We began by talking about humor. Children’s humor, I suggested, is commonly thought of as a kind of “diversion” from fear or sadness. But Adventure Timeconfronts very dark themes head on: The apocalypse, the possibility of loss and pain, grief and mortality. Yet somehow it makes these grave things seem so simple, unthreatening, even hilarious.
“I constantly am thinking about how death is always looming,” he said. “I’m trying to do the best thing that I can do in the time that I have, when I should be thinking about this very moment—just being inthe moment. Enjoy where I am, these eggs taste good, have a nice conversation, and I’m satisfied now. But I’m always thinking about the end of me, and what I can do right now to make the most of my time. I guess that’s where a lot of my humor comes from, too, is just thinking about that.”
Ward: There’s panic—I wrote this down—there’s panic around death, because it’s coming for you. But if you’re looking at it you can settle down and feel relaxed because you know where it is, and it’s not going anywhere. And I wrote—I really like that sad tingle.
Pendarvis: I don’t think Adventure Time is too much different from old fairy tales that are about the most terrifying things that can happen. Children being lost in the woods, and ending up in a witch’s house…. I mean, a person that seems like a nice person, but she might put you in a pot and cook you, or something.
Yeah, I really hate when they sanitize them.
Pendarvis: Bruno Bettelheim said that fairy tales are ways for children to deal with the things that scare them. Anyway, it’s fun to be scared, right?
Osborne: Hearing Jake talk about his perception of death and dying, I remember when that was pitched, it made me feel better about my own mortality than watching like five seasons of Six Feet Under. It prepared me for death better.
Pendarvis: And that’s what we’re really trying to do at Adventure Time, is prepare people for their own death.
[All burst out laughing.]