Hit Showrunner Vanessa Ramos Talks Writing Workplace Comedies and That Finale [Exclusive Interview]


This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and conciseness. It contains spoilers for “Blockbuster” season 1.

First things first: where did the “Waco ferret” joke come from?

I think that was the first pitch I had in the room because Hollywood Harold was in my first pitch. It was billed as an episode of Timmy (Park), but then it was the idea of, you find out Harold is a weirdo. There was just a ton of different things, like, “What Authorities Describe as a Waco Ferret. I think it was one of those pitches where you’re like, ‘Okay, obviously, this is too crazy, not that but…’ And then someone goes, ‘Well, why isn’t that it? We just put it in and then Netflix lets us.

What were some of your early ideas for the show?

In the original pitch, it was Hollywood Harold and then the Halloween episode where they deal with horror movie fans. Then the Block Party… I’m trying to think of very weird parties. We had a couple where I was just like, ‘It’s not something we can or should do’ that we had to talk ourselves out of doing.

You sometimes have weird and dark jokes. In the finale, there’s a certain director mentioned in a trivial question.

Oh yes. And then Timmy runs through the thing.

It caught me off guard, but it was great.

I was amazed that they let us do that. I think it was kinda – because I got my start in Comedy Central Roast World, so it’s just writing mean, dark jokes for three weeks at a time about somebody, and then you come back and start again next year. I think it’s nice to be able to scratch that itch a bit. The other things I’ve worked on have been very network comedies, but since it’s Netflix, you can marry the two.

For Hollywood Harold, I think many of us remember our local TV movie critic. Was he influenced by anyone?

I grew up in San Antonio and Texas has some real gems on the local entertainment scene. So it was an idea that I had from the start that I was like, ‘Okay, I want to tackle this character. I feel like Timmy would have a relationship with him after being such a movie buff.” I think in my original idea it was Timmy’s story, and then when we started to put the pieces together, we were like, ‘Oh, with the Carlos immigration story and everything, that’s is better suited to this character.”

There are those moments as moviegoers that you may find relevant, like someone buying a ticket for “Space Containment 2“We all did this for a bad movie. In the writers room, were many of you sharing your experiences of cinema and rental?

Oh yes. Less me. All the jokes, like a lot of Timmy’s takes, “I love bad dance movies”, it’s like me. I’ll be the one paying to see “Space Jam 2”. Other people who are into the arts would come over, and it was like, “Okay, did anybody watch anything this weekend?” And we have one of our writers who would describe any movie he’s seen. It was a lot of note comparisons and sometimes we could say, “Okay, is that Connie’s sensibility?” And then we threw a few more and, “Yeah, that looks like something Connie would have seen.”

How did the reference to the “feature film ‘The Da Vinci Code'” come about?

This one comes from my assistant Mary, who is simply the best. We were in the room and we needed a client moment and [writer] Jackie [Clarke] asked, “What’s next in Da Vinci Code?” And Mary says, “Well, actually, it’s a prequel and it’s ‘Angels & Demons’.” She said exactly that. And then Jackie says, “What was that again?” And she wrote it down verbatim and inserted it. We called the character “dumb customer” for quite a while, then changed it to Mary, of course, with Mary’s blessing. She is happy. And then we were at the costume meeting and they were like, “The client, Mary, what’s she wearing? A K-pop t-shirt, Grandpa’s sweater…” big, I’m describing what my assistant Mary is wearing. That’s how some of this stuff happened. When you’re talking about movies all the time, the things that creep in aren’t as artistic or as polished as you think. It’s a bunch of very silly movies that you end up having fun with.

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