Neon Joe: Werewolf Hunter, a five-night special from Adult Swim, punches America in the face this week, proving that Jon Glaser is one of the strangest and most talented minds in comedy right now. After a werewolf begins attacking citizens in the fictional town of Garrity, Vermont (B&B Town, USA!), who can they turn to but the gun-slinging, erotica-writing loner, Neon Joe. As secrets get revealed and pubes get tested, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems in this hilarious horror parody.
Glaser is at his comedic best as the one-eyed Joe, but there’s a wealth of hilarious performers adding their own weirdness to the show. Uproxx had the opportunity to chat with Scott Adsit, who plays the local barkeep, Sonny Cocoa, and Stephanie March, who plays Garrity’s deadpan mayor.
Jon Glaser’s characters and his comedic style is just insane, over the top and hilariously bizarre. Neon Joe is no different. What was it about this project that drew you to it in the first place?
Scott Adsit: Well, I’ve known Jon from years ago, we did Second City together back in the ’90s. I felt we had a very good rapport, and it was a great time. So, any time I get a chance to work with Jon, I do, and by doing TV shows, I can get paid for it, so that’s nice too. I just love everything that Glaser does, so I follow him around when he calls.
Stephanie March: I would say I love everything he does, and I follow the two of them around, although this is the first time I have had the opportunity to work with Jon. I worked with Scott briefly before on 30 Rock, but I never worked with Jon before. And it was just too funny and weird and so different from the other things that I’ve worked on not to try it. Scott said it best, saying nobody plays a fatuous, confident asshole better than Jon. But it was still the absolutely nicest, kindest, and most generous group of people. I just felt so comfortable and had a great time.
Stephanie, you’ve done comedy before, but most people know you from Law & Order: SVU, which I imagine is a tightly scripted show, so was it a bit of a challenge working with the more seasoned improv comics, or did you just jump right in?
March: Yeah, there isn’t a lot of improv around the legalese. There is no question that it’s pretty intimidating, but for the most part, my part, as the straight woman, was pretty scripted. I didn’t improvise a whole lot, and certainly it is something like being a jazz musician or something. Once you establish a relationship with someone, you can really riff, and Jon and Scott have been doing this for a long time and can really do that. It was fun to watch, certainly. Like a free Upright Citizen’s Brigade Show. Any little opportunity I had was really fun.
Adsit: And Stephanie’s really funny, as you know from watching the show. She is, in her straight role, very, very funny.
March: You’re so nice! That’s very generous. He’s a very generous performer.
Adsit: Well, I just feel sorry for you, so I have to be nice.
March: [Laughs.] Yep, that’s it!
Tell me a little bit about the process of creating the unique quirks that these characters have, like Sonny’s obsession with playing the fake werewolf and the Mayor’s deadpan approach to everything. Were these things that you had planned out from the get go, or did they develop more as you were filming?
March: I felt like, for me, Jon had a very clear idea of how everybody sounded in the show, and how each character was totally different from one another. I felt like I got some very good and clear direction. I can’t say that I was particularly creative, but I was good at following orders, I guess.
Adsit: I feel like my character has a bit of an arc that we weren’t even that aware of when we were shooting. I think of it this way: His personality evolves over the course of the show and may have setbacks in his behavior that come and go. That’s really a nice way of saying that my performance is very inconsistent.
March: It’s not inconsistent, but it is bananas.
I love how Neon Joe just massacres the classic horror tropes. The homage to Misery in the second episode stands out the most to me. Were there any in particular that you were looking forward to tackling or any favorite horror films that worked their way into the project?
March: I can honestly say no, there wasn’t anything I was expecting because it was always unexpected.
Building off of things being unexpected, can you tell me a little bit more about the evolution of the show? Was there a lot of improv, overall, and did you find yourself going to places that surprised you?
Adsit: For me, yeah. The scripts were very tightly written and funny already. We didn’t feel like “Let’s fix this on set.” There wasn’t a need to fix anything, so the improv that we did do was just due to the fact that it was going swiftly and happily and [we] just fooled around a little bit here and there. For my part, I would add lines or alter lines to try to make Jon laugh, essentially, and I’m told that some of those stayed in. But the scripts were just so good.
Yeah, I can’t imagine that there was a lot to change. Scott, can you tell me a little about working on W/ Bob and David and seeing the really strong public support for that reunion and the new material?
Adsit: Yeah, that was pretty great. I was not involved as much as others. They kinda brought me in to perform in a couple sketches, one of which was a concept that I came up with and wrote the first draft with Dino Stamatopoulos, and it went through the works and became this really good scene, if you remember, in the bar. That was the extent of my involvement, just that scene and the fact that I was in one of the bits. But, what I do know is being on the set was fantastic. Everybody has stayed in touch all these years, and has worked together in smaller groups, and this really felt like a family reunion and everyone just went right back into it. There wasn’t a lot of reminiscing. There wasn’t a lot of sentimentality, it was just like, “Alright, let’s work.” It was a very natural groove; like they had just taken a month off.
The other thing was is that everybody is, 20 years later or whatever, much less cynical than they were before. They’ve kind of matured, and they were really pleased to be there with each other, working together. There was very little ill will, and I didn’t see any fighting, and I think everybody was really happy with the material. Dino [Stamatopoulos] especially told me that he just was so impressed with how funny the show was, and how it might have even been better than Mr. Show, so I was really pleased to be a part of that. It was really special.
Is there any chance we might see you reunite with the 30 Rock gang on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?
Adsit: Well, there’s been rumblings, but I don’t know. Sometimes it’s hard to get the schedule right. Maybe. I can only say “maybe” at this point. I hope so. It’s a great show.
Is there anything that you can tell fans of Neon Joe looking at the final three episodes? Maybe a hint of what’s to come?
March: We’re sort of under a gag order. I don’t think there’s anything we can say. It get’s even crazier.
Adsit: It all pays off very well, and makes narrative sense, too, even though it’s nearly avant garde. It’s really very, very funny.
March: I will say hang in there. To anybody watching, hang in there. It’s really going to coalesce, I promise.
I know it’s a limited engagement, but is there any talk of a second season? The first few episodes were well received, so if there is a demand, is there a possibility of Neon Joe season two?
Adsit: I think we’d all like to do it. I know Adult Swim is very pleased with it, as far as I’ve heard, and I would think that it would be up to Glaser whether we do a second season or not.
March: I think we’re all game, and I think Jon probably is, too. I think we’d like to, but it’s one of those things where we wait and see what happens.
Adsit: And Jon has a lot of projects, so who knows where this will fall on his lineup.
March: That’s true, Jon works a lot. We have to take that into considerations.
To wrap up, do you have any memories from set or any favorite scenes that you would like to share with our readers?
March: I wish I could, but that would ruin it.
Adsit: Yeah, I kind of agree. There’s some really good stuff coming.
Well, we’ll see if you guys can top werewolf pubes. That seems like a pretty high benchmark to me.
March: Get ready, America!
Neon Joe: Werewolf Hunter airs every night this week at midnight on Adult Swim.