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"Lucy, Daughter of the Devil" - Loren Bouchard (2007) Print
Written by Patrick Douglas   
Friday, 24 August 2007

Image    Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Satan’s spawn was a normal woman in her mid-‘20s just trying to make it like the rest of us?

    In the new Cartoon Network “Adult Swim” show “Lucy, Daughter of the Devil,” that’s exactly what’s going on. Creator Loren Bouchard talked about the new show Friday, August 24, 2007, from San Francisco.


Hello?

Can I speak to Loren?

Speaking.

Hey, man. This is Patrick Douglas, how are you doing?

Good, how are you doing?

Pretty good. Where you at today?

In our little studio here in sunny San Francisco.

What are you guys doing?

What are we doing? Just cartoons.

Doing what you do (laughs).

Yep. Making cartoons. The silliest job in America.

I’m in Montana.

Whoa.

Now, did you guys air the pilot for this show back in October of last year?

Yes, I believe we did or maybe even the year before. (laughs). Pilot’s been done for awhile.

ImageWere you guys planning on showing the pilot and then taking a year or two to actually become a full fledged show or did that happen accidentally?

That happened by accident. That’s not a bad way to develop a show in terms of being creative, but it’s a really bad way to manage your career and a bad way to make a living so it definitely was not the plan. But, you know, sometimes you can get slowed down with things and this happened for various reasons, none of which are that interesting. It’s unfortunate, but in the end, I just kind of gloss over it now. It’s just two years, no big deal. Kind of like doing time, you know. I’m out now. That’s all that counts (laughs).

It’s only a month ‘til the show’s in full swing. What are your thoughts as it’s about to hit?

Oh, god. I can never, ever want to try to predict how people are gonna react to a show. Not just a show that I’ve done, but any show. I feel like I’m really bad at that. I’d be a bad network executive. I’m thrilled if … let me put it this way, all I’ve been able to manage in my career is to make stuff that a very small number of people would seem to like. That is plenty for me. It may not be the match number in terms of ratings, but as far as personal satisfaction, that is all can ever hope for. I’ve met some of these ‘Home Movies’ fans and it’s just a pleasure. It kind of renews your commitment to doing this even though, like I said, it’s a silly job to make cartoons. We sort of take whatever small encouragement that you can. Having this one go out and having people see it is gonna be satisfying in the same way and I can only hope that enough people will wanna watch it that Adult Swim will pick it up.

So, what you’re saying is you kind of like being in a cult status where people follow your shows in a cult setting?

I just have known nothing else. I’d love to have a hit show, but I just don’t know what it would take, what it would look like. It’s just so forth. We were doing ‘Dr. Katz,’ on Comedy Central in the ‘90s, I don’t know if you ever watched the show, but it had it’s charms and we were very proud of it, but we were at a time when Comedy Central was growing their own identity and stuff. We felt like we were very successful, we were picked up for five seasons, six seasons, we got some critical attention and then ‘South Park’ came out and everyone, the network and us, were like ‘oh, that’s what a hit looks like. That’s what a network wants.’ It just redefined everything. We realized we were so nothing. We were just this little oddity. We may as well have been on at three in the morning on cable access. Again, it was fine. It’s not like we were complaining. We had a show that we were happy with. But it is funny when you realize the scale. A real hit show is just a totally different monster.

There’s something really different and unique about Adult Swim. Take Brendon’s show, ‘Metalocalypse.’ That show is huge and has a massive following, but it still has a cult following. The people that watch it think it’s a secret that only they know about.

Yeah. (laughs).

ImageIt seems like a lot of Adult Swim’s shows are like that.

I agree. I agree. It’s, I think, one of the nice things about cable. I wouldn’t wanna, I wouldn’t turn down an opportunity necessarily, but I wouldn’t seek out an opportunity to do a show for a big broadcast network because it’d be to hard to conceive of that large an audience. There’s too many people. Too many different ideas. If you have this very focused thing and you just know that there’s a couple hundred people (laughs) out there or god willing a couple thousand that are gonna dig it, then it’s a much more comfortable position. You can just relax and do your job.

Tell me about this first season and how are you looking forward to it knowing that it’s gonna finally be on TV?

It’s premiering September 9th and they’re gonna launch, not with the pilot again, but with the next episode. You probably got a screener? You got the first two episodes or something?

Yep.

We’re gonna launch with ‘Escapeoke’ and then run ‘em in order that we sort of wrote ‘em in. Then, I think once they get to the reruns, they’ll play the pilot again. It’s gonna be part of the rotation, but we didn’t wanna launch with it because, again, for those few people out there that are looking forward to this show, it seems like pretty shitty to just put the pilot on again. Let’s have the premiere really be a premiere. That’s what we were going for. We have a nice little season. It’s ten episodes that will air all in a row. It’s ten weeks and will be all premieres. I don’t know, I guess my feeling is that I want it to feel like these little events. I want it to feel like these little movies. We’re doing a different open for each show, I don’t know if that came across in the press package. Each episode has a little co-open and then a little unique theme song with unique graphics.

I noticed that on the two episodes I saw.

It’s gonna be like that every episode. It turned out to be obviously a little bit of work, but they’re sort of low-fi and goofy. For me, I just love that when you’re watching James Bond or whatever. It’s a series, but it’s also a movie. That unique little theme song is kind of our way of making each one, rather than a sitcom, like ‘here you go, here’s your favorite characters and they’re sitting on the couch just like you left ‘em last week,’ hopefully this feels a little more like these 11-minute movies that happen to have these kind of characters across all of them.

How challenging is it to have a whole story, beginning to end, in only 11 minutes.

I’ve come to really like it. I didn’t know if I would like it or not. I’ve only done half hours, which are 22 minutes. This has ended up being really a pleasure. It’s kind of like, you can craft each moment a little bit more ‘cause you sort of focus your attention a little more. We each tried to have as much going on as you’d have in a half hour, but kind of cram it in and craft it and finesse almost each frame in some ways to try to maximize and stuff as much stuff in there as we can. But, without having it be confusing or crazy. The downside is you get to the end a little quickly. You’ve gotta kind of wrap it up. It’s like ‘ok, and then it blows up and credits.’ That can be sometimes funny and certainly on Adult Swim, the audience, they already get it. They know. They’ve absorbed that format completely, I think. You can sort of roll with it. I’m hoping it doesn’t feel anti-climactic. We’re working on that.

It can be a negative too, I mean everyone always says every SNL skit is always a minute too long. By wrapping it up quicker, maybe that’s actually a better formula.

Yeah. That’s funny, you raise a good one. There’s no question that when people have seen the pilot and said ‘that should be a half-hour,’ I take that as a compliment and not necessarily as a complaint. I feel like that’s to your point. I think that’s exactly right. It leaves people wanting more, but it’s not so bad. That’s good. That means they’ll come back next week or whatever.

ImageRight. Where did you come up with the idea for this show?

I was watching “Damien: Omen II.” Remember this movie?

Yeah. I’ve got a quick story about that. My son was born on June 5 of last year …

Nice. Congratulations.

He was a day away from being a 6-6-6 baby and we were thinking we’d almost have to name him Damien.

Yeah, that would’ve been awesome. (laughs). Somebody must’ve right. In this big country of ours, somebody’s son was born on 6-6-6 and they must have named ‘em Damien. We’ve gotta find that kid. Yeah, well, as you know, this was several years ago. I was watching the middle of the day, I guess I was thinking of ideas but I didn’t know I was and that just struck me as such a funny and goofy premise. That they took Damien in the second movie and made him a teenager and he’s like going to military academy and he finds out who he is and there’s scenes where he’s like ‘father!!!’ (screams) and I thought that was so great, so I just pitched that. I have a relationship with them, with Mike Lazzo and I said ‘you should make ‘Damien: Omen II’ the cartoon.’ And he said, ‘you know, that’s pretty funny, we’ll check and see if we can get the rights.’ And he called me back a week later and said it’s Universal’s or somebody’s, I don’t know, whoever owns it, it’s not part of the Time Warner family, so how ‘bout something like that, but not that? It wasn’t too terribly hard to think of the daughter of the devil. Then we decided to make her a little bit older. Not a teenager, but like a twenty-something. That was it. It was very organic. Then Lazzo also had the idea to make Jesus (pronounced HEY-zoos) a character. I wouldn’t have made that leap by myself. I was just ready to make this straight-up spoof of a religious girl, but he thought it’d be funny if there was a character in there who was Jesus, but not Jesus. My only insight that I added was, can we make him a DJ? Which was so dumb to me.

Just after seeing the two episodes on the advance, I love it. It’s almost like Satan and his daughter have this demented ‘Cosby Show’ relationship.

Yeah.

Obviously, the show, the way you just explained it, when I first watched it, I wondered if it was a show meant to make light of a subject that many people take seriously, which is religion.

It’s accidental. I don’t have a bitter Catholic upbringing that I’m fighting against or something like that. Ultimately, it’s fun to push buttons. It’s like, the devil’s a great character because culturally, he’s got a little bit of heat. You talk about the devil and it starts getting people, I don’t know, it’s got a little ‘umph.’ That’s true across the board. You throw a guy in there, like this Jesus character and if you start making Biblical references, then it just gives the whole thing a little bit of bottom. You know what I mean? It sort of fake depth. That, to me, is much more interesting then whether I’m trying to tweak somebody’s religiosity or whatever. That I kind of leave to others. I’ll never be a social satirist. I’ll never have the chops. ‘South Park,’ they’re so good at it, why would I even try? For me, it’s fun to have these kind of cultural icons that have a little resonance to them. So, when you’re watching this cartoon, then all of a sudden, it can sort of feel a little bit bigger. That also goes towards these movies. They’re so goofy. This idea of … I like the ‘Exorcist,’ it’s a little less goofy, but ‘The Omen,’ is such a dopy and funny premise and so, I don’t know, I get a huge thrill out of any story that’s got a little zip to it. A lot of those, these days, you throw religion in there … it’s kind of like sex and violence. Religion’s just another vein that runs through everything that can really get people to pay attention.

Although so many people are scared to tackle that issue because you’re gonna bring up the people that get offended by religious satire more easily than those offended by other categories.

Yeah. Again, because I’m working for Adult Swim and it’s for basic cable and I’m really inoculated from that, so I don’t have to worry about it. Or at least, to the extent that I do, it’s a good thing. Adult Swim doesn’t care if they piss people off. That’s part of what their audience expects. So, my job is to get a little edgier.

How fun is it coming up with satirical references to religious figures and their adventures? Like showing DJ Jesus surrounded by a film crew made up to look like the last supper (laughs).

It’s a blast. It’s so fun. And also, I get to look at the Bible, which I’ve done so little of in my life and I’m embarrassed to say I get a lot of my Bible research through Wikipedia.

Hey, whatever works.

Yeah. It’s really amazing how quick and easy that is. I’m embarrassed to say it’s easier than picking up an actual Bible.

It’s just an encyclopedia that you can access with your keyboard.

Exactly.

ImageTell me a little about the art direction of this tune because it’s very unique.

I work very closely with this company called Fluid and they’re a really interesting shop here in San Francisco. They’re a CG house. Primarily. Their founder’s a guy from Pixar, a guy named Seth Piezas. He’s a high-end CG guy. They can do commercials and they can do effects for movies and I came to him with this very humbly, sort of, ‘well, I have this little low budget thing, would you be interested?’ and they were and we have worked together ever since. They were instrumental in coming up with the look and the feel and I’m just really, really proud of it. I think it looks like nothing else. To the extent where it doesn’t even look like CG. That’s also on purpose. You almost can’t tell how it was made. Is it stop motion, is that CG, is it 2-D, is it flat? We’re really going for that and then also just have it not look cheap. Our budgets are very low, but none of us are ironic, like angry … we’re not trying to tear down TV, like get it? It’s so bad it’s good. Everything’s very earnest. We really wanted it to look pretty. We wanted it to look really iconic and fun to look at. We wanted the backgrounds to be gorgeous. It’s just been really nice to work with people who wanna make it look good. That’s really hard. It’s a real challenge I should say. It’s not a bad challenge, it’s just a fun limitation to have this low budget. It means you have to have a fast schedule and small teams, but it’s a real pleasure. We craft each frame.

Every cartoon starts out that way. Look at old ‘Simpsons,’ or ‘Beavis & Butthead’ or even old ‘South Park,’ you can see they had a low budget too, but nobody noticed it when it was first airing.

Yeah and sometimes they looked even better, I think.

Right. I also gotta say, I got a huge kick out of the karaoke CD that came with the press kit. I love it.

Great.

I’ve always said that karaoke is spawned from the devil and this just sort of backs up my theory.

Yeah. You’re ahead of the game on that. That’s great.

‘The Stroke’ is my favorite for sure.

Are you a Billy Squier fan.

No. The song on there that you guys did just had me giggling.

Oh good.

Who’s singing on those tracks?

It’s all Benjamin. Or maybe, I’m on that cover of ‘Gloria,’ but basically Benjamin’s voice is the one I’m interested in. Jon Benjamin is the devil. Just the idea that the devil wants to sing strikes me as really funny and it comes directly from the fact that Jon Benjamin, the actor, loves to sing. He’s not bad, but he’s not good either and I just think it’s a wonderful thing. I just get a huge kick out of it. And that falsetto that he does makes me laugh. It never doesn’t seem funny to me. We did ‘Maneater,’ obviously that way, for the original pilot. Since then, I just try to figure out ways to work it in. He also has this incredible deep voice that he can do, like this sort of Johnny Cash and he’s got his rock and roll voice. I’ve just been having fun thinking of different ways to use him. Every once in a while I’ll try to do his falsetto as a backup singer, or if I can’t get access to him, I’ll do it. So, we do all the music here and have him sing to it in New York.

I have a radio show on public radio and I was thinking of playing some songs off of it on my next show.

Oh, would you? That’d be great.

Yeah, and I’ll tell people about the show. I just crack up thinking about people driving down the road with karaoke versions of ‘Feel Like Making Love’ blasting on their speakers (laughs).

Wait till you see how we’re using those in later episodes, because they’re not all karaoke. Some of them are sort of woven into the story in slightly stranger ways.

Awesome. There’s a definite ode to popular ‘80s music in this show. What’s your musical background and what can people expect to hear as season one unfolds?

I’m a child of the ‘80s, and also the ‘80s, that’s the devil’s music. You’ll see that a lot. We got lucky with a publisher who has the rights to those songs, so we didn’t have to spend a lot of money and we didn’t have to negotiate with the artists themselves. We had this one package deal where the publisher controlled 100-percent of the rights in terms of, they could say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ so we had this little bouquet of songs and they had a larger catalog and we plucked those out, I should say. When I found out I had Billy Squier, I was so happy because I just always wanted to cover ‘In The Dark’ or ‘My Kind of Lover,’ and the ‘Friend of the Devil’ is incredibly perfect, we had to do that. Then ‘Feel Like Making Love’ was actually the clincher. When I saw that in their catalog, that’s not from the ‘80s, but I was like so happy. I love that song. I love Roberta Flack. I love the electric piano. Everything was perfect and I knew exactly how I wanted it to sound. I knew the devil should sit down and play that he’s really Roberta Flack in a little club and we had Benjamin do it really close to the mike, like super intimate (breathes into the phone while he talks). I’m just so happy. That was it. Once I saw that, I knew we had to make the deal with those guys and just go with their little package of songs. I would do this all day long. I think crappy covers are so much fun and I know I’m not the only one. It’s such a pleasure to butcher a song that everyone knows and if it sounds like the devil doing it on his Casio keyboard for his own pleasure, that just seems even funnier. When we were playing around with the pilot, I was hoping to get the rights to ‘Relax,’ by Frankie Goes To Hollywood. He was gonna play that really badly, like ‘Relax, go do it. Phew’ (sings into the phone) like little lazer sounds. Then we had ‘Maneater’ in there. What was another one? I was trying to get The Cars. The bad news is, it’s really expensive to do that kind of stuff and it’s really hard to do it on TV. It’s kind of a miracle that we got all these tracks, considering what our budget is. It’s extraordinary. My music supervisor said she’s never seen a deal like this, so we really got lucky and it’s gonna be hard to duplicate (laughs). But I look forward to it. We’ll figure out a way ‘cause it seems so funny to have this music just kind of bubble up throughout the series.

ImageIt’s definitely a great addition to it. I’m also a child of the ‘80s. I don’t know how kids will react to that kind of music, but I know my wife and myself, when we hear that stuff being spoofed, there’s something hilarious about it.

Yeah. I know. It’s like somehow we need to have the devil do Duran Duran songs. I don’t know how we’re gonna do it, but I agree.

I appreciate the conversation Loren and I wish you good luck in this endeavor.

Thank you very much. We’ll need it.

Yeah. Hopefully we don’t have to wait two more years to see season two.

Yeah. No kidding.

Talk to you later.

Bye.

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