I had a sneak peek at a new series that Nickelodeon will debut this Saturday morning and I want to give you the heads up: It’s winner!
Sanjay and Craig is the story of two best friends — one of whom happens to be a talking snake — and it was created by the trio of Jim Dirschberger, Andreas Trolf and Jay Howell (yes, he designed the characters on Bob’s Burgers). The show is hilarious – and has a fresh point of view. Yes, it’s more a “Fox-like” sitcom and less an animators tour-de-force, but it delivers the laughs – pretty much non-stop.
The thing I especially like about the show is that it feels more like a primetime series or a Comedy Central show than a “kids-show”. That feeling of ‘including the adults’ harkens back to earlier Nick series such as Ren & Stimpy, Spongebob, Invader Zim — and I welcome its return.
I had a chance to do a quick Q&A with co-creator Andreas Trolf:
How did you three get together?
AT: Jim, Jay and I are all friends from having lived in San Francisco for a while. We all worked with each on various projects throughout the years. Audrey Diehl at Nick approached Jim and Jay about pitching something we got together and came up with the idea of redeveloping an idea we had for a fanzine ten years ago. It was about a adult snake charmer named Sanjay. We aged him down and took the snake-charming aspect out of it. The relationship of a human and a wise cracking snake always really appealing to us and we created a world out that.
What are your roles on this show?
AT: My background is in fiction writing. Jay is the art director, Jim is our post-production maniac. He’s a filmmaker and editor. Between the three of us relatively-unexperienced dudes, we combined our talents into one thing. We get to work with an incredible team over here (at Nick Studios in Burbank), Thurop Van Ormon, Ryan Crego, Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi – we are getting the benefit of their years of experience making shows I’ve watched my whole life. The three of us have a say on everything on the show, but I’m centered around the writing room, Jay is cranking with his art team, and Jim and Throup are working away, editing.
The timing on this show is hilarious…
AT: Our timing director is Alan Smart and he’s been on everything, first and foremost from The Simpsons and Spongebob. Between him, Ryan Crego and Steve Downs, the timing goes through a refining process. Between the first storyboard pitch and when we send the animatic off the jokes get funnier. I just laughed today at a joke I wrote two months ago because these guys are making it read as best as it possibly can.
None of you creators are Indian. How did you decide to use a lead character of that ethnic backround?
AT: Yeah, to put it bluntly we’re three white dudes. Sanjay is bi-racial, his mother is white and his father is from India. I hope people are cool about it – I see no reason they shouldn’t be. To us it felt like something that was ready to happen. It’s something we wanted to explore. If we are lucky to get a second or third season we will be exploring his background. I’m a child of immigrants and it informs who I am. I was the first member of my family that was born in the United States. The main thing we want to get across with Sanjay is that he’s an American kid – and an American kid can come from anywhere.
Although the show is on Nick, it feels a little smarter than the average show aimed at kids…
AT: There’s so much room for smart engaging children’s programming. What we wanted to do was make a show we wanted to watch. And if we make it compelling for kids in a way that doesn’t talk down to them, it’ll be engaging for adults too.
Sanjay and Craig starts running, once a week, on Saturday, May 25th, at 10:30 a.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon. The 20-episode first season, produced by Nickelodeon Animation Studios, stars Maulik Pancholy of 30 Rock as Sanjay and Chris Hardwick (of Nerdist) as Craig, the snake. Additional voice actors include Linda Cardellini (Freaks and Geeks) as friend Megan; Kunal Nayyar (The Big Bang Theory) as father Vijay, Matt Jones (Breaking Bad) as Hector and Tony Hale (Arrested Development) as Mr. Noodman. Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi (Pete and Pete) are producing the series.
Here’s a brief clip: