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In the mid '90s, comedian Adam Carola first invented the character of Mr. Bircham, a cantankerous shop teacher whose high school students learn politically incorrect lessons that go far beyond woodworking. Now, the character has become the basis for an animated sitcom, produced by the Daily Wire and backed by a cast that includes comedy stars Patrick Warburton, Rob Riggle, and Roseanne Barr, among several others. In this episode, Daily Wire culture reporter Megan Bascham interviews Carola about what inspired him to create Mr. Bircham, who influences his comedy, and why now is the perfect time and animation is the perfect medium to revive the character. I'm Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief John Bickley. It's May 12th, and This is your Sunday edition of Morning Wire.


Well, welcome to Morning Wire, Adam. Thanks so much for joining us. Sure. So maybe just to start out, I had a little bit of fun digging back into the background of Mr. Bircham and finding some old clips from 1995 when you would appear on the LA radio station, K-Rock, as this character, and then later on Comedy Central's Crank Yankers, playing him as a puppet then. So What can you tell us about the germination of Mr. Bircham, woodshop teacher?


He's an amalgamation of all the woodshop, metal shop, plastics, all the shop teachers I had from junior high who were big, scary guys with big forearms and big mustaches, and they hated kids, but they loved the subject. They loved woodworking, they loved metal, but they hated the kids. And I always thought it was a funny juxtaposition because the other teachers who taught history and math and social studies and stuff like that, they seemed to want to be teachers. These guys didn't seem to want to be teachers. They just wanted a shop with tools in it that they could go to every day. But looked at the kids as a nuisance who also showed up in the shop. It always struck me as something that was funny.


Okay, so just out of curiosity, how did you come to start calling into K-Rock as this character?


I was working as a boxing coach, and I was training Jimmy, the sports guy for an on-air boxing morning show stunt. And he thought I was funny. And that guy turned out to be Jimmy Kimmel. But at the time, he was just Jimmy, the sports guy over at the Kevin and Bean Morning Show. And he thought I was funny. And he said, come up with a character, and I'll give you the phone number, and you can call it in. And he did. And I did. And the character worked out against all odds and then took off and became very popular.


Okay, so Adam, as you're creating this animated series that's targeted more at adults out of this Mr. Bertram character, did you have to contend at all with the cultural changes that we've seen since the mid '90s when you first created him? Did you have to update his personality or the kinds of things he would say? Or was that part of the joke that he doesn't change.


He was always a fish out of water. He was always this guy that was set in his ways and didn't understand the world around him. And the world was different when he was created, but his position in the world was still the same, which is he didn't like the way society was going. He didn't like the way kids were going. He didn't like the direction of where we were heading, and all of that remains the same. The trans movement wasn't a big thing back then, and pronouns had been invented. They just not been weaponized. And So he pushed back against other things. But the same way that if we make it to season 10, he'll be pushing back against a whole new set of things that we can't even think of right now, 10 years from now.


So when you started out with this character back in the mid '90s and later into the early 2000s, he was essentially on his own. You called in, you did his voice, his personality, even though you did sometimes reference other people in his life, we never heard from or saw them. So what were your priorities as you were filling out Mr. Bertram's world now with a family, coworkers, friends, all of those characters to create a full story here?


Well, even back in the day, he had his dog, Sawbuck, and he had his prized student, Brad Higginstaller from the class, and Mr. Soponzie, who was another change some of the names a little bit. He had his wife and his kids, and his life did get built out. Mr. Gage, the Metal Shop teacher, was his friend. Because when I was doing the character, even back in the day, I wouldn't say I went fishing this weekend alone. I would say I went fishing with Mr. Gage, the Metal Shop teacher. His dog, Sawbuck, got killed in an accident. And there was a very hard episode when Sawbuck died. But I realized quickly that he needed a world built up around him. Otherwise, the character wouldn't work, even if it was just audio and on the radio.


So I think essentially what you're saying is that you're now giving voices and faces to these characters that you were always referencing for years when you would call into Crank Yankers and K-Rock.


Yeah. I mean, we had to build it out a little bit, but he was a fully formed guy. He taught at Louis Pasture Middle School in Monrovia, initially. He was at a junior high, not a high school. His world was built up. And so, yeah, it was pretty fleshed out. Not obviously with the detail it takes to animate a series, but it's why I think this series feels pretty good and pretty comfortable because we didn't have to start from whole cloth. This is like something that had been around for a long time and developed.


So one of the things that I really enjoyed about this show as I watched a couple of the screeners was that these weren't really just Mr. Bertram knows best story lines. When you looked at the episode where his son a little bit showed him up by managing to defy all expectations and get a girlfriend from the basement, that was a surprising story twist. So was it important to the comedy to have Bertram get it wrong sometimes?


Yeah, that's the tried and true template for this stuff. The same as it was for Archie Bunker back in the day. He had all his opinions, but he ended up being the butt of the joke. And that's balanced that way. Otherwise, it's never going to work. You can't have a character like Birchum rubbing it in people's faces or being right all the time. He's going to have to learn his lessons along the way as well.


Well, you bring up Archie bunker. And this show has in many ways, even though it is a different medium as it's animated, that same very classic comedy set up. So what does the animated element bring to the classic sitcom?


Well, it lets you do things that you couldn't really do. I don't know how we would pull off bird man coming from the heavens, riding a bear, and disappearing back up in the heavens, and flashback fantasy scenes and stuff like... It just gives you a little more creative leeway.


So as I looked at the show, what really stood out to me was how it attracted such a star-studded cast of voices here and not just known Conservatives. You've got Patrick Warburton, Rob Riddle, Danny Trejo, Jay Moore. So some really big, well-known comedy names. Films. So I guess my question is, does it feel like the venues for creating that really funny, politically incorrect, sitcom or a comedy show is shrinking, and that's why you're able to attract such big talent to this project?


Yeah. Well, I don't know. I think they're growing. I think they were shrunk down as far as you could get them through the mainstream media and broadcast television and so on and so forth. And now there's new entities that are popping up. And I think it's opposite. I think there's going to be more and more outlets for things that are politically incorrect, right leaning and alternative to whatever a narrative would be that you would get from the mainstream. So I think there's more coming up.


Okay. So I mean, is it fair to say then that you you think it's a pendulum swing issue? Like there was a moment where it was shrunk down, but now we're starting to expand away from that and able to do more broad, politically incorrect comedy again?


I think it probably shrunk down pretty small as we... If you take COVID, you take the onset of COVID four years ago, it was pretty shrunk down. If there was any alternative viewpoints or anyone trying to get a message out that may have been different than whatever mainstream narrative was, you could be shut down pretty easily. I don't think you could do that now. I think if there was another COVID-type situation, I think you'd hear a lot of voices, and I don't think they'd be silenced. And at least what we experience here in California, shutting the beaches and shutting the schools, I don't know that you could do that.


Okay, so what it seemed like to me as we were watching all of that happen on the entertainment landscape was that the comedy world ran point on putting their foot down and saying, No, we're not going to continue to be policed this way. Is that how you experienced it?


Well, it depended. There are always people in the mainstream of whatever business it is. It could be comedy, could be news, could be any form of broadcasting, could be any endeavor. If you're gainfully employed and in the mainstream, you're probably going to adopt the attitude of the mainstream. So if you're working in Hollywood and you're gainfully employed and you're successful, then you're going to toe the party line. But if you're upstart and you're fringe and you're on the move, then you might take the alternative stance. And if you think about it, were there any mainstream comedians, big, popular comedians who took an alternative stance on the subject of COVID? And the answer is not really only the guys who were alternative people, Joe Rogan, myself, people like that. But there wasn't anybody working for Disney, making films for money. Now, I'm sure many of them felt differently about it, but nobody said anything. But things, again, have changed.


Well, and that's an interesting question. I mean, have they changed for everybody? Because when you look at some of the big names you have here, people who are very well known in animated comedy and in sitcom like Patrick Warburton and Rob Wrigols. I mean, they're at the level where they may not have any compunction about going ahead and making jokes about the DEI administrator who offers his personal pronouns at the school. But is that just a function of a certain level of success that allows for the freedom to do that comedy?


We're getting there, and some people are already there. But I think as a society, we're opening up to the notion of poking our heads up a little bit and expressing ourselves.


So where do you see the show going after the first couple of episodes, which I very much enjoyed. Particularly, I enjoyed the set up between Mr. Bertram and his nemesis, the DEI administrator, and also his sidekick there, the auto shop teacher. I mean, is it going to continue to go in that direction?


I don't know. We did six episodes. So we did a season, and we'll have to wait and see if we get a pickup for a second season when that time comes. I mean, we have a lot of episode options that we've already laid out for season two, but it's a process that I'm familiar with, that's a process that I'm comfortable with. I've done a lot of television, I've written a lot, done a lot. So I mean, we'll put our best foot forward, like whatever makes the most sense, whatever is funniest, that's what we're going to do.


And do you expect to continue, let's say, some of the skewering of the current cultural trends we're seeing with pronouns and sensitivity relating to identities. Is that something that you plan to continue as part of this show?


I think whatever turn society takes and whatever bothers regular folk, normal people, we will secure. So Bertrand just represents people as they used to be in the state. He just represents normal people. Who don't get any of this crap. And that's what you should expect Bircham to attack.


And what has changed in what bothers people and needs to be skewered from now as opposed to when you first created this character in the '90s?


I think when this character was first created, things weren't being foisted on us. It was understood that gaze had rights and wanted to be married. And most people went, Fine, good. Do what you want. It was a do what you want, but leave us out of it. If you're pro Palestine, fine, but I'm just going to go walk across campus and go to school and you can be as pro Palestine as you like or whatever. Whatever was, we lived in an America that was like, you want to wear a mask outside? Wear a mask outside. I I don't want to wear a mask outside, so I won't. And that was our understanding. And then at a certain point, this stuff started being forced upon us and food fed to us. And then I think that was the problem. A lot of normal people went, I'm not down. I don't want your pronouns, or I don't want to embrace the trans movement or Hamas, or I like to walk outside without a mask. And they went, We're not going to tolerate that. And that's what's caused the problem we're at now. The same issues in the '90s were around legalized marijuana, legalized gay marriage, all this stuff.


But people just went about it. They didn't force you to participate in it.


Okay, so maybe last question then. Dreaming Big. Do you think that Mr. Bertschem could be one of those really big animated series that ends up getting a spin off with some of its other characters, say his daughter or his wife or his best friend, the auto shop teacher. That is something that we do sometimes see with the really successful animated shows.


I'd love it if Mr. Gage got himself a show. Yeah, I mean, that stuff is fun to fantasize about. At this point, we'll focus on doing season 2, and maybe it'll be a spinoff one of these days. But for now, that's in the distant fantasy future.


All right. Well, thanks so much, Adam. We appreciate your time, and we're excited to see where the show goes from here. Thank you.


That was Daily Wire Culture reporter, Megan Bascham talking with Adam Carola about his new show, Mr. Bircham, which premieres on Daily Wireire Plus this evening. And this has been a Sunday edition of MorningWire.