The Belchers and Loren Bouchard revisit their favorite puns and plots
It’s the rare network show that reaches the holy grail of 100 episodes, and the even rarer one that hits the benchmark and just happens to be an off-kilter animated sitcom that began its life as a pitch about cannibals who run a burger restaurant.
Bob’s Burgers, one of the treasures of Fox’s Sunday animated line-up (against daunting heavy-hitters The Simpsons and Family Guy, no less), took its time winning over the hearts of fans and critics since its debut in January 2011. But across six seasons and five years, the earnest, kooky sitcom about an exasperated restaurant owner and his close-knit family has earned its place in pop culture — especially bumping pixels with the aforementioned funny animated families that paved the way for Bob’s very existence.
The power of the Belchers is apparent both among fans (a rabid online base boasts a strong showing on Tumblr) and the network itself (Fox, in a tremendous sign of confidence, renewed the series for a seventh and eighth season last October). But the relatively safe plateau on which Bob’s Burgers now sits could only be reached through 100 episodes that hammered out the wild idiosyncrasies of the Belcher family — pun-loving patriarch Bob, free-spirited Linda, hormonal Tina, loudmouth Gene, precocious Louise — and figured out the secret ingredients to why fans have grown to love the clan.
In celebration of the show’s milestone 100th episode (airing Sunday, May 22, at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT), EW polled creator Loren Bouchard and the show’s principal family cast (H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman, John Roberts, and Kristen Schaal) on some of their standout memories along the way toward animated achievement.
One of my favorite Burger of the Day puns:
KRISTEN SCHAAL (Louise): Sit and Spinach Burger.
H. JON BENJAMIN (Bob): We’re Here, We’re Gruyere, Get Used to It.
DAN MINTZ (Tina): Edward James Olive-Most Burger.
LOREN BOUCHARD (creator): One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Hamburger. It’s not a pun, so I guess I didn’t answer the question, but I like the non-pun ones, as a change-up pitch.
Most endearing quality about my character which I’m probably alone in thinking:
EUGENE MIRMAN (Gene): In my head, Gene is potentially smarter than other people think he is. He’s joyful and goofy, but I think inside he’s bright, and he just chooses to be sort of more whimsical in a certain way. Others might see that, too, but I would be the one to attribute probably the most amount of secret savvy to him.
BENJAMIN: Bob loves cooking. [I’m] not sure people realize his legitimate, albeit limited, culinary skill.
SCHAAL: [Louise’s] slaps come from a great place of passion.
Tina’s best romantic philosophy or crush:
BOUCHARD: “Let’s put the try in triangle.”
SCHAAL: “Kissing won’t kill you.”
BENJAMIN: Zombies. Not many kids are sexually aroused by zombies
MINTZ: I really liked when Tina had dated what she thought was a ghost. It felt like such a real teenage love story, and yet she was dating a cardboard box. I like her approach to romance because she’s always bold, which is inspiring to someone like me who’s too shy to risk rejection.
MIRMAN: She’s so wonderfully both awkward and self-assured in such a great and earnest way and knows what she wants but is so anxious. She’s probably very much like Dan Mintz was, but probably when he was like 31.
JOHN ROBERTS (Linda): I love that she’s very free about her sexuality and that she’s in control of it, and it’s not a dirty, bad thing. I think the things that would maybe turn Tina on in her adult life are a little more interesting. She’s going to be an interesting adult.
Louise’s best scheme:
SCHAAL: Getting Hawk and Chick back together.
ROBERTS: I like when she directs things, when she kind of takes over. Anything where she becomes director or producer. Kristin can be like that, too. It’s really fun to see Kristen’s Hollywood professional side come out.
BENJAMIN: Wasn’t she peripherally involved in the Madoff thing?
MINTZ: Setting out a trap with milk and cookies to catch Santa, which ended up trapping Teddy instead. It was such a great idea, and the animation was so fun to watch.
BOUCHARD: One of my favorite Louise “schemes” — as you call it — is when she ties helium balloons to frozen shrimp in the grocery store. Then they come floating down a few days later. I think it’s more art than scheme — she’s basically a frozen shrimp artist. And rightly, she says to her parents, “I made it rain shrimp. What’d you ever do?”
MIRMAN: When she created a casino at the house. [The writers] do such a good job of making her both 9 years old but really savvy. There’s that great episode where she falls for the guy in a boy band, and she’s helping Tina out who loves this boy band, and you just see this contradiction of scheming and frailty. And it shows that she’s 9, but she’s otherwise a savvy tough cookie.
Gene’s most surprising sphere of pop culture knowledge:
SCHAAL: Latest food trends.
BENJAMIN: Probably his Hardcastle and McCormick reference.
MIRMAN: There’s a sort of innocent wisdom to him that maybe has been interjected over time, and then a weird knowledge of pop culture that happens to coincide with my knowledge of ‘80s pop culture. I really like the idea that for some reason in 2016, there’s a kid who sometimes stays up and watches The A-Team and Simon & Simon and would be curious about all of it.
MINTZ: All of it is surprising because I don’t understand any of his references, since I don’t know anything about pop culture.
ROBERTS: Whatever comes out of Eugene Mirman’s mouth is always really smart. He grew up with a lot of bad ‘80s TV. I don’t know why he has all these references, but he really did pull the character in that direction. There’s something about Eugene that’s kind of like an old queen as well, and little Gene is like a little queen. I’m not saying he’s a baby gay or anything, but he definitely has this musical history side that’s really funny, and kids are kind of asexual at that age, too. He’s just this carefree kid that’s attracted to what he’s attracted to in life, and it happens to be bad ‘80s sitcoms.
NEXT: On Linda-isms and behind-the-scenes traditions… [pagebreak]
My most memorable day in the recording booth:
SCHAAL: When Nathan Fielder came in. I fanned out a bit.
BENJAMIN: The day Carol Kane did yoga before she recorded.
MINTZ: The first day, when we recorded the pilot presentation in 2009. I got to meet Kristen Schaal, and I was so nervous about messing up my lines — [which] I didn’t realize doesn’t matter at all for voiceover, because it’s so easy to just re-record them. I had no idea the show would go anywhere, though. I just thought that was a fun afternoon, and then forgot about it for the next six months.
One of my favorite Linda-isms:
ROBERTS: I like that spirit of Linda that she doesn’t give up, and even when things are going kind of crappy, she’s able to pull out a little bottle of rosé and find a song to sing about it. That to me is probably one of the best things you can get across. Hopefully it’s genuinely lifting someone up in their shitty day in real life. She sticks up for her children, for who they are, and embraces their quirkiness and doesn’t try to change them. And she likes to drink a little bit and have fun and unwind, like probably most mommies do after a long day. There’s this type of woman that really does exist, like my mom and other moms from the East Coast.
SCHAAL: “All right!”
BENJAMIN: “Ow, my face.”
MINTZ: Getting enthusiastic about things she doesn’t understand.
MIRMAN: I love how much she’s up for weird activities and adventures and how she’s just really true to herself and also really a mama bear protecting her kids. And then at the same time, taking them on just the weirdest quests.
BOUCHARD: An oldie but a goodie: “When I die I want you to cremate me and throw my ashes in Tom Selleck’s face.” I’m not picking my all-time favorite here, but I think we all learned a lot about Linda when she said this.
Favorite version of Bob to play with:
SCHAAL: All the versions!
BENJAMIN: Exasperated Bob.
BOUCHARD: I can’t and won’t pick a favorite version of Bob, but I will say that I love intoxicated Bob. When he says, “I’m like King Kong” in the episode where he drives a cab, I feel something stir deep inside me. We’re all like King Kong, I guess.
MINTZ: Pun-loving Bob, because I’m a dad now, so I get always wanting to tell dad jokes.
MIRMAN: I like to work off of slightly exasperated Bob, where he’s somewhere between bemused and exhausted. Where he gets what makes something funny, but everyone is joking and he’s like, “Stop it. Stop it.” That always makes me laugh.
One of my favorite exterminator puns:
BENJAMIN: Spray Anything.
BOUCHARD: Killing Fleas Softly (With Our Spray).
MINTZ: Termite Mare on Elm St.
SCHAAL: Hugs Not Bugs.
Favorite behind-the-scenes tradition:
BENJAMIN: Every year, the cast does the Running of the Bulls in Spain, except for Dan Mintz, who’s afraid of bulls.
MINTZ: The table reads are always fun. It’s the only time you get to hear what jokes an audience laughs at. They make a whole event out of them, Loren gives a speech at the beginning, and sometimes they have a waffle truck. They were stressful at first, because I talk so softly no one could hear me, but then they gave me a microphone.
SCHAAL: John Roberts demanding every record that we order a Margarita Pizza. (We’ve never gotten one.)
ROBERTS: Just getting really drunk together and laughing. But also, every year at Comic-Con. I always have an idea to walk out into the panel with neck braces on, or give one of us a neck brace and then it gradually gets worse and worse as we all come out, with crutches, a wheelchair, and maybe ending with Jon in a hospital bed via satellite.
MIRMAN: When we tour. I would say that that’s maybe my favorite, when we actually all get to do the shows together. In terms of something we actually do every year, I’d say Comic-Con. It’s just a really fun celebration of the show, and you get to hear from fans and see people dressed up. It’s not like I go to a show and anyone’s dressed up as me, but you go and there’s a group of friends dressed as the whole family, and that’s kind of great.
NEXT: Going off-script… [pagebreak]
One of my favorite storefront puns:
SCHAAL: A Ton in the Oven: Big and Tall Baby Clothes.
BENJAMIN: Yadda, Yadda, Dada Surrealist Art Gallery.
MINTZ: Not a pun, but my favorite storefront is the year-round Halloween store that says it’s closed for Halloween.
BOUCHARD: Uncle Marty’s Breast Pumps. Also not a pun, but come on…
Supporting character whose appearance in an episode script makes me particularly giddy:
MIRMAN: I always love Zeke. I love Fischoeder and Felix and their weird relationship. The truth is, it’s a really fun world.
MINTZ: Regular Size Rudy. Brian Huskey is one of my favorite comedy actors, and it’s such a great character name. I wish we could meet the other-sized Rudys, but I don’t think we ever will.
BOUCHARD: I’m a big fan of all the kids—your Rudies, your Zekes, your Jocelyns. And Mr. Frond is never not funny to me. I also get a big kick out Mr. Branca, the janitor at school, who may have been a dictator in his home country. I like Marshmallow, of course. But lately, Ms. Labonz, the enormous, cranky 4th grade homeroom teacher has been really cracking me up. Jon Benjamin does her voice, so there you go.
The musical number I couldn’t stop singing:
SCHAAL: “Lifting Up the Skirt of the Night.”
BENJAMIN: The Bourbon song, sung by Mr. Fischoeder.
BOUCHARD: “I’m Agent Johnson. And I’m Agent Johnson. And we’re from the FBI!”
MINTZ: “Electric Love” is the one that most got stuck in my head. I usually don’t like getting music stuck in my head. I didn’t mind because it’s such a great song.
Favorite improvised line by another actor:
SCHAAL: Anything between Teddy and Bob.
BENJAMIN: Probably the Thanksgiving song by John Roberts.
ROBERTS: I’m very musical and I will spontaneously burst into a song in my real life and maybe that added to some of Linda’s singing things. The first couple seasons, it was a lot of improv, and then once music became a bigger part of the show, it made sense for the writers to write songs that were prepared and we could go in with a little more, like the Wonder Wharf song — I could have never improvised that. I think it’s probably 70/30—70 percent being written, 30 percent being improvised.
My mother’s favorite episode:
SCHAAL: Eat, Spray, Linda.
BENJAMIN: The Murder She Wrote crossover with Magnum P.I.
MINTZ: Mazel-Tina. I also wrote an episode, but that’s not the one she picked.
Favorite way you’ve seen Bob’s Burgers in pop culture:
ROBERTS: That would be the Bob’s Burgers porn parody. That made me really proud.
The 100th episode of Bob’s Burgers airs Sunday, May 22 at 9:30 pm ET/PT on Fox.