YOLO: CRYSTAL FANTASY Exclusive Interview: Michael Cusack On Adult Swim's First International Show

YOLO: CRYSTAL FANTASY <font color=red>Exclusive</font> Interview: Michael Cusack On Adult Swim's First International Show

Michael Cusack made an impression on Adult Swim fans with the Australian Rick and Morty spinoff called Bushworld Adventures, and now his new show Yolo: Crystal Fantasy has launched on the network as well!

Australian writer and actor Michael Cusack has made his impression on the internet for years with comedic videos like Yolo and Ciggy Butt Brain. He gained further fame stateside with Bushworld Adventures, the Australian spin-off of Rick and Morty aired by Adult Swim.

Now, he's found further recognition globally with Yolo finding new life on Adult Swim in the form of Yolo: Crystal Fantasy. It makes history as the first international project on Cartoon Network's adult programming block, Adult Swim.

We spoke exclusively with Cusack about several topics, including different influences on his work, Australian media, recording in a Melbourne church, and the journey from Youtube to television. If you're interested in hearing the audio component of our interview with Michael Cusack, you can do so via the podcast player below.

Literary Joe: I don't know a whole lot about Australian media, so I was wondering if you could kind of shed some light on some of your influences from that side of the world.

Michael Cusack: Sure. So, when I was growing up, I grew up with shows like Kath & Kim, which was a big hit here. They tried to make an American reboot of it, which failed pretty miserably because the humor didn't translate, I don't think, but yeah.

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Literary Joe: That's the same thing that Tod mentioned!

Michael Cusack: Ah, really? Interesting. Yeah, honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if he's saying the same stuff I am. We've got like three pop culture points to address. There's Kath & Kim, Big Girl's Blouse was a great show, Fast Forward. A lot of these shows had the same actors involved with them. We had a really funny era in the nineties when it comes to sketch shows and stuff on TV.

Also, to be honest, it wasn't just TV. It's the people you see around. Cause Tod, me, Sarah, like every Australian kid, grew up with shows like the Simpsons. We tend not to really watch Australian comedy. It's more American and English. So you really get a lot of your entertainment from real life a lot of the time here.

*To hear the conversation with Tod and Sarah mentioned here, click the podcast player above!*

Literary Joe: Yolo marks the first international project for adult swim, which is huge. And hopefully, it starts a domino effect for a lot more. But I wanted to ask; you guys are recording in a church in Melbourne?

Michael Cusack: Yeah, so, we're under the production company Princess Pictures for Yolo, and they're based in a church in Melbourne, and yeah, a lot of the production was done there. Tod and I were not only the voices for the show along with Sarah, but we were also the audio engineers and all that kind of thing.

So we set up a makeshift audio booth in this church to do all the voices in Yolo, and yeah, it was a weird experience. You kind of forget the strange surroundings when you're in the middle of it, but now you look back, and you're like, yeah, that was, that was quite weird.

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Karp: I just want to say it was interesting when you mentioned Eagle Raptor. The first time that I saw Yolo, I don't even think Yolo 2 was out yet at the time, or it may have been in production, but that was like my first initial thought. I was like, Oh, this reminds me of Eagle Raptor. Like quite a bit.

Michael Cusack: Yeah! A lot of the comments said that, and you know, I can't deny that he was a massive inspiration on me. I think I probably wouldn't animate without being inspired by Eagle Raptor and his awesome series. I went to Newgrounds and would scour for new stuff from him.

And also, people like David Firth he was a huge inspiration to me. He had a site called Fatpie that I used to go on all the time as a kid to watch Salad Fingers and all the other stuff he did. 

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Karp: I definitely remember Newgrounds having cool flash games and a lot of cool animations and people kind of getting their start, you know, almost like the birth of the internet. 

Michael Cusack: Well, what I've found, what's good now, so many talented people came from Newgrounds, and they ended up working in the animation industry in one way or another as storyboard artists or animators. But it's really nice to see a lot of the Newgrounds people getting more success now and shows. 

Cause it did feel like a big underground back in the day and if Newgrounds got a show in like 2006, you just be like, what? It's an internet guy getting on TV? But right now, it's been happening for the last few years, the internet and TV are merging, and people are catching on. So it's really nice to see. 

It's a really interesting, strange time right now where the market is so saturated, but I think it's a benefit to see all of that as a positive because it's a disruption to this system that was, you know, the old way that Hollywood used to make TV and content. And it's all being merged and mixed together in this weird way that no one really knows what the outcome's going to be, but it's a very good time to get into it, I think because it just means it's more opportunity.

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Karp: Piggybacking on what you're saying there, do you think that this is giving a little bit more creative power and more influence to, for lack of a better term, I'll say, everyday people, people who aren't really maybe born of Hollywood or came from that background?

Michael Cusack: Yeah, I think it is. I mean, a lot of the funniest videos online are just like a teenager with their phone, and that's the scariest thing in the world to a network executive because it costs $0 to do, and it's getting more views than some of the stuff they pump millions of dollars into.

So yeah, of course, it feels right to have this rebellion against an old way, but I think it's all fun. It's a healthy thing for an industry to be challenged.

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Karp: Yeah, definitely. To some degree, it's changing. The ideas are almost cracking the foundation of what entertainment and media and all this stuff is supposed to be. And that's kind of what I saw, especially when I watched Yolo. I was just like, for being like a YouTube video at the time, wow, this is, this is really out there. I can't believe that to some degree. YouTube isn't necessarily super censored, but it's kind of leaning more that way now. I feel like at the time I was just like, this is crazy.

Michael Cusack: That initial video is much weirder and crazier than the actual show on Adult Swim. And that's not Adult Swim saying, you've got to tone it down. That's just me because I think everything's contextual, right? Like, if you're a TikTok artist and you got famous for making a meme, that was you going crazy in your car. And it was really funny, or whatever it is, this let's say three-second TikTok video that goes viral.

If a network is interested in you, you've got all these executives saying, Hey kid, you've got millions of views. We want to get you to make ten seasons of a TV show for us. Well, I don't think it's going to quite work if that it's just that video over and over again for ten seasons. You've kind of got to adapt and figure out how to play the game, which is very risky because people see you as a sellout or you've lost your touch, or you're watering down, all that kind of thing. But that's a good challenge.

The challenge is to see if you can outdo yourself and make something better than what you became famous for in your little viral videos. So that was the goal, with me with Yolo was just to try to make a little bit more of a legit TV show rather than just like craziness and loud noises all the time. Even though I love that stuff, and it's still in the TV show. I guess the goal was to make the show a little bit more mature, for lack of a better term.

*This interview has been edited for clarity. The interview is co-hosted by Kevin Lynch, credited as Karp.*


Yolo: Crystal Fantasy airs on Adult Swim on Sundays at midnight. You can check out the series here.

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