Loren Bouchard

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Gordon Downs | September 7, 2007

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Loren Bouchard’s resume is a brief but hefty list which includes production credits for Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, although most fans will recognize his name as the co-creator of the [adult swim] hit from 1999-2004, Home Movies. His latest creation is a computer animated series for [adult swim] aptly titled Lucy, Daughter of the Devil. Set in current day San Francisco, the series follows Lucy, the twenty-one year old daughter of Satan, and the relationship between her new boyfriend DJ Jesus (pronounced HEY-soos), and her always present father, Satan. I was fortunate to get Loren to sit down for a round of Q & A, and got him to reveal just why it is that he happens to be such a serial monogamist, and what it’s like working with [adult swim] over the past nine years.

I was doing some research on the Lucy, and apparently this show was put together back in 2005?

Loren Bouchard: Yeah, I have to figure out a good way to tell this story. It’s kind of like a little bit of everything happened. I thought it was a great pilot, and I was expecting to roll right into production just because I figured, it was strong enough to take a shot on. But [adult swim] wanted to develop it a little bit. And I agreed, so we sort of went into; like kind of tweaking it a little. And then I dunno, it was like, between normal development, and some sort of sloppy execution on my part, it took awhile, it took a lot longer than it should have to get to the series. I guess it’s not a very interesting story, but I guess it’s the best way I can say it. It was kind of a rocky romance for a little while there. We were never fighting creatively, it was always a pretty smooth project through developing the show, so that [adult swim] were more comfortable with it and I was still happy with it.

So how many episodes do you already have in the bag for this season?

Ten.

Ten? That’s gonna be nice.

Ya know, more would be even nicer.

It seems like lately, especially with [adult swim] programming, and other various alternative animation programming; that a series can pop up for one or two seasons, and that’ll be it. They’ll move on to the next project.

Yeah, this thing is built for distance. I feel like it has legs, and it would be really fun to spin it out over a bigger order. Getting twenty [episodes] for the next season wouldn’t be a bad thing, and see where you can go with it. It feels like a big world, you know what I mean? Some shows I think are sort of closer to sketches, some [adult swim] shows, you know what I mean? They’re more like a sketch on Saturday Night Live, or something like that. So those shows, like if I was doing one of those I could imagine feeling a little claustrophobic and kinda being, “No, let’s do ten and then let’s so something else!” But for [Lucy] it really was built to be a deep and wide kind of world where we could just keep going back to all of these horror clichés and all of these kind of family sort of dynamic things and just kind of go and go.

It seems like the relationship between Jesus and Satan is a pretty amicable one; from what I’ve seen so far they always seem to end up hanging out.

Those two characters have this great thing where they’re supposed to be enemies but they kind of get along really well.

Will there be a lot of parables from the bible in the series, or is that just a smattering of what you’re going to touch upon?

We’re trying to have like a little bit of that sort of sprinkled around, to keep the basic “religious horror thing” locked in. I’m not trying to take the piss out of the Catholic Church or whatever, but once you have these characters you can’t resist. It’s just like you gotta. And you end up wanting to just play with that. So we have the Pope come in the finale, the Pope makes an appearance, stuff like that. It’s just so rich.

Who’s the voice of the Pope, and is it the old Pope or new Pope?

New Pope, and he nailed it. He sounds very German. It’s the same guy who does “DJ Jesus” it’s an actor named Jon Glaser.

It seems like you work with a very specific crew of comedians that stem from Home Movies?

All these people I’ve been working with for a long, long time. I’ve worked with Jon Benjamin my entire career. He was on Dr. Katz and then Home Movies which are the two other shows I have on my resume. And Holly Schlesinger and I have been working together almost as long. She started working for me when we were still doing Dr. Katz. She was interning, basically still getting her degree at Boston University. So I’ve known her since Boston.

So where is all this religion coming from? Is the humor based in Judaism or Catholicism?

I was not really religious. My mother was Jewish and my father was Catholic, so they canceled each other out. I think in a lot of ways, the religious stuff just comes when you start spoofing the Omen movies, then it was Mike Lazzo’s idea to add a Jesus character. He hit that right at the beginning. I was sort of thinking this as a spoof of The Omen, and he said, “Ya gotta have Jesus in there.” And my only thought was, “Can he be a DJ?” I don’t know why, but that just seemed so silly and absurd. So that was the extent of our conversation about it. But I owe it to [adult swim] for that kind of particular part of the formula, because I would’ve been too timid to go there. But once you put [Jesus] in, then you have to play with him and figure out, how much does he think he’s Jesus? The bad news is it’s not a good story, because I’m not reacting against my Catholic upbringing. My Dad was raised Catholic, and for a little while he was in a Catholic school where the nuns were really scary. He said they were terrifying, so we do have this assassin nun character.

So what else have you been working on, or have you been focused solely on Lucy?

Yeah pretty much, I’m sort of a serial monogamist. Like I’ll do one show, when I should be developing multiple projects. So I kinda went broke in this last couple of years, just staying focused on Lucy, but I just decided to put every last ounce of energy into getting the thing picked up. And it just ended up taking two years.

Do you spilt your time between Frisco, New York and Atlanta or how does that go?

Yeah, all the actors are in New York, because I was living in New York when I created it, so I cast it based on geography. I mean they’re also all of my friends, but it was especially sort of appealing to me, to not have to fly anybody anywhere and to be able to just get everyone together relatively easy in a studio at one time. Because that’s something I should say; let me sidetrack for a second. I am religious about getting actors to be in the same room with each other, or to be interacting with each other live. I think there’s a lot of animation out there, and I don’t know the extent of it or what the percentage is, but there’s a lot; and at the highest levels all the way down to the low budget stuff like I do, where they get the actors reading their lines by themselves, because it’s an easier schedule. So you have a script and Patton Oswalt’s this guy and somebody else is this guy, and so you book Patton Oswalt and he reads his lines and you get a bunch of different takes and maybe he improvises, and then you get the other guy, and he reads his lines and you cut it together. And to me, that is losing one of the most fun parts of the whole thing, fun to work on and fun for the audience, which is to hear the actors getting a kick out of each other or getting into a squabble with each other, or like, interacting for real and not just in a booth by themselves with a script. So I cast the pilot as an ensemble troupe that was going to be in one place in New York City. It happened to be that we recorded in a studio that was downstairs from my apartment which was really nice. And then I moved to San Francisco sort of pursuing the animation side of it, so now when we do voiceovers, I do split my time. I fly out back to New York and get them back together in the same studio.

Do you ever have to go down to Atlanta that often?

Yeah a little bit. It’s a pleasure to go and they’ve had some really good parties and stuff. They’re really unique, truly making this up as they go along and have a real authentic thing going on. I find myself thinking that their success is irrelevant. You know what I mean? Like the fact that they’re doing well and number one in the time slots with their demographic or however success is measured for cable channels? I feel like ultimately it’s totally unrelated to how they program. They just put out stuff that they think is funny or fucked up, or so stupid they feel compelled to put it on. So I’m really impressed by them, even when I can’t deliver exactly what they want, I kind of respect them, or even if I don’t like everything that they put on I still kind of respect it.

It seems like [adult swim] really has their finger on the pulse of what’s happening.

Yeah, I feel that way too, though I never trust my own instincts about the pulse, or my finger, or how I could ever get my finger anywhere near the pulse, or if I would recognize it even if I did? So I don’t feel authorized to even judge whether anyone else has their finger on the pulse. But I believe that you probably do, and I take your word for it.

I would say that you have a good idea of what’s funny and what’s quality, especially with the music that’s featured on Lucy. Did you do all the songs by yourself?

Myself and a musician named John Keith, with Jon Benjamin singing of course. Benjamin has this falsetto that drifts off pitch routinely, and just seems like one of the funniest things in the world to me. So we decided early on to feature that, like when we did the “Man Eater” cover. Although, that’s me on “Gloria” I don’t know if you got that CD? So occasionally I’ll pretend I’m Satan doing the falsetto. But if it’s really funny, that’s Benjamin doing it.

He’s got a lot of range.

He’s got a monster range.

Like actual singing, I’m a big fan of the Billy Joel cover band he’s in called A Matter of Trust.

(laughing) Yes, I am too.

Are you familiar with Animal Collective?

Yeah.

The falsetto singing on Lucy, reminds me of Animal Collective, which is one of the good bands out there right now with a sense of humor.

That’s interesting, I have a couple of Animal Collective tracks. That’s great.

Those songs feel like a very funny acoustic Animal Collective b-side.

Good. That’s high praise. I’m so happy with how the music’s coming out. It just feels goofy and weird. Like dopey but heartfelt at the same time; like we really try. Like I really try to play ukulele as best I can, and the fact that I can’t play it very well I’m hoping is working out to our advantage. And Benjamin, he really likes to sing, and the fact that he can’t hit all the notes I’m hoping is what makes it so charming.

So what are you listening to these days?

I’m kind of a freak for old soul, lately I’ve been really like; anything that sounds like it was recorded at Stax Records. Slightly sort of gritty, soul tracks. I have a Donny Hathaway cover of “Jealous Guy” by John Lennon, and it’s maybe the best song ever recorded. There’s a band called Vetiver that I saw here and I can’t believe how good they are. That guy is crazy talented.

Does Loren Bouchard have a message for the children?

Wash your hands.

Lucy, Daughter of the Devil airs Sunday nights on the Cartoon Network’s [adult swim] programming block. For more on Lucy, visit adultswim.com or go to the unofficial fan site lucydotd.com for more info and good times.

 
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