Brad Neely Of Adult Swim's 'China, IL' Talks Karaoke And Cartoons
China, IL, that Adult Swim cartoon about the "worst college in America," is about to embark on its third season. What better way to ring it in than to host a karaoke party at Los Angeles' 70s-themed watering hole? We stopped by Good Times at Davey Wayne's in Hollywood last night to chat with creator Brad Neely and Executive Producer Daniel Weidenfeld. Davey Wayne's was packed last night. Guests got a chance to scarf down a hot dog, watch two sneak peek episodes of China, IL ahead of Sunday's premiere, and watch Neely karaoke "Nothing Compares 2 U" in the style of Professor Frank Smith.
Neely first came to Internet prominence by making strange and hilarious videos, including a music video about a coke-snorting, Terminator-esque George Washington. He's written for South Park and also created Wizard People, Dear Reader, which is meant to be played alongside a muted Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
China, IL is a pretty weird show, if you think demonic butts are weird, but it has a juvenile and topical cleverness about it underneath the vulgarity of its gags. My favorite bit from the sneak peek last night involved white men calling each other "brother."
We asked Neely if he had curated the songs in the karaoke book last night, and he said he had not, but as a karaoke enthusiast, he had added a few choice tracks.
"I have at least 40 go-to karaoke songs that are locked and loaded, just in case," he said. "I like to sing George Michael songs; I like Prince. I like anything where you have to squeal and beg and cry and kick."
Weidenfeld's go-to is "Mother" by Danzig, during which he notably removes his shirt.
Singing is something that will come into play again towards the end of China, IL's third season: their last-episode will be an hour-long, 10-song musical with vocal performances from Cat Power, Jeffrey Tambor, American Horror Story's Evan Peters and Rosa Salazar.
An hour is a long way from the short three- to five-minute clips initially released via the now-defunct Super Deluxe, where China, IL existed as a mini-series in 2008. In 2011, China, IL became an 11-minute series on Adult Swim, then was bumped up to 22 minutes in its second season.
"We're much more suited to a longer format," Neely said. "We're able to tell the stories in a more responsible way. This was both our first television show, so it took us a while to figure out how to best tell the stories that we wanted to tell. We had the characters that we loved, but we were cramming so much in. We've learned how to be more elegant."
This season has a number of special guests outside of the musical as well, including Jason Alexander, Hannibal Buress, Chelsea Peretti, Kate McKinnon and Donald Glover.
"It's an amazing cast," Wiedenfeld. "And Brad [Neely] is an anchor to it because he does the more traditional voices, and the [guest actors] can be themselves."
Glover in particular provides something of an inside jokes to comedy fans. Glover spent several seasons in the cast of Community, Dan Harmon's NBC-now-Yahoo! show about a study group who also attend a not-so-great community college in Colorado. Glover's character is called 'Transfer Billy,' and there's the insinuation that he came in from another school. Greendale, perhaps?
Season 3 of China, IL premieres on Sunday, April 5 at 11:30 p.m.