KZ Commentary: Episode 8, “The Sub”
I’ve had a lot of friends make ends meet as a substitute teacher, so I thought this would be an obvious job to tackle. I’ve also heard that there are not a lot of requirements to become a sub. I like the idea of a character who barely understands human culture having to educate some humans. Honestly, I’ve had teachers who barely spoke English who were teaching me American History, so it didn’t seem like too far of a stretch. The major drawback for the classroom scene was that I could not cut to a room full of kids reacting and talking to Krog as I originally intended. This was budget-driven again, and so we only show a lot of “tops of heads” as we did with the birthday party episode. I have to admit, it took some of the fun out of the script — I envisioned a lot of funny reactions that I just couldn’t get. And without anyone else to cut to, it made the entire scene very challenging to direct and to keep interesting.
I had pressure from the guys at Smosh.com to make sure the show wasn’t getting “too talky,” and here I had my most “talky” scene ever! In the middle of production, I just asked my animators to look for ANY opportunity to lay in visual sight gags and activity in the classroom. The most economical additions seemed to be paper airplanes and spitwads (I thought the airplanes were a nice subtle nod to Krog’s past). And then the animators added one of the biggest laughs in the first scene by adding the, ahem, chart of the male reproductive system that Krog pulls down accidentally. That was all from the animators. And it laid in a good joke.
The rest of Krog’s speech (about what coasts he prefers to destroy) fell a bit flat, I have to admit. Not sure where the comedy got lost, but I have to cop to this — it doesn’t have the more lively jokes or banter of other episodes. Perhaps it’s because Krogzilla ended up having no one to really banter with. Which is why the next scene in the break room perks everyone up and plays so nicely by contrast.
In the break room, we meet Alan, an Asian American teacher played by Jason Gerali (who also bullied “Mucus Marcus” in episode 5). Alan triggers some of Krogzilla’s worst racially-awkward missteps — the kind of conversational trainwrecks I loved from Ricky Gervais in the original episodes of “The Office.” Krogzilla just digs himself deeper and deeper by acknowledging the painful connection between giant monsters and Japanese people. Then Jeff the Barnacle pops up to make things even worse! Shout out to MY old stomping grounds of TULSA here. The “Jeff Lance” joke at the end was pure ad-lib and I love it.
Vanessa Ragland plays another character for me here, the Vice Principal. She was supposed to be a new onscreen character, but fell victim to the continuing pressure to lower character count and save money. So Vanessa’s voice was reduced to an intercom box, which could conceivably happen in a school. And who knows, maybe her delightful voice as she fires Krogzilla is all the funnier as it comes from an impersonal box.
One more bit of trivia: Smosh had very few requirements for me regarding content. Some were obvious (no R-rated swears, no nudity, no drug use), but they also wanted no smoking or even any references to smoking. My little wink at this is Alan coming into the break room to tell Krog just that: “You can’t smoke in here.” Then we get one more sight gag from our main monster: smoke pours from his nostrils when he drinks too much coffee. Good to know.
We’re coming to the end of the series’ run, and I’m sad! But the next two episodes are some of my favorites. I’m happy to report that next week is chock FULL of new characters, and the return of an old nemesis (cough-cough-lava vomit!!-cough).