Well, since the actors who play the characters were already in mind when you were creating the show, do you feel that has something to do with that as well? That a certain part of you is Dennis Reynolds now?
It’s a sort of alter-ego. I guess in some bizarre land, we all are some version of these characters. I’ve never thought about it that way, because most people ask us if we are anything like our characters, and the truth is we’re not at all. I think the real truth is that we have a certain amount of these characters in us, and I think they are things that we probably don’t like about ourselves and that we’re exacerbating and making fun of in a weird way. It’s almost like we’re expelling our demons with these characters (laughs).
I feel like the show has gotten more and more bizarre, that the main characters have become more exaggerated over the series.
There certainly was never a conscious decision to get bizarre with it, but I know that in third season, we all to varying degrees had more out-there ideas, and we had to make a decision whether we were willing to take that chance that it would fit within the confines of the show and at the end of the day we always come back to what we feel like is funny.
I know that seems really obvious, but we try to make decisions on what we the three of us—me, Rob and Charlie—what we think is funny, and we try not to ever delve too far into the land of ‘Oh, people aren’t going to get it or people are going to get mad at us or it’s not consistent with other episodes’ or whatever. If we feel like something isn’t tonally correct and doesn’t go with the rest of the show it has to feel like that to the three of us and to hell with everybody else.
I think in the third season especially there were a couple of episodes where maybe we went a little too far. We stretched the boundaries of what’s somewhat grounded in reality, and I think we pulled back a little bit in the fourth and fifth season. But I think the third season was an opportunity for us to see how far we could take it and things do tend to get a little bit bizarre on our show and we kind of like that you never know what you’re going to get. One episode you might get us trying to sell gas door-to-door, and us going out and hunting Cricket, and Charlie and Dee thinking they are addicted to human flesh, and then you get a really simple episode where everybody thinks that Mac is banging the waitress and it’s all about interpersonal relationships. We like keeping people on our toes and it keeps us on toes.