Throughout his three seasons of waging war against anything that enrages him, Dan of The Hub’s animated hit Dan Vs. has had some pretty justifiable targets: stupidity, traffic, reality TV, Canada. But I dunno, he might be reaching a bit in his latest episode, “Vegetables,” during which his anger is fueled by Burgerphile’s decision to eliminate french fries to make way for healthier options like — gasp! — broccoli.
It gets pretty ugly, even by Dan Vs. standards, so much that eventually military-grade toxic chemicals are introduced, and Dan must eventually deal with his inadvertent creation of a giant broccoli monster. So who does one get to give voice to a giant broccoli monster? The producers went a reliable route and chose Maurice LaMarche, a veteran voice actor best known as The Brain from Pinky and the Brain and Animaniacs. He also does Kif and Morbo on Futurama, and supplied Buddy with his memorable belch on Elf.
But even for a performer as seasoned as LaMarche, who’s been doing this for nearly 30 years, the part of “giant broccoli monster” was something new. So how did he approach it?
“I tried to make him sound as healthy as possible, with a lot of vitamins and minerals,” LaMarche says. “But for the most part, I think the size really mattered. See, when they say size doesn’t matter, they’re lying. (laughs) I had to bring a sense of size to him, but I also had to bring a certain amount of pathos to him, because his end is somewhat bathetic. So I had to bring a vulnerability, and a certain monstrosity to him. In the beginning he’s inquisitive, then he’s enraged, and at the end calling out for the only person who’s ever loved him.”
Yeah, that sounds like a bunch of spoilers there, but trust me, it’s better if you see it.
In the episode, LaMarche also plays two other roles: a military security guard and, more prominently, the holier-than-thou proprietor of Vegan Vic’s, a Whole Foods-esque establishment that becomes a focal point of Dan’s rage. It was this character that gave LaMarche his favorite part of the gig, a joke where Vic chides someone for being merely a vegetarian.
“I had to color that with a certain condescension,” he says. “You know, ‘You’re one of us, but you’re not really one of us.’ … You can’t play a guy like that as though he’s a buffoon. Let the audience think he’s a buffoon. You as an actor have to play him as though he’s right. Anytime you play a villain, you’ve got to play the villain as though you are right. Darth Vader believed that the elimination of the Rebels was the best thing for everybody. And Vegan Vic believes veganism is the way. THE way. … It’s not the veganism, it’s the militant veganism. It’s the old joke of ‘How do you know when you’re on a first date with a vegan? Don’t worry, she’ll tell you.’ That’s the part about vegans you have to play, that he’s right, and he’s going to let you know how right he is.”
In short, this is one of those episodes where you’re rooting for Dan as much as rolling your eyes at him.
“Dan Vs. Vegetables” airs 4:30pm ET Saturday, Feb. 16, on The Hub.
Photo: Courtesy of The Hub