COURTESY IMAGINASIAN TV
The proud members of the "Dub shack" are Trevor Moore, left, John Chou, Jimbo Matison and Alladin Ullah.
Bad kung fu films play a major role in "Dub Shack's" chop-socky comedy
Jimbo Matison, your little ol' TV show has just won three Telly national and international industry awards. What do these honors mean to you?
'Uncle Morty's Dub Shack'
Airs at 6 and 11:30 p.m. Fridays (with repeat showings at same times Tuesdays) on ImaginAsian TV, channel 546, on Oceanic Time Warner Cable's digital service
"Well, it does give a little legitimacy to our corn dog stand," known as "Uncle Morty's Dub Shack," the wacked-out original comedy on ImaginAsian TV. To the show's co-creator, getting tony-sounding accolades in the sound/sound design, comedy and special-effects categories means that the quality of flatulence, belly laughs and colorful, cheesed-out background shots was just that much better than the competition.
Co-written and directed by Matison and Trevor Moore, the show's about the misadventures of four rap-rockin' slackers -- played by the co-creators, plus Aladdin Ullah and John Chou -- who also do goofy voiceovers on vintage bad kung fu and Bollywood movies of years gone by. Patrick Terrance McGowan plays Matison's grizzled Uncle Morty, who owns the rundown hovel of a sound studio.
Matison, speaking by phone from New York City, is having a blast doing the "Shack," currently in its second season.
"Every single thing I've done, even down to the music, comes through in the show," Matison says. "I've been in a million punk bands that went nowhere, I have a strong background in animation and I like watching really crummy films.
"I love writing the episodes. It just comes out of what we would like to do in front of the camera and, most importantly, how can we embarrass Aladdin. We just do the worst stuff to him -- drop water on him, put him in a dress and make sure he's always prone to giant gas attacks."
Matison is one of these lucky guys who has the talent to pull off innovative work. He's done major commercial work -- that's him yelling "SEGA!" during that video game maker's TV campaign back in the day -- and contributed mightily to the quirky MTV animation series "Liquid Television," the show that broke out animator Peter Chung's "Aeon Flux."
"From 1988 to '98, I was working for Colossal Pictures in San Francisco, and that's where I learned a whole lot about the biz. In its first season, I helped out writing scripts and did the puppetry on 'Winter Steele,' and in the second, I made my directorial debut with 'Crazy Daisy Ed.' "
BY THE TIME Matison landed a job at Imagin-Asian, he had originally tried to unsuccessfully pitch a show that would be the genesis of "Uncle Morty's Dub Shack." Luckily for him, the network's program director was trying to figure out what to do with these really bad films he didn't want to add to the schedule.
"I thought, 'Why not take these old movies and do our own dubs?' Trevor was already an editor at the network, so we sat down to create the show. The Uncle Morty character is actually a combination of my father and seven of my uncles, a bunch of salty ol' jerks."
Combine that with standup comic Ullah (whom Matison affectionately calls "the worst actor in the world"), trained actor Chou and McGowan ("one of the nicest, kindest guys around, who, as Uncle Morty, can scare the living crap out of you"), and you've got a winning formula.
As for choosing the right bad movie, Matison said "it's a science in finding them. ... We've had to throw out a third of the kung fu films we've seen because they're so violent that we can't make them funny. But we've come to appreciate some of the great, underrated character actors of that time in watching their work."
Matison and Moore usually write the live-action stories that wrap around the dub session months ahead: "We really don't take continuity into consideration." This season, the guys could be either battling dinosaurs in a Middle earth-like setting or fighting a giant shark while on a fishing expedition.
One thing Matison would like to do this year is have the network actually air, in its entirety, one of those incredibly bad movies tucked away in its storage room and then follow it up with the "Dub Shack" treatment, edited down and cut-and-pasted for maximum laughs.
"This'll show how we spend more time editing than the original filmmakers. It's our duty to take underprivileged films and give them a good home," he said with a laugh.