It’s hard to find someone who’s seen Delocated who doesn’t think it’s hilarious.
Oddly enough, Adult Swim’s show about a Russian mob target in the witness protection who stars in his own reality show is the network’s most accessible program. And despite the fact that it airs at midnight on Thursdays, the show seems to be catching on. Season 2 of Delocated was one of the Top 20 programs for Adults 18-24, Men 18-24, Adults 18-34 and Men 18-34 in a rank of late-night programs on both cable and broadcast networks, according to Nielsen Media Research.
That’s all a testament to the show’s star and creator, Jon Glaser, who came up with the character while he was a writer for Late Night With Conan O’Brien.
Delocated’s “Jon” is self-absorbed, inconsiderate and desperate for approval, but he’s so damn funny that it’s hard to not like him. The show avoids the snappy dialogue and witty rejoinders abundant in most sitcoms that sometimes can come off as too “writerly.” Delocated’s humor all stems from the ridiculous premise that a guy who’s forced to wear a ski mask at all times and modulate his voice to protect his identity would want his own reality show. It never seems to fail.
I recently had the chance to talk to Glaser while he was in New York working on post-production for Season 3. We talked about the new season, “Jon’s” wardrobe, and a new character he’ll be playing.
So are you still editing Delocated? Where are you in the process?
Yeah. We are the middle of the edits. We probably have another month and a half left. We’re about halfway done with the episodes. We shot episodes in May, and edited those over the summer. So we already had a few done by the time we started this edit. By the time this season premieres, and the first episode airs, we’ll probably have half of the episodes already edited so we’ll be ahead of the game anyway.
How many episodes this season?
What kind of hours are you putting in right now? Long days?
It’s hard to explain how this possible, but I’m putting in 50-hour days.
Yeah, it’s been pretty brutal. Pretty rough. I’m not even sure how it works. I come home and I realize that I’ve worked 50 hours each day and I’m still trying to do the math. You know, cause we all know that there’s 24 hours in a day, and I cannot figure it out, but it’s killing me.
That is mind-boggling.
It’s pretty standard, actually. Eight-hour days, sometimes a little bit longer. The editors, they are the ones working the crazy hours. Thankfully it’s been not too bad. At least for me. [Laughs.] I feel like each season I’m trying to do the bare minimum I can get away with.
Last time we spoke, I told you how I took it upon myself to declare Mighty Joe Jon the Black Blond the Breakout TV Character of 2010. So you can imagine how sad I was to see him go. There are a couple central characters from the first two seasons who won’t be returning. Was it a challenge to come up with new people to fit within the show?
I mean yes and no. It was really just figuring things out once we had a sense of who was coming back and who wasn’t. I wouldn’t say it’s a challenge. It’s always fun to try to figure out how to keep making the show work. It’s certainly challenging in that sense. But it is fun to at least have the opportunity and see how everything goes. It just opens up whole new ideas. It was pretty fun and we ended up getting some great actors to be in the show. I mean we lost a lot of great actors, which is always a bummer, but it’s been good.
Can you talk about some of the new people on the show? There’s been some publicity about Janeane Garofalo coming on board. Will she have a central role?
Yeah, she plays the new head of the network. She’s a regular character. I have a new bodyguard, played by Ali Farahnakian. I get a life coach, played by a gentleman named Marc Wootton, who’s a British fellow. All these people are very, very funny. Marc is really an incredibly funny guy. Amy Schumer plays a recurring character — she plays Yvgeny’s new girlfriend. Todd Barry is back. There’s a new Chinese gang that “Jon” deals with. I think that might be it. I hope I’m not forgetting anybody.
And you’re playing a new character, correct?
Yes, I’m playing another character in addition to ‘Jon.’ I’m playing a Russian guy named Mishka.
It was just a really stupid idea we had that came from Season 2 because I’m not in the Russian scenes for the most part. So I just get to be behind the camera in my A.P. role — just watching and hanging out. There’s a lot of between-takes where me and Steve Cirbus, who plays Sergei, and Eugene (Mirman) would just fuck around and I just started doing this guy, a little kiss-ass-y, toady- type guy, and it was just really making us all laugh in the dumbest way because it was so stupid. But it was pretty enjoyable and then when we started writing the third season, we started talking about “Should we actually do this?” It’s so obnoxious to play a second character simply because I can cause I’m in a mask, but we thought it was really funny. Hopefully people like it. It is really ridiculous, but it was fun to do. So yeah, keep an eye out for that dick. [Laughs.]
I’m excited for him.
Hopefully people won’t realize that it’s me. That was a part of me that didn’t want to talk about this and let people just figure it out. There’s something enjoyable about people not knowing and going, “Wait a minute, what? Is that him?” Because maybe people don’t know who I am. But I also didn’t want it to just blow by people without them knowing cause I think it’s funny and ridiculous that we’re doing it. So I did decide to mention it, even though part of me felt like I didn’t want to ruin the surprise of it. I think it will be a fun thing to look out for. We gave myself a really good haircut. It’s not a wig, so when you see it and you think it’s a wig, it’s not a wig. I just wanted to really go for it and have it be this really ridiculous haircut so at least people would say, “Wow that’s really committing to this idea.” I don’t think it looks like me; it’s really weird to look at.
You brought in some writers for this season. How was that transition? How did you go about assembling a writing staff?
We just opened it up a little bit. The way it worked out was that the writers mostly were working off outlines. Me and John (Lee) and Vernon (Chatman), we really predominantly write these scripts. And just by way of the process of how many scripts we had to write in a certain amount of time we had to bring in writers to help out. And this is not a discredit to the writers at all, cause they really did a great job, but it was more for a sake of time as far as having several people working on scripts at once. It was really more a case of, “Here are some existing outlines we have. You work on this one, etc.” It’s still a very hard thing to take somebody else’s outline and then try to write a script in the voice of the show. In that sense, we hired really good people. It was only four people; it wasn’t a big staff. They all did a great job. Once they wrote the script, we would take them over and finish them, but again, that was more for the sake of time and economy. It was great to be able to do it, and if we get picked up I’d love to be able to do it again. It’s nice to get other voices and other ideas. It was cool. It was Joe Mande, who did a really amazing job, and Kevin Dorff, who played Mike in Season 1, and then this writing team, Bill Judkins and Doug Stone.
I’ve noticed some striking, and I guess I would consider unfortunate, similarities between “Jon’s” wardrobe and my own.
Would you recommend that I just burn all my clothes?
Absolutely not. I would recommend embracing your look, having a confidence in it. I would say get more of what you have.
I love the high-waisted pants and the short-sleeve button down shirts “Jon” wears. But then I realized, Oh Jesus, I have a lot of the same stuff in my closet.
That’s going to be up to you. I think it sounds like you probably just need to take a long walk and think about where you’re at in life and if this is the direction you want to continue to go in. That’s for you to decide if you need to burn those clothes. [Laughs.]
I did have a crazy revelation on set this past season. My dad came to visit, and I have not patterned my character specifically after my dad. It wasn’t like I sat down to do that. But there are certainly a lot of those elements and obviously this character is a dad. But he came to set and I realized that the character was way more influenced by my dad than I probably realized. Specifically by what you’re saying, like the wardrobe. The day he was there, we were wearing pretty much the exact same outfit. When I noticed it, it really shook me to the core. I was like “Whoa!” You know, short-sleeved striped Polo, jeans tucked in with a braided leather belt and loafers. It was bizarre.
[Laughs.] That is great. So the special features that you put on the DVD for Delocated Seasons 1 and 2 are really cool. It looks like you put some thought into what you put on there. The stories about the helicopter shots over the George Washington Bridge were hilarious. And you really chipped a tooth during the “Tap” episode when “Jon” was wearing an urn with his parents’ ashes around his neck?
Oh yeah, that moment where you’re watching where you hear the “cunk!” It wasn’t a big smashed chip. It’s tiny, but you can see it. And it really fucking hurt. That’s a memory forever. I don’t want to belittle Vietnam veterans, but that’s like my war wound…But yeah, back to the DVD, I think a lot of cool extras and a lot of cool stuff ended up on there. I was psyched that the Demo made it.
Yeah, I wanted to ask you about that. So the show was actually called Relocated when you first came up with the concept?
Correct. It was called Relocated. I think we changed it for legal reasons; there might have been something else already called that. But I think that was for the better. I think Delocated is way funnier, for whatever weird reason.
And that Demo from the DVD is what you brought with you when you pitched the show?
Yeah, I just decided to make that on my own. They didn’t ask me to make it. I just felt like I had to do whatever I could to help sell the idea since it’s a very visual and oral character. I didn’t want to count on them reading the script and thinking “Alright I guess we can sort of get an idea of what this guy sounds like.” It’s very, very hard. There’s so much attitude with the character you’re not going to get on a page. But it was well worth it. It definitely sold the show, no question about it.
For the upcoming season, can we expect the same type of storylines that have developed over Seasons 1 and 2?
A lot of it is different just by nature of all these new characters. There are things that happen; I don’t want to give anything away. There are some major plot turning points at the beginning of the season that effect how things unfold.
Will it continue to be a little dark and sinister like it was in Season 2?
I think so. At its core, it’s still about a mob trying to murder this guy. There’s still plenty of death. [Laughs.] People get killed. But it’s good. I’m very happy with the way the episodes are turning out.
In re-watching Seasons 1 and 2, the character of “Jon” is so funny that you forget just how awful of a person he is. But there are rare moments when he shows a glimpse of humanity, like when he saves Nicky from being murdered by the Mirminskys in the “Dog Mayor” episode.
I kind of feel like that’s the trick with these types of characters, whether it’s Larry David on Curb or even Archie Bunker. You have these outwardly unlikeable guys, and you have to just assume that there are things about them that are redeemable and likeable, and you have to see those on camera at some point as well. They can’t just be 100 percent asshole…I do feel like you get enough glimpses of that with “Jon” where you realize deep down he’s not completely an asshole, he’s just insecure and all that kind of shit.
Moving on to other topics, it’s been almost a year since your book, My Dead Dad Was in ZZ Top: 100% Real,* Never Before Seen Documents from the World of Rock and Roll, came out. Are you pretty happy with how everything turned out?
I was extremely happy with the book. I was very proud of the book and how it turned out. I worked really hard on it.
You think you got another one in you?
I would definitely do another book if it was the right idea and the right opportunity. I got nothing on the immediate horizon right now. I’m just too busy with Delocated really to even think about other things. But I would certainly be open to it.
Season 3 of Delocated premieres Thursday at Midnight on Adult Swim. Seasons 1 and 2 of Delocated are out now on DVD.
Phil Davidson is a good guy. That’s a Delocated reference. Hey, what do you want from him?