Get to know Milo Murphy’s Law Creators Dan Povenmire & Jeff “Swampy” Marsh #MiloMurphysLaw

Posted on: March 20th, 2017 by

I was honored to be invited to the #BeOurGuestEvent, a Disney press junket for Beauty and the Beast, Moana Bluray, and other Disney and ABC TV programming. As a guest, my expenses were covered in return for a series of articles about my experiences and reviews of the programming.
 
Disney XD Milo Murphy's Law TV show series

 

What happens in a TV series about Murphy’s Law?

Do you remember Murphy’s Law where anything that can go wrong will go wrong? Often, we might get stuck in a mode where we feel like everything bad happens for us…. but does it really? Watching an episode of Milo’s life in Milo’s Murphy’s Law we quickly realize yeah, not everything we think could happen to us, actually happens to us. But it seems that it does happen to Milo.

 

During our #BeOurGuestEvent press junket, we had the opportunity to screen Milo’s Murphy’s Law and to sit down with Milo’s Murphy’s Law creators and producers Dan Povenmire & Jeff “Swampy” Marsh and interview them about the Milo’s Murphy’s Law series.

 

Milo Murphy's Law creators

Milo’s Murphy’s Law creators and producers Dan Povenmire & Jeff “Swampy” Marsh Photo credit Carlee @ funlearninglife.com

 

About Disney XD series Milo Murphy’s Law

“Milo Murphy’s Law” is an animated comedy series that follows 13-year-old Milo Murphy, the fictional great-great-great-great grandson of the Murphy’s Law namesake. Milo is the personification of Murphy’s Law, where anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

 

Take a look at the trailer for the Disney XD series Milo Murphy’s Law

 

Here’s more Milo Murphy’s Law videos to make you laugh and smile

Disney XD’s “Milo Murphy’s Law” Adventure Montage

 

Disney XD’s “Milo Murphy’s Law” – Danica McKellar Clip

 

My Milo Murphy’s Law tv show review

Before sitting down to screen Milo’s Murphy’s Law I didn’t know a lot about the show. But the first or second episode I saw showed how Milo’s family got separated while stopped a rest stop during a family vacation. As a result, Milo ended up with another family that had had no previous experience with Milo or things going wrong. What ensued was a sweet funny look at all the things that can go wrong on a family road trip…..those things that typically put us in a miserable mood….. but that didn’t happen with Milo or the ‘new’ family. Instead with optimism and his backpack, Milo was able to help both families have a great and memorable family vacation. I remember thinking and I still do…. here is a GREAT show that is going to teach our kids how to have a better attitude. Milo Murphy’s Law is going to help kids think positive and nothing really is the ‘end of the world.’

 

Interview picture with creators of Disney XD Milo Murphy's Law TV show series

Inbetween Disney XD Milo Murphy’s Law TV show series creators Dan Povenmire & Jeff “Swampy” Marsh

 

Highlights from our group interview with the Milo Murphy’s Law Series Creators Dan Povenmire & Jeff “Swampy” Marsh

We didn’t know it but as we screened the show, creators and producers Dan Povenmire & Jeff “Swampy” Marsh were watching us watch Milo Murphy’s Law. As they came to the front to join us, they shared their reactions to watching us and listening to our laughter.

 

Dan says, “{It is} really fun to watch that with an audience. We forget sometimes, by the time we’re done with it, none of it’s funny to us anymore ’cause we’ve seen all of those jokes 30 or 40 times each so it’s always a matter of “Well, this made me laugh the first several times I heard it. I should probably leave it in,” because otherwise you end up changing things because you’ve heard them a lot. It’s always nice when people laugh at the things you thought were funny originally.” Jeff agreed, before Dan continued, “It is, it’s nice. {When} you work in TV, you work in sort of a vacuum, and you sort of send it out into the ether. If you’re in features, you can go to an actual theater and hear people responding to it. We have to look online to see what kids are saying about it in order to get a response back.”

 

Weird Al Yankovic is the voice of Milo!

Did you know Weird Al Yankovic plays the voice and role of Milo? I had no idea! We spoke for a while about how it was that Weird Al got involved with the show and the influence Weird Al has had on Milo Murphy’s Law and pop culture. At first Jeff and Dan joked about him being difficult to work with. Jeff says, “Well, between the temper tantrums.” Then Dan continues, “He’s a horror to work with. No. He’s a wonderful, wonderful guy.”

 

About Weird Al Yankovic as a regular guy.

Jeff started, “Somebody said ‘the weirdest thing about him is just how normal he is’.” Dan joined in, “True. He’s super, super normal. He’s not as wacky as I think people expect him to be, except on stage, or, doing one of his videos. But he’s about the nicest guy that we know.” Dan went on to say, “That’s part of why we ended up with him, we were looking for somebody to have this very positive voice without sounding put on.”

 

Finding the perfect positive voice and auditioning Weird Al Yankovic

Dan went on to explain their search for Milo and the initial resistance Jeff had to trying any additional auditions. Dan shared, “We auditioned hundreds of people for Milo. We auditioned kids, seasoned voice actors, people whose work we love. But when they try to do that super-positivity thing, it’d always come off sort of Pollyanna and false. We just needed to find somebody who actually has that voice, because the character is modeled after a friend of ours who just sounds that way when he talks. He just always sounds really positive. We needed to find somebody who has that positivity just naturally.”

 

Dan continued, “Weird Al came in and did a voice on Gravity Falls. Alex, who runs Gravity Falls, posted it, and I was oh,  Weird Al. Weird Al, I’ve met him.  I’ve seen him interviewed.  He’s this super, super positive guy. What does he sound like?  I had to look up an interview with him to remind myself what his voice sounded like. We had him come in, and it immediately worked.”

 

Jeff wasn’t so confident. He says, “I was against it. We already auditioned literally hundreds of people. I’m just, “No.” Dan recalled Jeff being against it. They had plans to hire a friend they know who works on a different show. Jeff finally agreed to listen to one last audition tape. Jeff remembers, “Then Dan sent me the audition and I got up in the morning, and it was on an e-mail.  I’m literally sitting there in bed with my wife, and I play Weird Al’s voice. She goes, ‘Who’s that? ‘ I went, ‘It’s Weird Al. It’s really good.’

 

Dan goes on to explain his glee over hiring Weird Al, “It was a great find, and working with him is great. The fact that we get to write songs and have Weird Al sing them, it just makes my high school self just, Weeee! The funny thing is, during the course of Phineas there were several songs from the first season that were sort of popular, and then we would write our own Weird Al version of that. Change the lyrics, and make it for that particular instance. That was always fun. We always called it our Weird Al version.”

 

Making music with Weird Al Yankovic

Dan explained how Jeff and him would collaborate with Weird Al on the music for the show. Dan continued, “Now, for Milo, we needed a song that was something like that for Phineas. I took the music from a song we wrote on Phineas, and just rewrote the lyrics, and made our own Weird Al version of a song from Phineas, for Milo’s Murphy’s Law, and actually got Weird Al to sing it.” Dan laughs as he shares, “We wrote our own Weird Al version, and Weird Al is singing it — how bizarre is that?! That’s really fun.”

 

Jeff adds, “When you find somebody who really works, it lets you push the character a lot more than you normally would and that’s been really fun. I’d never worked with anybody that’s that prepared, every day, for everything, and especially the music stuff.”

 

Dan agreed describing how Weird Al being an actual musician contributes to the show. “We don’t read and write music.  We can play and sing into a microphone, and then somebody else writes out the score and stuff like that, from that. {Weird Al will} come in for a song and he’ll go, “Yeah, on bar 12 here, you’ve got a dotted quarter note. But in the demo that you guys sang, it’s a dotted half note” or something. Al would say, ‘Which one do you want to use?’ And we’re like, ‘I think it’s so cute that you think we know.’ The answer to that.” Jeff laughs and says he says, “I tried to sound intelligent.  ‘Just take the dot off. It’s fine.'” Whereas Dan says, “‘Well, however we sang it in the demo.’ We don’t know what those little dots mean. But he’s (Weird Al) very prepared.”

 

Weird Al is still relevant

Jeff goes on to share everyone’s fascination and admiration for Weird Al. “The other fun thing about Al, of all of the really big names that we have had come in and do voices on this show, those people geek out more about Al than anyone I know, even really famous people. We had somebody look down and go, ‘Al is coming — can I stay?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, of course.'” Both Jeff and Dan shared how others visiting the set will request introductions and selfies with Mister Yankovic.

 

Dan and Jeff shared more about the admiration for Weird Al. Dan says, “I read an article online that said that Weird Al’s fame has now eclipsed all of the people that he would parody back in the day. He’s still so relevant, and I think that a testament to his force of will, that he was able to do that. He created a job for himself, in which he could be a household name, basically, doing something that no one else in our lifetime has done for a living.” Jeff adds in, “Playing the accordion.” Dan continued, “Playing the accordion, and making up different lyrics to existing songs. He has made himself a household name, doing that. That’s just an amazing, the force that he is.”

 

The Monday Morning Gag

How do Jeff and Dan know if an episode of Milo’s Murphy’s Law has been funny? What are they looking for as far as feedback? It’s all in the Monday Morning Gag.

Dan explained the Monday Morning Gag to us, “Well, a lot of times you’re looking to see what starts getting quoted. There’s always the Monday morning gag. That’s what we’re always looking for.  The Monday morning gag, the gag that kids will come to school and talk about.” Jeff adds, “It’s nice to know that things that you wanted — were hoping that would connect, do connect, and I also look for it to find the surprising things I didn’t expect.” Jeff says, how joyful it can be, “that’s kind of the joy. You think, oh, there’s this whole other thing that happened that I really didn’t anticipate.”

 

Using the grandkids as inspiration

Knowing Jeff has grandkids I wanted to know if they ever inspire the characters or events in an episode of Milo’s Murphy’s Law.

Jeff answered with a laugh, “They show up as little characters in there. Every time you’re with them there’s fun little behaviors and things you don’t think about until you see your grandkids doing stuff that you think it’s funny.”

 

We asked Jeff and Dan if their family members and friends recognize themselves in the show.

Jeff answered first, “I tell them.  You have to tell them. Otherwise, it happens and they didn’t know, then they’re really angry at you.” Dan explained about his daughters, “I have two girls, and one’s named Isabella, who I named Isabella in Phineas and Ferb before Isabella was born. So when I was drawing out these characters, I put a “Melissa” in there, and I had it on my desk, and I went to sleep, and my oldest daughter, Isabella, had woken up before me and she left a Post-It on that said, “Daddy, this is not fair. You can’t put Melissa into this show and not have an Isabella.” I had to call her and say, ‘You realize that there’s a big hit show with a character that’s named after you?’ ‘Yes. But Isabella doesn’t look like me. And that looks like Melissa.’ And I go, ‘Oh, I can’t win. I cannot win.’  It’s like, ‘Well, because you weren’t quite born yet. We knew we were having an Isabella, and I just made it look like your cousin.'”

 

Creating a family show the WHOLE family can watch

Television shows when done right can bring a family together. Some of us can recall the family shows that brought us together around the TV after dinner. Dan and Jeff both shared how important it was for them to create a show the whole family can watch together. I LOVED what they had to say.

 

Dan started with recognizing the difficulty to reach families on TV today. “That’s the best thing that we hear, ’cause when we started Phineas it was right at the time where TV watching had gotten so segmented. There’s cable stations that are {very segmented}, there’s the Food Station, the Food Network, and Home and Garden Television. The research was showing that every age group in the house had its own TV. Family viewing as we remembered it, from when we were kids, had sort of disappeared. When we were kids, it was the whole family on the couch watching TV.  It was everybody watching one show, and you had to pick something that everybody liked, and since that was no longer the norm, people weren’t doing as much shows with the whole family.  When we hear that, (that we considered MILO a show for the whole family), it just warms our heart, that we’re bringing back family viewing to the family”

 

Milo's Murphy's Law creator DAN POVENMIRE

Milo’s Murphy’s Law creator Dan Povenmire

 

Dan adds, “Part of it was just that we made the show to make each other laugh and to make the writers laugh. We all have immature enough senses of humor that we also laugh at the stuff that the kids would laugh at, but we also laugh at the jokes that the kids won’t get. We always feel like, “Well, let’s just put everything that we think is funny in.  And just make sure that there’s enough stuff in for the kids if they don’t get a reference, or something like that. Our only rule is, if the adult in the room laughs, and the kid asks what they’re laughing about, that conversation can’t be an uncomfortable conversation. (I LOVE THAT!)

 

Inspiring other kids

As Jeff continued with answering an earlier question it became clear that his passion for art, doodling, and storytelling started at a young age but perhaps it was suppressed. Take a look.

 

Jeff says,”The other thing I’m always looking for is the people out there who were me. That if I had had somebody much earlier on in my life say ‘you should do that,’ then maybe I would have found this gig a lot earlier. … I didn’t get into animation until I was 28. I like finding those kids that are out there, looking for somebody to say, “You know, hey, this doodling and storytelling you do?….Or singing funny songs? There is a place for you out there that do that.” Dan added, “We get a lot of people that follow us on Twitter that say that that what they want to do is animation.  {It} always makes me feel great.”

 

Two of my own boys love to draw. My 12 year old started drawing when he was younger. He loves to draw people and creatures. My third son, 8 years old is starting to take after him. Knowing how passionate Jeff and Dan are about encouraging others interested in animation and drawing I asked, “What advice would you have for young kids who are into drawing and doodling and those kind of things?”

 

Jeff responded, “Throw away their erasers. The whole thing that I always see people doing, or kids, that are drawing, or trying to create perfect drawings or beautiful drawings, and somebody much wiser than me once said, ‘I think there’s 10,000 bad drawings, and your job is to get them out as quickly as possible, and you only do that by doing more drawings.'” Jeff started to talk about how David Silverman was one of the first to help him, “Silverman was one of the first guys who helped teach me, and he said, ‘You should just draw with a Sharpie. It’ll keep you fiddling with stuff and fussing with stuff, it forces you just to make bold shapes.’ For a year, I didn’t draw with anything other than a Sharpie when I was drawing my own stuff, and it had a huge, positive impact. You can’t erase it. You can’t fiddle it. I started filling books with drawings. My mom still has stuff that I drew, you know. …. More drawings, no erasing.”

 

Milo's Murphy's Law creator Jeff Marsh

Milo’s Murphy’s Law creator Jeff Marsh

 

Words to live by from

We all figured there must have been someone who has had a string of bad luck to inspire a show like this. It turns out, it wasn’t exactly that. After creating Phineas and Ferb, Dan and Jeff still had stories to tell. I found their inspiration for the show to also be inspirational, words and advice we should all remember and try to live by.

 

Dan elaborated, “People have asked me a couple times, how did you deal with all of the adversity that happened to you in your career, for instance, and I always look back on that, I always scratch my head and think, was there — did I have adversity?  I look back, and there’s a lot of things that went wrong throughout that, and I think Swampy and I are both very positive in our outlook of life. When things go wrong, we just go around it. People often think that you’re going down this path, and if you turn this way it’s success, and this way it’s failure. That’s not at all what it is. It’s failure, failure, failure, failure, success. You just have to keep going down whatever path you’re on, and if there’s failure here, you turn that way. If there’s failure here, you turn that way, and you just keep going.”

 

Dan continued, “I think that’s part of what we were trying to do with Milo, things are going to go wrong for everybody, if there’s anything that we want the kids to know from this, it’s that if things go wrong in your life, don’t let it ruin your day, much less your life. Find the positive spin on it.”

 

Jeff adds, “My little brother and I have always grown up with people saying, ‘I can’t believe you guys turned out the way you did.’…But we always thought, it’s your choice, what you do with that. Either it buries you, or it makes you an interesting person, with a lot of experience that no one else had. I always thought, when we started creating Milo, I always thought that was the coolest thing about a character like that, is that whatever life’s throwing at you, you go, “Well. I’m going to know how to deal with that. It’s going to make {me} a little tougher, a little stronger, a little more interesting, a little more fun.” Whatever it is, that’s a great thing to know, because life’s going to throw stuff at everybody. …it’s what you do with it.”

 

Dan wrapped up with, “Nobody really leads a charmed life. They just exist within the life that they have in a positive way.” Who would have thought an animated show could carry such depth and meaning. I’m so glad I got to know Milo Murphy’s Law and I’m looking forward to watching many many episodes with my family.

 

Milo Murphy’s LawCatch the Milo Murphy’s Law TV Series on Disney XD Mondays!

  • Milo Murphy’s Law new episodes debut beginning Monday, March 6th.
  • Milo Murphy’s Law runs regularly on Mondays on Disney XD.

 

Tomorrow, our #BeOurGuestEvent series continues with a look at our interview with Director Bill Condon and Music Composer Extraordinaire Alan Menken. You can get caught up with our #BeOurGuestEvent series anytime by clicking on #BeOurGuestEvent.

 

 

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