Artist: Glenn Eichler
Importance: He was one of the main forces
behind Mtv's "Daria,"
the smartest High School girl to ever have her own TV show.
Editors Note: This interview is excerpted from a phone conversation
I had with Glenn. I've tried to stay as true to the original conversation
as I could, and still have it make sense and make it easy to follow.
Interviewers Note: Just when you think I've asked a guest the dumbest
questions imaginable, I somehow seem to top myself. I'd like to thank
Glenn for being a great sport and not hanging up immediately after
I call Beavis and Butthead a dumb show.
1. His Big Break
2. Daria's Spirit
3. the MAXX
4. Daria and You
Before Daria, before Beavis and Butthead, where
did you get your big break and how did you find it?
Well I guess Beavis was my big break, I was an editor at National
Lampoon, during MTV's youth, and came over to Mtv as a promo writer,
and Beavis happened to come out of the promos department, because
a very creative producer there, named John Payson, found Beavis, at
I believe the Spike and Mike's twisted film festival. To make a long
story short, the little short that Mike Judge produced got a big reaction
immediately from Mtv viewers, and they wanted to rush into production
and start making cartoons, but they didn't have a staff, so they used
the promo writers as the writers, and that's how I became a cartoon
writer, I guess.
Make any sense?
that's great. I just think it's funny that...Mtv is either lazy
or notoriously cheap,or...
Can't they be both?
Sure, but it just seems like [if they're saying],
"We've got this great show that we're really behind," why
not actually put some effort into finding writers that have a track
record with writing a sitcom or something?
Well, as with many institutions, MTV's greatest weakness is also their
greatest strength . The fact that nobody's paying very close attention,
and the primary objective is to do things on the cheap, means that
people are allowed to be creative, where at other networks, where
there's more at stake, (i.e. money), people aren't allowed to be as
And other than going through the internship
program, and hopefully getting a job, is there any avenue that you
would recommend breaking into TV writing, or things like that?
Well, MTV's not really the place to go to do writing. The more reality
based programming they can get away with the better for them because
it's very inexpensive. Now if you wanna be a director or a producer
that's a another story, that's a good thing. If you produce a short
film for school or something and it's very cutting edge or creative,
they'll certainly take a look at that. But if you want to be a writer,
I don't know if I'd look necessarily to Mtv first.
What do you tell the aspiring authors that say,
"Hey I've got this great script, now what do I do with it?"
You know I'd say go
to L.A. and get yourself an agent and get on a real show personally.
You have been credited with giving the voice to Daria Morgendorfer,
and I'm curious how a guy who's not a teenage girl, captures the voice
of a teenage girl so well.
Well thank you, but I don't really think that that's true. If you
listen to the way real teenagers talk, their speech and their speech
patterns don't really lend themselves to drama and particularly to
comedy. They don't talk in a pithy way. The only way I have to answer
your question is that I know how a sarcastic, alienated person talks,
and I think I got that right with Daria. I don't think it makes her
sound like a teenage girl, maybe a teenager of either gender.
Yeah you're right, teenage girls are not that
tragic or pithy. But I believe we all wish we were as smart as Daria.
So now that's you've wrapped the TV show with the big movie, what
are you up to now?
I'm doing various things including developing a pilot for Mtv based
on Trent's band Mystik Spiral as a spin-off. Right now I'm
working on an animated show for VH1, a satire of TV called "Hey Joel."
I'm not doing anything big right now, I'm just keeping busy.
I was checking your credits, and not only working
on Daria and Beavis and Butthead, you worked on one of my absolute
all time favorite animated things, the
And these three shows, even though they're animated,
they are completely different. Is it hard to go from the absolute
pit of darkness that is the
MAXX, to something completely brainless
like Beavis and Butthead, to the smart edgy comedy of Daria.
I would say no, I wouldn't say Beavis was brainless, I think it gave
the appearance of being brainless. I think if you put on something
like The Man Show, there you get brainless. I think Beavis
kind of satirized stupidity. The
MAXX was a smart show, and I give all credit to Sam Kieth,
the creator for that. Daria was a smart show, and Beavis was a smart
show about dumb people.
You look through the body of Darianess that
is, and you come across the singing episode...
Do you look at that episode and think, wow cutting
edge, or do you think that was fun, or do you think that was a weird
stab that Mtv could hype for ratings.
That was completely our idea, that had nothing to do with Mtv. We
did it because we were looking for a little bit of a challenge and
we wanted to try something different. I had a great time doing that,
I really enjoyed seeing who among the cast could sing and who couldn't
sing. I thought the episode worked within the conceit that it was
a musical, I thought it worked really well. It was a lot of hard work
but it was worth it.
When you break the news to the cast, hey we're
doing a singing episode, did anybody get defensive or mad or say,
"No way I ain't doing this, I'm not a singer."
Oh no. They were very cool about it. Being a voice actor is a part
time job, and mostly they just had fun with it. You know some of them
worked out better than others, but thank god for Pro Tools.
Is there anybody besides Daria that you really
relate to and you say, "Yeah that's me."
I relate to many of the characters. I definitely identify with Jake.
I identify with Helen, Jane, you know. If you're gonna be a successful
writer you have to be able to get into these people's heads. Otherwise
they're one dimensional. So I try to see the sympathetic side of everyone,
including the "villains" like Ms. Li.
Helen [the mom], what do you see that's sympathetic
I think she's trying to do a career and a family, and I think she's
been brought up, or brain washed into thinking she's supposed to be
able to do them both perfectly, when the reality is most people can't
do one of those things perfectly, much less both. She's stretched
pretty tightly like most American parents are these days, and she's
doing the best she can. [Long pause] You don't see that huh?
No, no, I think you're right. She does have
her moments where she's less...icky...
Well, yeah, but if you want crazed you gotta
go with the dad.
I really relate to him.
What do you like about him.
It's the crazed. It's that always, just on the
edge, barely keeping it together. Especially in the one where he becomes
a consultant for the internet company. I've been him a lot.
Well, there you go.
I want to ask you about one other character.
Mr. DeMartino [the guy with one eyeball popping out of his head].
What is the sympathetic part of him?
Oh, well the sympathetic part of him is, he really wants to be a good
teacher. But you know he's dealing with idiots, and his own emotional
short comings, and it's just not working out the way he hoped. I think
he's a very realistic teacher, personally.
Sure, I agree, but realism doesn't mean you
can sympathize with them, but I do see your softer side of him.