is a busy man. Since joining Cartoon Network as a writer for Space Ghost: Coast to Coast
he has co-created Aqua Teen Hunger Force
(Volume 6 is available on DVD December 16) and "Squidbillies" - all while writing for various other series like The Brak Show
and "Perfect Hair Forever." He also does various voices for the shows, including the ever-popular Meatwad and Carl.
We were grateful that Mr. Willis found the time to fill out our Dave Willis Questionnaire
™, the definitive Q&A for whenever you need to interview Dave Willis.
What is your favorite voice to perform, out of all of the shows you were a part of?
I honestly don’t know where all those amazing, unique voices come from! I just open my mouth and the magic drools out, deeply touching all those within sonic range of my golden throat. But of all my incredible, exciting and memorable characters, the closest to my heart, the one that I would love to be most associated with is Homer
. I mean, Yoda
. Yoda Simpson.
There was an Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode titled "Boston" for this season. Assuming it is about what I think it is about, was it finished and then cut?
There are actually three versions of "Boston" now, all mastered to VHS and sealed in a time-release vault to be opened in the year 2098, twenty-five years after our death. Hopefully by then, enough time will have passed - so that we can find some distance and maybe discover the lighter side of the tragedy that befell New England on that day, when a Lite-Brite Moon Alien could have ended it all.
If so, will it ever be released?
Yes, as soon as Boston gives us back our money.
Was it just a "threat" so you could get away with more shenanigans the rest of the season?
If by "shenanigans" you mean contractually-obligated episodes, then yes, we "got away" with ten new "shenanigans."
"Bible Fruit" had a plot that was obviously about Futurama and its departure to Comedy Central. Was this your response to the fact that Cartoon Network could not air any new Futurama programming, like they can with the revived Family Guy?
Yes, "Bible Fruit" had a plot that was obviously about Futurama and its departure to Comedy Central, and was our response to the fact that Cartoon Network could not air any new Futurama programming, like they can with the revived Family Guy.
Was it just a coincidence that David Cross guest-starred (later appearing in a Futurama movie)?
This was actually a failed cross-promotion between us and Futurama. We promoted Futurama and Futurama forgot to promote us, despite our repeated e-mails to Hollywood.
Why was it decided to hold four episodes from television until 2009, but still release them on the Volume 6 DVD?
Because we didn’t want to release a twelve-disc box set with nine episodes and a collectible bendy straw. In short, we didn’t want it to suck.
My favorite DVD gag was Volume 4’s "Play All." What gags can viewers look forward to on the Volume 6 DVD?
Volume 6 features multiple gags. "Terror Phone," a film short that Matt Maiellaro and I wrote and put together about an immortal demonic phone that roams the countryside, hungry for human meat. Probably the greatest thing we’ve ever done or ever will do, sadly. We included all the Komedy Klipz from the video game – about 23 minutes of funny stuff that you can finally watch without having to hit Carl with a 3-iron until your thumb splits and gives you trouble later in life. Four incredible, brand-new episodes that actually feature some of our characters. All this, plus those breathtaking and electrifying Carl sports blogs that you can get for free on the internet. But why do that when you can pay $24 and have them all together in thrilling Standard Resolution? That’s right. 768 SR.
Do you help create all the little Easter Eggs fans have come to look forward to on the DVDs?
I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Who was your favorite guest star on ATHF?
, had he decided to do the show.
Apparently T-Pain has gold Mooninite medallions. Did you get a cut of that, or perhaps a T-Pain branded vocoder?
The medallions are encrusted with rubies and emeralds, like something a pirate would bury. I got to watch porno with T-Pain
, and that is payment enough.
Is there any particular piece of fan-created art you get a kick out of?
Yes, a Meatwad-tattooed scrotum. It’s only a photo, I didn’t actually receive a severed ballsack in the mail - so I can neither confirm nor deny that it is an actual tattoo. But even if he drew it with a ball-point pen, the level of artistry and anti-social behavior is worth noting. Whenever I’m stalled, I sometimes pull this picture out of my wallet and reflect on the pain that this likely alcoholic suffered out of his love for a TV show, and also because his fraternity brothers held him down. And that’s when I get inspired to tattoo my own balls.
With like a Cherokee tribal band. Or maybe barbed wire. Just because I’m 38 doesn’t mean I still don’t know how to throw down.
Honorable mention would go to the fully-functioning, life-size Dr. Weird electric guitar. It’s somewhere on Myspace
. We actually exchanged e-mails with the luthier and he offered to give it to us – in person - but that might mean also getting raped in the bushes outside the building, so we politely stopped answering our e-mail.
Was the world not ready for Aqua Teen Hunger Force Zombie Ninja Pro-Am?
Everything we do is roughly 7-10 years ahead of everyone else. Unfortunately, we release them on formats that are 4-6 years behind. This is why we are lobbying for the game to be holoprinted™ on the Aqua Teen USB4.0 Cranial Biochip™. By the time the technology is invented, the show will be canceled.
As a fan of the show I enjoyed the game, but it seems to be as critically polarizing as Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters.
You’re right. Richard Roeper
hated our video game almost as much as he hated our movie. We need to stop letting him pay seven dollars to bear witness to everything we do.
Are you working on any future projects, among the multitude of work you do right now?
Maiellaro and I have 10 new Aqua Teens coming out in the Spring. Jim Fortier and I are working hard on new Squidbillies for next year.
I have a couple other things going with Adult Swim. "Cheyenne Cinnamon and the Fantabulous Unicorn of Sugar Town Candy Fudge." It's a CGI cartoon about a pop princess who lives in a magical candy palace just outside of Detroit. She helps people deal with racism and war and unemployment through the power of her shitty pop songs.
I co-wrote and directed (with Matt Harrigan, "Assy McGee") a live-action pilot called "Duckworth" with some really talented comedic actors - Matt Berry ("Snuff Box", "The Mighty Boosh") Jason Mantzoukas, Dana Snyder ("Aqua Teen", "Squidbillies") and Bill Raymond ("Michael Clayton
"). We’re hoping they let us make more. Lastly, "Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell," a collaboration with Casper Kelly ("Stroker and Hoop"). It’s about a failing, middle-aged demon. It was a live-action short for the now defunct Super Deluxe
and Fred Armisen
was nice enough to be in it. Hopefully, Adult Swim will find some time on the schedule for it.
Is there anything you can tell us about "Death Fighter"?
(Note: Death Fighter is the current title for the ATHF movie sequel, apparently due in 2011.)
The concept basically started as a really great t-shirt idea. But we’ve had some trouble making the leap from the silk screen to the silver screen. We don’t have a script, but we’re very happy with the title and we’re set to release the movie in Spring of 2009.
There’s Pop Tart commercials ripping off Don Hertzfeldt, Conan O'Brien spinning his wedding ring for three minutes on his show... Has surrealism and absurdist humor gone mainstream? Or was it always there?
This question is above me. You should really ask Elisabeth Hasselback
or one of the other 25 Smartest People in Television. I believe Entertainment Weekly
provides an annual list.
What do/did you enjoy writing for more? Space Ghost, Aqua Teen, or Squidbillies?
They’re all fun to write for. Except for Space Ghost. Writing for Space Ghost was like being falsely accused of murdering your wife.
It’s like taking the SAT with a ball-point pen filled with your own blood. You suffer constantly, and everything you say is wrong.
Okay, I probably overstated things. It was definitely better than being, say, an auto worker in Detroit. Half the time I didn’t know what I was doing. It was a great introduction to how to work in television, with no budget and even less options. When you work with recycled 30-year old animation, you have to be inventive. I learned a lot about comedy. I got to meet Beck
. I got better at doing what I do. I don’t think Matt and I would have been able to make Aqua Teen without going through Space Ghost boot camp. Half of those first episodes of ATHF were failed Space Ghost ideas. And many of the writer/producers in our department are Space Ghost alumni.
Were you surprised with how quickly and passionately people reacted to your surreal sense of humor?
Watching television is now being characterized as a "quick" and "passionate" activity? I must be in The Spin Zone!
Which hat do you prefer to wear: writer, producer, director, or voice actor?
Father, Husband and Patriot, in that order.
Extra credit: What song makes you cry?
"Egg Man" by The Beastie Boys
. I weep for my lost youth.
Here's to you, Dave!
"Aqua Teen Hunger Force Vol. 6" comes out December 16 and features four unreleased episodes that will air next year. "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" airs episodes every night on Cartoon Network's late night Adult Swim block.
Story by Casey Johnson
Starpulse.com contributing writer
Special Thanks to Chelsea 'Dee' Doyle