A new hybrid series that combines animation with sketch comedy kicks off tonight. Right Now KapowÂ takes viewers through a bright, quirky, funny, fast-paced universe made up of a cast of characters singing songs, telling jokes, and generally causing comic — and sometimes cosmic — mayhem.
Consider this venture a team-up of epic proportions since it comes from Warner Bros. Animation and will be airing on Disney XD. Yes, these two superpowers have joined forces to fight the good fight and bring hilarity to the masses in the process.
“We’re definitely excited to be the show that is the first collaboration between Warner Bros. Animation and Disney XD,” said Marly Halpern-Graser, one of the executive producers and creators of Right Now Kapow. “We just happened to be developing a sketch show at the same time that Disney was looking for a sketch show and we were as surprised about it as anybody.”
HeÂ and his fellow Creator/EP, Justin Becker, told us what we need to know about Right Now Kapow.
The Origin Story
Every show has its own origin story. Right Now Kapow is no exception. Halpern-Graser and Becker met in Boston where they were both sketch performers and writers. They also worked together on Cartoon Network’s animated pop culture series, MAD. The two wanted to create something new and different, a sort of mind meld of animation and sketch comedy.
Halpern-Graser: “Really what we wanted to do with the show is take our background and interest in sketch comedy and combine it with the artistic sensibility of Devin Flynn, our supervising director, creative director, who designed all the characters and set the look for the show. And we also then hired some designers from the indie comics world. Alex Schubert and Jon Vermilyea are two of our designers. Our version of the show in our head is our sketch comedy experience and merging it with the awesome artistic and animation sensibilities of the animation and comics artists and turning that into this cool team-up of styles and tones.”
As expected, it takes time to create an episode from brainstorm to storyboard to air.
Justin Becker: “We’ve been working full time on the show in production for a year and a half. We’re completely done with storyboarding. And we’re still in the midst of the actual animation process.”
Halpern-Graser: “Essentially, when we start writing an episode, it’s done and airing on television about a year and a half later, roughly.”
An even bigger challengeÂ involvesÂ the exhausting amount of sketches the writers create.
Becker: “Because we’re doing shorter sketches, in each episode, there are between 16 and 19 sketches, so through the course of 26 episodes, we’ve done 460 sketches. When you’re watching it, so you know you’re in a different sketch, we pushed to make the character design, the background design different from sketch to sketch so you feel the change. That’s meant a tremendous amount of design work has gone into it.”
Halpern-Graser:Â “The two biggest challenges are coming up with that many ideas in the first place, and the designers designing that many different ideas. The quantity is the biggest challenge.”
Doing the bulk of the work with Becker and Halpern-Graser are three writers. Three.
Halpern-Graser: “To get 400 plus sketches approved and animated, that meant we must have at some point, gotten about 700 to show to the executives, which means the writers had to come up with over a thousand minimum to get to that 400. But they’re dead now.”
Becker: “Yeah, they died. It’s pretty sad but they’re dead. They’re completely dead.”
Halpern-Graser: “When you watch the show, as you laugh, keep in mind that three people died to bring you the comedy.”
Yet another challenge turned out to be naming the show. According to the guys, it was harder than you’d think.
Halpern-Graser: “Oh man, one thing we learned pretty quickly, is that naming a sketch comedy is sort of an odd thing. It’s not like naming a normal television show or movie because there’s no main characters, it’s different every week. So naming a sketch comedy show is more like naming a band. If you think about any band name, that name would sound pretty weird if you didn’t already know it was a famous band you like. U2 is just letters. A letter and a number. And a plane.”
Becker: “So it took a long time of combining words to get the right kind of gibberish that summed up the energy of this show.”
Music is a key component to any given episode of Right Now Kapow. Look for original songs, plus the score. For example, in the pilot, the show will explore the all-important “5 Second Rule.”
Halpern-Graser: “We try to have one song per episode. There’s definitely a few episodes where that song is just somewhat humming to themselves a little bit. In a perfect world, every episode has its five-second rule. And actually, the lyrics are written either by us or the writer of the sketch. The music itself, which we haven’t had a chance to talk to anyone about, is done by our composer Alessandro Tabora who is astounding. We’ve yet to throw a kind of song at him that he can’t write a great melody for. He also does all the scores. So all the score and the actual song is all him.Â I think, actually, the “5 Second Rule”Â was written by Devin Flynn, our supervising director, ’cause he’s also in a band and a cool musician on his own.”
Becker: “That was from the pilot and so Alessandro wasn’t on at that point. So “5Â Second Rule”Â was written by Flynn who also wrote the end credits theme song.”
The cast of Right Now Kapow includes Grace and Frankie‘s Baron Vaughn (Moon) as well as Michael Blaiklock (Dog), Alana Johnston (Candy), Kyle Kinane (Ice Cream), Emily Maya Mills (Diamond) and Betsy Sodaro (Plant).
The actors often record together as a group, which goes a long way in achieving the right chemistry and energy.
Halpern-Graser: “One of the aspects that we wanted to bring in from the world of live sketch comedy is the sort of slightly loose, slightly ad-libby feel of a bunch of actors having fun on stage together. And so sometimes the schedules don’t allow it. But,Â in a perfect world, we have all six of them in the booth recording the sketch together.”
Becker: “We’re really lucky in certain respects of the show. But in the cast, we’re really lucky. They are just so awesome. And they are so good together. I feel like anytime we’re able to get them all together and just playing around with the sketch it just turns out so much better than we could have ever hoped for.”
Halpern-Graser: “Yeah, a lot of our favorite sketches, they’re our favorite because of some element the actors brought to it that we never would have imagined was going to be there. And it just came out with them goofing around in the booth.”
The creators namedÂ a couple of their favorite sketches which are set toÂ air during the show’s first three episodes.
Becker: “Within each episode there are a few that I’m really, really excited about. I’m really excited that they put Chopper News online and Campfire online.”
Becker: “Those are two of my favorite ones. But there’s a bunch of sketches in these first ones I’m really excited about. [Today] they’re putting another one online that is one of my favorites from these first three: Harlem Bowl Trotters. I’m really excited for that one to be online.”
Halpern-Graser: “Yeah, there’s one shot in that specifically that if the fans don’t turn into a Gif and put it online themselves, I’m just going to have to do it because I desperately want it to be online as a Gif.”
Right Now Kapow premieres tonight on Disney XD at 9/8c. New episodes follow tomorrow night and Wednesday.
Campfire Scary Story
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