Dan Harmon

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Dan Harmon
A middle-aged man with graying hair and a beard. He has blue sunglasses tucked into his collar and holds his phone in front of him.
Harmon at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2014
Born (1973-01-03) January 3, 1973 (age 45)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
Occupation
  • Writer
  • producer
  • voice actor
Years active 1996–present
Spouse(s)
Erin McGathy
(m. 2014; div. 2015)

Daniel Harmon (born January 3, 1973) is an American writer, producer, and actor. Harmon created and produced the NBC sitcom Community, co-created the Adult Swim animated series Rick and Morty, and co-founded the alternative television network/website Channel 101. Harmon published the book You'll Be Perfect When You're Dead in 2013.[1] He also hosts a weekly eponymous podcast, Harmontown.

Early life[edit]

Harmon was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He graduated from Brown Deer High School in Brown Deer, a suburb of Milwaukee, and attended Marquette University. He briefly attended Glendale Community College. He would later use his experiences at the school to form the basis of the show Community.[2]

Career[edit]

Early career (1996–2008)[edit]

Harmon was a member of ComedySportz Milwaukee, alongside Rob Schrab, a member of the sketch troupe The Dead Alewives. They produced an album, Take Down the Grand Master, in 1996. Harmon frequently appeared at Milwaukee's Safehouse free comedy stage early in his career. A notable routine was a song about masturbation.

A brunette bearded man looking intently in front of him and gesturing.
Harmon at a panel for Community at PaleyFest 2010

Harmon co-created the television pilot Heat Vision and Jack (starring Owen Wilson and Jack Black) and several Channel 101 shows, some featuring Black, Drew Carey, and Sarah Silverman. He co-created Comedy Central's The Sarah Silverman Program and served as head writer for several episodes.

Harmon portrayed a highly fictionalized version of Ted Templeman on two episodes of the Channel 101 web series Yacht Rock, a satirical history of soft rock, featuring stories about Templeman's collaborations with The Doobie Brothers, Michael McDonald and Van Halen. He was the creator, executive producer, and a featured performer in Acceptable.TV, a Channel 101-based sketch show airing for eight episodes in March 2007 on VH1. He and Rob Schrab co-wrote the screenplay for the Academy Award-nominated film Monster House.[3] He is credited with writing part of Rob Schrab's comic book series Scud: The Disposable Assassin, as well as the spin-off comic series La Cosa Nostroid.

Community (2009–2012; 2014–2015)[edit]

In 2009, Harmon's sitcom Community, inspired by his own community college experiences, was picked up by NBC to be in its fall lineup. Harmon served as executive producer and showrunner for 3 seasons until May 18, 2012, when it was announced that Harmon was being terminated from his position on Community as a result of creative conflicts between himself and Sony executives.[4] On June 1, 2013, Harmon announced that he would be returning to Community, serving as co-showrunner along with Chris McKenna;[5][6] this was confirmed by Sony Pictures on June 10.[7] NBC cancelled the show after its fifth season in May 2014,[8] after which Harmon announced on June 30, 2014 that Yahoo! had renewed the series for a 13-episode sixth season to air online on Yahoo! Screen.[9]

Harmontown and HarmonQuest (2011–present)[edit]

On May 23, 2011, Harmon began hosting a monthly live comedy show and podcast at Meltdown Comics in Hollywood called Harmontown. After his firing from Community, the show became weekly. The show is co-hosted by Jeff B. Davis. Notably, Harmontown has featured a regular segment where the hosts played an ongoing campaign of pen-and-paper role-playing games, first Dungeons & Dragons, and later Shadowrun, with the help of show Game Master Spencer Crittenden. The segment inspired the Seeso original animated series HarmonQuest. The show has featured guests, such as Kumail Nanjiani, Curtis Armstrong, Bobcat Goldthwait, Mitch Hurwitz, Aubrey Plaza, Eric Idle, Greg Proops, Jason Sudekis, Zoe Lister-Jones, Ryan Stiles, as well as Harmon's ex-wife, podcaster Erin McGathy.[10] Harmon and Davis took the show on tour in early 2013, broadcasting from Austin, Nashville, Somerville, Massachusetts, Brooklyn, Rhode Island, and more. The tour became the subject of a documentary produced by director Neil Berkeley that follows Harmon, Davis, McGathy, and Crittenden. The documentary, also called Harmontown, premiered at the Austin Film Festival SXSW on March 8, 2014.[11][12]

Rick and Morty (2013–present)[edit]

Harmon and co-showrunner, Justin Roiland, began developing ideas for an animated show during Harmon's yearlong break from Community.[13] For its fall 2012 season, Adult Swim ordered a 30-minute animated pilot from Harmon and Roiland. The pilot, Rick and Morty, is about the adventures of a brilliant but mean-spirited inventor and his less-than-genius grandson.[14] The show premiered on December 2, 2013 and was renewed for a second season.[15] The series’ third season concluded in October 2017. Harmon voiced the recurring character of Bird Person.[16] In May 2018, Rick and Morty was renewed for a further 70 episodes after Harmon and Roiland came to an agreement with Adult Swim.[17]

The Sirens of Titan (TBA)[edit]

It was announced that Kurt Vonnegut's 1959 novel The Sirens of Titan would be made into a television series and would be adapted by Dan Harmon and Evan Katz.[18]

"Story Circle" technique[edit]

A hand-drawn version of Harmon's story circle.
Harmon's illustrated story technique

Harmon has invented a storytelling framework referred to as the "Story Circle."[19] He began developing the technique in the late ’90s, while stuck on a screenplay. He wanted to codify the storytelling process — to find the structure powering movies and TV shows. "I was thinking, there must be some symmetry to this," Harmon told Wired. "Some simplicity."[19] While working on Channel 101, Harmon found that many of the directors he was working with claimed that they were unable to write plots for television shows.[20] This caused Harmon to distill Joseph Campbell's structure of the Monomyth into a simple, circular eight-step process that would reliably produce coherent stories.

The story circle supposedly can be applied to all stories. Harmon uses it whenever he's writing a new story, saying "I can't not see that circle. It's tattooed on my brain."[19] The circle is divided into eight segments, each representing a stage of the plot. A character is introduced, wants something, enters a new environment, adapts to that environment, achieves their goal but encounters problems as a result, leaves that world and changes as a result. The steps are as follows:

  1. A character is in a zone of comfort or familiarity.
  2. They desire something.
  3. They enter an unfamiliar situation.
  4. They adapt to that situation.
  5. They get that which they wanted.
  6. They pay a heavy price for it.
  7. They return to their familiar situation.
  8. They have changed as a result of the journey.

Joseph Campbell's structure of the Monomyth is the main influence in Harmon's technique. In a blog post detailing the second sector of the circle Harmon explains, "The point of this part of the circle is, our protagonist has been thrown into the water and now it's sink or swim. In Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell actually evokes the image of a digestive tract, breaking the hero down, divesting him of neuroses, stripping him of fear and desire. There's no room for bullshit in the unconscious basement. Asthma inhalers, eyeglasses, credit cards, fratty boyfriends, promotions, toupees and cell phones can't save you here. The purpose here has become refreshingly - and frighteningly - simple."[21] The Monomyth has been adapted for screen and television writing before, most notably by former Disney developmental executive Christopher Vogler in his book The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. Harmon has noted this book as an influence on the embryo technique, as well as the work of Syd Field.[21]

Harmon states that this circular structure of storytelling can be applied both to film and TV, suggesting in a Channel 101 blog that only the final intentions are different. "A feature film’s job is to send you out of the theatre on a high in 90 minutes. Television’s job is to keep you glued to the television for your entire life. This doesn’t entail making stories any less circular (TV circles are so circular they’re sometimes irritatingly predictable). It just means that the focus of step 8 is less riling-things-up and more getting-things-back-to-where-they-started," he says.[citation needed] Harmon has used the Story Embryo technique extensively throughout projects such as Community[22] and Rick and Morty.[23] In an interview on Collider writer, Adam Chitwood said, "The show [Rick and Morty] debuted in 2013 to a serious degree of anticipation, as it marked a new animated venture for Community creator Dan Harmon, but it was the marriage of Harmon’s adeptness for structure and character and co-creator Justin Roiland's insanely creative/sometimes insane mind that made Rick and Morty much more than just another animated TV series for adults."

Fans and critics have retroactively applied Harmon's Story Circle to other shows, such as Breaking Bad.[24] Harmon's technique has been adopted by Irish sitcom writer Graham Linehan, the creator of shows such as Father Ted, The IT Crowd, and Black Books. In an interview with the Telegraph, Linehan said: "Whenever I write for television, I plan the story on whiteboard wallpaper in my office, using a system created by the American writer Dan Harmon, saying, 'It's remarkably simple: a character wants something; they enter a new world and adapt to it; they get what they want, re-enter the old world and change.' The great thing about it is that once you have an idea for one bit, the section opposite comes naturally, as do the ones on either side, and so on. It's basically a distillation of the 'hero's journey' idea, but it’s undetectable and applies to any ideas, big or small."[25]

Awards[edit]

In July 2009, Harmon was nominated in two Emmy categories for his part in writing the Oscar telecast: Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Special and Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics, the latter of which he was awarded for "Hugh Jackman Opening Number" at the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards.

Personal life[edit]

In 2011, while writing the character Abed for Community, Dan discovered he might have a form of Asperger syndrome.[26]

In December 2013, Harmon proposed to his girlfriend Erin McGathy.[27] The two married in November 2014.[28] They announced they were divorcing in October 2015.[29]

Misconduct[edit]

On January 2, 2018, Dan Harmon alluded to misconduct from himself towards other people. Megan Ganz, a writer who worked with Harmon on Community responded, naming herself as a victim in said misconduct. Harmon responded by attempting a dialogue with Ganz, wherein he attempted to apologize, and though Ganz said she appreciated his gestures, she declined to forgive him.[30] After the exchange, Harmon made a lengthy apology on his podcast Harmontown where he went into detail about his wrongdoings which included making advances on her and then mistreating her after she turned him down. Ganz said that she felt vindicated by the admission and accepted his apology, saying "Dan Harmon, I forgive you".[31]

"In 2009, I made a ‘pilot’ which strove to parody the series Dexter and only succeeded in offending. I quickly realized the content was way too distasteful and took the video down immediately. Nobody should ever have to see what you saw and for that, I sincerely apologize."

—Dan Harmon[32]

Baby doll video controversy[edit]

In July 2018, Harmon deleted his Twitter account after a 2009 comedy skit surfaced in which he acted out a rape using a baby doll as a prop. The video, titled "Daryl" was intended to be parody of the Dexter TV series. Harmon later apologized for the video.[32] The day after the video surfaced, Adult Swim released a statement criticizing the video while noting Harmon's apology.[33]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2006 Monster House Writer
2008 Kung Fu Panda Uncredited writer[citation needed]
2014 Harmontown Himself Documentary; also executive producer
2015 Knight of Cups Dan Uncredited[citation needed]
Back in Time Himself Documentary
Anomalisa Executive producer
2016 Doctor Strange Uncredited consultant [34][35]
TBA Bubbles Producer[36]

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1999 Heat Vision and Jack Pilot; creator and writer
2003 Computerman Eugene Murzowski Also creator, writer and executive producer
2006 MTV Video Music Awards 2006 Television special; writer
2007 Acceptable.TV Various roles Also co-creator, writer and executive producer
2007–2010 The Sarah Silverman Program Co-creator and writer
2008 Googas Dan Also co-creator, writer
2008 Spike Video Game Awards 2008 Television special; writer
2009 The 81st Annual Academy Awards Television special; writer
2009–2015 Community Creator, writer and executive producer
2012 Mary Shelley's Frankenhole Dr. Jekyl (voice) 5 episodes
2013–present Rick and Morty Birdperson / additional voices Also co-creator, writer and executive producer
2013 Arrested Development Yurt Clerk Episode: "Borderline Personalities"
Axe Cop Audience Member (voice) Episode: "Babysitting Uni-Baby"
2015 Drunk History Narrator Episode: "Miami"
The Simpsons Episode: "Mathlete's Feat"; wrote couch gag
2016 Great Minds with Dan Harmon Dan Harmon Also writer and executive producer
2016–present HarmonQuest[37] Himself / Fondue Zoobag Also creator, writer and executive producer
2017 Dr. Ken Himself Episode: "Ken's Big Audition"
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return Writer
Animals. Ad Man 1 Episode: "Humans."
The Simpsons Himself (voice) Episode: "Springfield Splendor"
2017 Good Game Suit Also executive producer

Web series[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2009 Daryl Daryl spoof of Dexter[38]
2017 Guest Grumps Himself Episode "The Cat in the Hat with Special Guest Dan Harmon"[39]

Bibliography[edit]

Story Credits[edit]

  • Scud: The Disposable Assassin #4-5, 8-9, 13-15 & 17-19 (co-writer and illustrator Rob Schrab, co-writer Mondy Carter, colorist Zac Rybaki, Fireman Press, 1994)
  • La Cosa Nostroid #1–9 (illustrator Edward Clayton, Fireman Press, 1996)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Dan Harmon's "You'll Be Perfect When You're Dead" Now Available". The Comedy Bureau. Retrieved December 11, 2014. 
  2. ^ Ebright, Olsen (September 17, 2009). "NBC's "Community" Based on Glendale Community College". NBC Los Angeles. Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Dan Harmon on IMDb
  4. ^ Rose, Lacey (July 17, 2013). "'Community's' Dan Harmon Reveals the Wild Story Behind His Firing and Rehiring". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  5. ^ Simpson, Connor (2013-06-01). "Dan Harmon Is Officially Returning to 'Community.'" TheAtlanticWire.com. Retrieved 2013-06-06.
  6. ^ Harris, Aisha (2013-06-03). "The Brightest Timeline: Dan Harmon Returning to Community." Slate.com. Retrieved 2013-06-06.
  7. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (June 10, 2013). "DONE DEAL: Dan Harmon & Chris McKenna To Return To 'Community' For Season 5". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  8. ^ Butterly, Amelia (12 May 2014). "Community TV show "difficult" to resurrect says creator". BBC. Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  9. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (June 30, 2014). "'Community' renewed by Yahoo for sixth season; movie to follow?". Hitflix.com. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Twitter Page of Erin McGathy". 
  11. ^ DeFore, John (March 10, 2014). "Harmontown: SXSW Review". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 10, 2014. 
  12. ^ Lies, Erica (April 7, 2014). "Diving Into the Cult of Dan Harmon in 'Harmontown'". Splitsider. Retrieved April 10, 2014. 
  13. ^ Cohen, Ivan (January 24, 2014). "Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland on 'Rick and Morty', How 'Community' Is Like 'Star Trek', and Puberty". Vulture. Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  14. ^ Rose, Lacey (May 15, 2012). "Upfronts 2012: Adult Swim Orders Eight Pilots, Including a Project From 'Community's' Dan Harmon". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 19, 2012. 
  15. ^ Goldberg, Leslie (February 12, 2014). "Dan Harmon's 'Rick and Morty' Renewed for Second Season". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 27, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Rick and Morty: Get Schwifty" on IMDb
  17. ^ Otterson, Joe (2018-05-10). "'Rick and Morty' Scores 70-Episode Order at Adult Swim". Variety. Retrieved 2018-05-14. 
  18. ^ Hurley, Laura (July 18, 2017). "Rick And Morty Co-Creator Dan Harmon Has A Completely Unexpected New Show In The Works". Cinema Blend. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  19. ^ a b c Raftery, Brian (September 22, 2011). "How Dan Harmon Drives Himself Crazy Making Community". Wired. 
  20. ^ "Dan Harmon, Community - XOXO Festival (2012)". 
  21. ^ a b "Story Structure 104: The Juicy Details". 
  22. ^ "Some Community whiteboards for episodes 1 and 2". 
  23. ^ "Rick and Morty writer's room". Medium. 
  24. ^ "Breaking Bad through Dan Harmon's Story Circle". 
  25. ^ "Does this circle represent every TV show and film there is?". The Telegraph. 
  26. ^ Lyons, Margaret. "Community's Dan Harmon Discovered He had Asperger's While Writing Abed's Character". Vulture. 
  27. ^ McGathy, Erin (December 28, 2013). "Erin McGathy, "Engaged!"". Instagram. Instagram.com. Retrieved March 27, 2014. 
  28. ^ Rowles, Dustin (17 November 2014). "'Community' Showrunner Dan Harmon Got Married This Weekend, And The Wedding Was Amazing". Uproxx. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  29. ^ Erin McGathy [@ErinMcGathy] (October 10, 2015). "Sad to announce that @danharmon and I are divorcing. We ask that you respect our privacy as we discuss it openly on our respective podcasts" (Tweet). Retrieved October 11, 2015 – via Twitter. 
  30. ^ Barsanti, Sam. "Former Community writer Megan Ganz calls out Dan Harmon for misconduct". The A.V. Club. The A.V. Club. Retrieved 4 January 2018. 
  31. ^ Dan Harmon I forgive you Shepard, Jack. "'Dan Harmon, I forgive you': Community writer Megan Ganz accepts Ricky & Morty creator's lengthy apology for misconduct on Harmontown podcast". The Independent. Retrieved 11 January 2018. 
  32. ^ a b Harmon, Steph (July 24, 2018). "Dan Harmon apologises and quits Twitter after obscene video sketch resurfaces". The Guardian. Retrieved September 8, 2018. 
  33. ^ Little, Morgan, Rick and Morty's Dan Harmon apologizes for baby doll video, Adult Swim forgives him CNET 23 July 2018
  34. ^ "'Doctor Strange' Producer Confirms Dan Harmon Gave Input On Movie". EW.com. Retrieved 2018-06-15. 
  35. ^ "'Doctor Strange' Script Gets Some 'Community' Help From Dan Harmon (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-06-15. 
  36. ^ Amidi, Amid (February 15, 2017). "Mark Gustafson and Taika Waititi To Direct 'Bubbles,' Based on Michael Jackson's Chimp". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved February 17, 2017. 
  37. ^ Seeso (2016-07-14), HarmonQuest - Episode 1 - "The Quest Begins", retrieved 2016-07-16 
  38. ^ Schroeder, Audra (23 July 2018). "Dan Harmon leaves Twitter after controversial sketch resurfaces". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 24 July 2018. 
  39. ^ "The Cat in the Hat with Special Guest Dan Harmon". Guest Grumps. YouTube. Game Grumps. Retrieved 2017-08-08. 

External links[edit]