Mike Lazzo

Comedy Impact Report '08: Toon Talent

Adult Swim, which started life somewhat inauspiciously as a latenight programming block on the kidcentric Cartoon Network, has undergone an impressive upgrade in its seven years, consistently ranking No. 1 with the 18-24 demo, expanding into primetime and even becoming a successful multiplatform brand.

Beginning with a bedrock of syndicated and original content (especially flagship show “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” which evolved from Dadaist dorm-room curiosity to theatrical feature/ videogame/terrorist threat), Adult Swim programming honcho Mike Lazzo built the concept outward, expanding into Web toons, standup tours, gaming and music.

Dethklok, the fictional death-metal band at the heart of toon “Metalocalypse,” reps the net’s latest crossover. The brainchild of comic Brendon Small, Dethklok has taken on a Spinal Tap-like life of its own: Debut LP “Dethalbum” hit No. 21 on the album charts last year, spawning a nationwide tour this summer with the series’ musicians playing alongside their animated counterparts.

“I actually found myself standing in the middle of a mosh pit for Dethklok, which is just about the most astonishing thing to happen to me all year,” Lazzo relates. “I mean, I even had beer thrown on me.”

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