Cartoons in the sun: Hanging out at Adult Swim on the Green

The sun was absolutely merciless at Sunday’s Adult Swim on the Green, a traveling event for the adult-oriented cartoon TV channel with a cult following. But that didn’t stop the influx of folks eager to celebrate shows such as “Rick and Morty” through a days worth of games, stand-up and special screenings of never-before-seen material. 

“I’ve been watching Adult Swim since I was like 13, going down into my mom’s basement when everyone was asleep and throwing on some ‘Aqua Teen Hungerforce’ and just watching it all through the night,” said attendee AJ Ramper. “‘Sealab’ [2021] was one that got me real into Adult Swim and the weirdness and just being pretty much me and myself and being weird.”

Relaxing on a blanket, Kristie Pollack had no apprehension about laying out for me why she were there, which merged her two interests: festivals and Adult Swim. 

“I like Adult Swim. It offers adults cartoons that is on their level of humor,” Pollack said. “I still watch ‘Gumball’ and ‘Adventure Time.’ You get shows like ‘Rick and Morty’ or ‘Moral Oral.’ It’s weird, and it’s funny, and it’s adult humor. My favorite thing right now is ‘Rick and Morty.’ I’m not obnoxious about it, though, I’m not that obsessed. I just think it’s a great show.”

There was an emcee battle between local hip-hop heads Arsini and the old school Crash DDZ, skewing to the lighthearted and weird to keep the event fun and chill. As the evening progressed and the jokes wound down, trivia came out, and folks caught some much needed shade.

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The content of the unseen shorts was subversive, a reminder of the primary hook of Adult Swim. The actors were a who’s who of upcoming or preexisting talent, and the first cartoon presented was in the LSD-inflected style of ‘A Scanner Darkly,’ a grim socially-relevant comedy. It was a poignant reminder why generations of fans have kept up.

A ‘Robot Chicken’ short caused the crowd to erupt in applause. Each video was more chaotic and absurd than the last, an amalgam of pop-culture references.

“I’ve been obsessed with Adult Swim since I was 11 or 12, because my brother is into it. I’ve been really into it for a long time,” attendee Bridgett Howard said. “My dream goal would be to work there.”

Leaving with a lung full of contact vape smoke, it was hard to not take away a greater appreciation for folks a little younger than myself, who see this strain of oddity as their gathering light, a common interest in the weird and fringe aspects of our lives. 

“It goes back to when I was a teenager, and you can see I’m not a teenager anymore,” said attendee J Torres. “It evolved with those Toonami things, and I kept going with Adult Swim. I stuck with it and I got my daughter [a teenager herself] into it. I can’t really put my finger on it. Everything was so different than what was out there. This I can get into, this I can like. It hasn’t stayed stagnant. It’s evolved and stayed with the times. It’s all inclusive now.”

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