Events and The Like

My Evening (in a crowded auditorium) With Mitchell Hurwitz

Writer’s note: I am writing this for all Mitchell Hurwitz fans, Arrested Development devotees and generically curious souls everywhere, but mostly I’m writing this for Jill who had to leave the event early to go on a first date. Jill, how’d it go?

Posture changes how you play something. That’s how Mitchell Hurwitz, creator of Arrested Development, explained how Jason Bateman found his character. He straightened his back.

Hurwitz’s posture was more relaxed. He spoke to the audience with his back pressed into his chair, not slumped but comfortable. Sleeves rolled. He set his elbows on the armrests when he wasn’t gesturing, but for the most part, he was gesturing. Hurwitz is an enthusiastic, charming, funny guy. He’s a Chatty Cathy.

Someone from his production team, as retold by Hurwitz: “Great news, Michael Cera liked the script!”

Hurwitz: “Who’s Michael Cera?”

Someone: “That kid you liked.”

Hurwitz: “We were waiting for THE KID to like the script?!”

The Drexel-hosted event was intended for students, I’m sure. My friend Jill tipped me off to it and I finished working as quickly as possible to get a seat. What I got was a section of wall to lean on in the back, which proved to be plenty. If you get a chance to see Mitchell Hurwitz, you go.

When he was first creating the series, Hurwitz wanted to make a show that “demands an audience’s attention.” He had a theory that, when you’re creating something new, absolutely everything tries to sabotage the original idea, the thing that made it funny. He discovered this in surprising ways. For example, when a camera cut to the person with the punchline, the line lost its luster. But when the camera lagged half a second, the whole thing felt less expected and far funnier.

He minded all those teeny details. To make room for as many storylines as possible, he cut every extraneous ring of the phone, every knock on the door. In this world, characters entered talking.

At one point, Hurwitz revealed he used to struggle with the fear of “finding out [he] wasn’t talented,” a common worry among writers (I can confirm). He confessed to his dad at the time.

Hurwitz: “I’m horribly nervous…all the time.”

His dad: “Oh, that’ll never go away.”

Hurwitz laughed at the memory. His posture suggested that the prophecy hadn’t come true, or had at least begun to fade.

At this point, the host of the event opened the floor for questions from the audience. I hoped the kid in a sleeveless tank top and sailor hat would raise his hand, but he didn’t.

Gracefully, Hurwitz answered questions on Dan Harmon (they want to work together and will eventually), facing cancellation (the show was put against the Olympics, womp womp), becoming a cult sensation (“like putting a funny note in a bottle and getting a reply four years later. ‘they’re laughing!'”) and of course, the fourth season. Hurwitz said he’s currently recutting the fourth season so each episode is shorter, there are more episodes and they drop the simultaneous storytelling approach.

Someone asked him when the recut season would be released.

Without missing a beat, Hurwitz replied, “Hopefully soon. I’ll send you the link.”

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