“We like to get a few takes of pure improv, and not always for comedy purposes; sometimes, that’s just how you get a more realistic take. Ironically, some of the improv actually lessens the comedy,” reveals Dan Perrault in an interview with Gold Derby (watch the exclusive video above) about co-creating “American Vandal.” He is one of the producers of the true crime mockumentary starring Jimmy Tatro that famously asked, “Who drew the dicks?”
Perrault adds, “There are rhythms people are used to in comedy, in mockumentary specifically, that we’re trying to avoid and sometimes we’ll pick out an improv moment that doesn’t necessarily give us an important story point or a laugh, but just feels real and we’ll find a way to put it in there just to get people in the mindset that they feel like they’re watching a documentary.”
Also joining us in the chat is director and co-creator Tony Yacenda, who says that there is “not a lot of joke-pitching” even the writers’ room. He explains, “Other high school comedies need their characters to be really funny and to say a lot of jokes because ‘it’s a comedy,’ but since our driver is a mystery, we can be a little bit more nuanced with how we approach the characters in their interactions. Their interactions might be a little bit more boring; there can be [fewer] jokes because that’s how kids really talk.”
Indeed, the show has been lauded as much for its humor as its authenticity, in its depiction of teenagers and their usage of social media. Yacenda says about the latter, “Every video that we did, we tried to have real logic for: Why would somebody be posting this on Snapchat or Instagram and then have saved it to their camera roll?” Perrault explains about the extensive incorporation of modern technologies, “Actual true crime documentaries [are] full of court documents and arrest histories and all sorts of paper trails that [they] deep dive into and we always thought, well, if we do the high school version of this with a crime lesser than murder, what kind of paper trail would we be looking at? The answer was… all these… social media platforms.”
Another cycle has already completed production with the only returning characters being Tyler Alvarez and Griffin Gluck as the documentarians of the show-within-a-show. For the 2017 episodes, the Netflix program is contending for an Emmy nomination in Best Limited Series. Yacenda says, “It feels like a completely different esthetic and all the documentary tools we are using are completely different. We want it to feel like an entirely different documentary series.” He adds that “Amanda Knox,” “The Jinx,” “The Keepers” and “The Thin Blue Line” are the documentaries that the second season chiefly satirizes.
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