Animation CollegeHumor Interview Interviews Mike Trapp Technology TV WTF 101

WTF 101 Creator Mike Trapp on Writing 2019’s Smartest Animated Series


wtf-101-interview-mike-trappFew cerebral animated collection in historical past have discovered success critically, commercially, and culturally, however that development has been altering in recent times. The Simpsons has lengthy been praised for its sensible writing simply as South Park has been rewarded for its sharp, satirical commentary during the last 20+ years. Newer additions like Rick and Morty, Huge Mouth, and BoJack Horseman have taken purpose at older audiences in an effort to current extra grownup topic materials coupled with a mature and cerebral storytelling strategy. However except Massive Mouth, which loosely covers the troublesome realities of human adolescence and puberty, every of those exhibits lives in its personal brilliantly created but fictional world.

That’s the place CollegeHumor’s new animated collection WTF 101 units itself aside. The present, created by Mike Trapp (Dangerous Web), presents stranger-than-fiction tales that really occurred in our actual world in hilarious methods that won’t solely entertain audiences however may simply train them one thing within the course of. A cynical and probably mentally unstable instructor leads her detention classroom on wild and harmful adventures to study horrific information from nature and human historical past alike. It’s like an NSFW model of The Magic Faculty Bus. I had an opportunity to take a look at two episodes and completely liked the premise, pacing, humor, and animation all through; you possibly can take a look at my full assessment right here. However to dig additional into the creation of the collection, I used to be capable of chat with Trapp himself. He revealed some superb particulars about his staff’s analysis course of, teased some tales which may have made it into this season, and even talked about some hilarious concepts that didn’t fairly make the minimize.

WTF 101 might show to be this yr’s smartest animated collection, and to see why, you’ll need to learn our Q&A under:


Picture by way of CollegeHumor

The place did the thought for WTF 101 first come about?

Mike Trapp: I feel that folks naturally like studying true, unimaginable issues, however loads of probably the most fascinating tales are additionally wildly inappropriate for youngsters. It appeared like a pure juxtaposition to take the format of a youngsters’ instructional TV present and use it to show all of the horrific, shocking belongings you by no means discovered as a child.

How did that kernel of an concept develop into an NSFW Magic Faculty Bus led by a cracked-out kind of Ms. Frizzle?

Trapp: We knew if we have been going to show these horrible tales, we needed the remainder of the world to mirror a tragic, horribleness. Initially the present was going to comply with adults in night time faculty since we might be educating mature subjects, however adults have an excessive amount of company. They will depart each time they need in the event that they don’t like being in a category taught by a maniac. So as an alternative we settled on the concept these classes have been a punishment for teenagers in detention. Then we type of painted a brush of “awfulness” over the whole lot: these are the worst college students within the saddest faculty, studying the worst classes from a sadistic instructor.

Did exhibits like Rick and Morty or Massive Mouth immediately encourage WTF 101 or was it extra like their success proved one thing like WTF 101 might work?

Trapp: I truly began working on this present in early 2017, a number of months earlier than Huge Mouth premiered. Rick and Morty, on the opposite hand, was definitely an affect, however I additionally had to make certain the character of Professor Foxtrot didn’t verge too near Rick. In its easiest type, they’re each delinquent scientists taking unwilling youngsters on traumatizing adventures. Early variations of Foxtrot have been extra misanthropic in a Rick-like means, so I needed to reimagine her as an alternative as somebody delighted with the horrors of the world and unaware that others don’t share her enthusiasm.


Picture by way of CollegeHumor

What was the story-breaking course of like in determining which subjects to cowl in every episode and which particular examples would make the ultimate reduce? (ie What was your analysis course of like?)

Trapp: I had three actually nice researchers on the challenge. Kaz Phillips, Josh Fruhlinger, and Jeff Eckman. All of us introduced in an inventory of surprising, little-known information after which used these to attempt to construct an episode. For instance, considered one of our researchers needed to speak about The Cadaver Synod, when the corpse of Pope Formosus was put on trial. From that we might have made an episode about “Weird Things People Have Done with Corpses” or “Strange Things Popes Have Done” Or “Sham Trials.” With these in thoughts we’d seek out extra tales about corpses, and popes, and injustice till we discovered three nice ones that match collectively. Often another story we unearthed whereas researching would encourage a special theme, and the cycle would proceed. In in search of issues with corpses we discovered about The Physician’s Riot of 1788, which then made us ask if we might discover extra uncommon examples of riots and mass hysteria. It was principally a extra structured model of falling right into a Wikipedia gap.

The superb theme track/opening sequence actually units the tone and elegance for the present. Did it undergo many various variations earlier than the ultimate one?

Trapp: I really like how the track got here out! The ultimate model is fairly near the unique concept. We needed one thing with the texture of an 80s/90s cartoon theme music: synths, saxophones, an overeager singer. I wrote the primary cross on the lyrics and Zach Robinson completely nailed the composition. The lead singer is Jason Paige, who additionally sang the Pokemon theme track! That has nothing to do with the present itself, I simply assume it’s cool.

The Dunning-Kruger faculty (extra on that in a minute) has an indication that acts like a gap gag, ie The Simpsons’ Sofa Gags or Bob’s Burgers’ menu. What number of totally different indicators did you and your writers provide you with?


Picture by way of CollegeHumor

Trapp: One of many nice issues about working at CollegeHumor is that I’m surrounded by a gaggle of extraordinarily humorous people who find themselves out there at a second’s discover. I despatched out a message asking for “announcements you’d see at the worst school in the country” and instantly obtained again greater than we might ever use. My favourite was “Dunning-Kruger High is Proud of Its Graduate” – a easy, unhappy use of the singular.

I really like that WTF 101 combines the madness and animated violence of Rick and Morty, the bald-faced straightforwardness of Massive Mouth, and the “education for adults” features of exhibits like Drunk Historical past. How did you strike the proper stability with all of those?

Trapp: Oh, gosh, I hope I did. The information have been an important aspect to me. We tried to select tales which are outrageous sufficient to be entertaining by themselves, so if the jokes fell flat, or have been a bit of mild it was nonetheless entertaining. One huge inspiration you didn’t point out have been the “gross ups” of Ren & Stimpy. We needed to have at the very least one second per episode with an excessive, detailed shut up of one thing really disgusting.

I feel that including the real-life examples of the examples coated in every present through the credit is completely very important to the message of the present itself. Was it necessary to you to ensure viewers knew these have been issues that really existed/occurred?

Trapp: Very, essential. Lots of these tales are arduous to consider and with an animated, ten-minute present we do sometimes oversimplify or visually exaggerate some elements. That makes it onerous to inform the place the boundary between reality and fiction is. The actual pictures on the finish present an anchor to actuality and remind the viewers that that is all principally true. Even individuals who have been reviewing the scripts, who knew I used to be writing true tales, nonetheless thought I had made up specifics that have been completely factual. I feel we are saying. “These things are real,” three alternative ways between the opening and shutting credit, however that’s nonetheless not as convincing as seeing an image of an precise factor.


Picture by way of CollegeHumor

I additionally love that every episode ends with a kind of actuality examine or PSA. Are these mini-monologues consultant of your private viewpoint on the world and issues like pure choice, and so forth?

Trapp: I’m truly, usually, far more optimistic than Professor Foxtrot is. Since this was modeled on youngsters’s cartoons, it appeared pure to me that there must be some Massive Lesson that everybody learns on the finish, but when we have been doing the fucked up model, the youngsters ought to in all probability study probably the most cynical, misanthropic model of that lesson. A variety of occasions these monologues got here from first imagining what the healthful lesson is perhaps (“Violence doesn’t solve anything”) after which imagining what the cynic’s response can be (“Regardless of its efficacy, people enact violence all the time, so you better be ready to defend yourself.”)

There are a LOT of cerebral Easter eggs and sight gags scattered all through this collection, like the varsity’s signal out entrance and the classroom’s posters; lots for followers to seek out. Are there any you’re notably pleased with?

Trapp: One among my favorites truly didn’t make the minimize. The varsity was initially going to be named after King Frederick II, who was Holy Roman Emperor within the thirteenth century. He held the concept if individuals weren’t taught any language in any respect they might naturally converse a deeply innate, maybe divine language. To check this concept he tried to boost infants with as little human interplay as potential, and in doing so killed a number of of them. It’s an terrible story, nevertheless it appeared completely inappropriate to call a faculty after a person dedicated to preserving youngsters ignorant and uncared for.


Picture by way of CollegeHumor

What are you able to tease about the way forward for the collection? And what’s up subsequent for you?

Trapp: I’m hoping we’ll have the ability to make a second season of WTF101. Like some other present, I feel all of it relies upon on how properly individuals reply to it. We’ve got dozens of different fascinating tales our researchers discovered that didn’t match into an episode, simply ready to be animated, and I left the finale a bit of open-ended. We’re planning to launch a brand new present each month on Dropout, so proper now I’m working on reviewing some collection which have already been shot, and writing a model new one that may hopefully shoot later this yr.

WTF 101 might be discovered at CollegeHumor’s streaming service DROPOUT.


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