Flipping Bob's Burgers
For quite a while, Loren Bouchard (Home Movies, Dr.Katz) has been intrigued by idea of multi-generational restaurants and guys that get stuck working in the family business. "It was expected and now it's a little archaic to the modern sensibility," Bouchard suggests. "I just thought that was interesting: Bob's is a workplace comedy and a family comedy, if you can tap into that." Bouchard shared some of his experiences so far on Bob's Burgers, the new Fox animated series that airs Sundays at 8:30 pm.
Bill Desowitz: A family flipping out over burgers. It's an interesting multi-generational twist.
Loren Bouchard: Yeah, originally, I thought we would do three generations with the grandparents. But that would've been too much. There's a rich tradition among a lot of ethnicities. There were a lot of Greek families that I knew in the New England area had restaurants, and there's a great restaurant that used to be in the west Village called Shopsin's, which was made into a movie called I Like Killing Flies. It was a really easily sell: Fox has been onboard from the get-go.
BD: So you've got a gung-ho dad, two precious kids and a wife who's the mediator.
LB: It's the portrait of a businessman as an artist -- he's driven to do these creative burgers and has his burger of the day. But he's not succeeding yet he's committed and he's committed his entire family. The kids aren't just comic relief but built into the DNA of the show is this idea that even the parents can be amused by their own kids -- and irritated. The show is going to survive or fail on the strength of the characters and whether people will give them time.
BD: And you're obviously very performance driven with H. Jon Benjamin as Bob, Dan Mintz as his wife Tina and Eugene Mirman, John Roberts and Kristen Schaal as the kids.
BD: What have the voice sessions been like?
LB: We insist that the actors play off each other. And when the schedule forces us to record an actor, it always feels like a loss. Even if they don't go off script, just the energy that the actors bring to the session, fooling around and making each other laugh, is fun and inspires us. That little [grunt] that Linda says or Bob's [grunt] isn't going to look good on the page, but it becomes part of the scene that's the funniest and you board to and animate to and try to highlight.
BD: What have been some of the happy accidents going off script?
LB: Almost everything that sounds like a tangent was probably improvised or at least was inspired by an improvisation. In episode one, when Tina says she's good with customers and Bob and Linda disagree and the waitress says she can't help it she's autistic and Bob says she's not, and Gene goes and gets toothpicks and does that Rain Man bit, that's all improvised. That's definitely one of the reasons why I'm talking to you now: a little bit of improv that's crafted into the sound of this family. They can be troubled by the health inspector and move along with their little story, and then, all of a sudden, there's this sharp right turn where the kids cause the father to veer off track. And you can tell by the sounds he makes, that Bob is amused. And that's what Jon Benjamin brings as an actor with just the hint of a smile in his voice. And this is straight from a character that Jon does that's his own mother. And he has an extremely deep well of stuff that he draws on effortlessly to bring this character to life. And he does it on YouTube with a wig and glasses and it's really well observed with these wonderful nuances.