INTERVIEW: On these ‘Hot Streets,’ supernatural phenomena fall under Branski’s jurisdiction

Hot Streets, created by Brian Wysol, premieres Sunday, Jan. 14 at midnight on Adult Swim. Image courtesy of Adult Swim.

Adult Swim will premiere its new quarter-hour comedy series, Hot Streets, at midnight Sunday, Jan. 14. On the show, created and executive produced by Brian Wysol, FBI agent Mark Branski (voiced by JD Ryznar) teams up with his partner, his niece and her dog to investigate supernatural phenomena. In addition Ryznar, the voice cast includes Chelsea Kane, Scott Chernoff, Justin Roiland and Ming-Na Wen.

“I’m really proud and excited about this,” Wysol said in a recent phone interview. “I had begun making shorts for a film festival called Channel 101 that was created by Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab, and it was, pre-YouTube, a place where people would submit shorts. And they would screen to a live audience. It was basically mini TV show episodes that creators were making, and the audience would vote on which episode would get to come back for a new episode. And it was nonprofit, just for fun, and I had been a part of that community. And I had made several shorts. One was called We Solved the Crime, and the other one was called Hot Cross Buns. And they were my favorite shorts that I had made for that site, and I decided I would take those two shorts and combine them into one show idea.”

Wysol met many writers, directors and actors in the Channel 101 community, including Ryznar, who is known for Yacht Rock, a riff on 1970s light rock from such musicians as Michael McDonald and Steely Dan. Wysol and Ryznar made the connection, and Branski’s voice was set.

“I will voice a Brian Wysol cartoon anytime because they’re the most outrageous, out-there cartoons you could see, but they still have this weird amount of heart that kind of draws you in,” Ryznar said. “They’re just adorable, so I’ll always say yes to Brian when it is something professional. Of course, I jumped on it because I don’t do this. I’m not a voiceover guy, so … I was happy to hop on board. And Mark Branski, I mean, he requires my own voice, so that’s the kind of character I could really sink my teeth into where I can just hop on the microphone and kind of talk in my own voice, with a little more acting and drama to it. But, yeah, he’s a fun character to play.”

Hot Streets follows FBI agent Mark Branski (voiced by JD Ryznar) as he investigates supernatural phenomena. Image courtesy of Adult Swim.

Wysol said Ryznar has a natural voice for voiceover talent, calling it interesting and unique, almost like H. Jon Benjamin (Archer, Bob’s Burgers). “His natural speaking voice is so appealing that it lends itself to animation really well,” Wysol said.

“I don’t believe H. Jon Benjamin’s voice is natural,” Ryznar said with a laugh. “I think he’s putting on a show every time he’s in front of the camera or microphone. ‘Oh, hello, I’m H. Jon Benjamin.’ That’s not a real voice. It’s fake. With Branski, you’re getting authentic JD Ryznar voice, 100 percent.”

When audience members tune in for Hot Streets each week, they will realize that the series takes a departure from many other animated shows like Rick and Morty, Family Guy and Robot Chicken. They keep the pop-culture references on Hot Streets minimal and instead try to develop humor from a more human standpoint — despite the aliens and supernatural mysteries, of course.

“There are so many shows out there that do pop culture really, really well like Rick and Morty, Robot Chicken, South Park,” Wysol said. “What we were trying to do is actually go away from that as much as possible, so you won’t find very many pop-culture jokes and references and one-liners referring to pop culture. There are homages to things. For example, the third episode has a very clear Superman homage in it when Chubby Webbers [the dog on the series] becomes a super-agent, but that was one thing that we were trying to steer away from when making the show. What we were trying to do is what can we do that is our own voice, that’s a little bit different than Rick and Morty, that’s different than some of the more popular shows out there.”

Rick and Morty and Robot Chicken are uniquely intertwined with the development of Hot Streets. For starters, Wysol has worked on both of the successful series, and Matt Senreich, an executive producer on Hot Streets, also works on Robot Chicken. Other producers — including Roiland and Seth Green — are a who’s who of Adult Swim creators.

Wysol is committed to making Hot Streets different — but still following that tried-and-true formula of making people laugh. “We’re ultimately just trying to make the funniest show possible and trying to find a unique take on comedy,” Wysol said.

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com

Hot Streets, created and executive produced by Brian Wysol, will premiere Sunday, Jan. 14 at midnight on Adult Swim. JD Ryznar provides voice talent. Click here for more information.

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at Time.com, among other publications. E-mail him at john@hollywoodsoapbox.com

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