The brand-new Adult Swim show Fat Guy Stuck in Internet follows the antics of a hefty, genius computer programmer named Ken Gemberling who’s forced to save cyberspace, while confronting his own issues with gluttony, after spilling a beer on his keyboard and being sucked into the Internet. Co-created by and co-starring Upright Citizens Brigade alums Curtis Gwinn and John Gemberling, it debuted this week and can be seen Sunday nights at 12:15 a.m. (or Monday mornings, if you prefer). Gemberling and Gwinn talked to Vulture about the dorkiness of Tron and the stupidity of the Internet.
What’s the secret to appealing to an audience that's 90 percent stoned people?
Gemberling: Let’s just wait and see if we do appeal to them.
To borrow a joke from the series, had you guys been “J.R.R. toking” yourselves when you conceived the show?
Gemberling: Are you asking if we were under the influence of drugs? No. That’s the funny thing about doing crazy comedy and stoner stuff. After the shows people come up and are like, “Aw, man, how high were you when you wrote that? You guys must have been wasted!”
Gwinn: The times I’ve tried to write or perform when I’ve been high have been the moments of the most dread I’ve ever experienced.
Gemberling: We actually sat down years ago when we were trying to come up with a live skit and said, “Let’s get high and write a comedy song.” It wasn’t that funny and it never got finished. It was an agonizing experience.
The antagonist Chains (played by Gwinn) is a bit of a stoner, but the main character Ken (played by Gemberling) is more of a booze-hound.
Gemberling: He’s more of a beer and food guy.
I guess there are not a lot of substances to be had in cyberspace.
Gwinn: We had written an entire episode where Chains is desperately trying to find weed and calling up old contacts, but that doesn’t make any sense because none of his contacts are in the Internet.
John, are you under a contractual obligation to maintain a certain weight, lest the name of the series no longer be accurate?
Gemberling: We were wondering that at the beginning. We thought it would be funny if I hit the gym and lost a bunch of weight. But that didn’t pan out for me. [Gwinn laughs.] The literal answer is no. I don’t think the network would particularly care one way or another, but I don’t there’s any fear that I’m in danger of getting super skinny.
How did you guys decide that pouring a beer on a keyboard is how one gets sucked into the Internet?
Gemberling: The show was originally a Web series, and actually the first idea was that I spilled an entire, like, big McDonald’s meal or something on the keyboard. The character we were originally conceiving of was more of a stoner-y, hapless loser, and then we kind of changed him into a cantankerous boozer.
Gwinn: Some people have criticized the show as a Tron ripoff, because Tron portrays a computer-programmer hotshot jerk who gets sucked into his computer. Well, yeah! But it’s not a ripoff, it’s a parody! Tron was trying to cash in on the popularity of the video games, so it had this programmer who was a fun, awesome guy. In 1982 there were no cool, freewheeling computer programmers. They were all pretty dorky. So we love the idea that this computer programmer is a badass.
You portray cyberspace as a dark and evil place. Does this reflect your actual views?
Gemberling: Oh, absolutely, but I don’t think the Internet is portrayed as an evil place, just sort of a land in decline. There’s no factual or intellectual compass. For every Website that says one thing, there will be twice as many that refute that.
Gwinn: We happen to think the Internet is a pretty stupid place. It’s the most incredible thing to come along in modern human history as far as communications are concerned. But it’s pretty stupid.
Gemberling: It’s the first instance in world history where literally everybody gets to put in their two cents, but most people don’t have two thoughts to rub together. And that’s not just my opinion. That’s fact. —Ben Westhoff