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Dan Harmon on writing and the meaning of life

Dan Harmon wants you to taste life.

In the opening minute of this interview with MSNBC, writer / showrunner Dan Harmon says that the meaning of life is to taste yourself because we’re all just giant taste buds on God’s tongue.

This is a fun way to do an interview that encompasses everything from Kanye West to how he actually approached writing his projects.

The interview was broadcast MSNBC and guides us through Harmon’s recent endeavors and some of the philosophies to which he has remained faithful over the years. He chats with host Ari Melber in a conversation taped during the coronavirus pandemic, trade stories and some funny cracks.

Check it out below and let’s talk afterwards.

Dan Harmon on writing and the meaning of life

Harmon tries to translate his strange and far-reaching philosophy seen in his work into his way of working. His general idea is to make sure he doesn’t write TV the way we watch TV. The feedback loop is kind of insane, from executives to audiences, but he and his team try to stay true to their deconstruction of the norm.

Of course, you can’t talk to Harmon without talking through the story circle.

That covers the “eight steps” that most stories want to follow. He believes that all information has forms, and when those forms take on something digestible for us, we can feel the click and latch onto the story.

All of Harmon’s work seeks to translate Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey into lay language. He wants to demystify the storytelling process and just sit and do the work until the best ideas come out of you.

Harmon learned the hard way from these situations. He didn’t love being the prime time showrunner of a network series like Community. He couldn’t keep telling stories about credit cards or haircuts when tackling grandiose subjects like “loneliness”.

These changes in his mentality caused him to leave the network and thrive in cartoon series, as he did with Rick and Morty. He says his job is to take shows, no matter how crazy they are, as seriously as possible. He’s working to challenge the way we record this show and how he writes the show. That means he doesn’t stay until 3 a.m., he goes home at 5 p.m. and tries to deconstruct his own circle in order to undermine the audience’s expectations.

A lot of time is spent developing characters. Both Rick and Morty had to be people deeper than just the surface. He made sure that these people changed with society. They feel complex emotions and deal with things like legacy and ego, things that Harmon himself has to deal with at work in Hollywood.

These kinds of things set him apart from other creators. He is ready to self-assess and deal with his problems by writing them into characters and confronting them. Much like his life advice to taste yourself. All of this comes from an honest place where he knows he has problems and flaws that he must overcome as a person as well.

I thought the interview was a really interesting look at Harmon and what makes him tick. What did you think?

Let us know in the comments.

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