Seth Green and Matthew Senreich Interview: ‘Robot Chicken’
At first, Seth Green jokes about why they submitted their Christmas special for Emmy consideration. “All of the awards that we’ve won have been for the episodes with the longest title and we feel like that’s a good luck charm,” kids Green in our recent webchat (watch the video above). But he later clarified that it was a long-form episode rather than the show’s usual brand of sketch comedy that made it feel special. Co-creator Matthew Senreich elaborates, “We usually have the best luck with our Christmas specials or any of our ‘specials.’ Things like that seem to pop a lot more at the Emmys and so we go about focusing on that for our Emmy submissions.”
Since premiering on Adult Swim in 2005, “Robot Chicken” has been a staple for the network. The show, which recently concluded its 10th season, uses stop-motion animation of action figures to satirize cartoons, video games, toys and pop culture in general. The show has been very successful at the Emmys, racking up 21 nominations over the past 15 years and six wins. Three of those wins have been in the Short Form Animated Program category; in 2010 (for “Full-Assed Christmas Special”), 2016 (for “Robot Chicken Christmas Special: The X-Mas United”) and 2018 (for “Freshly Baked: The Robot Chicken Santa Claus Pot Cookie Freakout Special: Special Edition”).
The choice of doing this type of show using stop-motion was a very easy choice for Green to make. “The whole conceit of the comedy was watching action figures acting out sketch content.” Both he and Senreich knew that the subjects they were satirizing were things that would naturally work using that form of animation. “There really was no other option but stop-motion. It was going to let us use the actual toys to be acting things out in a way that would just make it funny.”
The show’s first Emmy win in 2010 is something that still feels surreal in their minds because they never thought that a show with that kind of material would be something that the Emmy voters would seek to reward. “I feel this sums it up the best: It’s like you put on a play in your basement for your grandparents and then someone gave you a Tony for it. That just seemed nuts,” Green says. Senreich elaborated about how, while it was an honor to receive such an accolade, it felt very weird for them to be there. “We’re like these little kids playing with action figures and when that name got called, you could see all of us like, ‘What do we do now?’ I’m still flabbergasted by the experience.”