REVEALED: JOE ROGAN'S ANIMATOR - 'PAULYTOON' - IN WORLD'S FIRST INTERVIEW
Updated: Sep 26, 2020
Reportedly worth $100 million, the new licensing deal between Joe Rogan & Spotify takes Rogan one step closer to having the biggest podcast on earth.
Launched December 2009, The Joe Rogan Experience (JRE) is a cultural phenomenon - with each episode accumulating millions of YouTube views. In 2013, the first JRE animated scene arrived, and sure enough, JRE Toons was an instant hit. Animated and designed by Paul Trineer - AKA Paulytoon - each bite-sized animation attracts hundreds of thousands, often millions, of views.
With twenty years of animation experience, Paul has worked with prestigious studios, including Disney, Film Roman and Nickelodeon - providing his talents on award-winning series. His craft is undeniable, his imagination undisputed and his attention to detail routinely breathes new life into already rich source material. Given my personal love of his work, I reached-out to Paul, and to my delight, he was only too happy to share his process with me. I later learned that this is Paul's first ever "yes" to an interview. Enjoy!
C: Okay, let's begin with my favourite thing about your animations: Joe's high performance chair. Often, when he's laughing hysterically, you animate him joyfully zipping around the studio on his chair. What inspired this brilliant touch?
P: Well, the first time I used Joe and his chair as a way to draw laughs was in my fifth short, 'Joe Rogan’s Blue Cheese and Wings Moment'. Back in grade two, I remember leaning back on my chair with only the back legs on the floor. I fell over and everybody, including the teacher, laughed. I loved the feeling so much that I actually repeated the stunt multiple times throughout that school year. Years later, as an adult, I ruptured my Achilles and was unable to walk for months. I used my office chair to roll throughout my apartment at reckless speeds. Friends that visited always found it funny when I would zip around. So, that’s the origin of the ’high-performance chair’.
C: I've wanted to ask you that for ages, thanks! So, take us back to the beginning, your first ever JRE animation. What inspired you to do it and what are your memories of producing that first scene?
P: Back in 2012, I would listen to the JRE Podcast while I was working on various animation productions. I don’t know exactly what came over me, but when I heard a specific conversation between Joe Rogan, Brian Redban and Joey Diaz , I felt compelled to create a funny animated piece to accompany it. All I ever did was work on children’s shows. I needed to make an adult oriented cartoon for my soul. That conversation became Joe Rogan’s Ultimate Oh Brian Moment.
C: How long was it before Joe noticed your work?
P: Brian Redban, Joey Diaz and Joe Rogan became aware and supportive of my work almost immediately after my cartoon hit the internet. They always retweeted my uploads.
C: I'm relatively new to Joe's podcast, so I'm still figuring out your relationship with him. I see he uploads your animations directly to his JRE channel. Tell us how that works, I assume you're the official JRE animator now?
P: A few years back, Joe reached out and we struck a deal. I’ve been focused on JRE Toons ever since and will have sixty completed before the end of the year. I don’t know if I’m 'official', but Joe has referred to me as “the great and powerful Paulytoon “. That’s good enough for me.
"Joey Diaz is an obvious favourite. But he's also the most demanding of my resources."
C: When deciding which podcast moments to animate, what do you look for?
P: A moment that is funny. A moment that has a start, middle and end. A moment that can be given ‘new life’ by adding animation.
C: Do you have favourite guests to animate? If so, who and why? I assume Joey Diaz is up there...
P: Joey Diaz is an obvious favourite, but he's also the most demanding of my resources. I work hard animating that voice! Another favourite is Bryan Callen. I love how he jumps into conversations.
C: Your animations generally last two minutes. How long does each one take to produce?
P: I am responsible for every aspect of the cartoon, so it depends on the content and work load. But normally, three to six weeks.
C: What are the trickiest parts of each animation?
P: The trickiest part, without a doubt, is tweaking the animation to make it as comical as I can get it. I will animate gestures, poses and expressions many times over until I’m satisfied. I’m not trying to make beautiful animation, I’m trying to make funny cartoons.
C: What do you most enjoy about each new animation?
P: Choosing a new dialogue and creating the storyboard with fresh ideas is definitely the most enjoyable part of the production. Envisioning a cartoon in your head while listening to the audio is the sweetest part of the process. Getting those thoughts to the screen, however, is where all the action happens.
"... one thing that would surprise many is the fact that Joe Rogan does not get involved with the production of JRE Toons."
C: The snappy camera movement and cuts between characters give your work real energy and punch. From an animation standpoint, what do you think makes a memorable Paulytoon scene?
P: First and foremost, I need a great dialogue. It’s the words and how they are delivered that guide my animation. After that, I think a Paulytoon short is memorable for its acting, timing and attention to detail.
C: Name your 3 favourites so far?
P: That’s like asking me which one of my children do I love more. I don’t play favourites with my JRE Toons [laughs]. Honestly, I get infatuated with the current flick I’m making.
C: 'Blue Cheese & Wings' is my favourite. I've watched it approx 19 times. ha ha ha...
P: And that’s the beauty of cartoons - they are so easy to watch repeatedly, when done properly.
C: Tell us one thing about your process that would surprise us.
P: Well, based on the comments I’ve read, I think one thing that would surprise many is the fact that Joe Rogan does not get involved with the production of JRE Toons, but he’s always there to answer questions when I ask. I get to choose the conversation and run with it until completion. Joe gives me complete creative freedom and that’s what drives me to do my best and get better every time.
"I read every [YouTube] comment! They are my applause, my boo’s, my cheers and my feedback."
C: Tell us one thing you've read in the comments that made you laugh, think or want to cry.
P: This was totally unexpected, but the greatest joy I get is reading comments about how a cartoon of mine cheered them up. More than once, I’ve read a comment from someone who’s going through a rough time and thanked me for the laugh. Those are the best. They give my effort more purpose.
C: How much attention to you give YouTube comments? Come on, be honest...
P: This is easy, I read every comment! They are my applause, my boo’s, my cheers and my feedback. But I’ll be honest, JRE Toon comments are mostly positive, grateful and hilarious. I always look for suggestions, and many JRE Toons come from fan requests.
C: Has anyone you've animated ever said something memorable about your depiction of them - be it good or bad?
P: I’ve had some nice comments directed my way, but none have ever talked about themselves.
C: Which animated TV series - past or present - would you love to be part of?
P: The Ren & Stimpy show.
C: As a storyteller, what advantages does animation have over live action?
P: Animation has few limits. I mean, I‘ve animated a scene that had Pablo Escobar doing lines with a ‘coked up’ Giraffe, Hippo, Zebra and Elephant all in one room. I had Joe Rogan standing at the edge of a Flat Earth Ice wall looking out into space. Try and pull those off with live action.
C: Any closing message for your fans?
P: Hey Fans, please keep watching and commenting with positivity and I’ll do my best to add a little extra entertainment into your life. Stay Tooned!
C: And finally, for anyone who hasn't watched a single Paulytoon/JRE scene yet, give them one to go check out first...
P: Well, 'Joey Diaz’s Edible Moment' is the most viewed. But I’d say check out 'Joey Diaz’s Covid Moment', or better still, go to my YouTube channel where you can watch all JRE Toons categorized year by year. Yes…that’s my one choice of fifty-five JRE Moments and counting.
Did you know?: Paul worked on shows such as Emmy® award-winning Sagwa, The Siamese Chinese Cat & The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That. From his home near Montreal, Canada, he shared many rich and fascinating stories with me - including one stunner about the day Joe Rogan invited him to formalise their working relationship. I'm sure Paul and I will bring you a second interview in the near future, and given his chatty, talkative and curious nature, I predict it will come to you in audio format. Do not miss it! Join my mailing list (via home page) or connect with me on Twitter & Instagram.to get updates!
Links & more:
Watch all episodes of JRE Toons here
Watch The Joe Rogan Experience on YouTube