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Okay, so as many of you may know, I work at Cartoon Network. I’m storyboard artist/writer on Regular Show. I’ve had people ask questions like “What happens in a typical day over there? What do you do all day? You just write jokes or what? Is that even actually a job? Go away, Owen.”
The answer is “Yes to all of the above”.
So I’ve decided to show you what my typical day looks like. The ENTIRE day. Everything that happens to me.
In the morning I wake up, pop some clothes on, then walk out the door and lock it behind me. If I don’t lock it, my three roommates get understandably pissed at me. Today I decided to go with my highlighter yellow shoes:
It takes me about 15-20 minutes to drive to work. Most people it seems to take them at least half an hour.
Then I tried to take a photo of me driving to work, but it felt super awkward because I didn’t want those people in other cars to look at me and be like “This guy. Who is this guy? This is a pretty self-obsessed guy over here. *HONK*”
People in Los Angeles love to honk. Being from Minnesota, I was unaware horns could be used in any way except when you embarrassingly bump it while leaving the car.
There it is! Cartoon Network! The first time I saw it I didn’t believe it could actually be Cartoon Network because the building was so boring looking. Apparently it’s a former AT&T building. So that explains that.
Also, when I first came here to start my job, I wasn’t sure I actually had a job. I never really had an interview, I just sent them my storyboarding test. Our producer emailed me and said they liked the test. I never spoke to anyone on the phone, I never even met JG for the first two weeks. I was convinced JG wasn’t a real person for awhile (he is, I just happened to start when he was on vacation for 2 weeks).
I always take the side door and walk up the stairs to my office. This was another part of Cartoon Network I wasn’t expecting; An entire stairwell full of graffiti! It’s so awesome. I love it. I’ve added the Galactaron logo and a whooooooooole bunch of my name.
This is Toby and my office. It’s kinda messy. I didn’t get a picture of Toby’s workspace, but it’s mostly filled with Godzilla and Gamera toys.
It’s Bagel Friday and Hilary chooses her bagel carefully.
But me? I decided to go with a Cap’n Crunch + Cheerios mix from the CEREAL BAAAAAAAAR!
This milk’s got more pressure than a college grad struggling to pay their student loans!
Look you guys, not every joke can be golden. Let’s just move on from it okay? Let’s turn on spotify, blast some Vitalic, and start working!
On today’s agenda:
1) Sketch up some ideas for the new characters in our episode.
2) Write jokes.
3) Get together with Toby and hash out plot details. How do we get external conflict to help resolve internal conflict? What do we do about Chekov’s gun? Is there a new failblog compilation out yet?
4) One-up eachother’s jokes to find the purest form of the joke. 99.9% funny by volume.
So I’ll start with step 1.
Assuming the character you’re making isn’t some kind of animal or monster then this is the basic regular show character shape:
You can hang anything off that shape. You can change the head into something weird, you can add a moustache, huge muscles, a suit made of moustaches, sweet high-top sneakers, a moustache, etc.
I’m using a non-photo blue pencil. It’s a pencil that lets you sketch, but it won’t be detectable in the copy machine or most scanners. In the end you won’t be able to see these sketch lines, just the hard dark lines:
AW HAW HAW YEAAAAAHHH! DRAWING!
Wait, what’s that I hear at the office door? It sounds like it might really like desserts and foreign movies…
IT’S MY WRITING PARTNER AND ALL-AROUND GREAT FRIEND TOBY! YAY!
Toby spends a lot of time ignoring me, but I know deep down he secretly enjoys my company. I just wish he would show it more, you know?
Well I guess I’ll get back to writin’ jokes. Cartoon Network should invest in less smeary paper. If you’re a Regular Show fan, help us out! Send Cartoon Network a letter and ask them, for the good of the artists at the network, please give us paper that isn’t so smeary! Toby is heading this campaign so tell them Toby sent you. Don’t mention me. No one knows me and I’m not very charismatic. Again, tell them TOBY sent you.
Sometimes I get done writing a joke and I look over to tell Toby about it, but this is all I see:
Every Friday Minty, Maddie, Calvin, Toby and I try to form up a crew to go and try every restaurant in Burbank that we haven’t been to yet. Burbank is like the capital of all suburbs. If there were a place that suburbs went to talk about sprinklers, playground safety, and laws about how to make vanilla into a less intense flavor, it would be Burbank. It’s mostly sit down and fast-casual chain restaurants.
We started with Chevy’s Fresh Mex, then moved on to California Pizza Kitchen. Both of those were much better than expected however. Today we decided to try out Black Angus Steakhouse, which was good because I had coupons. Here’s my creepshot:
I’m not going to post a picture of the steakhouse because we all agreed it was a rather underwhelming 2.75/5. The very rich tasting chocolate tort brought it up from 2.5.
When we came back, it was time for Toby and I to sit down and figure out Steps 3 and 4.
There are a couple ways that partners write their episodes. One way is to split the outline into pieces, write them separately, then come back together again and see how they line up. Maddie tried a more mixed approach while working with Dres however. She and Dres would sit for a couple days with the office door closed and just write non-stop together. They churned out some amazing work that way and neither Toby nor I had done that before, so we’ve started doing that too.
Let me tell you, it’s awesome. It’s the best way to work. Your brain can only take things so far, but when you bounce ideas off of someone else they come up with directions to go that you don’t. It’s great and if you have the right partner you don’t want to work any other way. Don’t ever write in a void.
Toby pulled his chair out of his nook so we could start talking out the episode:
We have SOOOOO much fun together!
Mostly the way our writing session goes is we talk back and forth, kind of like the characters would talk, and try to find the funniest way to say whatever it is we want to say.
A lot of the things we come up with are things we can’t use because a character wouldn’t act that way, it takes too much time, or it’s too hard to show in animation. Toby likes his plays on words, I like my weird subtle actions. Too many plays on words and the episode starts losing it’s regular feel, too subtle an action and the animators don’t have anything to animate.
Sometimes I’ve heard people assume that we’re making certain jokes because “It’s a show for kids and they’re making jokes for kids” or because we’re “pandering” to a certain group. In reality, no one I’ve talked to has ever once pandered or said “but kid’s wouldn’t get it”. Every joke that you see in there is because we find something funny about it. It’s never something we put in there to please certain people. Sometimes, I’ve put in a joke and realized it would please some people, but I didn’t put it in there because of that, I put it in there because it’s funny.
We generally try to balance it out and guess what JG would approve or disapprove of however. On our first pass with an episode we try to cram just about any and every joke in there to see which ones stick. There are a lot of weird ideas and post it notes that end up never seeing the light of day.
The way we decide if a joke is worth it or not is if we end up looking like this:
After sitting like that for a few hours it’s time to go home. I gotta wait for this guy to park better though. It’s alright, I’m listening to Snoop:
Because I’m a normal person, I needed to go grocery shopping. I don’t know if you know about a store called Smart & Final, but it’s awesome. They don’t have a very wide selection of items, but they do have large quantities of what they DO have. I mostly go there to buy lean pockets cause I’m a single dude and who cares?
That’s right ladies, I know how to cook a mean lean pocket. Did you want a Philly Steak & Cheese Lean Pocket or a Turkey, Broccoli & Cheese Lean Pocket? Oh! You were hoping for a Garlic Chicken White Pizza Lean Pocket because it’s only 270 calories? Girl I got you covered.
Every time I leave or come home my car bottoms out at the end of my driveway. It’s very loud. I assume it wakes the neighbors. I’m afraid to see what the bottom of my car looks like.
Hey it’s my roommate Sam! Sam is an animator and has made a lot of the web games you see on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network’s websites. He’s a pretty nice guy. He likes Nintendo and hates spiders. Here he is hanging out on reddit and watching a video clip from Vice. Meanwhile, I’m putting groceries (lean pockets) in the fridge/freezer. Also, we really like this couch. We got it super cheap at a store that was going out of business.
Lean Pocket time: 3:40 seconds. The thing most people forget about when microwaving their pockets is the “let stand for 2 minutes” part of the instructions. It’s important, or else you WILL have garlic flavored lava in your mouth.
I get a little stir crazy and want to go off by myself for awhile occasionally. You sit in your office all day, then you go home and you sit in your home all day. If you don’t do those things, then you still go to places you’ve probably been to before. Same restaurants, same locations, same people, same music, same everything. How are you supposed to feel inspired to make new things if you don’t have anything new in your life?
Life needs change. If you don’t have change, then your mind becomes a fat lazy slime ball that sits around and atrophies into nothingness. The way you keep your mind like a young hot super model is by feeding it fresh new things to discover about itself and the world.
Sometimes I just get in my car and drive in a direction. Seeing as I’m still new to Southern California, everywhere I go is still new stuff. So I just ended up driving up into the mountains.
Then I found I didn’t have any gas to keep going up into the mountains, so I drove back down and ended up on the pacific coast highway. It was there that I realized I’d been in California for 10 months and I’ve never even been to the beach. So I pulled over to the side of the road, climbed down some rocks to the surf, and stuck my feet in. That’s where I got this stereotypical shot.
After I did that for awhile I started driving around again, saw a sign for iron man 3, and decided to check that out. It was great. I saw a movie by myself, which I thought would be weird, but it totally wasn’t. It was pretty chill. I’m probably going to go watch it again with some friends tonight.
I finally got home around 1:30 am and decided to go to bed.
My feet felt really awesome in bed. I think it was because of the salt water.
Anyway, that’s a normal day (at least a friday) for me at Cartoon Network. This is the kind of day that happens in the first week of our new board. All we do for that first week is write jokes and relax a little bit. The second week is when we start drawing the boards and planning things out a little more heavily. Then we present them to JG and the other outline writers, but that’s a whole different kind of day.
This is a pretty long post, but I wanted to be as informative as I could be. Hope you enjoyed reading!