When one of an actor’s most iconic roles is someone named “Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter,” you know he’s not afraid of looking like a total lunatic. Jon Glaser has been pushing boundaries of comedy (and the television medium as a whole) since long before that, however. And as A.V. Club readers proved when they submitted a series of questions for him to answer, they’ve been appreciatively watching the whole time. Keep reading to find out Jon’s thoughts on the weird background art from Delocated, how much of himself is in Parks & Recreation’s slimy Councilman Jamm, and what he currently finds to be the most absurd thing in popular culture. (Hint: It involves Donald Trump.)
This post is sponsored by Jon Glaser Loves Gear, a new comedy on truTV premiering Wednesday, October 26, at 10 p.m. Eastern. Following the efforts of Glaser as he sets out to make a docuseries about his greatest passion—gear—it soon becomes clear his obsession threatens to derail all efforts, shooting each episode off into deeply personal tangents. Everything becomes up for debate—except the star’s single-minded love of gear, of course.
Q: Is there a difference between coming up through Second City or Upright Citizens Brigade besides the city they’re located in? Is there a friendly (or unfriendly) rivalry between the two? (via commenter CGI piñata)
Jon Glaser: You’ll get different training and slightly different philosophies. UCB was born from the teachings of Improv Olympic (aka IO) and Del Close, who came from Second City, so there’s some overlap. A lot of it also depends on who your instructors are, at each place. I don’t think there’s any rivalry between the two, unless you count the time Rachel Dratch tried to knife Matt Walsh after an Asssscat a few years ago.
Q: How does your perception of absurdity in popular culture inform your comedic creativity, and what aspects of society do you find to be most particularly absurd? (via commenter Joshua Ryan Trout)
JG: Hard to say about the first question, although it’s a good question. For me, it feels like my ideas are more specific to random thoughts or single ideas I might have, as opposed to being influenced by a general perception of absurdity. As for your second question, I’ll just hone in on one thing and say the Trump campaign.
Q: Some episodes of Delocated were only 11 minutes long yet feature a lot of twists and turns in the plot. How hectic was it shooting that show? (via commenter wmcgee)
JG: I don’t recall it feeling particularly hectic due to the density of the scripts. It was more about trying to accomplish a lot in a day and was a very fun shoot. But we did pack a lot of stupidity into those episodes.
Q: Mr. Glaser, your roles, from Parks & Rec to Trainwreck, typically utilize a dark comedic approach or downright obnoxiousness. What part of your personality do you channel when playing roles like Councilman Jamm or Schultz the reporter? How much is improvised and how much is writers room gold? (via Theodore G.)
JG: Please, call me Jonathan. I would like to think that I am channeling zero parts of my personality when I play such obnoxious dickhead assholes like Jamm or Schultz. But I suppose we all have a lil’ inner or outer a-hole inside of us, just waiting for the right opportunity to rear their own beautiful buttholes. On Parks & Rec and Trainwreck, there was a lil’ bit of improv, and plenty of amazing writing.
Q: What’s your essential gear for a beach day at Coney Island? (via Matt S.)
JG: Let’s go head to toe: Wide-straw sun hat. Boss shades. Old, comfy, 100 percent cotton muscle T where you cut off the sleeves because they were pit-stained. Tasteful length swimsuit. Slather all exposed skin in a high-quality sunscreen with zinc. My dermatologist recommends Elta MD; it’s excellent. Bring a 175-gram Frisbee. Kadima. Plenty of water, and plenty of ice-cold Guinness in your cooler.
Q: When life bums you out, what sorts of things do you do to punt your sadness away? (via commenter Luthius)
JG: Nice Neon Joe phrasing. Here’s a few things: Look at photos and videos of my kids. Enjoy a good watermelon juice. Listen to “Oh Come On” by The Julie Ruin. Watch YouTube videos of Charles Woodson’s interception against MSU.
Q: How much of Councilman Jamm’s personality was developed by the writers, and how much was a product of improvising on set? (via commenter SpicyMayoJaySimpson)
JG: I took what was created by the writers, which was grade-A-for-asshole, douchebag, fun-as-hell lines. We’d get to improvise a little bit, but the vast majority of it was in the writing. That thar was a great time. So much fun.
Q: Jon, I read in an interview that you wanted a fourth season of Delocated; could you tell us what that might have included? (via commenter Keith Fowler)
JG: I have an idea for a fourth season that I love, and I am still holding out hopes that it might happen, so I’ll hold off saying what any ideas might be until I get a 100 percent confirmed “This is never going to happen” from Adult Swim. Also, to be clear, it wasn’t so much that I “wanted” to do a fourth season. I certainly would have loved to do more, but I also thought it was a perfect place to end it. I am very proud of the show, and especially proud of the finale
Q: What is the shortest amount of time it took for you to write a character for Late Night With Conan O’Brien? (via Caleb S.)
JG: Haha. I don’t know, but there were plenty of times some writers would make some kind of stupid joke to each other and then it was on TV that night or that week. Truly one of the best jobs.
Q: What did you learn while writing and/or shooting Delocated that prepared you for Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter? And do you have any favorite comedy films that you feel are under-seen or underrated? (via Austin T.)
JG: Ground the main character in stupidity. Hire a good cast and a good crew. The answer I always give to this [second] question is Local Hero. One of my favorite movies. That and The Rutles.
Q: What is your favorite abbrev of all time? (via Alex in Boston)
JG: Probably gotta go with guac. Also keep an ear out for “naytch” in Jon Glaser Loves Gear. That’s short for “nature”—as in Mother Nature, as in “Mother Naytch.”
Q: You really proved yourself as a TV auteur with Delocated and Neon Joe. Do you have any plans to write and star in a feature film? If we’re lucky, maybe a buddy comedy with Jon Benjamin? (via John K.)
JG: Thank you for the kind words. No plans as of now for a feature, but I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to doing that. Jon Benjamin and I are both very fortunate to be individually busy, but we’ve always talked about doing something together, and hopefully that’ll happen some day.
Q: “Ding Dong Football” is obviously one of the best names for a dog ever. However, I don’t want to go through the hassle of being one of 20 people at the dog park shouting, “Come here, Ding Dong Football,” to a dozen or so confused pups. Do you have other, equally as perfect names for a dog? (via Luke C.)
JG: How, in any way, shape, or form, is what you just described a “hassle”?
Q: I need to know more about the squirrel artwork in Jon’s loft during [Delocated] season three. Who is the artist? What happened to it? (via Scott O.)
JG: Ha, pretty sure this was just a dumb idea put together with stock photos. I don’t know if anyone kept it or if it ended up in the trash. I am sorry it is not hanging in your home right now. There was a lot of good, stupid art in that loft. One of my favorite moments in season three (I can’t remember the episode) is when “Jon” is having a tough time with something and tries to soothe his soul by sitting and staring at his Lamborghini poster on the wall.