Dan Harmon Talks Rick & Morty and His New E-Sports Comedy

Comedy Features Dan Harmon
Dan Harmon Talks Rick & Morty and His New E-Sports Comedy

Dan Harmon is one of the busiest men in Hollywood, and it’s starting to catch up with him.

The latest season of Rick & Morty has been delayed to the point where fans began to panic and spread rumors that Harmon and his co-creator Justin Roiland had reached a breaking point in their in-fighting. Harmon recently took to Twitter, mid-hangover, to tackle the rumors—and late last month did a fantastic live-stream which we at Paste covered in detail.

The morning of the livestream, we did a quick check-in with Harmon to ask about everything else ahead in his year, including competitive videogames, brain removals and the volume level of magical footsteps.

Paste: How does it feel to be wrapped with Rick & Morty?

Dan Harmon: We were still recording some changed ADR lines this morning. But to have an air date, and to be able to announce that to an eager public feels good.

Paste: Did it feel good to clear the air about the delay rumors?

Harmon: To tweet about it? It didn’t feel good or bad—it was just a need. Because we have no one else to blame for the delay except ourselves. And I’m learning, because I’ve never been involved in something with so much reach, if something is this beloved and anticipated and there’s an information vacuum, well, it’s on you if rumors start happening. Therefore, it’s on you if loyal, wonderful fans start to feel anxiety about your show. So to tweet about it was to say the buck stops here and hey, don’t worry, I’m sorry. We created an environment that you’re hearing Justin is in a bunker in South Africa and has had his brain surgically removed and that’s placed the show in jeopardy.

Paste: Is Rick & Morty the most demanding show you’ve worked on?

Harmon: I don’t know. Community got… hours spent pacing, sleeping on sofas at the office… at its height it’s the same. There’s been more collective insistence on Rick & Morty that we might have to start over on things. It might be better than Community in terms of maximum stress levels.

Paste: How involved were you in the VR, comics, and whole expanded Rick & Morty universe?

Harmon: In general it is the very pleasing result of multiple teams of people that Adult Swim contracts and they are unparalleled in how they find people who are so thorough and content-loyal as their work is. If it was even off in the slightest, it would be so frustrating. But they’re geniuses at it. I’ll get on Twitter and see a van shaped like Rick driving across the country giving out t-shirts and ideas like that I would never even want to get in the way. Justin is determined to be the Larry Flynt of VR, and so that’s why he’s out there leading the charge on all that stuff.

Paste: Was there a moment in this season when you realized you’d spent too long on it?

Harmon: When you’re in the middle of a season you blame each episode. You blame individual children for one being naughtier than others and it keeps needing more attention than others. And then you get to the end of the season and realize you said that about every episode. And the ones that didn’t get rewarded for being nice… you realize you were maybe the bad parent emotionally abusing them and that’s why they were acting out.

Paste: What other shows are you working on?

Harmon: There’s the e-sports show coming to YouTube Red (which premieres [on August 30]). It’s called Good Game and it starts the Game Grumps as two guys who start their own e-sports team. It’s written by two Rick & Morty writers new to season three: Sarah Carbiener and Erica Rosbe. The Grumps came in and said we needed a Silicon Valley set in e-sports—and it’s this burgeoning industry where, if you were watching the invention of football, there was already an NFL amount of money in play. I can’t even play a multiplayer game, because a teenager will make me weep and they don’t care that I have an Emmy. So I went to Sarah and Erica and said “You’re much more active in competitive, league based games” so they, as a two-person team, wrote an entire season of television. It’s very serialized and follows a league of non-corporate underdogs playing in a volatile, corporate world.

Paste: What are you playing these days?

Harmon: I got a Nintendo Switch because I wanted to play Zelda because everyone was talking about that, but I really have to restart every time I play because I forget which eight buttons keep me from throwing a branch across the road while I’m trying to fight someone. The learning curve has—I’ve gotten to the age where I can’t muscle memory my way through it now. If I ever had a few free hours I’d go straight to whatever the most Skyrim thing out there would be. Just a real nice open-world RPG.

Paste: What’s on the horizon for your Dungeons & Dragons show?

Harmon: HarmonQuest season two should be coming shortly. I’m not sure about the premiere date of that but it’s better than the first season. It’s almost the exact same team back together, so it is a rare satisfaction to do more of what was working with the same people. It just gets better and more efficient. Spencer, the Game Master, who was the co-showrunner under my phantom tutelage—he just ran this season as showrunner all the way to audio mix. It’s fantastic. The work he’s done, from the work he writes to picking the volume of footsteps—he rose up and became this awesome executive producer. It’s the easiest job I’ve ever had.

Paste: Anything else ahead for you this year?

Harmon: I have a book deal that the publisher has stopped calling me about. I think it’s probably easier for them to sue me after I turn it in then to ask for their money back now. I would… like to get that delivered.

Paste: Can you let us know when the premiere date will be for season four of Rick & Morty?

Harmon: If we have it our way, it would be out six weeks after season three.

Brock Wilbur is a writer and comedian from Los Angeles who lives with his wife Vivian Kane and their cat, Cat. He is the co-author (with Nathan Rabin) of the forthcoming book Postal for the Boss Fight Books series.

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