When you have two young kids, you’re subjected to a lot of awful children’s TV shows. But there are a few diamonds in the rough: a very limited number of programs that are even more entertaining to parents than they are to kids. And Disney’s Phineas and Ferb is at the top of that list. On the heels of last summer’s successful Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel, the show’s creators, Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, have taken on an even more ambitious crossover: Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars.
While I was in L.A. for TCA summer tour, the pair invited me to their offices (which, not surprisingly, is packed with super-cool Phineas and Ferb swag), where I talked to them for this Daily Beast profile. Among many other things, they explained how they pull off that rare feat of appealing to both parents and kids:
That’s because Povenmire and Marsh emulated the Chuck Jones formula of layering their shows with jokes that viewers will appreciate even more as they grow older. “When we watched them again in high school and college, you catch all these other levels of humor,” says Povenmire. “To me, that’s the best thing. The kids who are watching Phineas today will see it again with their kids someday, and they’ll get a whole other level of jokes that they didn’t get before.”
Adds Marsh, “We tell the guys, ‘You’re not writing kid jokes. Write funny jokes.’ You can never go wrong betting on the kids being smarter than everybody gives them credit for. Never. If we just did jokes that went over the kid’s heads, that would be a problem, but trust me, the next one we tell is going to be stupid. We’re going to follow it with a song called, ‘Squirrels in My Pants.’ You can guarantee that following the joke about existentialist trading cards will be a classic piece of slapstick.” Povenmire interjects, “Kids love jokes about Nietzsche. They eat that stuff up.”
Povenmire and Marsh also talked how Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars is “perfectly accurate” with the events of the original Star Wars (which unfold in the background), the future of Phineas and Ferb and which Disney-owned property they hope to tackle next.