Hands down, my favorite moment to come out of this interview with Brian Wysol, creator of Adult Swim’s new twisted comedy series Hot Streets, was discovering that Justin Roiland of Rick and Morty fame once told him that he might have gone too far with one of his jokes. That’s pretty impressive. To find out just what Roiland was talking about, you’ll have to tune into the premiere of Hot Streets on Adult Swim this Sunday, January 14th at midnight ET/PT. But in the meantime, you can read more about the show in my chat with Wysol and guest star (and all around hilarious talent) Randall Park.
Hot Streets centers around FBI Agent Mark Branski (JD Ryzner), his partner Donald French (Scott Chernoff), his niece Jen Sanders (Chelsea Kane), and her dog (voiced by Roiland), who investigate supernatural phenomena; Park guest stars as Donovan Kim and Ming-Na Wen stars as lead agent Soo Park. It’s pretty nuts, but if you understand Wysol’s earlier work, things start to get a little clearer. We talked about that and much more in the following interview.
What was the initial pitch for Hot Streets?
Brian Wysol: I pitched it as two FBI detectives investigating the supernatural, and then we get the aid of his niece and her dog. It’s basically a kind of a riff on X-Files and Scooby-Doo! where you have a group of characters investigating a mystery, sometimes they separate and then it comes together at the end. First and foremost, it’s an adventure show, so every single episode will take place in a new location.
For example, in the first episode, we’ve got more in the city with Donovan Kim and a little bit of Egypt, then next episode we go to Snake Island, the next episode, outer space. Every episode kind of bounces around.
How did the idea come about?
Wysol: I was a part of this film community called Channel 101 where you would make these little short films and the audience would vote on which mini-TV show they’d like to come back the next month. It’s actually a part of the same community that Randall Park came from; he used to also make his own content for that film festival. I had made two particular shorts: One was called “We Solve the Crime” and the other one was “Hot Cross Buns.” When I made those two shorts, they were the favorites of mine, so to create a show, I merged the sensibilities of those two shorts and that’s kind of the genesis of the show.
What was your story-breaking process like on Hot Streets, a world where anything seems possible?
Wysol: There were no limits. We really wanted to make each episode as big as possible. It’s difficult in a 15-minute time constraint to do this, but yeah the impetus was to make it an adventure show so that you don’t really know what you’re going to expect week to week. So that was definitely something when we were breaking them, like, “What can we do that’s totally different than the last episode we made?”
How did your prior work experience on things like Rick and Morty lend itself to this process?
Wysol: Working at Rick and Morty, that was my first professional writing job and I learned how to break stories from having worked at Channel 101 and having worked at Rick and Morty. I used a lot of the techniques that they use. Dan Harmon deconstructed Joseph Campbell’s monomyth and turned it into a story circle, which is just a way to structure the episode thematically and make sure you hit the characters and the characters’ stories. Having worked with Rick and Morty definitely informs the way I approach breaking stories.