With the second season of “Teen Titans Go!” giving viewers a regular dose of belly laughs as part of Cartoon Network‘s DC Nation block, the cast and crew of the show dropped in on Comic-Con International to share stories and interact with fans.
Producers Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic spoke with the press on the last day of the convention, discussing the importance of comics for kids and bathroom songs. The pair also get slightly philosophical about the series’ ‘theory of comedy’ and discuss plans to go meta for an episode exploring what happens when you grow up and expect your favorite things to grow with you, while sharing a few tidbits about upcoming episodes.
Their thoughts on the “Teen Titans Go!” comic being one of few all-ages comics DC Comics has:
Michael Jelenic: We have no comment on the appropriateness of the current “Teen Titans” comic.
Aaron Horvath: I personally love all the comics and all the properties of DC Comics and Warner Bros.
Jelenic: We support everything they do. Uh, that said — [both laugh] It is nice that we have some superhero characters made for children, which is a crazy concept. We’re gonna do an episode — I’m pitching this episode, it’s not been written — but it’s going to be about how people look at comic characters. They grow up with comic characters and they’re like 40-years-old and they still want to [be marketed to with] these comic characters that were meant for them as children, because they don’t move on to other things. Which is fine, I don’t mind that, but then they degrade children-based [things] — so we’re going to do that, but we’re going to do that with clowns instead. So the Teen Titans — Cyborg and Beast Boy — remember they really like clowns. They’re going to say, “Let’s go get a clown for our birthday.” And they have a clown, but it’s not the clown they remember.
Horvath: They hate this clown. It’s a different clown, and they’re going to boo him.
â€¨Jelenic. So they’re going to sort of spend the rest of the episode trying to make the clown a more adult-friendly, Frank Miller clown, so they could enjoy it.
I don’t mind making the comic characters [grim] — I think it’s cool, but then the flip-side of it is that I think it’s insane where people attack anything that’s for a kid’s audience. It’s like, “Wait a second, these are essentially characters in tights.” There’s nothing realistic about this scenario at all, it’s all fantastical. There should be a place for comics for kids.
On their personal favorite episodes or songs viewers will experience in the second season:
Jelenic: We have — this is how stupid we are — we have an episode about a bathroom.
Horvath: Oh yeah, this is good.
Jelenic: It starts off with some characters — they have to use the bathroom. And a creative exec came to us and said, “By the way, having characters stand outside a bathroom, needing to go, is never, ever funny.”
Horvath: Never funny.
Jelenic: Never funny, so don’t do it.
Horvath: “On any show I’ve ever been on, it’s never funny.”
Jelenic: Never funny. And we took that as a challenge. [Laughs] So we extended the whole moment to super, super long proportions. We put a musical number in there about holding your pee, and that actually is my favorite song. So look for it in the episode called —
Horvath: It’s called “Serious Business.”
Jelenic: “Serious Business” — ’cause that’s what happens in the bathroom.
Horvath: Serious business.
Jelenic: It’s also a magical place.
Horvath: As we come to learn.
Jelenic: Yeah, Robin comes to learn — he thinks the bathroom, you should just be in and out in five minutes.
Horvath: It’s just a place to wash your filthy body.
Jelenic: But, in fact, the bathroom is a magical place and we will learn why it’s magical. And [it has] one of the most special endings in “Teen Titans Go!”
Horvath: Very special.
Jelenic: If that ending doesn’t make you cry —
Horvath: I don’t know —
Both: You don’t have a heart.
Jelenic: You don’t have a heart. Or you don’t have a bathroom.
Horvath: Well said.
On the “Teen Titans Go!” Theory of Comedy:
Jelenic: Do you think we displayed any bits of humor while sitting here? [Laughs] We have no theory. I don’t know, we’re both pretty stupid, right?
Horvath: Yeah, that’s fair to say.
â€¨Jelenic: One thing we both despise, we both despise borrowing comedy. We see that all the time. People taking comedy from other shows and putting it in their show and passing it off [as] their own. Animation is the worst offender. People are still doing these Chuck Jones gags — like, “Oh, look, a pretty girl walks by, the eyes come out.” That’s not Chuck Jones, but —
Horvath: I know what you’re talking about.
â€¨Jelenic: But it’s the same gags for sixty years. That’s called stealing! We want to just do something different, even if it seems like it’s not well thought out or it doesn’t seem like we’re trying. Our goal is actually to do something new and interesting. Occasionally we do steal, subconsciously mostly.
Horvath: Yeah, it’s always accidental.
â€¨Jelenic: Accidental thievery. Mostly, we’re like, let’s do something that isn’t a cliche already which is — it’s really easy [to steal]. We have to do like 104 episodes, so it’s really easy to borrow from other sources. But we just rely on what makes us laugh and try to do stupid stuff. I always tell everyone, our theory is, “Be stupid.” Don’t try to make smart comedy. I don’t want to hear cleaver word play.
Horvath: That’s what really kills us. For me, personally, it’s cartoons that have to have a morality tale shoehorned in, and cartoons that rely way too heavily on verbal humor bum me out. I like to see people get hit in the face, sometimes in the genitals. Also funny: People falling out of windows —
Jelenic: Sometimes funny? Always funny.
â€¨Horvath: Depends on the genitals. Ninety-nine percent of the time, you’re gonna get a laugh.
So, no episode based on “The Viper Is Coming?”
Horvath: I did want to do that, actually! We did an episode about campfire stories, and that’s one of those spooky stories that turns out to be a joke.
Jelenic: Oh, really?
â€¨Horvath: Yeah. You know about The Viper?
Horvath: It’s a little racist against Eastern Europeans, I think.
Jelenic: Is it? We did an episode, by the way, around — because we have them all around telling campfire stories — does anyone know the campfire story, “I got you where I want you, now I’m going to eat you”? Anybody remember this? We reprise this famous story, but we actually did, “If the log rolls over, we’ll all be dead.”
We were asked not to do this one — look this up if you don’t know it. We recorded it and everything. It’s a campfire story Beast Boy is telling, and he kills it, hilarious. We had to do a slightly different version of it. That is one place we borrow from, anything that sort of reminds me of my childhood I’ll sort of throw in there too. The stuff I get a kick out of or experienced.