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Apr 27, 2015

This year’s 40th anniversary of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” became a time to reflect back on so many great characters that came out of that show over four decades: • Roseanne Roseannadanna • Stefon • The Blues Brothers • Father Guido Sarducci • And... The Ambiguously Gay Duo!

J.J. SEDELMAIER podcast excerpt: "Robert Smigel called and said he had this script for a superhero-type cartoon, 'The Ambiguously Gay Duo.' Could he send it over? It was the first time I ever laughed out loud at a script. I've read scripts where I could see the humor in it and what I could do with it, but this was plain hilarious. I love comic books. To make fun of them in this way was extraordinary. I had to understand immediately that they aren't gay. It's the homophobia thing that's driving it. If they're gay that's not half as fun as if they're not and everyone else is freaking out... Once you know it's Stephen Colbert (as Ace), you can't not hear him. And Steve Carrell is doing a voice, so it's very funny when you think, 'THAT'S Steve Carrell?' They were great."

My guest today, J.J. Sedelmaier, teamed up with comedy writer Robert Smigel to create Gary and Ace, the ever-curious, ever-in-denial Ambiguously Gay Duo. What most of us didn’t know was that the animated segment was voiced by Steve Carrell and Stephen Colbert.

That cartoon was part of an irreverent series called “Saturday TV Funhouse.” Who could ever forget hearing an animated Lorne Michaels, in his uniquely Canadian way, snap “Come back with my show!” as “The X-Presidents,” “Fun with Real Audio,” “Animated Outtakes,” and the “Duo” unspooled over several seasons.

J.J. SEDELMAIER podcast excerpt: "The thing I loved about animating 'Beavis' was that it looked like Beavis and Butthead did the cartoon production! It looked the drawings you'd see on the inside of a math textbook. I think Mike Judge, at a certain point, was trying to get the drawings to be a little bit better. I didn't want the drawings to be better! We spent a lot of time trying to get it to stay crude... 'Beavis' needed to look like it was done on the fly."

Sedelmaier – who once dreamed not of being an animator but of a career in comic books, was also present at the birth of Mike Judge’s “Beavis & Butthead” for MTV, “Tek Jansen” for “The Colbert Report,” “Harvey Birdman Attorney At Law” for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, and “The Big Adventures of Little Shawn and Gus” for USA Network’s long-running series, “Psych.” His studio – co-founded and operated with his wife, Patrice – also has a strong commercial portfolio, including design and animation work for national clients as diverse as NBC Sports, Adidas, Scrubbing Bubbles, and Alka-Seltzer.

J.J. SEDELMAIER podcast excerpt: "Before I got turned on by Will Eisner's stuff, I didn't really read comics. I used to look at them; I loved the covers. The first book I ever asked for was 'The Great Comic Book Heroes' by Jules Feiffer. I was 8. My father was a strong inspiration in terms of comic books. He read comic books as a kid; his mother KEPT all of his comic books so I grew up reading his, which he still has! So I'm going through 'The Great Comic Book Heroes' and seeing The Flash, Superman, and Batman, and I got to the end and there is this 'Spirit' guy. I said to my father, 'Who's The Spirit?' He said, 'Just wait. You're too young right now.' Sure enough, when the Warren 'Spirit' magazines came out in 1974, I was totally hooked. The layouts, the staging, the storytelling... the drawing! I had never seen anything like it. I gobbled up everything Will Eisner that I possibly could."

Curiously, J.J. Sedelmaier and I have been Facebook friends for years although we never met in person until he was pointed out in the audience of a presentation I gave on the career of Will Eisner in March at Wizard World in Raleigh, North Carolina. I was excited to meet this legendary animator in the flesh and begged him to be a guest here.

J.J. Sedelmaier J.J. Sedelmaier Studios WebsiteFacebookTwitterVimeo • Instagram • LinkedInOrder The Best of Saturday Night Live: Saturday TV Funhouse

LISTEN! The Mr. Media Interview with Pulitzer Prize winning author (and former Will Eisner protégé) Jules Feiffer (2008)