ComingSoon Senior Editor Spencer Legacy spoke with Royal Crackers stars Jessica St. Clair, David Gborie, and Maile Flanagan about Adult Swim’s newest animated series, which premieres April 2 at 11 p.m. ET/PT. The trio discussed their eccentric characters and the differences between live and pre-recorded comedic delivery.
“Royal Crackers was once the king of snacks, but the empire is crumbling,” reads the series’ synopsis. “When the family patriarch, tyrannical company founder Theodore Hornsby Sr. ends up in a ‘super coma,’ the rest of the Hornsbys will take their lack of talent and business acumen and try to make Royal Crackers the success it once was.”
Spencer Legacy: Jessica, Deb is a very fun character in that even though she married into the family, she’s just as crazy as the rest of them. What’s been your favorite part of playing her?
Jessica St. Clair: I love how Deb is perfectly Deb, you know? She doesn’t care if anybody likes her. She’s not a shrinking violet. She’s super aggressive. She’s a real go-getter. They have a terrible product on their hands and that doesn’t stop her from really imagining that they could take over the snack world, at the very least. And she’s fiercely protective of her family. When push comes to shove, if she has to, you know, karate chop a mutant chicken, she will.
David, with Darby, at first you’re like, “Oh, this is the family attorney, he must be a sensible person,” but he can be just as wild as the rest of the cast. How fun was voicing that, especially the indigestion scene?
David Gborie: I mean it was amazing. Anything that allows you to really go huge and scream and yell and go outside of the norm is a lot of fun. You add diarrhea on top of that — what’s funnier than that? Right? [Laugh].
Jessica St. Clair: Put that on a cracker, baby! [Laugh].
David Gborie: So I had a great time. The guy’s so ridiculous and so genuine that there’s just a lot of fun stuff to play with within that.
Maile, while Matt has his moments, I think he is probably the most sensible or sane member of the family. What are some challenges and benefits that come with playing a foil to these crazy characters?
Maile Flanagan: Well, I mean, the benefit is he doesn’t talk that much [Laugh]. I mean, boy, when I saw the opening scenes for the pilot episode and I looked at those guys and I’m like, “Man, oh man.” I can’t imagine saying all the lines that Jessica said at top level. Peak volume, energy, all that.
I’ve done those kind of roles — they’re exhausting. This one feels like it’s awesome. It’s like, “Hey, I’m going to go to the buffet and pick out another donut,” or, “How about the key lime pie?” So in a way I have an easy job, but I think he’s an observer. He’s just very carefully worded and, again, Jason [Ruiz, creator] does that. It’s weird because I noticed him a lot in the background just not speaking, that adds so much character. When he does speak, I think it’s important.
Jessica, Deb is especially great in the edibles episode. What was recording that one like?
Jessica St. Clair: I just kind of thought about what my actual parents would be like if they took a bunch of CBD gummies and just kind of went with that. It was hilarious. I love the fact this show can have such wild storylines and then have one like this that feels like it could actually happen. I think the relationship between Deb and Stebe is quite charming in its disgustingness [Laugh]. So that was a really fun one.
That’s a great way to put it. David, with an animated series, comedic timing is totally different since you’re pre-recording and you do a lot of takes. How does this change your approach to delivering jokes compared to say stand-up or live-action stuff?
David Gborie: I definitely feel like you’ve got to trust yourself a little more. They can’t laugh during the take — it’s like that with acting too, but you get a lot of tries, you know what I mean? I would deliver some lines and then Jason would come back and be like, “I don’t think that’s right,” or “Try it from here.” So that’s the fun thing. With stand-up and even sometimes with live-action, you don’t get a lot of bites at the apple. In this, If something changed drastically, I got the space to do that. So that was, Time is the big difference and I really appreciated it.
Maile, you really get to shine in the episode with the ventriloquist dummy, as Matt gets to be a little bit crazier. What stood out to you about recording that one?
Maile Flanagan: First of all, I was like, “What? What happens?” Which is mostly what happened when I read every single script, “What happens?” [Laugh]. I think I went in and I quietly panicked when I read it because I was like, “Oh, now I have to do Matt doing a ventriloquist voice.” So I had to think some ideas. I threw them out at Jason and then we worked at it together, so that was fun and collaborative. He said, “What are you thinking? Which is what he always starts with, which is really generous.
I think a lot of people have the script and they don’t ask you what you think and you just start going. He is not like that and that’s what makes the show and all the characters and performances pop. So he said, “I think like that. Yeah, there we are. Right there. Do that right there.” And then I would just repeat it and then we recorded it and I think it turned out great. I had no idea what it was going to look like, of course. The odd thing is it’s the second time I’ve had to do a ventriloquist voice within the span of two months.
It’s quite a niche!
Maile Flanagan: I guess it’ll be on my resume.
Jessica St. Clair: Check your horoscope. There might be something happening.
Jessica, Deb has a lot of great, very punchy lines in every episode. Do you have a particular joke or delivery that you’re especially fond of, looking back at Season 1?
Jessica St. Clair: Oh man, you should ask me this when I have more coffee in my system, because I’m not remembering a specific one [Laugh]. But one of my favorite scenes is I have a grocery cart battle with my actual best friend in real life. Lennon Parham, who plays my nemesis. So that’s upcoming. But yeah, it’s hard to remember. Literally every line these characters say is funny. They pack so much comedy into every moment. I think it’s one of the shows where you can watch the episodes over and over again and you’ll hear more and more jokes because it comes so fast.
David, we talked a bit about the differences between the delivery, but you do a lot of both live-action and voice acting. Do you have a preference for which format you prefer?
David Gborie: I like doing them both. Voice acting is a lot more … everything’s more succinct. The days are shorter. You just get to come in and do a bunch of stuff and leave. So I do like that as opposed to being on set for 15 hours or whatever. It’s a pretty good gig. No dress code, no makeup. So yeah, I’m a big fan of the voice acting [Laugh].
Maile, one of your most famous roles is Naruto, who’s the most energetic, excited person ever. You said Matt’s a lot more quiet and awkward. Do you have a preference for the sort of character you voice, or do they both have their own positives?
Maile Flanagan: Whatever pays better [Laugh]. It is nice not to be screaming at the top of my lungs for hours on end, but God, I can only hope this show runs as long as Naruto does. We’ll be very old people — I’ll be the oldest, of course. But I just think this show has so far to go and I can’t wait to see where it goes.