Too Many Cooks (short)
|Too Many Cooks|
|Created by||Casper Kelly|
|Written by||Casper Kelly|
|Directed by||Casper Kelly|
|Opening theme||"Too Many Cooks", performed by Shawn Coleman, Cheryl Rogers, Michael Magno, and Patty Mack|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||11 minutes|
|Production companies||Fake Wood Wallpaper Films|
Awesome, Inc. (animation)
|Original network||Adult Swim|
|Picture format||16:9 HDTV|
|Original release||October 28, 2014|
Too Many Cooks is a surreal dark comedy short that originally aired as a special during Adult Swim's "infomercials" block on October 28, 2014, at 4:00 am Eastern Time. It was created, written, and directed by Casper Kelly, and produced by Williams Street. After its original airing, the piece became a viral video online and was repeated each night at midnight Eastern Time during the week of November 11, 2014.
The video begins as a parody of opening credits sequences of 1970s, 1980s and 1990s American situation comedies, then television crime dramas, prime time soap operas, Saturday-morning cartoons, superhero live-action series, slasher films and science fiction television shows, with each of them gradually bleeding into the next. Particular focus is put on a slasher film villain (played by William Tokarsky), who is hidden in the background of several early shots but eventually starts killing the other characters with a machete. The opening credits sequence ends after about ten minutes and transitions into the "episode", with all the characters from the opening standing in the one house; the short ends roughly ten seconds later, cutting to closing credits before a full line of dialogue ("Honey, I'm ho-") can be spoken.
Development and production
According to Kelly, he conveyed the concept of the short to his Squidbillies writer-producer friend Jim Fortier, who in turn described it to Adult Swim executive Mike Lazzo, who loved the idea. The footage was filmed over a period of three days in October 2013 with a cast completely composed of extras from the Atlanta area. Post-production took a year, with Kelly recruiting friends and co-workers to help with the process.
While the video depicts the opening credits of a fictional television show, most of the cast members' real names were used. According to Katie Adkins, actors were not presented with a clearly explained script, but rather coached on the go, in a somewhat nonchalant manner.
Among the series openings parodied are those of Full House, Wonder Woman, The Brady Bunch, Dallas, Dynasty, Battlestar Galactica, Falcon Crest, ALF, G.I. JOE, Roseanne, Family Matters, T. J. Hooker, Seinfeld, and the Law & Order franchise. The short briefly mentions avant-garde film director Lars von Trier.
Upon its release by a third party on YouTube, Too Many Cooks became a viral video, with Rolling Stone calling it an "instant cult classic". Director Rian Johnson said that, "no joke", Too Many Cooks should have been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film. Comedians including Penn Jillette, Simon Pegg, Zach Braff, and Richard Kelly tweeted their positive reactions to Too Many Cooks.
David Sims of The Atlantic wrote that Too Many Cooks relied on "the classic anti-comedy premise of taking so long with something that it goes from being funny, to being not very funny, to being boring, to suddenly becoming hilarious again. More than that, it's an excellent piece of non-narrative sketch comedy that sets out boundaries for its own weird reality and then goes about breaking them over and over again." Dr. Julian Darius called it "a sublime postmodern masterpiece" and analyzed its metafictional aspects.
CNN created a parody of the video in March 2015, using it to mock the number of potential candidates in the 2016 United States Presidential Election. The video was conceived by digital producer Eric Weisbrod; Chris Moody, a senior digital correspondent at CNN and the video’s creative director, noted that "b-roll from cheesy political ads...are almost taken right out of '90s sitcoms. If you look at old ads, it’s families smiling at each other and smiling at the camera. It just fit so nicely."
In June 2018, Adult Swim published a short film by Casper Kelly and Nick Gibbons titled Final Deployment 4: Queen Battle Walkthrough, which parodies livestreaming gaming culture. Kelly described this short as his spiritual successor to Too Many Cooks.
- Donahue, Anne T (November 10, 2014). "Too Many Cooks: can you spot all the references to other TV shows?". The Guardian. Retrieved November 16, 2014.
- "Infomercials - Too Many Cooks". Adult Swim. October 28, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
- Shawn Coleman [@shawncoleman] (27 October 2014). "There's a new family on the block-- the PROGRAMMING block! TV! Too Many Cooks, tonight at 4am on @adultswim t.co/7T4wvXfVmm" (Tweet). Retrieved 13 November 2014 – via Twitter.
- Reed, Ryan (November 7, 2014). "Watch Adult Swim's Demented, Surreal Sitcom Parody 'Too Many Cooks'". Rolling Stone.
- Fear, David (November 7, 2014). "'Too Many Cooks' Creator Casper Kelly on the Making of an Instant Cult Classic". Rolling Stone.
- Ayers, Mike (November 7, 2014). "Inside Adult Swim's 'Too Many Cooks'". The Wall Street Journal.
- Snetiker, Marc (November 7, 2014). "'Too Many Cooks' creator tries to explain his awesomely bizarre Adult Swim short". Entertainment Weekly.
- Boon, John (November 7, 2014). "This Is the Most Insane Viral Video You'll Ever Watch". Entertainment Tonight.
- Fox, Jesse David (November 7, 2014). "Behind the Scenes of the 'Too Many Cooks' Video". New York Magazine / Vulture.
- Sullivan, Kevin P (November 7, 2014). "Learn The Story Behind The Insane 'Too Many Cooks'". MTV News.
- Collins, Ben (November 7, 2014). "How the Bizarre Adult Swim 'Infomercial' Too Many Cooks Took Over the Internet". Esquire.
- Goldman, Eric (November 14, 2014). "Too Many Cooks' Katie Adkins on What It's Like When Your Wacky Short Film Goes Viral". IGN. Retrieved November 16, 2014.
- Thielman, Sam (November 7, 2014). "Adult Swim's Warped Viral Sitcom Parody References a Stunning 30+ Shows and Movies". Retrieved July 4, 2015.
- Abramovitch, Seth (November 7, 2014). "'Too Many Cooks': See the Insane Viral Video Hollywood Is Buzzing About". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 16, 2014.
- Goldman, Eric (November 6, 2014). "Adult Swim's Too Many Cooks Takes Sitcom Parody to the Next Level". IGN.com.
- Patrick Kevin, Day (November 7, 2014). "'Too Many Cooks' takes social media by storm". Los Angeles Times.
- Abramovitch, Seth (November 7, 2014). "'Too Many Cooks': See the Insane Viral Video Hollywood Is Buzzing About". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Grinberg, Emmanuella (November 9, 2014). "This weekend's trending video: 'Too Many Cooks'". CNN. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
- Sims, David (November 7, 2014). "The Less You Know About Too Many Cooks, The Better". The Atlantic.
- Daris, Julian (November 12, 2014). "'Too Many Cooks' is a Sublime Postmodern Masterpiece". Sequart Organization. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
- Hartmann, Margaret (March 19, 2015). "CNN Made an Election 2016 Version of 'Too Many Cooks' for Some Reason". New York Magazine. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
- "Here’s CNN’s Explanation For That Bizarrely Hilarious ‘Too Many Cooks’ Political Parody" by Ryan Grenoble. HuffPost. March 20, 2015 and updated December 6, 2017. Accessed January 22, 2021.
- Singer, Matt (June 28, 2018). "Interview: Casper Kelly and Nick Gibbons on 'Final Deployment 4'". ScreenCrush. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
- Roberts, Andrew (June 28, 2018). "The Guys Behind Adult Swim's 'Too Many Cooks' Return To Take On Gamers". Uproxx. Retrieved September 8, 2018.