Dan Harmon, co-creator of Rick and Morty and executive producer for the show Community, said it was simply “banana peels and stoplights” that led to his success in a sold-out show in Bailey Hall on Friday evening.
“The luck part is time. Because luck is something that happens, the hard part is you do nothing,” Harmon joked.
He also spoke in-depth on his desire to find “a very simply, almost numerical, instinctive reason” for what makes a story.
“If there’s something ingrained in us about storytelling, I don’t think it would be attached to ‘and we do that because we love a champion’ or ‘we saved an underdog’. There shouldn’t be any of that in there,” he said.
Rather, he said that he thinks we tell stories because us “talking chimps” are constantly thinking about change.
“I do think our cells are a library full of stories or one story that is simply about how stagnation is your enemy,” he said. “Expect the worst, and when you see the worst coming, overcome your fear of that.”
This seems to be the inspiration behind his story circle technique that breaks storytelling into different simple quadrants where a character “enters an unfamiliar situation and has to work their way back.”
While Harmon did not expect any of his writers at Community to follow his method, he has heard of his former writers “spreading the gospel of the circle”.
“There are stories of it going splendidly and there’s a lot of ‘oh you’re one of those Harmonites,’” he said.
In addition, Harmon answered questions from everything about how to be a successful filmmaker and writer, his upcoming projects like adapting The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut ’44 and if he preferred chocolate or vanilla cake.
Although the event was supposed to end around 8:30 p.m., Harmon made sure to answer every question until just past 9, poking fun at the event’s original cutoff time.
“Who makes that rule, big university?” he said to a round of applause. “You know what academia wants? Academia wants for you to stay here forever and be a grad student and then be a teacher. You can’t get out of here! So what’s with the time limit?”