Home For Grown Ups SDCC2015: Get Knocked Out by the “Mike Tyson Mysteries” Roundtable Interviews

SDCC2015: Get Knocked Out by the “Mike Tyson Mysteries” Roundtable Interviews

Mike Tyson Mysteries The End
From Left: Larry Dorf, Mike Tyson, Hugh Davidson, Rachel Ramras
From Left: Larry Dorf, Mike Tyson, Hugh Davidson, Rachel Ramras

Mike Tyson Mysteries, the show where Mike Tyson teams up with the Ghost of the Marquess of Queensbury, his adopted Korean daughter Yung Hee, and a Pigeon to solve mysteries is a half hour animated comedy that could only be created by Adult Swim. After the success of their first season, Mike Tyson Mysteries will be back with new episodes this fall.

Toonzone News, along with other members of the press, sat down with Mike Tyson (Mike Tyson), Rachel Ramras (Yung Hee Tyson), producer Hugh Davidson and writer Larry Dorf at San Diego Comic Con 2015.

QUESTION: How do you like Comic Con?

MIKE TYSON: Comic Con is awesome.

Q: Have you been before?

MIKE TYSON: Three times.

Q: If you could do any mystery or conspiracy theory in the show or real life, which would you solve?

MIKE TYSON: Roswell. Aliens.

Q: How did the first season turn out to you?

MIKE TYSON: The ratings spoke for themselves. It doesn’t matter what I think about it, it’s what the fans think. I guess that’s why we’re here again.

Q: If there’s any cartoon character or real person you can get on the show, who would you have?

MIKE TYSON: I don’t know, there’s a lot of people. It’s a lot of people, and we even go some mainstream guys as well. Howard Stern.

Q: Any cartoon characters?

MIKE TYSON: Foghorn Leghorn.

TOONZONE NEWS: What kinds of shows did you watch growing up?

MIKE TYSON: Superfriends, Scooby-Doo. The Lone Ranger, Sesame Street, the typical ones.

Q: If there’s any presidential candidate you could fight in the ring, who would you go in the ring with?

MIKE TYSON: I don’t know.

Q: Donald Trump?

MIKE TYSON: No, I like Donald Trump.

Q: Why?

MIKE TYSON: He’s got balls, man. He’s taking all those guys on. He can’t be insane, we know he’s not insane, it’s just he has a lot of guts. From a perspective, you’ve got to respect those kinds of merits. We’ve all got to be human. We definitely made mistakes, and we’ve got a lot of emotional vampires in the world that we’re in, and people definitely try to drain you. You’ve got to stand and stay fast, and I admire that. The statements and stuff. They’re leading in the Republican runnings, they were saying.

Mike Tyson Mysteries Heavyweight Champion of the MoonQ: Do you identify as a Republican or do you not pay attention to politics?

MIKE TYSON: You have to pay attention to politics. Your life is politics, that’s what politics is. Control of our lives. How they spend the taxes, what they’re going to do, what they’re not going to do. It depends on who is in charge. I don’t know, I’m for the best of the people. The best of the people. I don’t know what that is. Both sides have great views. I don’t know. Could be more Red than I am Liberal, but I’ve got a lot of Liberal issues that are good too. They’ve got good stuff, both of them. They just have to learn to make it more possible for all the good stuff to work together. There’s good in both of those parties.

Q: Since doing the show, have you been receiving messages by pigeon?

MIKE TYSON: Since I’ve been doing the show, there’s been a pervasive amount of involvement and interest in the show. Someone came to me and explained to me the program and that it was changed from Sunday to Monday or Monday to Sunday, one of those days, and I was sure she was mistaken because I would’ve knew, but I didn’t know, and she was right. They changed the day. That was interesting. This person didn’t have a television and knew. You grow up as time goes by in life. You grow and learn. It’s just one big school anyway. You think, “Who would be watching this show?” I always think my show is for the high guys.

Q: What do you think of the Mike Tyson astronaut figure?

MIKE TYSON: I don’t know, that’s interesting. I’m going to give it to my son because my son wants to be an astronaut.

Q: As the African-American lead on a cartoon show, which is rare these days, has anyone reached out to you as an inspiration?

MIKE TYSON: I don’t know. I’m a conscious African-American, but I don’t live my life as an African-American. I just live my life conscious of who I am and my situation in this particular lifetime and try to overcome whatever quagmire and difficulty and adversity they hold for me. Look at yourself from that perspective. I know my feelings get involved. I’m going to make mistakes. Whenever I’m concerned for my own self-aggrandizement, I fuck up. I have to always be objective, I don’t have to have personal gain. I have to be objective. If it’s too personal, you fuck everything up.

Q: What’s a technique you use to remain objective?

MIKE TYSON: I do a lot of self-evaluation and deal with the reality of who I am, what I am, and try to make this cause good. We all got cards in life, we’re dealt cards, and even though we were dealt a bad hand doesn’t mean we’ll lose the game. We play it and I’m just basically trying to play my cards right at this stage in my life.

Mike Tyson Mysteries Night MovesTOONZONE NEWS: Are you still working out and staying in shape?

MIKE TYSON: I try to. It’s hard. I worked out yesterday and the day before yesterday, but I missed a day. I’ve been traveling, so it’s hard. When this is over, I’ll try to get a workout tonight.

Q: Do you have a finite ending for the series or will this go on as long as possible?

MIKE TYSON: This goes on for another couple of years. We’re getting ready to go really really explosive, I like to use that word. Some might consider it dark, but explosive.

Q: What can we expect in the next season? What are you most excited about?

MIKE TYSON: Some dignified offenses. You’ll be offended but it’ll be dignified.

Q: Was it fun working with the comedians on the show?

MIKE TYSON: Yeah, I had a great time. Even though I never saw Mr. Macdonald, the show came out good. I met Jim Rash.

Q: Was Jim pretty cool?

MIKE TYSON: Jim is awesome.

Q: Was there ever anything that they brought up to you that made you shake your head?

MIKE TYSON: No, I’m totally objective.

Q: Are you interested in making other shows?

MIKE TYSON: I just directed a show called Champs. It’s on Netflix now, and it got really good support.

Mike Tyson Mysteries The EndQ: What’s it about?

MIKE TYSON: It’s about fighters. It’s got me, Evander Holyfield, Bernard Hopkins and basically our life before boxing what basically put us in the position to box. This whole barometer of the three individuals involved in the show.

Q: Do you hang out with them?

MIKE TYSON: We don’t hang out. We’re very personable, but we don’t hang out. We could hang out, though. We are friends.

Q: You’re kind of in a fraternity. It’s interesting how people are living different lives.

MIKE TYSON: We’re all the same, but we’re not. We’re all the same but we’re not. We all fight for different reasons. Everybody has a different reason for why they became a fighter. It may seem the same, but they’re different. The answer may be the same why I became a fighter, but the journey is different.

Q: Is there a boxer from before you would fight in your prime or now?

MIKE TYSON: I’m not interested in fighting old guys. When I started fighting, they were like my mentors without even knowing me. I’d read about them. I’d read about what kind of girls they like, what kind of food they like, where they like to go, where they hang out. As I got older and more successful, I would go to the places I read about as a kid where they were hanging out and been to the places they were hanging out. And just put myself around that whole world of boxing.

Q: Who did you identify the most with?

MIKE TYSON: Jack Delaney. Aaron Pryor. I mostly identified with the guys that had nothing. When they started at zero and just suffered. You have to suffer to succeed. Right now you don’t have to suffer too much. You don’t have to sweat too much to be successful on television.

Q: Is that why you were successful? You had a rough childhood.

MIKE TYSON: I sacrificed a lot too, I put forth the effort as well. Just having a rough childhood could work reverse on you, you could have low self-esteem, you can’t even develop an ego. Mine was the opposite. I had low self-esteem, but I developed a big ego. Those two components are great and normally never fail for success in life, but individually, as far as me trying to be a perfectionist, my drive for perfection and my self-tranquility would always compete with each other, and that’s why I’d always make mistakes. It’s probably already perfected, but my strive for perfection, I make an imperfection of it. It’s never satisfied.

SDCC15_Mike TysonQ: If young Mike Tyson watched this show, what would be his take on it?

MIKE TYSON: I don’t know. I have no idea. I like the superheroes more. Superfriends.

Q: If you could be any hero, who would you be?

MIKE TYSON: I like Apocalypse. That’s my favorite cartoon character, but I can’t say that because we’re with DC and Warner Bros.

Q: Do you have a DC favorite?

MIKE TYSON: Green Lantern or Flash. One of those guys.

Q: What advice would you give kids growing up in this generation today?

MIKE TYSON: This generation? Sacrifice and work hard. Don’t expect people to give you anything. We live in a very much entitled generation. Very entitled. My generation was always about sacrificing and suffering for success. Nowadays it’s Hey I’m Johnny Johnny and I’ve got a phone in my mouth and boom, top notch. That’s just what it is. That’s just what it is. This generation they’re already living in now and it’s not going to stop, and the next generation will dictate their generation. We dictated the 80’s and stuff and those guys dictated the 70’s and stuff. Cher and Sonny Bono did their thing, and now we’ve got to be held hostage to the generation of today.

Q: What do you think about how the first season has been received?

HUGH DAVIDSON: I think it was received far greater than we could’ve imagined. I was very proud of the first season. I think lots of people were watching it from what I understand. It was very well reviewed. The company loves it, Mike loves it. That’s the most important thing. When you’re working with the former heavyweight champion of the world, you want that person to be happy. So we’re all very delighted.

LARRY DORF: And we think also with season two, which we’ve just finished writing, is better.

HUGH DAVIDSON: Like all comedies, it has to find its way a little bit, but our season two is better. We’ve very, very excited about it.

Q: What do you think is better about season two?

HUGH DAVIDSON: The relationships are just clearer. You get more comfortable. It’s like that second season of a sitcom. Anytime Saturday Night Live changes cast members, everyone says it’s terrible. It’s because you don’t know those people yet. Then after a while, it’s no more terrible than it was four years before. It’s that you just get more comfortable. Okay I know this guy, I know her, I know why she’s funny. We’re getting there. With this second season, we know as writers, oh, Pigeon will say something about this. You kinda know. We know the characters better. There are a lot of scenes in the first season where you’re going, “Oh God, Yung Hee hasn’t said anything in two pages,” and now it just feels like everyone is there. We know how they would weigh in on a situation.

LARRY DORF: It’s not arbitrary like on a sitcom. A lot of sitcoms could be like anybody can say any line. It’s just joke, joke, joke. Maybe also because we come from Groundlings and it’s all very character driven. The lines are all true to each specific character.

Mike Tyson Mysteries The EndQ: Your leads are so unique, too.

HUGH DAVIDSON: That was very very surprising. When they first were putting this together, before we were involved. Andrew Dice Clay, I think, was the Pigeon. I don’t think you want a show with Andrew Dice Clay and Mike. That’s too much alpha male energy, so we were very lucky to have the female energy that we got. To have Jim Rash and Rachel. The color that Mike plays is a different color than Norm is different than Jim Rash and Rachel is different from Jim Rash, and I think that’s rare, and I don’t think that’s totally by design. I think we were lucky in the casting, but I think the sitcoms that you look back on fondly always seem like those characters are different. For the ones in the middle, anyone could’ve said that line when they walked into the room. I don’t think we’re geniuses, we got lucky with the casting. Norm was brilliant.

LARRY DORF: And we’re geniuses.

HUGH DAVIDSON: And we’re geniuses.

TOONZONE NEWS: What were some of the stumbling blocks when first writing the show?

HUGH DAVIDSON: We didn’t know how physically it would work. I go to Vegas to record Mike separate from the cast. 11 minutes is a weird length for us. It’s kind of an odd length. It seemed like there was a desire from either the executives or the people shepherding the show, they didn’t really know the show either, so they kind of always want any person trying to figure something out, what is the format. Does every episode start at the pigeon coop, and then they get a mystery, and then they go here, and it’s like maybe every kid’s or action show do that, or procedurals. Law and Order, I think, those are good things, but they’re not comedies. Comedies need to be surprising. It doesn’t help to have some formula that you’re adhering to so closely. We had to do it enough to know what we were doing. So we didn’t do that for a while, but now we have hopefully done it at the right times and we’re no longer saying they all start at the pigeon coop.

LARRY DORF: We trust the characters and we also trust the comedy. It is a mystery show, but that’s secondary to the comedy and the tone of it.

HUGH DAVIDSON: Last year at this time they kept saying to us—

LARRY DORF: Where are they going to go next?

Mike Tyson Mysteries Mite TysonHUGH DAVIDSON: What mysteries do you have? And we’d be hanging our head, who gives a shit about the mystery, the funniest part is Norm Macdonald driving in the car. You don’t care if a mummy shows up in the end or not. If you’re invested in mummies, you should be watching a different show, but it’s hard to tell people that.

LARRY DORF: A script for an 11-minute show is 15 pages, maybe. We’ll be on page 11, and we haven’t done a mystery yet. It’s so funny, and it’s so interesting, and they’re in one location and have been sitting down the whole time, but it’s great. It’s compelling.

HUGH DAVIDSON: And I think Mike Tyson gives it something. I know people make fun of reality shows, but a reason I think reality shows are compelling, even when they’re incredible contrived, is people say things in a way human beings actually say. They’re redundant, they don’t speak so efficiently, they stumble over their words a little bit. They don’t say jokes perfectly, and Mike lends this show an odd bit of reality. We’ll write dialogue for him, but by the third time he says the line, Mike finds a way to make it something that he’s comfortable with and believable and authentic. Mike’s so vulnerable as a performer for whatever reason that he tries to do the line until he feels like it sounds true, and I think a lot of people would do it in a cool way or might feel pressured to be funny. He doesn’t try to be funny, he just tries to say the line authentically. So if it says he’s sad, Mike sounds sad. I find it extraordinary, but his performance is great.

LARRY DORF: When I first heard Mike, I saw an animatic.

HUGH DAVIDSON: I had you and Rachel listen to it.

LARRY DORF: And I was reminded of Tracy Morgan on 30 Rock. That sticks out. This is different, it’s a little weird, but there’s something unique about it. Endearing and funny.

HUGH DAVIDSON: It doesn’t sound like here’s another super funny comedy actor who’s got perfect timing. That’s what’s great about this show, and it’s also not anything we deserve credit for. Mike just reading the mystery to me is funnier than a well-written joke on some other show. Why is Mike Tyson on the show? I don’t forget that. It’s so crazy.

Mike Tyson Mysteries A River Runs Through It Into a Heart of DarknessQ: What else about Tyson has become a character working you didn’t expect?

HUGH DAVIDSON: The same way I’ve been surprised at his ability to be funny in moments where he’s supposed to be funny. It’d be one thing if it was Mike, you could harness him, and it’s almost like you took found audio of somebody and in some sophisticated way built a show around found audio of someone who is not comedic. There is probably a way to do that. Mike, although he has that that power, like Larry said, he is inappropriate to a television show in the best way. He also occasionally has to deliver the end joke of the scene, and he’ll do that too. I can’t believe it. I still can’t believe how funny he is.

LARRY DORF: I’m pleasantly surprised by how into the show he is. We love to do it. The fact that he loves to do it also is pretty great.

HUGH DAVIDSON: At first he was not into it. It was just one other thing he was doing. I’m sure Mike Tyson Enterprises make lawn mower parts or something somewhere. There’s a billion things he signs his name on. Then he saw it, I had it on my phone, and I showed him the animation had just come back from the first episode, and he’s so excited, and he’s like, “Now I got to start trying” and we had already recorded four episodes.

Q: Have you thought about doing a live-action episode?

HUGH DAVIDSON: I think we talked about it in the first season because we were all in Groundlings together. I said,
“We’ve got to go to the Groundlings theater and shoot it on the stage.” Even if they had the scripts in hand, just like a table read, but a walking around table read. Jim Rash. Norm could play the pigeon. I do think it’s possible. I look forward to the day.

Q: You get to work with a lot of really talented people, how do you write to people like that? Do you write to their strengths?

HUGH DAVIDSON: Norm was the guy we didn’t know. Because we worked with Jim and Rachel, we were Groundlings together. Oddly, we are the opposite of that. We are so comfortable with Jim Rash and Rachel. Larry and I have written a million sketches with those people through the years and been on stage with them. It was just Norm was scary.

LARRY DORF: In season two we have a lot of great guest stars coming on. We can’t mention who they are, but really great ones, and we wrote, usually, two other people who we had in mind.

Mike Tyson Mysteries KidnappedQ: Norm has also had an interesting life.

HUGH DAVIDSON: I’m a huge fan of his. Everything he says to me is the funniest thing in the world. I’m like a crazy fan. He comes into the records, and I just stare at him because he starts talking the second he comes in, and it’s all crazy and funny and he’s well read, he’s so knowledgeable and interesting and provocative. Probably too much. But he’s just so fascinating, and we’ve been in these things, and he’ll look at this speech and say “I don’t understand this.” He understands it, he’s saying I don’t like it, and then I’m like what, what, what do you see? Well, I think, right here you switch tense. You were in past tense and now with the present participle, and he’s like the writing. It’s scary, but he genuinely laughs at the show.

LARRY DORF: Which is very cool.

HUGH DAVIDSON: I couldn’t care.

LARRY DORF: Norm is laughing while he’s reading.

HUGH DAVIDSON: If the show had failed, if we had one time where Norm Macdonald thought we had written a funny episode, I wouldn’t have given a shit if the show had failed. I’d never seeing these people again, you know. Mike Tyson will forget who we are the second he walked away from the room, but Norm laughing at our stuff is a huge thing for us.

LARRY DORF: The Pigeon character that Norm plays, in the first season, is so crass and he says inappropriate things, but season two, we get into that’s a pretty deep character, why is he like that. What he’s been through in his life. There is a little darkness there.

HUGH DAVIDSON: I think his performance is so good. Norm always makes fun of himself, he says “I’m a terrible actor”, but a voice actor, you can tell he loses himself in it. It’s not having to do what you do if you’re on camera. I just think he’s absolutely brilliant. He’s the guy that I would most want to like what I was doing.

Q: How many voice actors show up in pajamas?

HUGH DAVIDSON: Just Norm. Sometimes Rachel. Jim Rash, never, he’s very professional. Mike Tyson, never, but we put him in that blue suit.

RACHEL RAMRAS: Yes, but I record every episode with Norm and Jim.

Mike Tyson Mysteries Heavyweight Champion of the MoonQ: Was it fun recording with them?

RACHEL RAMRAS: It’s the most fun in the entire world. Because I could listen to Norm read a phone book, and Jim is one of my oldest friends, and he’s hysterical. For me it’s dreamy. I love it.

Q: Is Jim as fun in real life as he is in all his projects?

RACHEL RAMRAS: In real life, Jim is really smart and he can be just a normal, serious person, but I met Jim at the Groundlings, so his onstage persona, and obviously what he does on Community and our show is huge. Jim getting emotional I think is one of my favorite things in the world in real life he’s not like that, but getting him to an emotional place, we literally cannot write enough for that, and he delivers.

TOONZONE NEWS: Do all of you ad lib a lot?

RACHEL RAMRAS: We don’t ad lib. I hope that our writing has gotten better and is such that it sounds sort of unscripted, and I think Mike set the tone for how to perform the material, and he does it really straight. He doesn’t try and be funny or anything like that, he just tries to act well, so that’s what Norm and Jim and I try and do, so I think it gives it that feeling of an unscripted, improvised show, which is funnier to me than something that seems really written.

Q: What is your favorite scene or episode so far?

RACHEL RAMRAS: We just recorded a scene that I think is going to be hysterical where Marquess thinks the end of the world is happening, and he freaks out and is so afraid of dying, and then Pigeon points out but you’re already dead, and Marquess reveals you can die multiple times. It’s just about a page long of Jim freaking out, and it’s pretty great. And anything Mike says. Any time Mike speaks, I’m delighted by it, and he recorded a lot of live-action for the end of the episodes, and those are great too.

TOONZONE NEWS: How did you first approach your character?

RACHEL RAMRAS: We created the character and all the characters because we needed certain things in the show, so if you’re going to have a very crass character you should have someone who gets offended a lot. If you’re going to have crazy scenarios going on, you’re going to need someone who is going to be the voice of reason. So we sort of created our characters so they can service our scripts, and so she’s certainly the voice of reason, and also I think it shows a side of Mike that he gets to be paternal and loving towards this little girl and she gets to be affectionate and take care of him, and it’s this sweet, soft side of Mike that we like exploring.

TOONZONE NEWS: She’s very intelligent and always wants to get into the mysteries. Are you into mysteries at all?

RACHEL RAMRAS: I’m not into mysteries, but I think her sincerity is very funny to play. She’s just a sincere person and wants to really do the job at hand and when people around her are sometimes goofing off. I think her authentic self is very funny to play.

Mike Tyson Mysteries The EndQ: Because you had a relationship with them before, did they build the character for you or did you still have to audition?

RACHEL RAMRAS: When we came up with the idea for the character, I had been doing voices at Warner Bros. Animation. MAD, and I have done a few voices for Looney Tunes, so they knew me as an actor there as well, so it sort of felt like a natural process. I think there was a brief period of time where they were going to go out to Margaret Cho or some well known Asian comedian or something like that, and then it seemed we don’t need to do that. We don’t need to do anything gimmicky. There’s something really great in being able to be the writer and the performer and me having a relationship already with Jim Rash just felt easier than bringing in someone else and trying to contrive a relationship. This felt the most natural, and I was really honored they let me do the voice.

TOONZONE NEWS: Got any favorite moments from season one?

RACHEL RAMRAS: The house haunters episode was my favorite. That’s the kind of comedy I think is funny. The slow build, taking something very small, making a big deal out of it, and just seeing all the characters interacting with each other in a really banal episode is the funniest to me. That was my favorite episode.

Q: When you were a kid, what kind of animated shows did you watch?

RACHEL RAMRAS: I loved animated shows. I watched the animated Brady Bunch. Do you remember when they animated the Brady Bunch and they animated Happy Days and all those things? I loved that. I used to watch Hanna-Barbera. Jabber Jaw and Scooby Doo, I watched.

Q: Do you feel a lot of the way you deliver the lines might be affected by Scooby-Doo?

RACHEL RAMRAS: Not at all. I think it is funny everyone wants to compare our show to Scooby-Doo meets The A-Team, and I think visually the show obviously has that appeal. From our standpoint, though, we just want it to be funny and you don’t want it to seem jokey or gimmicky, but of course people are going to look at it and that’s the first thing they are going to think of. Other than the look, I don’t think it has anything to do with that.

Q: Are you going to go to the Adult Swim carnival here?

RACHEL RAMRAS: What do they have? Do they have rides?

Mike Tyson Mysteries Mite TysonQ: They have ring tosses, skeeball. They have socks from Mike Tyson.

RACHEL RAMRAS: Where do you get Pigeon socks? I don’t have access to any T-shirt, I don’t have any cool stuff. Mike has a doll of himself, not doll, sorry, I always get corrected. Action figure. And on the back, they show all the other characters as if they exist, and they don’t. There’s no Yung Hee doll, but I want one.

Q: At the carnival, you get tickets and win prizes. They even have the Mike Tyson Mysteries label.

RACHEL RAMRAS: How cool. I want that. I’ll throw my name around, but they’ll go “Who? Get the hell out of here, lady.” I have so much cachet here.

TOONZONE NEWS: If you could have any bit of merchandise based on the show, what would it be?

RACHEL RAMRAS: I want my suit. There was a little girl, maybe she was a young woman, who was at the panel, and she was wearing the Yung Hee track suit, and she had made it. I did say, I wonder if anyone will go as Mike or Yung Hee for Halloween this year. What do you think?

Q: It’s easy with the Mike Tyson tattoos.

RACHEL RAMRAS: I know, right? I think those are actually really cool. They handed us those at work, and I thought I bet that’s going to be impossible to put on.

Q: You should all wear them for table reads.

RACHEL RAMRAS: They wanted us all to wear Tommy Bahama shirts on the panel for no reason, just because.