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'Bob's Burgers' Serves Up Gently Savory Entertainment

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'Bob's Burgers' Serves Up Gently Savory Entertainment

Television

'Bob's Burgers' Serves Up Gently Savory Entertainment

'Bob's Burgers' Serves Up Gently Savory Entertainment

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/353252874/353424678" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Bob's Burgers won this year's Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program. Fox hide caption

toggle caption Fox

Bob's Burgers won this year's Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program.

Fox

It's not news that cartoons aren't child's play anymore: The Simpsons' dysfunctional family of five debuted way back in 1989. Then came Family Guy, also on the FOX network, and even darker and edgier.

But for four seasons now, Bob's Burgers has found a home sandwiched between that bombastic and sarcastic duo. The cartoon — created by Loren Bouchard — revolves around life at the Belcher family's struggling burger joint. The show's oddball characters, their tendency to burst into song, and a dead-on depiction of the pitfalls of puberty have won it a cult following.

It also snagged an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program in 2014, a year The Simpsons and Family Guy weren't even nominated. Bouchard says the Belcher family's gentle, wacky dynamic is a reflection of the writing team. Meanness just looks out of place on the pages of the show's script. "There's a sort of what I call the 'Archie Bunker urge' in creating characters," he says. "Because in comedy, you want people bouncing off each other. You want a little disagreement, or a lot. ... But for all of us working on the show, it ends up being more funny to just assume that they accept each other — the members of this family — and that the conflict comes from elsewhere, something more circumstantial."


Interview Highlights

On the show's female characters, particularly sisters Tina and Louise Belcher

Louise is a great example of the sort of precocious child archetype. She is 9; she's the youngest. But we've written her, and Kristen [Schall] easily plays her, as often the sharpest person in the room. She's bored easily as a result, and sort of creates her own entertainment in that classic trickster way. She's messing with people almost all the time. Tina, her older sister, is a yearning character. She wants. She wears her heart on her sleeve. She's 13 and she's right in the beginning hot zone of puberty. And so she is very focused on boys and on a certain amount of fantasy life that involves her and kissing and boys' butts.

On casting standup comics with recognizable voices

I love working with comedians. They come to the gig with a practiced and honed ability to make you laugh using just their voice and a microphone. Secondarily, I would say, we just try to cast people with interesting voices. Whether they're a standup or not, ultimately you just want a voice that really cuts and feels really specific. Aziz [Ansari, who plays Darryl], for example, is a great voice. He doesn't have to change a thing. You just want exactly what he's born with.

On the improvisational nature of the dialogue

We love improv. Improv is very useful for a couple reasons. One is, the actors, when they say something that they're thinking of in the moment, they'll be more alive. They're all great at reading a script and they can give you a line read that sounds as fresh as you want, but I still think there's another gear. There's a little extra "oomph" in a performance when they're thinking of it and maybe they're trying to make the other actors in the booth laugh. And then, of course, on top of it, we're working with very talented people who can improvise and can often say something funnier that we wouldn't necessarily have thought of in the script stage.

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