Interview with Regular Show creator J. G. Quintel

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Photo by Jeremy Goldberg

Regular Show is an animated series on Cartoon Network about friends who happens to be a Blue Jay, a raccoon and a gumball machine. From the episodes I’ve seen, the show is anything but regular. Check out our interview with creator J. G. Quintel as he talks about the show, 80s movies and cartoons.

John “Spartan” Nguyen (Nerd Reactor): How’s it going?

J. G. Quintel: Pretty good, pretty good. How are you?

Nerd Reactor: I’m doing good. I originally wanted one of my writers who is a big fan of the Regular Show to do the interview with you, but they weren’t available, so you’re going to have to deal with me. I’ve only seen like three episodes.

J. G. Quintel: That’s OK.

Nerd Reactor: How long has the Regular Show been out?

J. G. Quintel: It has been out for, oh geez, I guess we started airing in September of 2010, so, almost a little over three years I guess.

Nerd Reactor: So a lot of our fans have been asking, why is it called Regular Show when there’s a lot of weird stuff happening?

J. G. Quintel: Well, because when you really watch it and listen to the way the characters talk, they really just talk like regular people, even though it’s a Blue Jay, a gumball machine and a raccoon, they still treat each other like regular people, just like how you would talk to your friends, and so that’s kind of why it’s Regular Show.

Nerd Reactor: The episode I saw was the one where they’re fighting over whoever gets to use the computer. To do that, they play a game of basketball. I was like, “Wow.” That was my introduction to the show, and then they look at the moon and it opens up and turns into a basketball with a magical basketball beam popping out.

J. G. Quintel: Yeah man, they got basketball.

Nerd Reactor: How do you come up with this stuff?

J. G. Quintel: Well, we always start from a mundane place; so for instance, fighting for the right to use the computer. I’m sure everybody’s dealt with needing computer time at some point or another, and in Regular Show we tend to take those really normal, everyday events and then take it to somewhere really surreal. So it started off with a game of basketball for the computer, but then they kind of go so nuts about it that the god of basketball shows up to train them and help them win this match of basketball for the computer. It’s really funny when it gets so out of control at the end over something so mundane at the beginning.

Nerd Reactor: Yeah.

J. G. Quintel: I think that’s what most of the episodes end up doing.

Nerd Reactor: It’s so out there, so crazy, so ludicrous that it’s funny.

J. G. Quintel: You’ll be really excited. You’ve only seen three? You’ve got over a hundred episodes to catch up on.

Nerd Reactor: I know!

J. G. Quintel: Well another part of it kind of was, I mean, when I originally thought of it, I was like, “Maybe I’ll call it Weird Show.” But I thought it sounded lame, and it was too on the nose. I was also thinking Normal Show. But that didn’t sound right either. Normal Show sounded better, but I also kind of liked it because when you’re talking about shows you like to watch, a lot of people call those their regular shows. And so I figure Regular Show would be something people would want to watch on a regular basis.

Just because I’m on this right now, there is something fun about having restraints. You’re not allowed to say whatever you want and we have things that we work into the shows where it’s a little bit more aged up than would be in typical cartoons for kids. And it forces us to try to be a little more clever, ’cause we can’t just come out and say it, you know what I mean? I feel like doing an Adult Swim show would be cool in the sense that you just kinda have free reign to say and do whatever you want, but at the same time, it is kind of nice to have the challenge to make it just as entertaining but without those things.

Nerd Reactor: That is true, like when you think of doing more adult-oriented humor, like, “Let’s do some fart, dick jokes and all that.”

J. G. Quintel: Yeah. I mean, maybe some day in the future that would be cool, but for now, we’re still trying to get through just a regular season, which is hard enough as it is. Two of my favorites actually are the Big Trouble in Little China reference – those are sprinkled all throughout the show, actually. If you can find them. The Wizard is another really good one. I remember watching that movie a ton as a kid. There’s references to Bloodsport.

Nerd Reactor: Oh my God, I have to watch it now.

J. G. Quintel: There are references to Rushmore, references to – I mean there are tons. It’s really hard to keep up with it all because, if you look at it, it’s all peppered through the show. It’s not a direct thing of the movie, it’s just taking inspiration from it, you know, leading into our stories. If you saw it in the ’80s, chances are there could be something like that in Regular Show.

Nerd Reactor: Oh wow. So the show is definitely for people who grew up in the ’80s and would definitely enjoy it?

J. G. Quintel: Oh yeah. I think that’s why it’s like – you know, now people who grew up in the ’80s are starting to have kids. They can watch it with their kids and still enjoy it. We really try to make a show that plays for adults just as well as it does for younger kids, that you can watch together laugh at it. There are so many cartoons for kids that adults can’t get through those.

Nerd Reactor: That’s true.

J. G. Quintel: It’s hard to sit through it, you know? So we try to make it a little more palatable and funny for everybody.

Nerd Reactor: It’s funny, I was just listening to a radio station recently. The topic that came up on the radio was about bronies for My Little Pony.

J. G. Quintel: Yeah.

Nerd Reactor: And the topic was like, “Are people too grown up to watch a kids’ cartoon?”

J. G. Quintel: I actually don’t think so anymore. Cartoons have been around for so long now that pretty much everybody grew up with them. If you enjoyed them as a kid, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy them as an adult. It just depends on if the stories can hold your interest. I’ve gone back to watch cartoons that I really liked growing up as a kid, but then you watch them as an adult, and you’re like, “Ah, man this is horrible!” But then there are other things you watch growing up that still hold up even when you get older. So I try to make stuff like that.

Nerd Reactor: What are some examples of cartoons you used to watch that are bad now?

J. G. Quintel: Oh my gosh, let’s see. I remember really liking stuff like GI Joe and Transformers. I think looking back now, when I’ve watched those episodes, they were just really cool. They were like really cool toys and my friends had the toys and they were so cool. Sometimes even just the theme song was what you really liked to tune in for. The theme song ends up burned into peoples brains ’cause it’s the first thing you hear when you watch it, but then you kind of go back and watch them after the fact, and you’re like, “No, it’s kind of boring.”

Nerd Reactor: Yeah. I tried watching Transformers again, and some of the stuff was just really cheesy. For example, there was an episode where Starscream would get mad at some human and slap them. I thought that was funny. Instead of shooting his weapons, he decides to bitch slap this human.

J. G. Quintel: That is pretty funny.

Nerd Reactor: But then like for now, Transformers: The Movie still holds up for me. The animated movie, that is.

J. G. Quintel: Yeah, the original animated movie?

Nerd Reactor: Yeah.

J. G. Quintel: They had some amazing animation in it too. It was really well done.

Nerd Reactor: What are some cartoons that hold up today for you?

J. G. Quintel: One of my favorites was Rocko’s Modern Life. They’re still pretty funny [the episodes]. They’re good. So it can totally work. The same thing with movies. There are tons of movies from the ’80s I remember watching over and over, like Goonies. I can still watch that. It’s still a good movie.

Nerd Reactor: Oh yeah. I still have to watch that though.

J. G. Quintel: Oh, you haven’t?

Nerd Reactor: I have not seen it. Oh, my guys, they give me flak for not watching that yet.

J. G. Quintel: As they should.

Nerd Reactor: I know.

J. G. Quintel: Watch it.

Nerd Reactor: I have it on Blu-ray, it’s just sitting right there, just waiting for me to pop it in.

J. G. Quintel: Hey, it’s gonna look so good. You gotta get caught up on all this stuff.

Nerd Reactor: I know. Well, first I gotta get caught up on the Regular Show.

J. G. Quintel: Yes, that’s the first thing to do.

Regular Show is currently airing Mondays at 7/6c on Cartoon Network.

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