Greg Grabianski [Interview]


Today’s interviewee is a guy who I had no idea was impacting my life in a truly fantastic way. Greg Grabianski is an amazing wordsmith who has worked on some of the most hilarious shows and films of our lifetime. From the Scary Movie franchise, to one of my favorite programs of all time, Beavis & Butthead, all the way up to his most recent project, Pickle & Peanut. The latter which also happens to feature our old pal Johnny Pemberton as Peanut!

Yes, for several decades now, Greg has been working on projects you all know and love, whether you realized it or not. He has had a career that is beyond worthy of being shown off a bit. Not to mention he gave us some of the best answers we have ever received here at TWS. He is genuine hell of a guy, and we are so very proud that he has agreed to answer some questions for us today!

So ladies and gentlemen, the great Greg Grabianski!

How did you find yourself in the world of comedy? Have you always had the ability to make people laugh even as a child? Basically, when did you realize that this was the business you wanted to be a part of?

My dad was a cartoonist who had been pretty famous in Europe, so I was around cartoons and jokes since day one. I grew up formed by Mad and Cracked, Wacky Packages, Tex Avery, Tom & Jerry, Three Stooges, Mel Brooks, classic SNL, The Zucker Brothers, Three’s Company. I loved that stuff so much that it was hardwired into me and I wanted to be like all those people: coming up with that kind of stuff seemed like the most fun thing in the world. It also helped that I despised manual labor of any kind and got fired from every non-creative job I’ve ever done. So you see, there was nothing else I could have become.

I have fond memories of The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show hitting the air, and remember believing it was so great and so unique to other later night programming of the time. Of course I was 13 years old, so I’m not sure if that had anything to do with it. I do know I was extremely saddened when it didn’t last as long as I would have liked. I know what I loved about the program, but I’d love to hear what you thought of your stint on this show? What do you believe the ill-informed viewers (as I would call them) simply missing?

The KIW Show was my first staff writing job in TV so I was too inexperienced to realize just how fucked up things were behind the scenes, haha. We were flying by the seat of our pants. We had no “banked” sketches, so we had to come up with new stuff every day. We would pitch new ideas at 10:00 am, finish scripts by noon, get it shot, edited and have it up on the satellite by 5 p.m. The pressure was on every day, but it was exhilarating and fun and we did some fucking insane sketches, all on the fly. After awhile, though, we stopped doing sketches and cut back on the comedy for reasons I’m still unclear on. That’s when I got frustrated and bored, so I quit. A month later, the show was canceled. I think the audience had come to expect these great little weirdo sketches every night, and when they stopped getting them they just tuned out.

A few years later you would rejoin the acclaimed Wayans team to work on one of the greatest spoof films of all time, and arguably one of the finest comedy sequels of all time, Scary Movie 2. How was your experience in working on a very specific type of film like this? Are there specific factors you can tell us about it that make it a different experience all together?

Well the team of writers that are credited with Scary Movie 2 are the team who also wrote the first Scary Movie. We were shafted out of credits for the first one because of studio politics and a weak Writer’s Guild who didn’t stand by us. That aside, writing those movies was just like when you get together with your friends and sit around laughing, making fun of shitty films. But on a higher level because everyone in that room was really funny, so it’s fun and loose, but it’s also serious business. We’d also get “homework” to go off and write parody versions of scenes from different films and bring them in the next day. The great thing about those movies is we just did whatever made us laugh and didn’t worry about things like plot or logic or how it was actually going to be pulled off. Later, we were on set for both films to come up with more stuff on the fly, banging out scenes last minute in the hotel in Vancouver or in the trailers in LA, watching Keenen making all our insane blather a reality. That was a lot of fun.

A lot of writers have been credited as working on this film as well, leaving you in some damn fine company. So what sort of specific scenarios in the film would you say you individually brought to the film?

Oh, man. When you write in a room with others, we all add to the comedy stew. Are there individual scenes in Scary Movie and Scary Movie 2 that are “mine”? Of course. But I won’t tell you which ones. The team that wrote those two movies was stronger than any individual parts. We all had different strengths and weaknesses that complemented one another. People think they can just throw some writers together and come up with something funny. A great comedy writing team is like a band playing music: they have to gel and have to know how to play together. That’s the genius of a guy like Keenen: getting together a team like that and letting us run wild.

After working on Beavis and Butthead during its original run, what was it like to return to the program in 2011. With all of the advancements in media since the show ended back in the 90’s, was it strange to reach back into the time capsule that was this show and start anew? What was that experience like?

I’m not sure what “advancements in media” you mean, but I don’t see Beavis & Butthead as a time capsule at all. You could bring Beavis & Butthead back again in 2025 and they’d still be relevant. Every guy has an inner Beavis & Butthead they can relate to. That relatability is also why it was so easy and fun to get back into writing for the 2011 season. Another thing that made it cool was working out the stories more directly with Mike Judge. In the 90’s I would fax in ideas and scripts, but this time around I got to hang out with Mike, both of us improvising Beavis and Butthead’s voices and letting the characters decide what they wanted to do. It was a great way of working out a story. And look, who wouldn’t want to spend time being Beavis and Butthead with Mike Judge and get paid for it? I love the 2011 Beavis & Butthead. There’s some of my favorite B&B stories in that season.

You have also worked on an abundance of programs geared towards children with the likes of Nickelodeon and Disney. As a man behind shows like Beavis and Butthead and other shows clearly not meant for a child to gaze upon, what is it like to maneuver between these worlds? Do you find it more restrictive to work on the world of television geared for younger audiences?

Not at all. I just wrote on staff for the second season of Pickle & Peanut for Disney and it was as much fun to write for as Beavis or anything else I’ve done. Adult humor doesn’t necessarily make a show any more or less restrictive. Pickle & Peanut is a subversive, really fun adult show disguised as a kid’s show. It’s silly as fuck, but it’s also really smart. I’m amazed at what we were able to get away with on Pickle & Peanut. People can’t believe it’s a Disney show—especially the Disney executives, haha. I hope we get to do a Season 3, but even if we don’t I think people are going to look back on Pickle & Peanut and realize how great of a show it was and how ahead of it’s time it was in the realm of so-called “children’s TV”.

I’ve read through the glory of the Internet that you are quite the world traveler. Well, I guess I read that one single line on a website, so it has to be fact. Anyway, what sort of traveling do you like to do? Where are some specific places you have visited that may have inspired your work as a writer, if any?

Traveling is not so much a specific inspiration, but more of a cleansing of the mental palette. Being part of our culture in America we tend to unconsciously fall into similar thought patterns because people take in the same TV shows, books, movies, news, sights, etc. As a writer, or any creative person, your job—if you do it well— is to interpret the world in new and interesting ways. But that’s hard to do if you’re ingesting the same stimuli, having the same conversations as everyone else. When you go around the world, you see that people do not think like Americans do, their priorities are different, and that outside perspective is a beautiful and essential thing for a creative person to experience.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

The new season of Pickle & Peanut starts on October 23rd! Yes, it’s on Disney XD, and it’s a little tricky to find but it’s well worth it! If you enjoy Beavis & Butthead, you’ll like Pickle & Peanut. There’s no dick jokes—at least not ones that are easy to spot—but like Beavis and Butthead, it captures the essence of what it is to be an American teenage shithead just hanging out with your best friend and being stupid— and what could be better than that?

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Sitting at home in my underwear, listening to punk and metal while writing short stories. There’s nothing better, man.

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About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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