Tonight at 8:30ET/7:30PT, Cartoon Network will
present the 100th episode of the Emmy and Annie award nominated MAD. Like the Sistine Chapel, the moon
landing and Bruce Jenner's face, they said a regular, timely animated version
of MAD Magazine couldn't be done, but
100 episodes later, series Head Writer/Producer Kevin Shinick and his team
proved the naysayers, well... nay.
GREG EHRBAR: Tell us about the excitement surrounding the 100th MAD show.
KEVIN SHINICK: First of all, because it's airing on the 11/11, we've declared it "national corduroy day!" And we're calling the 100th episode a "double spectacular" because it’s twice the length of a regular episode. It's got everything you love about our show, plus a look back at moments from past episodes. And like the Oscars, there’s a memorial segment for characters that haven’t made it to the 100th episode.
GREG: How was it to work with Weird Al Yankovic for this show?
KEVIN: He was just a dream. Weird Al's excitement for MAD is over the moon and he's wanted to be on for a while. We also have Henry Winkler as Jor-El in our "MAD of Steel" segment and he nails it hilariously.
GREG: And they said it all couldn’t be done, right?
KEVIN: Yes! It blows my mind, Greg. To make MAD a reality, we had to be topical and fast. Legal people said we couldn't do all these parodies and I said, "That’s what MAD does, we have to do that or why are we even in business?" Production people said there was no way to do it this fast. People from other companies even said, "Yeah, good luck trying to pull this off!" And here we are, 100 episodes later.
GREG: How is it done?
KEVIN: I really do attribute it to my incredible staff. We all do multiple things here. The reason we've been successful is thanks to our solid in-house staff of about 15 animators and three writers as the core group. We also farm out other stuff to maybe half a dozen companies—all within North America, though.
GREG: All domestically?! You must take great pride in that, "Mr. Lou Scheimer"
KEVIN: (laughs) Yes, I really do. It also helps because we avoid the time involved with sending animation overseas I'm not kidding when I say I will record something today that will be on the air in a month.
GREG: To stay up to date, do you do what SNL does? They always write their cold opens and news segments last.
KEVIN: Exactly. The topicals at the top of the show are the last to go in. I usually record those about two weeks out from the airdate. Our longest sketches take as long as eight weeks to produce. If a big movie or something like that is coming up, sometimes we can see it early. Worse case scenario is to use preview trailers, but most of these movies are reboots or based on books, so we can figure out where they’re going.
GREG: There have been numerous attempts to translate MAD Magazine to stage, records and TV, including some previous animated pilots. Why do you think you finally captured the flavor?
KEVIN: I really wanted this to be the TV
version of the magazine. We really felt we had the stamp of approval by
involving a lot of the MAD artists
with the show, like Sergio Aragones and Tom
Richman Richmond - who is the "Mort Drucker" of today. We use Don Martin's style too. Al Jaffe is still sharp as a tack at
98. We’ve got one of his "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions" segments in the
GREG: After 100 MAD episodes, how many times have you heard from the people you’ve made fun of on the show?
KEVIN: I gotta be honest. I was hoping to get a cease and desist letter from somebody so I could frame it in my office! Most times we get people saying, "I loved it when you parodied my show or when I saw myself on MAD!" I haven’t had any complaints, darn it!
GREG: And now MAD is a huge number one hit.
KEVIN: We're working around the clock to deliver them. On Robot Chicken, it took us 10 years to hit 100 episodes - and MAD's doing it by season four. It's crazy! I’m shocked that we are at 100 episodes already.
Below: An exclusive clip from tonight's 100th episode: