Going Viral with Casper Kelly
By Elise DeVoe
By now you've probably heard about (and seen) Adult Swim's 11-minute short Too Many Cooks, which went viral after it aired on the network October 28. The video, a parody of 80s and 90s TV sitcom openings, has now been viewed more than 6.5 million times and covered by every media outlet from The Huffington Post to Rolling Stone. It even prompted a Buzzfeed list and character quiz.
Too Many Cooks creator Casper Kelly took a break from shooting season 2 of Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell to talk to us about the inspiration behind his off-beat short, his history with Adult Swim and more.
Why do you think Too Many Cooks resonated with audiences and went viral?
I'm shocked. It has been written up in outlets as diverse as Vice, The New Yorker and People. That's three far apart corners of American culture meeting on this and I don't know why. I've resisted the temptation to try to understand why because then I would be tempted to try to repeat the "formula," and I don't think that would work.
What was the inspiration behind Too Many Cooks?
It was a shower idea of simply a chirpy sitcom show open that keeps adding characters and goes on for a full 11 minutes. The idea made me laugh. Andy Kaufmann's repeat-a-joke-until-the-audience-hates-you sort of comedy. Mike Lazzo [Executive Vice President and Creative Director of Adult Swim] told me even Andy Kaufmann wouldn't do that for 11 whole minutes on television and that I needed to add more to it. He was right.
Tell us a little about the process of creating the video.
Shooting came together quickly but we had to scramble to get actors with the correct look and feel quite quickly. The editing, music and graphics process took a year because we did it around our day jobs of creating Adult Swim TV shows. That time ended up being very beneficial because we could take a break from it and come back a month later with fresh eyes so we knew what to tweak. I also want to tip my hat to Vishal Roney and Keith Crofford for helping us get so much out of such a small budget.
Why is Too Many Cooks airing with infomercials?
Too Many Cooks and the Adult Swim fake infomercials we make are similar in that they are meant to befuddle, confuse and delight the casual viewer who stumbles upon it accidentally at 4 a.m. So it makes sense to air it in that slot.
I was hired to make promos for Cartoon Network by the wonderful Michael Ouweleen and Jen Davidson. It was an incredible training ground and we made a lot of promos, stunts and bumps that were original content and could be playful and show off our love of the cartoons in surprising ways. Then Michael co-created the show Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law and let me write two episodes and script consult on many more. From there I became friendly with Adult Swim and was able to slide over to making TV shows full time: First with Jeffrey Olsen (now VP of AdultSwim.com) and then with Dave Willis (the man who made four great shows for Adult Swim and counting). It is a real community here.
What else are you working on right now?Dave Willis and I are shooting season 2 of Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell - our order got doubled from six episodes to 12 this season, which is awesome! I'll also write for Squidbillies, definitely make more "infomercials", and do other fun things in the works.