We're just a matter of days away from the debut of Chicago Party Aunt, the latest adult animated series to be available to stream on Netflix. The series follows the adventures and misadventures of Diane Dunbrowski (Lauren Ash), a hard-partying, fiercely-loyal woman from the Windy City, whose relationships with her family, friends, and coworkers create plenty of wild adventures. The series' concept originated through Chris Witaske's long-running Twitter account of the same name, which saw "@ChiPartyAunt" lovingly poking fun at the specifics of Chicago culture.
The series enlists an epic roster of voice actors to bring Diane's story to life, including brothers Ike Barinholtz and Jon Barinholtz, who also serve as executive producers on the series. Ike (The Mindy Project, Suicide Squad) voices Mark, Diane's mild-mannered brother in law, while Jon (Superstore, Solar Opposites) voices Mikey, Diane's "gentle giant" son who works at Midway airport. In anticipation of Chicago Party Aunt's debut, we spoke with the Barinholtzes about how they came to be involved with adapting the Chicago spirit of the Twitter account for television, how they approached their characters' wildly different accents, and more!
ComicBook.com: How did you both get involved with this project? Obviously, the Twitter account was Chris's baby, so I was curious how you both got brought in from a creative standpoint.
Ike Barinholtz: We were fans! We were friends with Chris for a long, long time. We loved the account and would interact with it all the time, and just delighted watching it get more and more notoriety. And then it was really Ritchie Schwartz — Buffalo Grove's own Richie Schwartz — who had the foresight to say, "I think there's an animated series here." And when my partner, Dave Stassen — another Chicagoan — and Jon and Katie Rich all met Craig and all got together, we were like, "Oh yeah! A lot of great comedy shows are centered around this one big character who's got a really strong point of view that is a lot of fun and kind of sucks people into their world." So we started building out that world, and kind of just found all these great fun characters that we would want to write for — and voice, in a lot of cases — that not only bounce off of Diane and counter her, but also raise her up and have fun with her.
It's crazy to think that us tweeting at this random Twitter feed in 2011, telling her to shut up because she's drunk and she's naming names — now, 10 years later, we're talking to you and we're days away from a global launch of the show. It's so exciting.
Both of your characters have such wildly different Chicago accents. Was that something that came naturally to both of you, or did you have to find it along the way?
Jon Barinholtz: I think we started with who these people are, and then "Oh, what level of Chicago accent would they have, based on where they're from and their upbringings?" Mikey, he's as far as you can go in the Chicago accent scale, I think.
Ike: I think he was born on the runway at Midway Airport.
Jon: He was born on the runway. That's as far as you could go for that Chicago accent, and that was a chance to really push the boundaries on that. I'll let Ike speak to Mark.
Ike: And then for Mark... Mark is someone who probably is not from the city of Chicago. He's probably, maybe [from] Michigan or something, but he's lived there for a long time. And [for] him, I do a very mild version of our dad, who has just like a very beautiful, mild Chicago accent. So yeah, I think you kind of get both sides of the spectrum with me and John. You get, "Oh yeah, that guy, I hear the -ah," to "I'm not sure he's speaking English."
Off of that — the show is such an incredibly specific love letter to Chicago culture. I know I was pointing out so many Easter eggs as I was watching it, but the story feels so universal at the same time. What do you hope viewers take away from it — both people from Chicago and people who've never been to Chicago?
Ike: I think that we want everyone who watches it to have this feeling of familiarity, which is like, "Oh my God, this is like my aunt Josie, or my uncle Rod, or my cousin Billy, or my neighbor John, or me!" I think by centering the show around that character who everyone has in their life in some facet or another, and that character's main raison d'être is, "We're only here for a few minutes, and if you lock up to the important things, the people you care about, then have some fun." That's the message we want everyone to take. And, like anything in life, people from Chicago will enjoy it a little bit more.
The first eight episodes of Chicago Party Aunt are set to be released on Netflix on Friday, September 17th.