Interview with Jon Glaser, star/creator of Delocated

From now on Jon Glaser will no longer be primarily remembered for the strange characters he played for years on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

Glaser's new portrayal, sure to be seared into the psyche of American television audiences, will be his role of Jon, the witness protection program member starring in his own reality show on Delocated, created by Glaser and produced alongside PFFR's John Lee and Vernon Chatman (Xavier: Renegade Angel and Wonder Showzen).  In the show, Jon uses a ski mask and voice scrambler to hide his identity as he runs amok in the big city.

Delocated airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.

Creative Loafing: How did you come up with the initial idea for Delocated?

Jon Glaser: The initial idea I had come up with a long time ago. It was a guy in the witness protection program that was an impressionist, and he still wanted to perform, so he disguised himself and disguised his voice but still did his impressions. And the joke was that all the impressions just sounded like that voice. It was an extremely dumb joke. The mask and the scrambled voice was always the character. It was something that I originally performed live. So when I did it live I bought the ski mask and a vocal harmonizer that I could plug into an amp. That just lowered the voice.

Do you think it’s strange to be a lead on a television show and never be revealed?

I don’t think so. I find it highly amusing. My agent and my manager certainly wish that there was a way that I could take the mask off and people could see who I am. That’s never going to happen.

Do you write the episodes alone?

It’s me and two other people, John Lee and Vernon Chatman. It’s basically the three of us putting it together. It says in the credits my name, because when the scripts are written I basically sit down by myself and do the actual writing of the script. But before I do that the three of us have pretty much gone through, we’ve come up with all the ideas, put the scripts together in outline form, sending it the network and getting notes. So it is a collaborative process. It’s really three people.

On Delocated, Jon is always doing something different in every episode. Is Jon’s life in the witness protection program sometimes incidental?

Certainly the idea for the show is to not make it always about the witness protection program. I think it’s more a byproduct of who he is and what happened to him in life. It always to me has to feel like this is just a guy, this is his life. Instead of thinking about it as a ski mask and an altered voice, I think of that as his face and that’s how he talks. And there’s no rhyme or reason besides anything can happen. Obviously within the confines of this world that he’s living in. But the confines to me are not restricted or limited to whatever idea serves the show or the idea or character. It’s open to any idea that works. Obviously we do witness protection jokes but it’s not really about that. Otherwise it would get old very quickly.

Will we ever find out of more of why Jon is the way he is?  He’s kind of an asshole.

Possibly. That’d be a very funny episode. Tonight we find out why Jon is an asshole.

Do you think the mask helps Jon be more of an asshole in certain situations?

It’s very possible. Perhaps we’ll find out.

When writing an episode, have you ever come up with an idea (because Jon’s girlfriend puts up with a lot of shit) and decided against it due to the fact that she would leave him?

Obviously it comes up. It’s certainly one of those things where it feels like you always have to answer those questions. Why is she with him? Why does she stay with him? To me it’s very similar when you watch Curb Your Enthusiasm, or really any show where the character is like that, you could go back as far as All In The Family. Why would a woman be married to such a jerky guy? Obviously you want to see some of that on screen and you have to also assume there’re things happening in their life that you’re not seeing. I certainly think you just have to go with it and just assume there’s some reason why she’s attracted to him. But it can’t just be all obnoxious so you’re constantly asking why she’s with him.

Whenever I read an article about you, I always see the term anti-comedy mentioned. Do associate yourself with that idea? What does anti-comedy even mean?

I have no idea what it means. I find that kind of annoying, I don’t think of stuff as anti-comedy, it’s all comedy. It’s just a specific type. If someone wants to call it anti-comedy. I don’t call it anti-comedy. I don’t call anything I do anything other than comedy. I don’t call it anti-comedy, ironic, I don’t call it alternative. That’s somebody putting a label on it and if that’s what they want to call it then so be it.

Jon wears a lot of mask accessories on the show. What’s your favorite mask accessory that you’ve had to wear?

I think so far it’s maybe been the brown suede cap that I wore in "The Mixer," while sort of sadly rehearsing for the dance, wearing a gray cut-off sleeve sweatshirt and a towel around my neck. That was a nice looking hat. The hair, the wigs and the beards have been nice also.

Specifically that dance Jon performs in the episode, how did you come up with something like that?

Just a funny brain. A funny brain that comes up with funny ideas. I can’t exactly tell you how we came up with that. It’s just something that came from the whole idea that there’s tribute dance to his parents and we came up with that ridiculous idea.

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