Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter is the sort of nightmare fuel that only Jon Glaser and the wicked folks over at PFFR (Delocated, The Heart, She Holler) can make possible. Glaser has been making a serious name for himself in the television realm in recent years. The former Late Night With Conan O’Brien writer has risen from a niche alt comic to a well-known name that’s been antagonizing opposite the likes of Amy Poehler, Lena Dunham, and Amy Schumer. Werewolves are a ripe topic to populate an Adult Swim series, but the hairy beasts are only just the beginning here. Neon Joe isn’t afraid to throw the entire paranormal kitchen sink at you.
Comfortably filling up the sidelines in Glaser’s latest brand of madness are a formidable cast of performers, which includes Scott Adsit and Stephanie March. The mini-series event, which is currently airing at midnight every night of this week on Adult Swim, sees Adsit and March playing prominent townspeople of Garrity “B&B Town USA” Vermont. While Glaser’s Neon Joe is very much the series’ titular centerpiece, the twisted town of Garrity certainly manage to give the trigger-happy Cajun a run for his money. Den of Geek caught up with Adsit and March to talk the supernatural, their biggest fears, and the best way to K.O. a lycanthrope.
DEN OF GEEK: Stephanie, you’ve had some bit roles in comedy through the years—even a spot on 30 Rock with Scott—but this is your first real regular role in the genre. What’s that been like? How did you get involved with this production?
STEPHANIE MARCH: Well you’re nice to put it hat way. I got involved the old-fashioned way—I just auditioned off the street. It was too weird and great to pass up and I thought, “Well you know, whatever.” I mean Jon has a fantastic reputation and John Lee has a great reputation, so why not? And I got really, really, really lucky and I got the role. It was a blast. So, so, so fun.
SCOTT ADSIT: And she got the role because she’s so funny.
DEN OF GEEK: Scott, you’ve been working with Adult Swim for a while now, starting with Moral Orel, to Frankenhole, and beyond that. In fact, your performance as Clay Puppington in the “Nature” episode of Moral Orel is still one of my favorite things ever.
SCOTT ADSIT: Thank you, gosh.
DEN OF GEEK: What is it about the network that keeps bringing you back?
SCOTT ADSIT: Well Adult Swim is like the last bastion for auteurs on TV, I think. The people in charge really appreciate the artists that they hire–and think of them as artists–and allow them to express themselves in the way that they want to, generally. Lazzo will give notes, but he does let people kind of follow their vision, which is great. But it’s great also that he trusts you. You’ve got kind of an infinite horizon. So it’s great for the creator or anyone involved creatively in these things because you just get to do what you’ve intended to do.
DEN OF GEEK: Along those lines Scott, you have plenty of experience working with Jon Glaser and PFFR. You were in the final season of The Heart, She Holler and also in one of my favorite Delocated episodes [“Dog Mayor”]. Why do you enjoy working with on so much?
SCOTT ADSIT: I’ve known Jon since our days together at Second City. On the main stage in Chicago. He always just had a different tae on what is funny than what anyone had ever seen. And we clicked. We had a good time together, and were rising and were seeing our styles compliment each other. So two things: He’s a very good friend of mine, and, he’s a very positive and sweet presence in my life. Just a fantastic guy. So when he said, “I’v got this show that I want you to be apart of,” I just jumped at it because I want to have a good time. And Jon kind of guarantees a good time for the people that he hires.
DEN OF GEEK: The series has such a crazy backstory to it, stemming from a weird in-joke that Jon kept pushing, and some very confusing live performances from him as this one-note character, Neon Joe. It even ended up carrying over into The Tonight Show. What’s your opinion on the show’s origin story, coming from some random nonsense that amused Jon, rather than say a web series, short film, or some pre-existing text?
STEPHANIE MARCH: I think the fact that Jon could reverse engineer a joke into a five-part mini-series is pretty great.
DEN OF GEEK: It’s insane.
STEPHANIE MARCH: People have asked us if we think or hope there will be a second season. We don’t know on either account, but if he can do that for the first season, I’m sure he can whip up something special for number two.
SCOTT ADSIT: People ask us to talk about the second season when Jon never expected to put on that outfit more than once!
STEPHANIE MARCH: Exactly! Exactly! We shot the pilot back in December of 2013 and we did not shoot the series until the past summer. That’s well over a year and a half later. I don’t think expectations were particularly high when it all started and then it just kept gaining a life of its own.
DEN OF GEEK: It sounds like it.
SCOTT ADSIT: Also this is the only network that would condition a series this way.
STEPHANIE MARCH: Right. I’m sure that’s true.
DEN OF GEEK: Off of title alone!
SCOTT ADSIT: Yeah. “That sounds funny! That could be a series.”
STEPHANIE MARCH: When I try to explain it to people–people say, “What are you working on?” And I say, “It’s called–wait for it–‘Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter.” And then they say, “What’s it about?” and I say, “It’s about a man who only wears neon, who’s kind of Cajun, who hunts werewolves,” and it doesn’t seem to clear anything up.
DEN OF GEEK: If anything it complicates it.
STEPHANIE MARCH: You just have to see it.
SCOTT ADSIT: I’m hoping for some kind of spin-off like, Neon Joe: SVU.
STEPHANIE MARCH: Oh my God. That would be amazing. I just don’t want to be a lawyer. You can be the lawyer.
SCOTT ADSIT: Werewolves and sexual assault.
DEN OF GEEK: With werewolves, vampires, and all of that supernatural business hitting such a fever pitch lately–even a crime drama like Fargo is getting into aliens this season–is it nice to subvert that well and have a fresh take on this overdone genre?
SCOTT ADSIT: Well it’s certainly–there’s an alien aspect to the show, and it is really silly. But it does kind of have it roots and some sort of truism as far as the genre goes. The take is all very through the filter of Jon Glaser. So it feels a little homespun and everything is based on–essentially whims of his while he’s writing. I think he just thinks of, “What would be funny?” and then reverse engineers that as the correct way to get to that point. There’s usually something very low tech and low stakes, and kind of cozy. If that makes sense. It’s kind of aliens redone.
DEN OF GEEK: I guess kind of as a response to that is the mini-series something that Jon had fairly meticulously plotted out? Or was he fairly game to change the story on the fly and stumble upon new revelations?
STEPHANIE MARCH: Well I felt that plot-wise it was very particular because it does take this very interesting and specific trajectory.
It goes in a direction that I think even the best improvisers wouldn’t be able to come up with. But I think internally in scene work, particularly between Jon and Scott–although I should let him speak to this–they’ve worked together as improvisers for so long that they were able to riff on a scene together really well.
SCOTT ADSIT: Yeah, and I do think that once Jon and John Lee figured out what the trajectory of the show would be it became an easy groove for them, but I think it was all just throwing everything out and seeing what stays on the wall.
DEN OF GEEK: The two of you are pretty much playing polar opposites here. Scott, you’re a crazy, near-feral type, and Stephanie you’re the resolved, in control mayor of Garrity. How did that dynamic work for you? Did you like being on your respective ends of the spectrum of craziness or would you prefer to be swapped?
STEPHANIE MARCH: Well I’m used to typecasting, so…That’s such an interesting question. The whole project in and of itself was so far outside of what I usally get to do that I’m not sure that I was even conscious of the differences within the project.
SCOTT ADSIT: Well we compliment each other well because she’s so reserved and tight-assed and I’m like a firework going off. And Stephanie is so grounded that it’s easy to–if I’m a basketball I’m bouncing off of her backboard really well.
STEPHANIE MARCH: Jon is one of the few people who can say something over and over again and you can be on take seven and take seven is still as funny as take one. He’s just so creatively out there.
SCOTT ADSIT: Stephanie would you want to play a crazy role like that? Would you like to be over the top?
STEPHANIE MARCH: I would love to. I would love to have the opportunity to try it. It would be interesting to see whether or not I’d be able to do it–I’d like to think I could, but I would be intimidated for sure. I mean, if you want to pay me to try, then great!
DEN OF GEEK: There’s something also reassuring and familiar in this premise of a close-knit community letting in a stranger and suddenly all of their secrets are in danger of being discovered. Neon Joe plays into this, but also deconstructs the idea appropriately. Do you think it’s important to have a familiar idea to lampshade the premise on? Is it helpful for the audience to have something to connect to before you blow them away?
STEPHANIE MARCH: I think it helps to start somewhere that feels a little familiar or a path that people recognize to go in a particular direction. The payoff is better accordingly.
SCOTT ADSIT: Yeah, and then you can recognize the 180; the left turn…
STEPHANIE MARCH: Exactly. Exactly.
SCOTT ADSIT: You’re comfortable and then you’re disrupted.
DEN OF GEEK: Okay, so if you were werewolf hunters what would your strategies be for taking down the beasts?
STEPHANIE MARCH: How do you know that I’m not one right now?
SCOTT ADSIT: I would seduce and break its heart.
STEPHANIE MARCH: Brute strength, for me. Brute strength.
DEN OF GEEK: Scott, on The Heart, She Holler you stepped in to play a character that had been played by somebody else, and Stephanie, in SVU your character ended up leaving for an extended period of time, with new characters filling the void. If you had to choose somebody else to step in and play your characters here—not that you should be replaced, but just in the sense of who you would like to see channeling your personas—who would you pick?
SCOTT ADSIT: Gary Busey for me.
STEPHANIE MARCH: I like it.
SCOTT ADSIT: I would play the hot lesbian mayor in a heartbeat.
STEPHANIE MARCH: And I would play the crazy barkeep in a heartbeat.
DEN OF GEEK: Great! Just swap them yourselves. Why not?
SCOTT ADSIT: Stephanie, do you find that often when you’re in a waiting room at a casting session you find yourself sitting next to Gary Busey?
STEPHANIE MARCH: Constantly! Constantly. That guy is so annoying. He’s always bugging me about my technique.
DEN OF GEEK: On a show that deals with werewolves and frightening things of that nature, what scares you guys? What frightens you?
STEPHANIE MARCH: Oh, going dark. Hmm, well, heights, but that’s a boring one. Essentially, basically, the fear of heights. Also the fear of having to sit through another hungry casting session before another job.
DEN OF GEEK: And Busey. Don’t forget him.
SCOTT ADSIT: I’m afraid of my mother’s paranoia. The more she watches FOX News the more afraid she gets.
DEN OF GEEK: We’re all on the same page here. Finally, what’s the best thing about being apart of a universe where Paul Rudd is no longer alive?
SCOTT ADSIT: Well you always want Paul Rudd around…
DEN OF GEEK: But he’s gone!
SCOTT ADSIT: But it’s nice to know what the world would be like without him.
STEPHANIE MARCH: I guess it’s the beginning of many great artistic experiences.
DEN OF GEEK: Right, someone will have to step in to fill the Paul Rudd void.
SCOTT ADSIT: That’s right.
Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter is on Adult Swim at midnight for the rest of the week. Our review of the mini-series can be found here.