Martin Olson holding his book Encyclopedia of Hell in 2013
|Born||April 2, 1956|
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Occupation||Comedy writer, television producer, author, composer|
|Residence||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Years active||1975 – present|
Martin Olson (born April 2, 1956) is an American comedy writer, television producer, author and composer. He is known for his unusual subject matter, and is an original member of the Boston Comedy Scene. He is the father of actress Olivia Olson.
Olson has received five Emmy nominations, three for television writing and two for song writing. Olson also received an Ace Award for television writing.
Martin Olson is from Boston, Massachusetts. His brother, Thomas Olson, is a film and stage actor. His adopted daughter Olivia Olson is a singer-songwriter, actress, and author. Olson decided to be a comedy writer as a boy when he saw comedian Brother Theodore ranting and raving on The Merv Griffin Show. Before his death in 2001, Theodore became a fan of Olson's first book, Encyclopaedia of Hell (Feral House, 2011), and wrote a quote for the book cover.
Olson began writing for comedians before there were any comedy clubs in Boston. As a young man, he sent batches of jokes to Rodney Dangerfield, which were always returned with the same polite note scrawled at the bottom, "Sorry, Marty!" (According to his agent's press kit, years later when writing for Penn & Teller in Las Vegas, Olson produced comedy bits with Dangerfield and the two became friends.) Olson first sold comedy material to the hosts of local "Gong Shows", which began his career as a comedy writer.
Olson's friends Paul Barclay and Bil Downes started the first comedy club in Boston in 1977. There Olson became house piano player and performed as a comedian with an absurdist deadpan act, playing the guitar and hosting other comedians as his eccentric guests. Olson worked for and wrote with the comedians who became his friends – Sean Morey, Lenny Clarke, Bobcat Goldthwait, Joe Alaskey, Don Gavin, Barry Crimmins, Steven Wright, Jimmy Tingle, Denis Leary, Steve Sweeney, Kevin Meaney, Kevin Nealon, Kevin Rooney, and many other Kevins.
Olson and comedian Lenny Clarke became roommates in Harvard Square; comedians from all over the country stayed with them while performing in Boston comedy clubs. Olson wrote for Clarke, who was the most popular comedian in Boston. Their apartment became known as The Barracks, a legendary hub of comedy and depravity that was the subject of a television special on Boston comedy in the 1980s, and also of the award-winning documentary on the Boston comedy scene When Standup Stood Out (2006) directed by filmmaker-comedian Fran Solomita.
When comedian, writer and political satirist Barry Crimmins started the second comedy club in the Boston area called the Ding Ho, Olson became piano player and with writer Jim Harris created Lenny Clarke's Late Show, a late-night comedy series on TV-38 hosted and co-written by Clarke. This bizarre, two-hour weekly monster movie show attracted a small but dedicated cult following. After two years Olson and Clarke were fired for airing two controversial segments ("News for Negroes" and "The Mentally Retarded Faith Healer" featuring Bobcat Goldthwait).
Olson and the West Coast comedy scene
Olson took his tapes from the show and drove cross-country to San Francisco with comedian Don Gavin. There, by coincidence, the 1980 San Francisco Comedy Competition was starting up, which offered a first prize of $10,000. Olson helped Gavin audition and make it into the finals. There Olson met his future wife Kay Furtado, a writer who had been flown to San Francisco to coach another comedian in the competition. A year later they were married in a ceremony in San Francisco by comedian Michael Pritchard, attended by all of the local comedians. Olson and his wife moved to Los Angeles where they raised two children, Casey Olson and Olivia Olson.
Writing and directing
In Los Angeles, Olson was head writer for several HBO comedy specials, staff writer for the Screen Actors Guild Awards for three years, co-wrote (with Kevin Meaney) an award-winning series for Comedy Central in London and was head writer or staff writer for many animated series voiced by his comedian friends, notably Rocko's Modern Life for Nickelodeon. He was head writer for the first season of the Disney animated series Phineas and Ferb.
In 1992 Olson became staff writer and occasional songwriter for Nickelodeon's animated series Rocko's Modern Life. His office was next to that of animator Stephen Hillenburg, his friend who years later would create SpongeBob SquarePants. Olson read a comic book Hillenburg drew in college called "The Intertidal Zone" and enthusiastically encouraged Hillenburg to create an underwater television series like the comic, hosted by its narrator, a sponge. Hillenburg has stated that his idea for the Spongebob series hatched during this conversation with Olson about the comic.
Olson wrote, co-wrote or directed a number of off-beat stage plays in Los Angeles, including "The Head", "The Idiots", "I Never Knew My Father", "1958", "Torn", "The Ron Lynch Show", "The Bob Rubin Experience" and "Cold Black Heart" at various theaters, including the Comedy Central Stage, the HBO Theater and the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood. Olson was also producer of Penn & Teller's FX variety series Penn & Teller's Sin City Spectacular.
With the help of his literary agent Annette Van Duren, Olson sold comedy screenplays to DreamWorks, United Artists, Touchstone Pictures, and Warner Bros. He wrote the satirical book Encyclopaedia of Hell, and sold the film rights to Warner Bros. through Andrew Lazar of Mad Chance Productions. With Ken Kaufman and Howard Klausner, Olson co-wrote the final draft of the screenplay adaptation of his book for WB under a new title, D-Men.
Olson collaborated with special effects director Phil Tippett on the screenplay for Veronica's Daughter, with writer-director Bobcat Goldthwait on the screenplay Sightings for United Artists, with writer-comedian Rob Schneider on the screenplay Family Disorder for Touchstone, with writer-comedian Kevin Nealon on the screenplay Late Bloomer, with Ken Locsmandi on the story and screenplay for Bronson Beak, and with Robert Sheckley on the screen adaptation of his wonderful novel Dimension of Miracles. Olson was a story writer and songwriter for Disney's TV film Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension. Olson also adapted the novel The Man Who Was Thursday, by G. K. Chesterton, as a screenplay for Andrew Lazar of Mad Chance.
In 2016, Olson was staff writer for Disney's Milo Murphy's Law, and in 2017 co-wrote the story for Nickelodeon's one-hour TV movie "Static Cling," a highly anticipated revival of Nickelodeon's cult-classic series Rocko's Modern Life.
As an occasional actor, Olson has guest-starred in a live action sequence in SpongeBob SquarePants ("Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy V" and "Swamp Mates"), in "Don't Watch This Show" by director-comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, in the documentary When Standup Stood Out by filmmaker Fran Solomita, on The Tonight Show playing an Indian yogi with Bobcat Goldthwait, in various comedy web series, and in a featured role as a fundamentalist professor in the film The Anna Cabrini Chronicles by filmmaker Tawd B. Dorenfeld. Olson also plays Hunson Abadeer aka "The Lord of Evil" on Cartoon Network's Adventure Time and his real-life daughter Olivia Olson voices the role of his character's daughter, Marceline the Vampire Queen. Olson also appears in videos by his friends Garfunkel and Oates, Melinda Hill, Katie Schwartz and Adam Scott Franklin.
Music and songwriting
Olson is a twice-Emmy-nominated songwriter, and an Annie-nominated songwriter, having written or co-written over three hundred songs produced for television or film. He has appeared as a singer on several television shows, including SpongeBob SquarePants and Phineas and Ferb. His satirical songs were regularly featured on many television series, including London Underground (Comedy Central), Rocko's Modern Life (Nickelodeon), Get That Puss Off Your Face (HBO), Camp Lazlo (CN), Penn and Teller's Sin City Spectacular (FX), The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat (ABC) and Milo Murphy's Law (Disney). Olson has written or co-written over three hundred songs for Phineas and Ferb (Disney), as well as eight songs for Disney's TV film Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension and four songs for the Disney+ film Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe. Olson and his friend director Bobcat Goldthwait also co-wrote the theme song for Don't Watch This Show (Cinemax).
At Disney Studios, with songwriting partners Dan Povenmire and Swampy Marsh, Olson co-wrote songs with Bobby Lopez, co-writer of Broadway's The Book of Mormon and Disney's Frozen. Olson also co-wrote five songs with Povenmire and Marsh for their film Dick! the Musical. Olson, Povenmire and Marsh also wrote a song for Disney's Milo Murphy's Law with Mike Stoller (of the legendary duo Leiber & Stoller), whom they idolized as a classic American songwriter.
Olson has had his songs performed by a diverse list of artists, including Clay Aiken, Chaka Khan, Jack Jones, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Kenny Loggins, Kate Pierson of The B-52s, Fee Waybill of The Tubes, Michael McKean of Spinal Tap, Wayne Brady of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Jack McBrayer of 30 Rock, Malcolm McDowell, Jaret Reddick of Bowling for Soup, Richard O'Brien of Rocky Horror Show, French Stewart, Ashley Tisdale, Christian Slater, Sheena Easton, Carmen Carter, Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords, Tom Kenny of SpongeBob, Allison Janney, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and his daughter, singer-songwriter Olivia Olson.
Olson first collaborated with songwriter Jeff Root on four home studio albums in the 1970s.
Olson's latest CD was written and recorded with his daughter Olivia Olson (July 2013) and called The Father-Daughter Album of Unspeakable Beauty, released at Comicon SD 2013, and their new album, Hey I'm Not Dead Yet, has a release date at Comicon NYC 2020.
Olson's encyclopedic satire Encyclopedia of Hell is published by Feral House (July 2011); the film rights were bought by Warner Bros. through producer Andrew Lazar for Mad Chance. The French edition was published in 2016 by Les Editions Lapin, Paris. His notorious children's book The Adventure Time Encyclopaedia (July 2013), published by Abrams Books, reached #5 on the New York Times Best-Seller List. His latest Abrams book, The Enchiridion/Marcy's Super-Secret Scrapbook, was cowritten with his daughter Olivia Olson, and released at Comicon NYC 2015. Olson also wrote two collections of poems, Hitler's Dog and Imaginary History of Reality, which are available for free DL.
- Olson, Martin (2005). IQ 83. Martin Olson.
- Olson, Martin (2011). Encyclopaedia of Hell. Feral House.
- Olson, Martin (2013). Adventure Time Encyclopaedia. Abrams Books.
- Olson, Martin (2007). Hitler's Dog: The Poems of Martin Olson. Martin Olson.
- Olson, Martin (2010). Imaginary History of Reality – Selected Poems. Martin Olson.
- Sheckley, Robert; Olson, Martin (2007). On the Good Ship Mandelbrot. Martin Olson.
- Screenplays by Martin Olson
- Green, Kirk (May 8, 1995). "IS 'NETRUNNER(TM)' A GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE? INTERPLAY'S BIG BUDGET CD-ROM DEBUTS AT E3". PR Newswire. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
- "Martin Olson". martin-olson.com. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- Olson, Martin; Olson, Olivia; Tejaratchi, Sean (6 October 2015). "Adventure Time: The Enchiridion & Marcy's Super Secret Scrapbook!!!". Abrams. Retrieved 3 March 2017 – via Amazon.
- Kaminsky, Denise (February 24, 2009). "Interviewing Comedy Writer Martin Olson". thesop.org. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
- blackcollarradio (25 September 2011). "Martin Olson – Author of Encyclopaedia Of Hell – Interview On Black Collar Radio 9-25-11". Retrieved 3 March 2017 – via YouTube.
- "DVD REVIEW: WHEN STAND UP STOOD OUT". chud.com. 21 June 2006. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- Garboden, Clif (April 30, 2008). "Ding Ho home". Boston Phoenix. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- Figueroa, Tony (21 October 2016). "CHILD OF TELEVISION: Kevin Meaney dead at 60... That's Not Right". childoftelevision.blogspot.com. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- Mike Bent (18 July 2009). The Everything Guide to Comedy Writing: From stand-up to sketch – all you need to succeed in the world of comedy. Everything Books. pp. 243–. ISBN 1-4405-0174-2.
- "1 May 1999 Today's History".
- "The Rocko's Modern Life FAQ – Martin Olson Interview". title14.com. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- "Article on Dreamworks film "IQ 83"". issuu.com. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- staff. "Elston Gunn's WEEKLY RECAP". aintitcool.com. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- Homan, Eric (October 12, 2010). "Frederator Studios Blogs – The Adventure Time Blog – "Nightosphere" Odds & Ends". frederatorblogs.com. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- "2016: 300th Song on TV by M Olson". issuu.com. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- Rey, Margarita (May 12, 2015). "Look Back at How the Crew Behind "Phineas and Ferb" Create Entertaining and Memorable Episodes and Songs". moviepilot.com. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- "The Father-Daughter Album of Unspeakable Beauty by Martin Olson & Olivia Olson on iTunes". apple.com. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- "Encyclopaedia of Hell". feralhouse.com. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- Olson, Martin; Millionaire, Tony (27 May 2016). "Encyclopédie de l'enfer". éditions lapin. Retrieved 3 March 2017 – via Amazon.
- "Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous Books – Best Sellers – August 18, 2013 – The New York Times". nytimes.com. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- "Martin Olson". martin-olson.com. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-01. Retrieved 2010-05-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- 60th Prime Time Emmy Noms: Music cinemusic.net – Retrieved: 8 April 2009
- Martin Olson on IMDb
- Official website
- Trainor, Lisa (Kiczuk) (February 27, 1999). "Lisa (Kiczuk) Trainor interviews Martin Olson, writer for Rocko's Modern Life". The Rocko's Modern Life FAQ. Pat Trainor. Retrieved March 10, 2009.