A Bulldog on Netflix: Q&A with comedy creator Waco O’Guin (BFA ’00)

From the stage of the Georgia Theater to the streaming screen, writers and producers Waco O’Guin (BFA ’00) and Roger Black  recently signed a deal with Netflix to produce a new 10-episode animated sci-fi comedy, “Farzar.” The pair will continue airing their show “Paradise PD” on the platform with season three releasing on March 12.

O’Guin and Black met in the Classic City in 1999 while O’Guin studied art with an emphasis on digital media and Black was working toward his master’s degree. After their Athens comedy show, “The DAMN! Show,” made it to MTV2 as “Stankervision,” the pair began writing and producing an animated series, “Brickleberry.”

We caught up with Waco to learn about his career in comedy and the creative process, and to ask for show recommendations to make a Bulldog laugh.

What led you to pursue comedy while at the University of Georgia and then after graduation?

I was a huge “Saturday Night Live” fan growing up, so starting a sketch comedy show was something I always wanted to do. I also loved “The Simpsons,” and my ultimate goal was having a primetime animated show on Fox. We got close!

What has been your career path since graduating from the University of Georgia?

While doing comedy on the side, I started a production company in Athens to produce local commercials and corporate videos. We were very lucky that our college comedy show got turned into a show on MTV2. That landed us an agent at WME in Los Angeles. We started pitching a bunch of shows and eventually sold “Brickleberry” to Fox. They did a pilot but decided not to take it to series. Instead, we were able to sell it to Comedy Central. After “Brickleberry” ended, we began working with Netflix.

two men pose in front of fountain

A 2011 portrait of alumnus Waco O’Guin (BFA ’00) and comedy partner Roger Black in front of the Herty Field Fountain. Photo taken by Peter Frey.

What class or professor positioned you for success?

I took animation under Prof. Mike Hussey [associate professor of dramatic media and interdisciplinary animation studies, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences]. I learned a lot, and he seemed to believe that I could reach my goals.

What’s it like to be developing a new series, “Farzar,” for Netflix? How does the process compare to your past shows?

Working on “Farzar” is a lot like “Paradise PD.” Most of the crew works on both shows. Finding talented people and convincing them to stick around is key to a smooth production.

two men pose for a photo

A recent image of Waco O’Guin (BFA ’00) and Roger Black.

What is your creative process?

We write for about eight weeks to plan out the season and get scripts before our first table read. After the read, we rewrite the script and record it. After editing the audio, we hand it off to one of our directors, who creates an animatic. That animatic [a preliminary sequence of shots, images or sketches, usually arranged with a soundtrack] is shipped to Bento Box Atlanta, the animation studio that does our color animation.

Does working with a streaming platform offer you more creative latitude? How does that change the relationship with your audience?

It’s definitely different. With streaming, we don’t have to hit a specific time length for the episodes. As long as they average around 25 minutes in length, we are good. Netflix also releases all the episodes at once rather than weekly. With “Brickleberry,” it took years for the episodes to be released in some countries. On Netflix they are released worldwide on day one.

two men stare at computer

Waco O’Guin (BFA ’00) and Roger Black work on their comedy through the night.

What are your all-time comedy favorites?

“Saturday Night Live,” “The Simpsons,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule.”

Learn more about the Lamar Dodd School of Art, where Waco began his journey to becoming a successful comedy creator.