Mike Tyson Mysteries is a ridiculously surreal show that’s anchored by a talented cast, especially the two main leads Mike Tyson and Rachel Ramras. Their ability to fully invest themselves into the show’s absurd scenarios is truly commendable. But of course, as anyone knows, behind every hilarious performance is a talented writer creating the material. Delivery and execution are truly only one half of the equation. The other half is the content itself that was painstakingly put together over large swaths of time.
Hugh Davidson is that other half. As both a producer and writer on Mike Tyson Mysteries, Davidson is the brains behind the crazy operation. His experience makes him perfect for the job too. Since 2006, Davidson has been a writer and occasional actor on the similarly absurd Robot Chicken. He was even one of the people behind the show’s very popular Star Wars and DC Comics specials. Plus, along with Ramras and Jim Rash, Davidson got his start with the Groundlings, giving him a very deep history with comedy.
As last part of our Mike Tyson Mysteries interview trilogy, Hugh Davidson gave a round table of reporters plenty of details on how the show was made, what makes the craziness work, and who might actually come on for a guest spot.
What’s it like working on the show?
Hugh Davidson: It’s great! It’s very fun. It’s delightful writing a show, ostensibly, for adults. I’ve been working on a kids show before. That’s the hardest thing on Earth. You can put a lot of grounded, real stuff in an adult show. But then it’s really exciting, as you can imagine, to work with that guy (Mike Tyson). It’s the craziest thing on Earth. There’s no one on this planet that’s more famous. We can go deep into the Amazon and I bet people would know who he is. We’ve gone to a couple of things where there’s other celebrities, and he’s a jaw dropping human being.
And he’s great at this! He wants to do well, he wants to act well. He’s incredibly trusting, possibly too trusting, but he just believes we’re gonna write a funny show. He’s not a micro-manager, he’s not controlling. When he acts, he’ll do anything! He’s not like a cool guy with a big ego. He’s doing a comedy and there are actors that would not be as brave to act the way he does. If he’s supposed to be sad in a scene, the first take he seems like he’s crying. He throws himself into it and I think it’s going to be terrifically funny.
What were the main influences that went behind creating this type of show?
HD: I would assume they are the obvious ones. It looks like Scooby-Doo, it kinda moves like Scooby-Doo, but the idea behind it is in the ballpark of The A-Team or Highway to Heaven. Someone who helps people. But then, the show itself is just about the relationships of the main characters. It’s just the cast. Pigeon, the Marquess of Queensberry, the daughter Yung Hee, and Mike. It’s so inappropriate that Mike Tyson would be trying to solve mysteries. To me, it’s never not funny. We deal with real things. I try to imagine what it would be like to hang out with him all the time, how that’s kind of scary. If you’re walking somewhere, you don’t know what’s going to happen. He could walk off, people approach him. You’re always on a guard a little bit and I think we try to put that in the show. It’s like life with Mike which I think must be terrifically exciting (laughs).
Where did the idea from the show come from?
HD: I think Mike wanted to be in a cartoon and everyone else was like, “Who the fuck is going to stop him? At the very least we’ll make three minutes of a cartoon and maybe he’ll go away.” It just started to work as we put it together. It didn’t seem lame. You could say, “Oh it’s a big celebrity and it’s put together in a lame, inorganic way.” But the cast is great and the relationships are very solid on the show, I hope, from a writing perspective. I’ll be damned but it seems like a real group of people that you would want to spend 11 minutes with. So it doesn’t really matter what the mystery is or what the animation style is. It’s just the people in the show. Hopefully the humanity is in there. That’s the kind of comedy I certainly like. Things that feel real about real lives like vulnerable things, social things, relationship stuff. Not just witty, clever dialogue or parodies about this and that. You can do that at first but you can’t keep it going. We’ve done 10 episodes and I think they’re sustaining themselves.
What’s been your favorite episode so far?
HD: I think towards the end of the season once we really felt like we knew the characters. Then I thought, “Oh God I’m going to hate these early ones.” TV production is so onerous, the schedule, that the reason shows are so terrible is because the schedule is so terrible. People are writing without really knowing what the hell they’re doing. They don’t really know the characters. Then you have to turn in the script and record it. It’s always the schedule, schedule, schedule. This one, by the end, we really did know the characters, but I think luckily the first ones are still funny enough. When the animation came back, it’s still funny to watch Mike Tyson run around in a cartoon, drive a van. The dialogue is so funny to me and I think it’s going to be very funny to everyone.
Will there be any special guest stars?
HD: I’m sure there will. In the old days, those cartoons would have guest stars because the shows got so formulaic. They were just like, “Well at least somebody famous showed up.” It can be a bit of a reach. In the early going, at least from the writing side of things, we wanted to be disciplined enough. You need to make sure the character’s we’ve got are funny before we start, “Oh crazy Uncle Sal comes to visit!” So hopefully we’ve avoided having too much of that. But having said that, we will hopefully get some. I’m sure funny people will want to do it. In the early going, Jonathan Banks did a part. He’s on Breaking Bad. He was so great. But I think it will be very funny even if we don’t have those kinds of people. I’m sure there will be. Mike handed me the phone one time and he’s like, “You’re on with the Bishop (Don Magic Juan). The Bishop wants to be on the show.” So God knows who will be on the show.
Hugh Davidson’s work on Mike Tyson Mysteries can be seen every Monday at 10:30 on Adult Swim.
all images credit: adult swim
Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television and every Saturday afternoon you can read his retro video game column, Remembering the Classics. He covers Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead (amongst others) every week. As for as his career and literary standing goes — take the best parts of Spider-man, Captain America and Luke Skywalker and you will fully understand his origin story.