Close Enough, the latest and greatest animated series from Regular Show creator JG Quintel, is now available on HBO Max. Though there are only eight episodes available, seven of which are split into two different 11-minute segments, it's been a long time coming at this point following the end of Regular Show in 2017 on Cartoon Network. ComicBook.com recently had the opportunity to catch up with Quintel following the debut of the show on the streaming platform to talk about everything from working during the pandemic to stripper clowns.
If you're not familiar with Close Enough yet, the basic premise is simple: married couple (Josh and Emily) and their 5-year-old daughter (Candice) live with a divorced couple (Bridgette and Alex) in order to save money in Los Angeles. It's about struggling through your 30s, raising kids while juggling work, and also sometimes dealing with the aforementioned stripper clowns. According to Quintel, it's basically just the next step in his own life with a little surreal humor thrown in.
"This first set of episodes is basically the definition of a mixed bag with some serious highs and lows, but there are more of the highs than there are lows," ComicBook.com's review of the new show, which gave it 4 out of 5, reads in part. "By the end of the available episodes, it really felt like the show had found a groove that works despite leaning heavily on referential humor. The highest praise I can give Close Enough is that I actually want to see more of it, which is not always the case, and I look forward to whatever comes next."
Close Enough is, as noted above, streaming via HBO Max. You can check out all of our previous coverage of the animated series right here. And keep reading to check out our full interview with Close Enough creator (and voice actor) JG Quintel!
ON THE RECEPTION OF THE SHOW
ComicBook.com: So JG, congrats on release. How do you feel about the reception?
JG Quintel: So far, so good. I mean, it's definitely weird to have a show drop all at once instead of having them roll out slowly one at a time, that's what I was kind of used to in the past. But it's neat to see it all go down and then people are just discovering it every day and watching it. And it's really cool to see what people think about it.
Right. And obviously it's a little bit weird too, because we are in the midst of a pandemic here.
Oh, my gosh. I know. I wish it didn't have to be under these circumstances.prevnext
WHY CLOSE ENOUGH?
Now, obviously Regular Show concluded in 2017. Why Close Enough of all things after Regular Show? Why this show?
Well, Regular Show was about kind of what I was like in college and what it was like being in college and having a job and hanging out with your buddies and just wanting to do fun stuff, slacking off. But Regular Show went for a long time and towards the end of it, I had changed a lot. I got married and had kids and started to have a family and so Regular Show wasn't really like me anymore. It was kind of more of a character of what I was in the past. And I wanted to kind of start exploring stories of things that I was experiencing now. And so that's why Close Enough came about it was more to do with kind of real-life adult situations and problems like when you're getting into your thirties and what it's like to start having to be more responsible, especially when you have kids and you want to take care of them and everything. And I just couldn't do those types of stories with Regular Show, so this felt like a great chance to do those.prevnext
ON VOICING THE MAIN CHARACTERS
Now you talked a bit about how both shows are kind of representative of your stage of life. Is that why you end up casting yourself as the main character in both?
Yeah, I think a lot of times it really reminds me of being back in art school when we would just make films. And so much of that is you just making your own stuff and trying to kind of do every job. And it was always fun to play one of the characters and draw them and animate them. And so with this, it's fun to get in there and be one of the characters. I feel like at the beginning of any animated show, the starting point is always storyboards and drawings and you're pitching it. And so to kind of put a voice to what it's going to be like, I think really helps people to visualize it and understand, how is that character going to behave? And I can do it and show them.
Is voicing Josh that much more different than voicing an older Mordecai? Or are they you? Or how does that work for you as an actor?
Well, it helps that they're the same voice because I'm not the best voice actor. I feel like this is kind of what I got to work with. So I use it. [laughs] Yeah, it's funny because a lot of that stuff really ties into one of my student films, Two In The AM PM, where I was voicing like this gas station attendant who looks very much like Josh. And then in that short, he kind of transformed into Mordecai. And so, at that point, I always felt like, "Oh, those characters, I'll voice those characters." So, I've always had to kind of audition and try because I know that they're like, "Oh well, you're not a voice actor."
At the beginning of Regular Show, I had never done it. So they were like, "Well, you have to audition." And I was like, "Yeah, but I already made the short, like I should just be able to do it." But we still went through the motions to make sure that it was the right choice for it. And I'm glad that they let me do it because it has been fun even though the people that are voice acting next to me, they're so much better. It's amazing to see what they can do. People like Jason Mantzoukas and Kimiko Glenn, Danielle Brooks, they're so funny. It's just great to be in the room with them. I always have to stop myself from laughing, so I don't ruin the takes.prevnext
ON STRIPPER CLOWNS
The stripper clown segment where he flashes back to the, "I'm making a giraffe," is something to experience.
Oh, yeah. That joke [laughs] that went through so many levels to get to where the final was, because that was one of the earliest pitches was that “100% No Stress Day” episode and yeah, the stripper clown used to be in a strip club and then that giraffe bit, that didn't come in until way later. That episode had almost been done for a while and then we were punching it up again because they're like, "Go back through and see if you can make it funnier." And we're like, "OK." And that's when that giraffe bit came. So, I'm glad that they let us do one more round of punch ups.prevnext
ON MOVING TO HBO MAX
Now how did the move to HBO Max sort of come about for you? When did those talks start?
Well, we started way back when TBS wanted to get into animation and that was a sister studio to Cartoon Network. We were all under the Turner umbrella. So they asked me if I wanted to pitch something and I had Close Enough as an idea. It was called something else back then, but we basically started pitching and they liked it. So they greenlit it after we pitched a couple of boards and some animation. And then we went into production, which really was like going into development. I mean, we really were figuring out the show as we went along and then the AT&T merger happened and that kind of slowed everything down because they were kind of on pause. Like, "What are we going to do? What's happening?"
And I think, at that point they must've been talking about HBO Max as the next step for them. And so I think they started earmarking things that they wanted to keep for that service. So we kind of got shelved as we waited and we just kept on working on it, tying it down, trying to make it as funny as we could get it. And it was a long wait, but now here we are.
So when did you actually learn that you were going to be on HBO Max?
Oh, my gosh. I can't even tell you an exact date. It must have been like, it was at least several months ago, if not like a year ago, but I can't remember exactly when.prevnext
MORE TO COME?
Now there are eight episodes, seven of which are split into the 11-minute segments, and then you've got “The Canine Guy”, that are out on HBO Max currently. How much more Close Enough is there to come?
Well, I hope more, but I don't know what we're able to talk about just yet. So for now we just have the eight and I hope it's enough. I wish it was more, for sure.
So no news to share at this point, but pretty excited about the reception?
Definitely. Definitely glad that it's finally out there in the world. I don't think I've ever waited this long to have something that I've worked on hit the air. I looked at some really old paperwork, some documents on my computer and the oldest thing I could find was from July 5th of 2015 and it was just like “?” show. And it had like Josh, Emily, and Candice labeled and a general idea that they'd be living with roommates. But that was like how long ago I at least started thinking about it.prevnext
ON WORKING THROUGH THE PANDEMIC
Now that's a pretty long time, but not unheard of in this sort of business. What else are you working on? Is there anything in the hopper for you?
Right now I'm just kind of enjoying the fact that this show is finally released and taking it easy a little bit, trying to keep my mind open to if any new ideas come about. But right now, especially with the pandemic and everybody's remote, it just feels like a time to kind of step back for a second. Animation is such a collaborative effort. It's nice when you're in the room with people and able to talk about stuff and put drawings up on the wall and see what it looks like. So, this might just be time for thinking about it and seeing what comes up.
I was going to ask, how has the quarantine been treating you?
It's been all right. I mean, it's tough with kids because they get bored. So we try to take them out as much as we can. And I've definitely started cooking way more. I can't believe how many dishes we got to do. I feel like if we get to do more episodes, there has to be something about too many dishes. But yeah, it's all right. I feel thankful that, I mean, this did happen before we were completely finished with season one and we were able to promote fairly easily just because a lot of what we do can be done on the computer and with online meetings. So it's not ideal, but we're able to pull it off. It just takes a little longer.prevnext
Speaking of pulling off, that last episode, “The Canine Guy”, does feature a pretty excellent “Weird” Al cameo. If you do get more episodes, is there a pie in the sky? Who do you want to get? Who is it that would be the pinnacle for a cameo on Close Enough?
Oh my gosh, that would be tough. I mean, someone that was pie in the sky that we already got, was in “Snailing It”, which is the episode, I think right before “Canine Guy”. And it's the snail, he was played by Noel Fielding. And Noel Fielding is hilarious and Mighty Boosh is a show that he made and that was hugely influential to me, really set a bar for what, as far as like surreal comedy and just dark, crazy stuff. And I remember being exposed to that in college and it just made me go like, "Oh, I want to make stuff like that." So it was really cool to get to work with him and have him voice that snail. He was hilarious.prevnext
ON THE PRESSURE OF SUCCESS
Did you feel any pressure working on the show after the success of Regular Show?
Not necessarily pressure, I mean, there's always the pressure of like, I hope we do well enough that people enjoy this so that we can make more because just with the way that animation works, if people don't like it, they'll just cancel it. So even though Regular Show did well that's no guarantee that this will be good.
And when I made it, I really wanted to try to make something that would step outside of kind of the animation sphere, where it was going to have humans and it would be maybe more palatable even to people who don't ever watch cartoons. Maybe they think it's too young or whatever, but I wanted to make something that maybe even people who don't watch cartoons would check out. And so, I mean, there's a little bit of a risk to that to be like, "It's humans. Are people going to be into that?" So it's cool to watch to see some people finding it that didn't even know what Regular Show was and they're liking it. And it's like, "Oh, that's really cool that that worked." And I know it's still early, so I don't know exactly how it's going to go down, but really hope people like it. And I hope that people who liked Regular Show like it too.prevnext
FAVORITE PART OF THE FIRST SEASON
What's your favorite part of the first season?0comments
Oh, my favorite so far is the second episode, which is “Logan's Run'd” and “Room Parents”. I feel like those ones hit really close to home and are very funny, relatable ones for parents. When I watched “Logan's Run'd” episode, that cold open where they have their daughter go on her first sleep over and she's five and it's like, "We haven't had a night to ourselves in five years." And you think they're going to do something amazing. And then they're like, "Let's run errands." Ah man, I'm really glad that that made it in.
This interview was lightly edited for length and clarity.prev