Shalom Life | September 18, 2014

Horsin' Around with 'BoJack' Creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg

We speak to the driving force behind the animated Netflix show everybody is talking about

By: Daniel Koren

Published: September 15th, 2014 in Culture » TV » News

Horsin' Around with 'BoJack' Creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg

Contrary to popular belief, or what your parents may think, animated television isn't just for children.

Au contraire, The Simpsons - the most beloved and well-known animated TV show of all time - was originally intended as an adult program, and several of the most celebrated cartoons, from South Park to Family Guy to American Dad to more recent staples like Archer or Bob's Burgers, all cater to young, socially and politically-conscious adults, way more than they do to the inexperienced, undeveloped minds of children.

So when Netflix unveiled its first-ever original animated program, BoJack Horseman, it felt only natural that it would follow in the footsteps of these animated greats, introducing a show that exists in a parallel universe where animals and humans live side by side as equals, the protagonist of which is a half-horse/half-man former 90's TV star, now a washed up, out-of-work actor looking to make it back to the spotlight.

Be prepared for running gags that poke fun at dogs' fascination with tennis balls, or delectable horse puns like "Neigh way, Jose!"


And while the show does indeed outline his progress (or attempts at progress), it seems more focused on building a real and relatable character here, one who is relentlessly devoted to his own self-destruction, and, subsequently, a smorgasbord of illicit narcotics and random hook-ups. Thus, like the more classic, sentimental episodes of The Simpsons, we are left with a show that is as much comedy as it is tragedy, which I would argue are the real motifs of animated television: allowing viewers to live and revel in a world of fantasy and make-believe, but one that is still painfully and unequivocally real.

The fact that BoJack Horseman also hosts a distinguished cadre of voice actors, including Will Arnett (Arrested Development) who stars as BoJack, Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) who plays the role of his roommate, Todd, Alison Brie (Community) as his ghostwriter, Amy Sedaris (Strangers with Candy) as his feline agent Princess Carolyn, and Paul F. Tompkins (Mr. Show) as his friend/mortal enemy Mr. Peanutbutter, doesn't hurt either. Nor does the fact that, as it's based in Los Angeles, it takes multiple hilarious jabs at famous celebrities or trends in pop culture. Or that the Black Keys' Patrick Carney wrote the theme song, or that indie-pop group Grouplove perform the end credits song.

From Left, Princess Carolyn (voiced by Amy Sedaris) Mr. Peanutbutter (voiced by Paul F. Tompkins) and BoJack (voiced by Will Arnett) in Netflix's 'BoJack Horseman.' (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

(l-r) Princess Carolyn, Mr. Peanutbutter and BoJack Horseman (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

To learn more about the creation of this alternate universe, we spoke to the show's creator, 30-year-old Raphael Bob-Waksberg, a former member of the Olde English sketch comedy troupe and co-writer/co-star of The Exquisite Corpse Project (also a comedy/drama), before becoming a television writer in Hollywood, or, as it's known in the world of BoJack, Hollywoo.

Before we could even get our first question off the ground, Bob-Waksberg, certainly a spirited and charismatic conversationalist who apparently knew we're a Jewish magazine based out of Toronto, exclaims, "I must say I'm a big fan of Jews, and a big fan of Canada!"

This set the stage for a very entertaining, and enjoyable conversation:

Shalom Life: I understand you grew up in a Jewish neighborhood in Palo Alto.

Raphael Bob-Waksberg: Yes. Both of my parents are professional Jews, you could say. My mom and her mother owned a Jewish bookstore for many years in Palo Alto, one of the biggest in the Jewish community. My dad works for Jewish Learning Works, a Jewish education group in the Bay Area, so I grew up in a very Jewish community, I went to Jewish day school, got bar mitzvahed, etc.

A lot of us Jews often seem destined for comedy from an early age. Would you say you were the the funny kid in class growing up? The class clown?

Absolutely. I wouldn't say funny, though some of my teachers would say 'disruptive'. I definitely had some behavioral problems, I was always cracking jokes and trying to be the center of attention. At home, it was always comedy every night at the dinner table, a competition of who could get the last joke in.

Have you always been a fan of animated TV? What were your favorite shows growing up?

I grew up with The Simpsons, obviously, that's a huge one, pretty amazing run. But I also loved shows like King of the Hill, which takes its characters a little more seriously, something I try to do on our show as well. It has its cartoony moments, but it's also very grounded. My favorite episodes of The Simpsons are "Lisa's Substitute," or when Bart steals the video game ["Marge Be Not Proud"], which are some of the sadder ones.

There's also amazing TV happening right now like Archer and Rick and Morty. It's a very cool community to be in. I've written all live action stuff until now, but I do love the form of animation.

Continue Reading on Page 2 For More with Raphael Bob-Waksberg

Adam Lambert is Returning to 'American Idol' as Guest Judge Adam Lambert is Returning to 'American Idol' as Guest Judge TrendingSeth Rogen Applies to Online Job Posting For Professional Blunt Roller Seth Rogen Applies to Online Job Posting For Professional Blunt Roller Trending GIVEAWAY: Win 1 of 5 Double Passes to See ‘This Is Where I Leave You’ Trending
 

Imam On Hamas TV: Jews Eat Matzos Made With the Blood of Muslims and Christians

September 18, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Imam On Hamas TV: Jews Eat Matzos Made With the Blood of Muslims and Christians

"One could go on forever about the deceptiveness of the Jews," says Sheik Abd Al-Mun'im Abu Zant. "They are liars. They allow cannibalism, and the eating of human flesh"

Read More

Jewish Man High-Fives New Yorkers Hailing Cabs in Hilarious Video

September 18, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Jewish Man High-Fives New Yorkers Hailing Cabs in Hilarious Video

"High Five New York" is the best video you'll watch all day, courtesy of bearded New York-based actor/director Meir Kalmanson

Read More

U.S. Senate Candidate's Campaign Slogan: "With Jews We Lose"

September 18, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
U.S. Senate Candidate's Campaign Slogan: "With Jews We Lose"

Kentucky-based Robert Ransdell has been plastering these offensive signs all over the suburb of Florence

Read More

Digital Torah: The Great Unifier

September 18, 2014 | By Rabbi Naphtali Lavenda
Digital Torah: The Great Unifier

The fusion of technology and traditional Jewish teaching methodologies allows us to send a pure, unified message that brings Jews around the world closer together, perhaps in what we can loosely call 'Hakhel 2.0.'

Read More

Talking Fitness with Lawyers Jeremy Diamond & Jeff Levy

September 18, 2014 | By Jordan Mazza

We chat with two top Toronto lawyers about how they stave off an "extra winter coat" and strive for that endorphin rush as Canadian weather slides into single digits

Read More

Scottish Jews Prefer to Be Part of the U.K.

September 18, 2014 | By Tali Farkash
Scottish Jews Prefer to Be Part of the U.K.

While Jewish community leaders decide to remain neutral on historic referendum taking place Thursday, many believe independence will lead to a more anti-Semitic and anti-Israel Scotland

Read More

Mayor of Sderot Pays a Visit to UJA Federation of Greater Toronto

September 18, 2014 | By Dan Horowitz
Mayor of Sderot Pays a Visit to UJA Federation of Greater Toronto

"We will continue to work with UJA to make Sderot even stronger and more resilient," expresses Mayor Alon Davidi

Read More

Judd Apatow's 'Love' Is Coming to Netflix

September 17, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
Judd Apatow's 'Love' Is Coming to Netflix

The '40 Year Old Virgin' director is returning to his television roots.

Read More

More Headlines