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How making music for a comedy is totally different than making it for a drama — and the surprising similarities

August 12,2017 19:08

The 90s are so hot right now, and the creators of "Wet Hot American Summer" took advantage of that with "Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later," which made its debut on Netflix last week. "10 Years Later" takes place in 1991, while the original 2001 ...and more »



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The 90s are so hot right now, and the creators of "Wet Hot American Summer" took advantage of that with "Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later," which made its debut on Netflix last week.
"10 Years Later" takes place in 1991, while the original 2001 film, and the first Netflix series "First Day at Camp," take place in 1981. 
While the absurd spirit of the out-there comedy remains in "10 Years Later," its 90s setting changed some things, from the hair to the fashion to the music. 
Creating a soundtrack that mirrors and makes fun of the best (and worst) of the 90s grunge scene was quite a challenge.
Business Insider recently spoke to Matt Novack, one of the composers, about the challenges of composing comedy, and parodying the music of a nostalgic decade. 
Here's what it's like to compose comedy, especially one like "Wet Hot," that is so outside the norm:

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"I fell into comedy and it just kind of hit me unexpectedly and I've loved it ever since."

Netflix
Novack originally wanted to compose drama and sci-fi scores. 

"With 'Children's Hospital' and 'Wet Hot,' having the ability to score seriously with such an absurd style of comedy really helped sell the comedy itself, rather than just writing jokey, slap-sticky queues."

Netflix
Novack pointed out that with comedy, it's easy to go too big with the music. Novack and his team work with the directors and creators of the show to make sure that they're letting jokes and scenes speak for themselves. 

"Everyone on 'Wet Hot' — all the actors, everyone involved, treats it as serious as possible. Even though it's completely bonkers . . it's true."

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"A lot of the comedy works because the performances, everyone is committing to it," Novack said. "So I think the score takes the same approach. And this season, a lot of it had to do with doing a parody. This season there's a lot of horror, thriller, psychotic storylines. Part of that was just being an homage to that type of thriller."

"On 'Wet Hot,' I wrote even thicker and larger and more epic than I probably would have in any other setting, even a more dramatic setting."

Netflix
"The lead composer on the project, Craig Wedren, he's an amazing songwriter and amazing at nailing different genres of rock and punk music. He wrote some fantastic songs that you would swear came out of the 80s or the 90s, but they're actually original compositions for the series. It's kind of like those cheesy popcorn action movies that I loved growing up."

"Comedic actors are often very good at drama when they make the leap. And I think that's true of composers as well."

Netflix
"With comedy, you have to focus so much on not only storyline, but the specific beats of the punchlines and everything. So I think that helps tremendously with scoring drama and sci-fi. It's helped me develop a sense of storytelling that is so key for not only composers, but anyone that works in film and TV. You have to know how to tell a story."

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