It was quite a surprise as the long dormant TV FUNHOUSE segment on Saturday Night Live returned with a special cartoon produced by W/M Animation on last Saturday Night's episode hosted by Ed Helms. The seeds of the cartoon began with an Ambiguously Gay Duo feature film script that creator Robert Smigel wrote five years ago with Stephen Colbert. Recently it was suggested by comedy director Jason Woliner that it might be interesting to do the Gay Duo as a live action short for SNL. Smigel liked the idea, Woliner was tapped to direct the live action and long time collaborators David Wachtenheim and Robert Marianetti of W/M were asked to handle the animation.
Utilizing all the old cartoons, W/M produced a storyboard incorporating as much reuse of standard shots from the original cartoons that they could but the whole thing had to be reanimated for a 16:9 wide screen format instead of the original 4:3 anyway. Unlike all the previous shorts, this one was going to be produced in Flash instead of traditional paper and pencil but in the way W/M has been using Flash. "We animate in Flash like it's on paper. We don't use tweening or squashing and stretching elements which is what gives flash a digital look. We just substitute a tablet for paper." explains Wachtenheim. The stellar animation crew, comprised of Dan Madia, Stephen Jackett, Don McGrath and Tom Witte blazed through the animation in six days and After Effects artist Dale Clowdis burned the midnight oil to composite the cartoon. Original Gay Duo production company JJ Sedelmaier Productions graciously provided the original BGs for W/Ms use which, ironically, were originally painted by Wachtenheim when he was employed there, and Kevin Lacroix provided additional BG painting. W/M also contributed to the writing, consulted on the costumes and worked back and forth with the live action director and the editors to make sure the transitions from animation to live action worked.
Could this mean more cartoons for SNL and a return of TV Funhouse? "It would be nice but I kind of doubt it," adds Marianetti, "It was great for us to revisit SNL after the show stopped producing the cartoons three years ago. We've done more cartoons for them than any other studio. This one being exactly number 50 produced by our studio W/M Animation. I'm not sure why, maybe because The Ambiguously Gay Duo was the very first cartoon on TV Funhouse, but it feels like we've come full circle with this one. Plus, even if we never do another cartoon for SNL, at least we went out with a bang."
All in all, it was a huge surprise for the audience to see Jon Ham and Jimmy Fallon in the starring roles with Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert, long time voices of Ace and Gary as the live action villains. SNL host Ed Helms and cast member Fred Armisen rounded out the villainous crew. As soon as the cartoon aired, the internet has been all abuzz regarding the return of TV Funhouse and the ever popular Ambiguously Gay Duo.
Robert Smigel, Stephen Colbert, Akiva Schaffer, Jason Woliner, David Wachtenheim, Brian Reich
Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Bill Chott, Robert Smigel
Dan Madia, Steve Jackett, Tom Witte, Don McGrath, David Wachtenheim
Kevin Lacroix, Robert Marianetti
Original Backgrounds, Animation and Design
J.J. Sedelmaier Productions
Background Art Assistants for JJSP
Corrie Lebens, Zero Lastimosa
Steven M. Gold
LIVE ACTION CREDITS
Jon Hamm, Jimmy Fallon, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Ed Helms, Fred Armisen
Director of Photography
Special Effects Makeup
Post Production Producer