"The secret to comedy is to not vaccinate your children," says Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon, laughter escaping his mouth between words, when I ask him how he plies his craft. "For god's sake, don't vaccinate your children!"
While maybe (probably) not the secret to comedy, it is a perfect example of Harmon's particular brand of humor, which helped launch The Sarah Silverman Program, runs through the veins of LA's Channel-101 short film festival, developed a cult following for Community, and most recently, has made up the DNA of Adult Swim animated comedy Rick and Morty. He and animator, voice actor, writer, and fellow Channel-101 mainstay, Justin Roiland (cartoon buffs: you may recognize him as Adventure Time's Lemongrab), have carved out a versatile universe filled with high concept sci-fi rigamarole almost custom-tailored for fans of The Simpsons, Futurama, Too Many Cooks, Adventure Time, and Community.
Aside from the rich worlds, believable characters, and pop culture references, Harmon and Roiland's wicked sense of humor is a major draw to the show, which sees alcoholic mad scientist and grandfather Rick Sanchez (often literally) dragging his timid, awkward grandson Morty on wild interdimensional adventures. In one episode from Season 1, mentally-enhanced dogs threaten to take over Earth, and in another Rick and Morty struggle to escape a massive, almost realistic simulated world, all while jokes are hurled across the screen at a 30 Rock-level pace.
So what really is the secret to comedy, according to Harmon? Well, in a way, he's already told us: "The secret to comedy is making yourself laugh, always," Harmon tells The Creators Project. "You will never ever make somebody else laugh as hard as they possibly can unless you have made yourself laugh that hard."
It's possible that practicing comedy as a science might get you more consistent laughs, he says, "but you'll never get the one that makes tears roll down people's cheeks, makes their stomachs hurt. That goes for horror, too—scare yourself. If you're making a chair, make the chair that fits your ass, always serve yourself and just wait for the people that want to watch you do that to show up."
Adds Roiland, "My secret to comedy is don't offend anybody. Don't offend anybody EVER. That's my secret." You heard it here first.
New episodes of Rick and Morty will return in 2016, according to this video from Florida Supercon.