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SXSW: Dan Harmon Takes His ‘Man-Child’ Act on the Road in ‘Harmontown’

On 10, Mar 2014 | In Press & News | By SBI

The Community creator gets personal in a revealing new documentary directed by Neil Berkeley.

Dan Harmon had a rough 2012.

After a vitriolic voicemail to Harmon by Community co-star Chevy Chase went viral, Harmon’s career took a decidedly downward spin. NBC execs fired him from the show he loved and he would have to endure watching new writers guide the misadventures of the gang at Greendale Community College — characters he created — much to his dismay.

A self-described narcissist, Harmon couldn’t wallow in his depression alone. Instead, he ramped up the performance schedule of his already wildly popular live podcast, Harmontown, taking it from monthly to weekly, and decided to take the show on the road on a 20-city tour across the United States. Director Neil Berkeley, realizing the potential of an interesting story was brewing, decided to document the tour on film, and Harmontown the documentary was born.

Filmed with the same style and premise as 2011′s Conan O’ Brien Can’t Stop (guy gets fired from NBC, takes his live show across the country to reconnect with his fans, finds redemption), Harmontown is a warts-and-all look into life on the road with Harmon and his merry band of podcast cohorts, including the stylish Jeff Davis, the stoic audience member turned regular Dungeon Master, Spencer Crittenden, and Harmon’s fiancée, podcaster Erin McGathy.

Script spoke to Harmon during the SXSW Film Festival where Harmontown premiered to a full house at the Vimeo Theater in the Austin Convention Center.

Why did you even agree to do a documentary like this?

Dan Harmon: The fundamental impulse was just narcissism. I just can’t get enough of myself. And it’s clinical and it’s diagnosable and it’s unhealthy and it gets me in trouble. So I really just thought, you know, looking back on all of it, especially watching the documentary, which is very revealing about what I’m doing, I didn’t understand at the time what I was really doing was fleeing network television, fleeing writing because I put myself into Community the way a co-dependent person puts themself into a relationship. I got dumped from that relationship, but I wanted to feel sexy again and therefore signed agreements with CBS and Fox. I’m also completely terrified of doing it wrong again and so like an unhealthy narcissist that I am, I just followed my comfort and just pursued my desires. I wanted to curl up in the arms of the only people that I felt reasonably confident wouldn’t break my heart. These people that are forgiving of me. Like the people that are not onlyCommunity fans, but specifically the subset of Community fans that bother to call themselves a Dan Harmon fan, which is a rare breed and a very forgiving breed and I was like, okay, let’s go, let’s go curl up in their arms for a while.

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