Frankenhole Interview Blast - Dino Stamatopoulos Phone-Talking to David Wolinsky

Dino Stamatopoulos has a new show on Adult Swim called Mary Shelley's Frankenhole debuting June 27 at 12:30a ET. Unlike stuff he's written for Mr. Show, TV Funhouse, and Moral Orel, there's a lot more time traveling, crybaby monsters, European accents, and horny ex-presidents in it. You'd like it. Here's the 411 on Dino's 517.

Name: Dino Stamatopoulos.

Previously: Moral Orel, The Drinky Crow Show, Mr. Show, TV Funhouse

Likes: Pretty birdies.

Dislikes: Ugly birdies.

Blood type: An O of some kind.

Allergies: Cancer.

Nicknames: Well, I was called Tino once, but that was by "Weird Al" Yankovic. He gets a lot of words wrong in a rhymey way. I think he has a learning disability.

Favorite food: Umami Burger

Personal motto: "Try not to Dino it up so much again!"

Most awkward Comic-Con experience: The one I wasn't drunk at.

Special moves: Springing up suddenly in my coffin after I'm dead. That one always gets 'em.

Inseam: Not what you'd think. Yes, I'm quite tall but my balls hang very low.

Superstitions: I always knock two times when I start a "knock knock" joke.

Fears: Is no one else just a little bit freaked out by the idea of me dying? Or is that just me?

Least flattering physical feature: My smelly eyes.

Hobbies: Reminding people they're going to die some day.

First album: George Carlin, Occupation: Foole

Favorite museum: My Aunt Ethel's vagina. Hahahahahahaha! Wooooo!

Why are we here?: Didn't you ask for this?

So, what's on your mind?

Well, this whole oil spill, I tell ya... What happened to Kevin Costner? That's what I want to know. He was gonna be Superman. He had this machine that was going to clean up the ocean and I haven't heard whether it worked or not. I was actually on a pitch the other day at HBO and some of my agents were there and I'm like, "Whose agency is he with?" They said, "I think he's with us." I said, "Ask them about this machine that cleans oil." I can't believe no one cares about this.

Ever since the Exxon Valdez disaster, he put in like 45 million dollars, and his brother's a scientist. So they made all these machines and they cleaned like 99 percent of the oil out of the ocean at, like, a really fast rate. And they took it down there and they said, "Oh, it's interesting. Worth a try!" And then I haven't heard anything. I don't think anyone's taking him seriously-and why should they? It's kinda like a Frankenhole episode.

Why should people watch Frankenhole?

I really have no idea why they should watch it. It's actually a show that looks nothing like any other show ever on TV because of the way these puppets were made. Because there were so many likenesses of people in the show, we decided early on that we can't really afford to sculpt all these heads so I went to the puppet guy and said, "It would be nice if we could take pictures of famous people and wrap them around these puppets." A South Park kind of quality, only more three-dimensional. So he developed this strange, beautiful origami to wrap these paper pictures around, and it looks pretty amazing.

After Moral Orel ended, what made you go forward with Frankenhole?

I kind of mentioned it half-heartedly to Nick Weidenfeld and he said, "Whoa, wait! That's a great idea!" And I didn't really get to the rest, and I'm like, "Really? I didn't think anyone would care about old-timey monsters." And he's like, "No, it's great! It's got time travel, it's got famous people. Fantastic!" Yeah, it was a pretty easy sell.

I'm actually very bad at pitching. When I pitched Moral Orel to Nick I was hungover probably. We started off having a very nice conversation and then I went into the pitch and I got the pages in my hands, and they're trembling. I'm really bad at pitching. He said, "Forget it! Just send me those pages." And he got the pages, read them, and picked up the show.

How did that compare to when you met with Iggy Pop about doing a show?

I actually wrote a sitcom that I changed into Moral Orel much later. That was a live-action sitcom where he played a mischievous 12-year-old boy who would try to get into bars by putting on a fake mustache. The joke was pretty much that he was miscast as a 12-year-old boy. But I had just seen him live in concert and he was jumping around and leaping off huge speakers and people were catching him. He had the energy of a 12-year-old boy. Then the sitcom actually had musical numbers where he'd jump into the audience.

I met with him, he had the same agent as I did back then. And I was in New York and he wanted to meet at Life Cafe, which was right around the corner from where he lived. So we were there and it was a very relaxed atmosphere. People kept coming up and asking for autographs, handing him CDs, and he'd sign them by drawing a hand with the middle finger sticking up. He would tell me, "You see that building over there? People used to line up, and they used to have a little light, and when the light went on, the next person came through, and they reached through a hole in the wall and grabbed their heroin." This is while he's drinking wheatgrass. He's completely changed.

Then I'd try to talk to him about the script I had written for him and he'd be looking around and not paying attention. You'd say to him, like a teacher, "Now Iggy! Pay attention!" "Oh man, sorry, sorry. Dude, there's so much p***y in here I can't keep my mind on anything." I ended up just giving him the script and who knows what he did with it.

What was the name of that show going to be?

I actually handed it to him and he looked at the title. It was just called Iggy. [Laughs.] He looked, like, really touched. "Ah man, thank you so much." Like he'd never seen his name on a piece of paper before.

Scott Adsit wrote one of the first episodes of Frankenhole that kinda breaks from the format used in the previous episodes much quicker than Moral Orel did. Was that intentional?

He wrote that in New York and I was writing in LA. He just went off on his own. He didn't worry about what the format was, and I didn't really ask him to stay with the format. I knew what Adult Swim wanted but I also wanted him to have the freedom to write whatever he wanted. What did you think of it?

More than anything, I was struck just with how much you played with the rules about werewolves.

We're huge movie nerd horror fans from the old Frankenstein movies and the idea that he grows a little mustache comes from Lon Chaney, Jr. who played the Wolfman. One of the movies where he played Lawrence Talbot-the guy who turns into the Wolfman-he had a little Clark Gable mustache because he felt like, "I'm gonna be the romantic lead in this one." And it just came out of no where.

If you were going to see Dr. Victor Frankenstein to seek help with something, what would it be?

That's tough, because I always say I'm pretty happy with who I am even though I know I'm not perfect. [Laughs.] I don't know. Would I want to be handsome? I got along fine without being handsome. That's a tough one. I probably just live vicariously through these characters, I don't know.

So you're perfect, basically.

I'm a perfect oddity. I'm a freak. I look weird. I got a lot of problems. But all these problems-I refuse to go to an analyst, a therapist or anything. [Laughs.] I don't want to clean anything up. I want to be insane so I can keep writing sh**.

What episode do you think is going to be the most offensive or get the biggest reaction?

We have a very broad smorgasbord of offensiveness on the show. I hesitate to say because I don't want to spotlight any episode and make it a bullseye. We were very concerned about the Thomas Jefferson one. But we made some cuts and edits which I think helped a lot. We had interns and animators refuse to work on the show because of it. And I don't blame them. I think the way the show was-it was written by a couple of comedy guys who were just trying to get laughs and we became a little more socially conscious after that and scaled back on a lot of stuff.

Some people might be offended by the Barack Obama appearance in there. What's funniest about it, though, is the total non-attempt to impersonate his voice.

Well, I was just never concerned with any of the celebrity voices sounding so much like them. I do Mother Teresa as a screechy foreign woman that I'm sure isn't accurate.

For my money, it's a spot-on Thomas Jefferson.

[Laughs.] For the voice sometimes we walk into the room and we're like, "Okay, what is this voice going to sound like?" And I think at one point someone said, "Just try Don Adams." You know, Tennessee Tuxedo. Because even if it doesn't sound like Tennessee Tuxedo, it'll sound like something. Like Dan Castellaneta, when he did Homer Simpson, originally he was trying to do Walter Matthau. And it sounds nothing like him. So he did Don Adams.

And Gandhi? I didn't want to sit through a whole episode where a guy spoke in an Indian accent. I just think it's been too overdone lately. I told Mark Rivers, "Why don't you just try a generic accent." He couldn't do a generic accent, it just came out Italian. So I told him, "Just go all-out Italian." It kind of made us laugh, so we went with it. People are going to be confused, but who cares. It's Adult Swim.

Also in that Thomas Jefferson episode, the now-deceased Gary Coleman makes an appearance. Did you have any thoughts when he died that maybe you'd have to tweak the episode?

I don't want to seem cold or anything. It's sad when anyone dies, but he wasn't on everyone's mind. He wasn't a saint like Mother Teresa-nobody cares about Gary Coleman. Also, he got totally eclipsed by Dennis Hopper. I think Mother Teresa, she's done amazing things for people. She sacrificed her whole life, but the reason she should be a saint is because she died like a second after Lady Diana died. She just said, "Okay, no one's going to care about me. I'll just quietly go away and let her have the spotlight." It almost made me cry that Mother Teresa would just sneak out like that.

It was so selfless.

Yeah, well, Lady Diana's tap dancing on her own grave.

And Elton John put out that single. Where's Mother Teresa's song?

Yeah, yeah, all of a sudden Elton John is like "Weird Al" Yankovic. It's like, can't you write another g**damn song? You're not even trying to be funny!

Another thing that's interesting about Frankenhole is you use Frankenstein's world and focus very little on the monster-it's about his family.

Regular human beings are the monsters, and the monsters are just insecure kids. We designed the Frankenstein's Creation to be a gawky, goth kid who's probably read too many books and is a little pseudo-intellectual and uses big words but is very insecure and bummed out all the time.

And he watches Gandhi steal his wife away.

[Laughs.] Yeah, they actually created a bride for him and she hates him. That's based on the actual first movie, Bride Of Frankenstein made in 1935. That's pretty much the idea.


So, Andy Dick playing Jesus in this show. How did that idea come about, and what was Andy's reaction when you asked if he'd do it?

Andy and I have worked together for years. We started working together in the mid-'80s. We went to college together and we did live shows together. We wanted to work together, and for different reasons, his like alcoholism and mine, we couldn't because we had those things going. So it was a good time to work with him because he had an ankle bracelet slapped on him which didn't allow him to drink. These bracelets where if you have one drink, it comes through in your skin and an alarm goes off at the police station. [Laughs.] So, you know, he wasn't drinking and I just wanted to spotlight Andy as what he is: a real good comic actor, not a reality-show freak. Which is what he's become.

So, I said, "Hey, would you like to play Jesus?" [Laughs.] I thought it would be funny to have Andy play Jesus. And he kinda sneered at me and said, [Adopts Andy Dick voice.] "Why do you think that's funny? Why's it funny? Because Jesus is the son of God, and Andy Dick's the devil? Is that why?" And I said, "Well, I don't think you're the devil-I just don't think Jesus would have an ankle bracelet on which wouldn't allow him to drink." And he started laughing and said, "You gotta have Jesus have the ankle bracelet on." So, when we recorded the episode we adlibbed some of that stuff and when we made the puppet we made sure it had the ankle bracelet. And then, you know, Andy just played it like himself.

I have an idea [for a second-season episode] with Death and Andy Dick as Andy Dick with Death walking up to him and going, "You've had a lot of people die around you. I'm kind of your biggest fan. Do you mind if I hang out and see how you work?" [Adopts Andy Dick voice.] "Sure, come along!" And they go out drinking together and Death ends up dying. And then so people quit dying all over the world, and they're like, "What happened?" "Oh, Andy Dick killed Death."

Have you pitched this idea to him? Do you think he'd be into it?

[Laughs.] He loves anything to do with himself. "I have this idea where you're hanging out with Death." [Adopts Andy Dick voice.] "I love it! Love it!" "Yeah, but let me tell you the idea." "I love it. Is it me?" "Yeah." "Love it!"