SDCC ’13: CHINA, IL Interview With Jeffrey Tambor & Executive Producers

If you’re not watching Adult Swim’s China, IL, you’re making a huge mistake.  Outlandish characters in disturbingly familiar stories from The University of China, IL (“The Worst College in America”) are brought to hilariously off-putting life.  Based on Brad Neely’s original shorts from the now-defunct website Super Deluxe, the show is a fresh and funny look at an America rarely seen in entertainment.  You may not know who Brad Neely is now, but you probably saw a hilarious animated song about George Washington making its way around the inter webs several years ago, that’s who I’m talking about!  At Comic Con ’13 we had the opportunity to sit down with series creator, Brad Neely, executive producer, Daniel Weidenfeld, and star, Jeffrey Tambor to discuss the upcoming season.  Here are the highlights:


Half-Hour Episodes – Doubling the original 15-minute time slot, fans now get twice the amount of China, IL than before!  Neely and Weidenfeld are excited for the chance to take time telling stories and flesh out many of the characters, including Professor Cakes (Jeffrey Tambor).  Tambor was genuinely surprised to hear this as he thought for sure they were already half-hours (So that’s why he kept getting the ‘do it a little faster’ note).

“Reinventing the Wheel” – “Addicted to the edge in his career”, it is obvious that Tambor loves these guys and this show!  He praises Neely and Weidenfeld for being the “funniest guys going”, “reinventing the wheel”, and being “unlike anything he’s ever seen”.  I can only agree.

Getting Gerwig – They had trouble casting the female lead, but after watching Greenberg Neely knew that Greta Gerwig was the only choice.  They didn’t think such a big star would join the project, but Tambor explained that “an actor will go to a script” when they connect with it.

No Improv – The show is entirely scripted, although they allow the actors to do alternate takes.  Tambor’s alternates get used often.  Do yourself a favor and peep the gut bustingly hilarious Professor Brothers short “Office Hours”, then you will understand why I had to know if it was improvised!

They Push a Certain Envelope – Tambor interjects with a question of his own for the producers, “Where are you trying to go that other people don’t?”  Neely responds with, “I want to talk about those stories that people haven’t talked about, but everybody knows.”  He is interested in what happens when people are “roped in” to relationships within their families and work.

On Animation – Tambor has another question, “The animation is not fuzzy and warm, why is that?”  Neely likes the flatness because there is nowhere to hide.  The clean basic building blocks allow the eye to easily digest it.  The product is not comfortable, and Tambor likes that.  Natural reads and natural poses are what Neely loves and strives for.

Fresh Truths – “We are finding fresh truths, not every story has been told.” – Brad Neely

Here Comes Kenny Winker! – New characters and characters from the Super Deluxe shorts are coming to The University of China, IL, including the famed pop singer, Kenny Winker (Once again I must implore you to watch “Office Hours” so that you understand why Kenny Winker is so exciting!).  The student population will also be fleshed out.  Comedian, Hannibal Buress, will play an all-American athlete and the legendary James Hong will be making a cameo.

Shorts Vs. TV – Neely says the difference between doing the shorts and TV is talking out the stories with everyone instead of just doing it alone.  Despite TV taking the immediacy away from the audience, Adult Swim is totes on their side.  I’m happy to hear that such a unique show has a major network’s support.

New Shorts! – They are making new shorts and Neely is psyched about it!

Homegrown – None of the animation is shipped overseas.  Neely personally knows his whole crew.  It is an all-American production.

Food – Neely actively hates counter service, but Tambor fucking loves cafeterias.


China, IL season two premieres Sunday, September 22 at midnight on Adult Swim (and also stars Hulk Hogan)!  Don’t miss this hilarious, original, beautiful gem of a show!  But don’t just take my word for it, take Jeffrey Tambor’s too!!!

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Brian Rudloff

Brian Rudloff

Brian loves two things: movies and vacations. He has a B.S. in Cinema/Television Production and an M.S. in Recreation and Tourism Management. While he certainly anticipates the latest releases, he is more often found dancing on flying sarapes through the ether of yesteryear and wistfully prancing on clouds of nostalgia. He does not understand kids these days or the entertainment they consume.