FOX’s “Greg the Bunny” was one of the great short-lived comedies of the Aughts and I’ve taken great pleasure in many of the previous and subsequent iterations of the Fabricated Americans series from Sean S. Baker, Spencer Chinoy and Dan Milano.
So this is one critic looking forward to MTV’s summer comedy “Warren the Ape,” the first Baker, Chinoy and Milano comedy to focus Warren DeMontague, the substance abusing simian who played Professor Ape on “Sweetknuckle Junction.”
In “Warren the Ape,” Warren plays himself, a washed up former TV star battling additions and getting therapy from none other than Dr. Drew. It’s a little bit like “Intervention,” a little bit like “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and a lot like “Greg the Bunny.”
Warren — played by the brilliant Milano, if I might shatter the illusion for a second — appeared at the Television Critics Association press tour on Friday (Jan. 15) morning. At the TCA, we don’t love being performed to, because we’re reporters trying to report. The biggest disaster of that kind in recent memory was last summer with Jeff Dunham got up, insulted us with his dolls for 15 minutes and then was confused when nobody felt like asking him any questions.
The “Warren the Ape” session was a good deal better than the Dunham fiasco, if only because Warren (and ace improviser Milano) are actually funny.
A few of the highlights of the session:
On his experiences in Dr. Drew’s Rehab: “I mostly just hung out with Jeff Conaway and did puzzles. He’s terrible, by the way. He doesn’t know to go with the edges first, you know. Yeah, he’s a genius. You put it together and he’s like, ‘Oh, it’s a camel.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, Jeff, we’ve been staring at it for hours.'”
On the short-lived nature of some of his former collaborations: “The thing to me is we’ve done a bunch of shows. Most of them were iterations of a franchise called ‘Greg the Bunny.’ Let’s see. There was ‘Greg the Bunny’ in 1999, canceled. ‘Greg the Bunny’ in 2001, canceled. Then a return to ‘Greg the Bunny’ somewhere around 2006. It was kind of a dark period. I don’t remember the exact date canceled. So finally, somebody figured out that the problem was the bunny, which I had been saying all along.”
On this being a vehicle for his comeback: “I’ll tell you something. If there’s one thing MTV has taught me, it’s that, you know, if you don’t mind being exploited and you’re desperate enough to let cameras into your life, it’s kind of a one way ticket to a viral infection that hopefully takes the world by storm. You know, if ‘The Osbournes’ taught me anything, it’s that you just need to be willing to embarrass yourself publicly, and good things come. You know, who knows. Maybe in five years I’ll be judging some kind of gong show type celebrity watchamacallit. I think it’s sad, yes, that, you know, I mean bad behavior is often rewarded by media attention, but I’m staking my entire career move on it, so I can’t really be a hypocrite or an ape ocrite or whatever you want to call it.”
On his own opinions on the NBC late night situation: “Well, I’m certainly available if they decide to go in a different direction. I think these guys locked me up in primetime, but I’m ready for late night. In fact, it’s where I flourish. Those are the hours I keep.”
On getting the opportunity to show a different side of Fabricated Americans: “I think it’s time that People of Fabric, regardless of what animal they might suggest, monsters, humanoid puppets you know, it’s all good. People of Fabric are looking for fresh voices, fresh faces. We don’t just count to 10 in Spanish. We don’t just try to sell you cookies as a sometime snack. And we’re clearly diabetic and obese. Shouldn’t speak out of turn about Cookie Monster. I mean, he’s a nice enough guy. But let’s face it, I mean plus, these Muppets on ‘Sesame Street’ a lot of the monsters, you know, they’ve been defanged. They’ve been domesticated. But I tell ya, don’t bring your kids to sets because those things will go for the eyes if you’re not watching ’em between takes, yeah.
On working with Dr. Drew: “You know, I really do think he should focus on me more. I do think that he can easily be distracted by his other clients. He’s got many shows. And it could be argued that he’s overextending himself, and we could blame some of my relapses on his lack of attention.”
On the Tony-winning musical “Avenue Q”: “I enjoyed it very much. I enjoyed it very much. I’ve never seen such a you know, I’m surprised that we’re so progressive now that we can have such unabashed sodomy on the Broadway stage and yet people seem to eat it up. You know, all those puppets just hanging out there on those humans, it’s kind of sick. But I’m into that stuff so I thought it was very progressive of people to take their kids to it and everything, you know, some of them. It’s dirty stuff, funny stuff.”
On what he hopes people get out of his new show: “Well, at the end of the day, I hope everyone has learned a little bit of a lesson. I hope, you know, we’re teaching kids that it’s important to be yourself and to love who you are and to buy anything with my picture or logo on it. I really hope they just eat this stuff up, you know. ‘Look for the helmet. That’s the Warren brand.’ Yeah, it’s important to be yourself, especially on camera. It’s the most interesting thing about reality is how many takes how many takes it takes to get it right.”
“Warren the Ape” premieres in the summer of 2010 on MTV.