Sara Dahms is a comedy superfan who even goes so far as to call herself a comedy nerd. She travels all over the country checking out the best comedy everywhere, a confirmed comedy addict, and now she shares her travels with us. You can read her ongoing column right here on The Interrobang. Saturday evening she checked out the HBO Vice Principals panel with host Ron Bennington.
Ron Bennington sat at the helm of this all star panel that featured Danny McBride, Jody Hill, David Gordon Green, Walton Goggins, Kimberly Herbert Gregory, Georgia King and Edi Patterson. This extremely talented dais gifted fans with a captivating hour that shed some light onto the darkest comedy on television. The panel was moderated by Ron Bennington who did a brilliant job.
The biggest question many fans of the show have is why only two seasons?! Ron Bennington got us our answer right at the top of the hour. When Danny McBride and Jody Hill first wrote “Vice Principals” 12 years ago, they actually wrote it as a feature length script. However, it never quite felt complete until they converted it into an 18 episode long story. Once they made the adjustment from movie to series, they knew that they were ready to share their creation with the world. Although Hill and McBride came up writing screen plays, these artistic minds know who they are and they understand which colors they like to paint with. By flipping the script from full length feature film to series, they freed themselves from many of the chains and restrictions that come along with producing a movie, such as “opening weekend box office pressure” and the unending thirst you’re supposed to be writing with because you are expected to be reaching out to “broader audiences” using box office dollar signs as motivation. By working with a company as supportive of their writer/creators as HBO is, Hill and McBride were able to bring their story to life in the form and style that is true to their vision and voice. Jody Hill went on to explain that in T.V. you are allowed much more freedom to just tell your story and you aren’t judged on whether it’s good or not based on the dollar amount it earned in the snapshot of one weekend. You are judged by the quality of the final product, and isn’t that the way it should always be? Kimberly Hebert Gregory felt that when you approach what you do as an artist you should always be looking for the edge and when you find it, the thing that will give you the blind faith and confidence you need to jump is knowing that you have the support of your team behind you.
The partnership this panel has with one another and HBO makes for the perfect parachute needed in order to take that leap. This lack of fear to take it to the edge is felt by everyone on the dais and this courageous approach to comedy is one of the threads that bind them. In fact, when Bennington asked a question about the casting process, Edi Patterson shared that the scene she had to audition with was the “blow job in the closet scene” and McBride was quick to share that the thing that actually made her standout was her fearless improvisation during her casting. When Patterson and her closet mate “finished” she added the line, “Mmmm, somebody’s been eating beef jerky” and with that McBride knew she was the one. Ron also asked how they are able to keep pushing it so far, to which Walton Goggins replied, “Our sense of humor is so fucked up, we don’t even feel like we’re pushing it.” That got a big laugh out of the room because we all know just how unique, groundbreaking and unpredictable this series is.
Bennington made the astute observation that these characters are all driven by pain, anger and insecurity and that the damage within each and every one of the them is hidden in plane sight. He then went on and hypothesized that maybe that is the reason why we don’t judge them and still love and root for them despite some of the hilariously, sinister conundrums they find themselves in. Having had the chance to listen to stories from the brilliant minds who both conceptualized and helped bring this ominous, unpredictable comedy to life only made us all understand and connect with these unlikely, lovable characters on an even deeper level than we already did. I cannot wait to see what’s in store for season two because it sounds like we ain’t seen nothing yet! I can’t wait!!!