Wendy and Lizzie Molyneux talk food trucks and 'Food Truckin''
It was only a matter of time before the stubbornly old-school brock-and-mortar Bob's Burgers would have to face the trendy phenomenon that is artisanal food trucks. Five episodes into the show's second season, in fact. In "Food Truckin'," Bob gives into temptation and gets a truck, first just to park outside the restaurant, then, catastrophically, at a music festival. Meanwhile, Linda experiences allergy-medicine-abetted road rage, and Tina embraces her new alter-ego, Dina, to better lie about the food truck's offerings. Wendy and Lizzie Molyneux — they're sisters! — wrote the episode and are here to answer some non-essential questions. As always, spoilers and arcane inside references follow.
Why are food trucks even a think in L.A. since everyone drives places? Do people drive to the food trucks there?
LIZZIE: I drove to a food truck in L.A. a few years ago. It was fun until my car wouldn’t start and I had to call Triple A. Turns out cars need gas in them to run. Who knew?
WENDY: Actually, everyone now sells some kind of food out of their car. For instance, I'm selling unpasteurized cheese out of my 2000 Nissan Altima if anyone's interested.
Bob's Burgers has both you two sisters as writing partners, and, occasionally, Laura and Sarah Silverman voicing brothers; why is the show such a safe haven for sibling teams? Is it because they only have to pay you as one?
WENDY: Our showrunners, Loren and Jim, just love creating a family atmosphere. They actually adopted both the Silverman sisters and Lizzie and I out of the foster system. We're all living in a small pink cottage where we sleep in double bunk beds. It's nice!
LIZZIE: But we aren’t allowed to eat sugar cereal, so it’s not THAT nice.
What are the advantages to writing comedy scripts with your sister? Disadvantages?
WENDY: I think there's an advantage in that when you grow up in the same family, you develop the same sense of humor. We might disagree about plot points and such, but we almost never disagree about whether something is funny. And you grow up constructing an elaborate web of inside jokes. Like we have two fictional siblings, Lewis and Candy, whom none of us liked and we all conspired to abandon at a gas station in Utah in the '90s. The disadvantages of writing with Lizzie comes down to just how she smells. That smell just never leaves you once you've smelled it.
LIZZIE: I think any writing team has up and downs, but for me I really like having someone to bounce ideas off of… and to throw things at. We throw at lot of things at each other in the writer’s room. Wendy always ends up getting hit in the head no matter what. She’s just like Tina!
WENDY: I also get hit in the boobs a lot. Not on purpose, just huge jugs so it's like hitting the side of a barn. That's what I call them: "The Barn."
The food truck storyline mainly seemed like an excuse to come up with awesome food-truck names like Something to Taco About. What percentage of the writing of this episode was devoted to that?
LIZZIE: We brainstormed a lot of them. The artists needed a name for every truck in the festival, so it ended up being more than we originally put into the script.
WENDY: So I guess the answer is 100 percent. We used one of those web text aggregators to just write the rest of the episode for us.
Were there any food truck names you liked that didn't make it?
WENDY: I was a big advocate of Schindler's Fish, and that actually made it in so I was happy.
LIZZIE: Steaks on a Plane was a favorite of mine, but I think it was going to be too hard to make a food truck that was also a plane.
Would the show be as funny if the restaurant was ever actually successful? Why is failing funnier?
LIZZIE: I think it’s more fun to root for a family that doesn’t have it all together. It’s a lot more relatable to most people. But I think it’s also just helpful when coming up with episode ideas as well. If the restaurant was always doing great it might be too boring.
WENDY: Is failing funny? If so, my twenties were fucking hilarious.
Have you ever experimented with a Dina-like alter-ego to really let yourself go and do things like lie about mini-burger samples?
WENDY: When I'm in cosplay bondage chatrooms I go by Esmerelda.
LIZZIE: She makes a LOT of really great friends.
One thing I've seen written about the show is that the reason why Bob is funny is that he resists any manner of change or trendiness or ideology, he just wants to make simple hamburgers. (Although the specials sound a bit complicated.) From a writing standpoint, is that the appeal? Getting to put someone who just doesn't give a shit about the dumb things we all obsess about everyday as the center of a comedy? In a way, the main character is the straightest character.
WENDY: Yeah, maybe it's sort of his part in the shared sense of humor the Belchers have — to be the reactor rather than the imp. I think the Belcher kids actually know they are funny, and they are trying to get dad to laugh to a certain extent. It's always fun when he joins in, and I think the kids try to goad him into joining their bits. He does have this whole other gear though. When he loses it, like in Burgerboss, he goes nuts. You'll see more of that in upcoming eps.
LIZZIE: I think it’s fun to write for a character that doesn’t care about what other people think of him. The whole family has that attitude and it’s what makes them really funny, but also sweet.
Is there any food that you wouldn't eat from a truck?
WENDY: Unpasteurized cheese.
LIZZIE: Swiss cheese.
Did you try and get Tori Amos to voice the Tori Amos-like Tabitha Johanssen?
WENDY: No, the singer herself sort of evolved into a Tori Amos-like shape as we wrote it. We always wanted to use Megan Mullally. We like to use her whenever we can, because she always kills it. She returns as Gayle in (I think) the next episode. And she's in another one next year too alongside her husband, Nick Offerman. We prefer our female guest stars always to be accompanied by a husband, brother, or father when they come to our studio. No loose women, please.
LIZZIE: The best part is that it ended up being a really good song and not as jokey as some other ones we’ve written. The lyrics are gross, but the vocals and music are pretty.