Exclusive: Interview with Matt Oberg of Comedy Central’s “Ugly Americans”
“Mark Lilly,” the main character in the edgy new animated series “Ugly Americans,” is a social worker whose clients include werewolves, vampires and assorted goblins and ghouls.
The scenario is bizarre and some scenes in “Ugly Americans” are sexually suggestive and violently over-the-top. Still, Matt Oberg, the actor who does the voice of Mark, hopes viewers will connect with the earnest, naÃ¯ve social worker at the center of all the mayhem.
“Mark does have compassion and that gets him into trouble. He has to fight for what he wants,” Oberg, 33, told SocialWorkersSpeak.org. “I think there is a heart to the show that hopefully is sort of optimistic about the human condition — the human spirit.”
The idea to make a social worker the central character came from series developer and executive producer David Stern. “My father has been a social worker his whole life,” Stern said. “That was the primary motivation for me.”
Mark works for the fictional “Department of Integration,” a New York City agency that helps immigrants adjust to urban life. However, the budget for Mark’s office was drastically cut, his caseload is huge, and his bosses are demons up to no good.
Mark’s personal life is not much better. Roommate “Randall” is a zombie who fantasizes about eating Mark’s brain for a midnight snack. And his girlfriend and boss “Callie” is demon who can literally steal his heart and soul.
“Ugly Americans” may have a bizarre storyline but hopefully social workers can relate to it. In one upcoming episode Mark helps a timid zombie with very low self esteem get a window washing job. Unfortunately, the zombie ends up washing windows at a local brain bank. He breaks in to eat brains and Mark has to go to the scene to end a police standoff.
“I think there is so much in the day of a social worker that is not funny,” Oberg said said. “If there is something they can watch that is identifiable to the issues they have to face and they can do it in a funny way it seems like something that will appeal to them.”
“Ugly Americans” has some talented people onboard. Stern was a producer of “The Simpsons” during the first four seasons and wrote some of its most memorable episodes.
Series creator Devin Clark is an artist, animator and filmmaker who worked for HBO, MTV, Nickelodeon, TCM and the Cartoon Network.
Oberg hails from New York’s Westchester County and has been doing comedy and theater in New York City for a decade. He has appeared in episodes of “30 Rock” and “Chapelle’s Show.”
“We’ve done seven episodes (of “Ugly Americans’) and everybody would love to do more,” Oberg said. “So far the feedback we’re getting seems pretty positive. I am optimistic it will find an audience,” he said.
“Ugly Americans” premieres March 17 at 10:30 p.m. on Comedy Central. Matt Oberg is eager to get ideas for the show from social workers. Leave your comments and suggestions in the comments below and we’ll pass them on to Matt!