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INTERVIEW: Kevin Shinick on the 100th Episode of MAD

INTERVIEW: Kevin Shinick on the 100th Episode of MAD

Tonight at 8:30ET/7:30PT, Cartoon Network will
present the 100th episode of the Emmy and Annie award nominated MAD. Like the Sistine Chapel, the moon
landing and Bruce Jenner’s face, they said a regular, timely animated version
of MAD Magazine couldn’t be done, but
100 episodes later, series Head Writer/Producer Kevin Shinick and his team
proved the naysayers, well… nay.

GREG EHRBAR: Tell us about the excitement surrounding
the 100th
MAD show.

KEVIN SHINICK: First of all, because it’s airing on
the 11/11, we’ve declared it “national corduroy day!” And we’re calling the 100th
episode a “double spectacular” because it’s twice the length of a regular
episode. It’s got everything you love about our show, plus a look back at moments
from past episodes. And like the Oscars, there’s a memorial segment for characters
that haven’t made it to the 100th episode. 

GREG:  How was it to work with Weird Al
Yankovic for this show?

KEVIN: He was just a dream. Weird Al’s
excitement for MAD is over the moon and he’s wanted
to be on for a while. We also have Henry Winkler as Jor-El in our “MAD of
Steel” segment and he nails it hilariously.

they said it all couldn’t be done, right?

It blows my mind, Greg. To make MAD
a reality, we had to be topical and fast. Legal people said we couldn’t do all
these parodies and I said, “That’s what MAD
does, we have to do that or why are we even in business?” Production people
said there was no way to do it this fast. People from other companies even
said, “Yeah, good luck trying to pull this off!” And here we are, 100 episodes later.

GREG: How is it done?

KEVIN: I really do
attribute it to my incredible staff. We all do multiple things here. The reason
we’ve been successful is thanks to our solid in-house staff of about 15
animators and three writers as the core group. We also farm out other stuff to
maybe half a dozen companies—all within North America, though.

GREG: All domestically?! You must
take great pride in that, “Mr. Lou Scheimer”

KEVIN:  (laughs) Yes,
I really do. It also helps because we avoid the time involved with sending
animation overseas I’m not kidding when I say I will record something today
that will be on the air in a month.

GREG: To stay up to date, do
you do what
SNL does? They always write their cold
opens and news segments last.

KEVIN: Exactly.
The topicals at the top of the show are the last to go in. I usually record
those about two weeks out from the airdate. Our longest sketches take as long
as eight weeks to produce. If a big movie or something like that is coming up, sometimes
we can see it early. Worse case scenario is to use preview trailers, but most
of these movies are reboots or based on books, so we can figure out where
they’re going.

GREG:  There have been numerous attempts to
MAD Magazine to stage, records and TV,
including some previous animated pilots. Why do you think you finally captured
the flavor?

KEVIN:  I really wanted this to be the TV
version of the magazine. We really felt we had the stamp of approval by
involving a lot of the MAD artists
with the show, like Sergio Aragones and Tom Richman Richmond – who is the “Mort Drucker” of today. We use Don Martin’s style too. Al Jaffe is still sharp as a tack at
98. We’ve got one of his “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” segments in the
100th show.

GREG: After 100 MAD episodes, how many times have you heard from the people you’ve made
fun of on the show?

KEVIN: I gotta be honest. I was hoping to get
a cease and desist letter from somebody so I could frame it in my office! Most
times we get people saying, “I loved it when you parodied my show or when I saw
myself on MAD!” I haven’t had any complaints, darn it!

GREG: And now MAD is a huge number one

KEVIN: We’re working around the clock to deliver them.
On Robot Chicken, it took us 10 years
to hit 100 episodes – and MAD’s doing it by season four. It’s crazy! I’m shocked
that we are at 100 episodes already.

Below: An exclusive clip from tonight’s 100th episode: 

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