Last week’s episode of Comedy Central’s Wednesday-night Workaholics, a first-season show about recent graduates fumbling through a post-college reality as telemarketers, took place at the Gathering of the Juggalos. From the attention to detail, it was clear creators did their homework: Juggalo interlopers called out “Whoop Whoop!”; Faygo, ICP’s soft drink of choice, was omnipresent; background shots featured people passed out in the grass beside a kiddie pool, which is pretty much a microcosm of the festival. Even the few missteps–an extra who looked like the Crow, not a Juggalo; one character’s Violent J facepaint was a little too Emmett Kelly; etc.–were so slight that there’d evidently been serious time invested in researching the wicked-clown family. We, as you know, can empathize.
Workaholics director Kyle Newacheck is the one predominantly responsible. Juggalo culture first fascinated the off-camera fourth-member of Mail Order Comedy, the Los-Angeles-based online sketch troupe behind Workaholics, after seeing the viral hilarity of “Miracles.” Newacheck and his collaborators were particularly drawn to stoner rapping cartoons because they’d experimented with their own joke-emcee personas–wizened magicians who smoked weed and beefed with Harry Potter. Ah. . . we’ll let him tell you the rest.
Workaholics went to the Gathering of the Juggalos last episode. Why’d you decide to write Juggalos into the show?
I’ve always known who the Juggalos were, and who ICP was, but I didn’t know fully what the culture was. They were clown people. So we started researching it, and looking deep into the culture. It was like, “Holy crap, this is so interesting.”
Everything about it. It’s like being a Parrothead. The members of it are so passionate about being a Juggalo, and loving ICP, and doing everything according to them. The people who don’t get it are like, “Fuck ICP” or “Fuck all that stuff.” And that made us want to understand it–kinda get to the bottom of it.
Then we found the [Gathering of the Juggalos]. We were like, “Holy smokes! Look at this Gathering. Look at all the people who show up and all the activities they do.” That’s what got us: how organized it was. That they have helicopter rides. Faygo-spraying competitions. Stand-up comedy. Ice-T is over there. And Afroman. It’s like, “Holy crap, what is this underground culture that’s so organized, yet so [pause] different?”
To tell you the truth, when we were writing it, we were like, “We kinda want to go to that.”
You did your homework. The giant bag of weed in the background, the people passed out in the grass beside a kiddie pool? That’s authentic.
The mud-wrestling too! And freestyle rap battles? This stuff really goes down, it just seems like a fun place to go. And [Psychopathic Records] were seriously really cool. They let us use that music. Everything in the episode is from them.
Saturday Night Live keeps writing Juggalo spoof skits, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia featured Juggalos in one episode, Funny or Die did a Juggalo news segment. Were you at all leery of seeming redundant?
Yes. Totally. We were writing this last January–last January and February –so it took a while for the episodes to air. Right after we had committed to putting Juggalos in an episode, we noticed all this stuff started coming up. Then we realized we just had to take it to the next level and be the first TV show to actually spend time in the culture. Do an episode that’s based on it, not just a joke.
A lot of time when people put Juggalos in comedy, they’re simply making fun of them, and simply saying, “Look how weird these guys are, and let’s use them as the butt of the joke.” We thought it would be fun to do the exact opposite, since all of us had the feeling, like, “Well, what are these guys?” We were kind of seduced by their culture just in the writers’ room. I thought it would be cool to have the [characters on the show] seduced by the culture.
So yeah, we were definitely fully conscious of other people doing it. But we decided to press on. Because why not?
Why do you, as somebody who’s just recently discovered the culture, think Juggalos are having such a moment? It’s been like a year and a half–yet before this, ICP hadn’t done anything mainstream since 1997.
I think more people became aware of them, like after “Miracles” came out. If you search for them, you’re like, “Whoa, what is this? What is going on?” and you find out that there’s this whole movement with hundreds of 1000s of followers–it becomes incredibly interesting. Because it’s like, “How did I not know about this? How are there so many diehard followers and I did not know that this even existed?” That’s what it is for me.
Why are Juggalos so funny?
[Laughs] The obvious answer is that they paint their faces and don’t call attention to it. You think about it and you’re like, “People go there, paint their faces, then act completely serious about it.” But then you’re like, “Holy shit, that is makeup.” You spent that time in the mirror. Putting that on. Asking yourself if that is the right amount of black versus the right amount of white. Then you act completely serious about it–about something that most people perceive as completely ridiculous. [Laughs].
And well, they’re rapping clowns.
That rap about killing. Then you think about, “Oh, it’s personas. Obviously it’s so you can get away with saying things you wouldn’t normally say because you’re underneath clown make-up.”
What’s kind of interesting about the whole rapping thing–and personas, especially with us, Mail Order Comedy–we did almost the same thing about two years ago.
Yeah. We all wanted to be rappers.
Like, joke rappers?
Well. [Hesitates] I think there’s a little bit of realness in it. We all wanted to legitimately make some money in the rap game.
So like, Donald Glover? Sincerely?
No, no, what we did was exactly what ICP did: we made a concept rap album that’s all about wizards. From Mordor, and you know, like, Harry Potter–well, no, not Harry Potter, he’s a bitch–but like Gandolf and shit like that. We put on costumes and performed this wizard rap. We dropped an album. [Laughs] Two years ago. It’s on iTunes, and it’s this whole album [Purple Magic].
So with personas, I kind of understand that. You know that you’re not going to be taken seriously as a rapper unless you’ve got a lot of street cred–and us growing up in the suburbs, we don’t have a lot of street cred. So we created these personas that we could do it under. We put on beards and put on sunglasses and smoked weed and stuff. We were wizards that rap.
Well, then, you should really go to the Gathering.