More than anything, Dan Harmon wants to be the guy that makes people happy. The producer/comedian/writer is explicit about this in his documentary Harmontown. As much as the film is about following Harmon and his crew as they tour around the country with his comedy show/podcast Harmontown, it's ultimately an emotional road trip for its star.
As director Neil Berkeley shows, namely through shots of Harmon's intimate interactions with his fans, a.k.a. his "Harmenians," people believe in Dan Harmon. And if you didn't before, after this film, you will, too. Or at the very least, you'll want to give him a long hug and tell him everything's gonna be OK.
For those only familiar with the man for his work on NBC's Community, here's a primer, as discussed in his documentary:
Dan Harmon travels with a Dungeon Master, Spencer Crittenden.
During every live show of Harmontown, Harmon brings up the twentysomething fanboy from L.A. to play a round of Dungeons and Dragons. Once, a fan who just came to Harmon's show for the chance to play D&D with him. Now, that guy, Spencer Crittenden, has become the heart and soul of Harmontown, and the Harmon-proclaimed hero of his story. He's not a joke at all. Rather, he's the team's wise little brother. Case in point, this quote: "I don't think that people are aware of our mistakes more than we are."
Harmon and Rob Schrab co-created a pilot called Heat Vision.
It starred Jack Black and was directed by Ben Stiller. This was in 1999. But it wasn't picked up because it was ultimately "too weird" and was also allegedly 20th Century Fox's most expensive pilot ever. The sci-fi show has since developed a cult following.
Sarah Silverman fired him from her show The Sarah Silverman Program.
Despite co-creating the show with Harmon and Rob Schrab, Silverman let Harmon go because he "made [her] feel bad inside." As Rob Schrab, Jeff B. Davis, and Harmon himself admits, Harmon has a tendency to be too controlling. He struggles with authority and doesn't like to be told what to do. Harmon's departure from the show led to a falling out with Schrab.
Harmon's girlfriend Erin McGathy is his sobering force.
Not only does McGathy go on tour with Harmon, she also runs his merch table and helps with notes on his script. One moment in particular focuses on McGathy editing a CBS pilot with Harmon, a pilot that ultimately wasn't picked up. When she's not working with him, she's trying to get him to focus on his writing or tearing him away from drinking. In a telling scene in the film, Harmon admits that if she were to ever leave him, he would kill himself.
Harmon can, admittedly, be a sociopath.
Marked by a broken relationship with his parents, Harmon admits that he gets into moods where he can't help but eviscerate people to tears. Jeff B. Davis says, "He has an ability to succinctly word things to cut right through you."
Dan Harmon is trying really, really hard to be better person.
Also, Dan Harmon hates himself. He's painfully aware of his alcoholic tendencies and abusiveness, and is desperately apologetic for his faults. Scene after scene, the Community creator stresses the point of his show Harmontown: to reach out to the Abeds and the Troys, the Brittas and the Annies, and the Shirleys and Changs and the Jeffs of the world.
In an effort to do so, Harmon and his co-host Jeff B. Davis, a dapper Ryan Seacrest-like dude, get people up on stage to discuss everything from their deepest secrets to why they had a shitty day. And they're not the only ones who participate. At one stop, Harmon and McGathy go through couples therapy on stage, which results in her revealing his verbal abuse.
But don't get it twisted: Harmon doesn't do this to be Dr. Phil. His intent is to lighten everyone's load with laughter.
Written by Tara Aquino (@t_akino)
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