Comedy Central’s crazy new toon features a group of oddball forest rangers and a pampered grizzly cub voiced by Daniel Tosh.
Move over, Ranger Smith and Yogi Bear. There’s a new animated comedy about forest rangers coming to town: It’s called Brickleberry, and it’s bound to raise some eyebrows when it premieres on Comedy Central this month. Exec produced by comic Daniel Tosh and created by Waco O’Guin and Roger Black, the new toon has all the key elements that can appeal to fans of South Park and Family Guy. Oh, and did we mention that Tosh also voices a tiny, spoiled bear called Malloy?
The inspiration for the show is actually O’Guin’s father-in-law, who is a very serious park ranger.
“Roger loves to make fun of everyone, and he calls him a tree cop!” says O’Guin. “So when we were thinking about coming up with ideas for a comedy, the park ranger show seemed like a natural. There was no way we could do it as a live-action show, because it would cost 10 million bucks, and animation seemed to be the right way to go!”
O’Guin and Black, who have been good friends since they met at the University of Georgia, are both big fans of animation.
“We are so glad the show is animated, because in live action, if someone jumps off a bridge, it would cost so much,” says O’Guin, who is crazy about The Simpsons. “But in animation, you can do anything. In one episode, we can have millions of these weird creatures invade the park, for example.” And as Black reminds us, “It’s a lot easier to swallow some jokes when it comes from a cartoon character.”
Brickleberry’s first trailer features all kinds of lovely animals mating in the beautiful outdoors, so it is certainly not a show for kids. With the involvement of Tosh, who also got into a lot of hot water this summer for making an offensive rape joke at a comedy club, the show has definitely had its own brush with controversy, even before it has aired. But the series creators are used to pushing the envelope themselves.
“We first sold the show to Fox in 2009, and to prepare us for our presentation, they told us not to hold back because it’s not going to air in that form,” says O’Guin. “But when the bigwigs saw it, they said, ‘Oh no, we can’t air this!’ I guess it was too much for them!”
Luckily, they shared an agent with Daniel Tosh and they began to work with him to create the show for Comedy Central instead.
“The first thing they said to us was, ‘You know, you can really push this further!’ and we were thrilled,” recalls O’Guin. “It was the best thing that could’ve happened.”
Another factor working in their favor was that their show wasn’t your typical family animated comedy.
“That is the one thing we didn’t want to do,” admits Black,. “All those shows are in the same mode. How many animated family comedies do you need? We were very happy that we weren’t forced to go in that direction because in those shows, you have one character that is the straight person. In Brickleberry, everyone is insane…They all have major problems!”
The series, which is animated by Burbank-based Bento Box (with service work provided by Big Jump in Canada), has a very friendly, colorful palette, which is even reminiscent of the old Hanna-Barbera Yogi Bear toons. The animation team uses Toon Boom’s Harmony software to produce the visuals efficiently and quickly.
“We love the work they do on the show,” says O’Guin. “We really wanted our series to have that great traditional look,” he notes. “You get the speed, and save money and don’t have a lot of in-between companies working on the show.”
They also have great things to say about Tosh.
“Our little grizzly bear Malloy was originally Scottish, but now he is a lot more like Daniel. He is totally right for the part,” says O’Guin. “He loves to play videogames and eat junk food all day. He also has a dirty mouth. It’s been great to work with Daniel. He’s a very busy guy and never gets a break. He helped us a lot with this show.”
The show runners admit that for them, writing the show is the toughest part of the gig.
“You have to be funny all the time,” says O’Guin. “There’s really no comparison, and there’s no way out of it.”
Comedy Central will premiere Brickleberry on September 25 at 10:30 p.m.