If you read this article and still can’t remember the title of “Brad Neely’s Harg Nallin’ Sclopio Peepio,” that’s fine. “It’s intentionally meaningless,” said creator Brad Neely, speaking to IndieWire by phone last week, “which is a lot harder than you would imagine.”
Nonsense seems to be a strong suit for Neely, whose animated sketch show premieres on Adult Swim July 10. The first 10-minute episode made waves when it premiered on Vine last week, a first for the short-form video app, which typically hosts six-second videos. (Vine recently expanded its maximum time-limit to 140 seconds, but Neely’s show is the app’s first full-length video.) “Brad Neely’s Harg Nallin’ Sclopio Peepio” consists of short sketches that bear no relation to the previous one, but they’re all just wacky enough to appeal to Vine’s ADHD-addled viewers.
Neely credits the Internet and good timing with his success as a comic and animator. “I jumped on YouTube when it was young and there wasn’t much competition, so I feel like I got really lucky,” he said. That would be “Wizard People, Dear Reader” (below), an unauthorized alternate audio track for “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” which played the New York Underground Film Festival in 2004.
The 35-chapter audiobook features raspy voiceover from Neely as he describes the film shot for shot. His revisionist narration is chock-full of hilarious bits. (On Hagrid: “Hagar the Horrible, a nightmare of hair…A wall of a man, but buried under his woolen chest is a heart I’d trust a baby with.”) The film placed him in what was is known as the “Illegal Art” movement, a website and record label founded in 1998 of bands that used all samples to create a fresh sound, such as Girl Talk and The Bran Flakes. Neely is also featured in Josh Koury’s documentary, “We are Wizards,” about Harry Potter fandom.
Neely has worked with Adult Swim on three animated web series. “I am Baby Cakes,” “The Professor Brothers,” and “China, Illinois,” all of which share a signature visual style and many of the same characters. Fans of those series will love that “Brad Neely’s Harg Nallin’ Sclopio Peepio” has all of Neely’s quirks but kicks the visuals to a new level. The colors are more vivid, the backgrounds more detailed, and the musical sketches catchy enough to get Neely his own “Book of Mormon.” (Neely consulted on “South Park” for half a season).
As an early Internet adopter, Neely knows how to package his sketches into easily shareable tidbits. “There is no causality from bit to bit. It was made for television with the understanding that it would do really well online,” the animator said. Most of the sketches are under 60 seconds, well below Vine and Twitter’s new maximum length of 140 seconds. “Just do all you need to do and then get out,” said Neely of the jokes. It would be disorienting to watch if each sketch didn’t bear Neely’s distinct imprint: Zany with a heart.
In “Pre-Teen With a Predator Head,” a girl walks the halls of her middle school with a human body and the head of—yes, the predator from “Alien”—doing all the things a pre-teen does. The lyrics to her theme song: “Pre-Teen with a predator head/Trying to fit in wherever she goes/Growing up and stuff like everyone else/What kind of make-up should I use?” It’s funny because it’s so absurd, but it’s also a weirdly sweet way of addressing pubescent insecurities.
Neely puts more thought into his sketches than one might initially glean. The idea for the sketch “Swamp Hag,” for instance, came out of Neely’s own anxieties about climate change. A so-called swamp hag, dripping green goop down her translucent body and “The Ring” hair, attends a town hall meeting to gripe in a Southern twang (“My goddamn bog is drying up y’all… I eat lizards, dude. I eat frogs. And guess what? They’re all dying. So ergo, I’m dying, motherfuckers”).
Neely’s political leanings are apparent in his commitment to diversity in the writer’s room and cast. “For the sake of my show’s content I try to have as diverse a writer’s room as possible. In ‘China, Illinois’ I leaned heavily on the women writers, so I think it’s of major importance to have your writer’s room divided down the middle that way,” said Neely. With views like that, it’s no surprise Neely has been able to attract star comedic talent such as Ilana Glazer, Jeffrey Tambor, Darrell Hammond, Kristen Schaal, and Chelsea Peretti.
For now, the biggest challenge for “Brad Neely’s Harg Nallin’ Sclopio Peepio” will be getting people to remember its name. “We tried some normal titles and it just didn’t match the silliness of the show,” said Neely. He added that it was surprisingly difficult to come up with nonsensical syllables that didn’t evoke anything.
When asked to pin down a meaning to the title, he remained vague. “Those words mean this show,” he said. “That’s what it means.”
“Brad Neely’s Harg Nallin’ Sclopio Peepio” premieres this Sunday, July 10 at 11:45 p.m. ET/PT on Adult Swim.