But if I don't complain, no one else can complain.

DVDTalk: Any chance for crossover with other adult swim shows?

JG: I don't know too many people over there. I know some of the guys a little bit. It'd be fun to do a crossover with Children's Hospital, but it would be hard because they are in LA, but that's come up before. And it be a funny super-dumb idea. If we keep getting to do more shows than they do, it'd be kind of fun. Free trip to LA! (Laughs). Or we'll make them come to New York.

Delocated airs Monday to Friday at Midnight EST, on adult swim.

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