During Nightmare Nights Dallas, Josh Haber sat down with Horse News for a record-setting SECOND time, making him the first member of the staff to not only consent to an HN interview, but to do so on more than one occasion. Originally we were only going to have 15 minutes with Josh, but another pony media group never showed up...so we just sort of took thier slot too. Read the transcripts below, on everything Haber has to say, from his roots in writing, to the Moscow mule.
Also featuring Divegrass!
HN: We're here with Josh Haber, so how are you doing, so far, are you enjoying the con?
JH: I'm doing really well, I'm EXHAUSTED so that's a good indication that things are going well.
HN: How late were you up last night?
(Phone Notification goes off)
JH: you know, that was...not me that ting, just an FYI. But I wasn't up too late, I was up till like Midnight, so it wasn't bad. I got a tweet from Larson at 11:30 like (imitating drunk Larson) “Where are you?! I'm playing...the card game...against G.M.” and I'm like...”I...I'm in bed”.
HN: I understand he was learning it last night, so that's interesting.
JH: I still want to play the game, but he's like “it's really complicated, you'll never get it,”
HN: I was told it was one of the hardest cardgames you can buy, so like, if this was for children, it's not anymore. Anyway, so earlier today, you stumbled into the 4chan Cup room, and you even got mentioned on the stream
JH: Oh wow, that's fantastic
HN: So people want to know, what you thought of what you saw of the few moments of virtual soccer?
JH: I thought it was awesome! I like that there's an MLP team, I like that we were winning, I don't know how it turned out, at half-time it was three – zip...
HN: It actually ended up being 3-0 in the end at that pushed the /mlp/ team into the knockout rounds and also into the next cup, so yeah
HN: We were also asked if you would like one of those scarfs that people were wearing, Larson has one, and most of the show staff have one...
JH: Oh yeah! I'll take whatever you're giving me
HN: Okay cool, we'll notify the scarf guy in Germany....but onto things that actually matter. So you wrote for last season, for a few episodes, do you have any episodes coming down the line, how many can we expect from you in Season 5?
JH: I am involved in Season 5.
HN: Do we know how many episodes?
JH: Well, it's a bit difficult to say...but, I have a strong presence in Season 5. I don't know what I'm allowed to say and what I'm not allowed to say. They haven't even announced when Season 5 is airing. Which is annoying...but...
HN: That seems to be a sticking point for a lot of people right now, because almost the only word we've gotten is “Winter 2015”.
JH: I just want them to say “when”. But you know, companies have their reasons for whatever, like it “affects sales” and stuff so, it's beyond-over my paygrade. I don't know how they determine these things. I just write what ponies say.
HN: So, how did you get into writing? Because I don't think I've ever had a chance to ask you questions that weren't terrifyingly hard and everyone wasn't hungover.
JH: Hahaha...well you know it was just sort of, I landed in writing. I started out as an actor, I started out wanting to be a director, then I went to film school, and as an undergrad I did sort-of Film Studies, and acting, and I was always kind-of pursuing both. I had this vision of myself as being sort of Orson Welles, an auteur director/actor person...turns out that's really hard to make a career doing that, one that's successful anyway. I really didn't have the patience for it. Plus, just getting rejected face-to-face. It's one thing to write something on a page, and someone sends you back a bunch of notes on it. It's another thing when you go into a room and people stare at you and they say “well we don't like you, could you please leave, we're not going to cast you.” It's really hard. I have the utmost respect for actors. My wife is an actor, and it's a hard, hard life, and I was just not willing to do. And directing isn't any easier, and there's not a lot of jobs. So writing has always been it. I've always had an ear for dialogue, it's always been something I've toyed with the idea of doing. It's kind-of the only thing you can really do-it's really hard to act in your house. You can't just act, you need something to act-in. And you can't direct, someone needs to hire you to direct. But writing, you can. I can write a story in my house. And when I'm done I can send it out to people and say “here's the stuff I've done! What do you think?” You know, you can't do that as an actor. As a director you can, but it costs a lot of money. Writing, you don't even need paper anymore, you just send PDF files to people. It's kind-of the only thing you can do for free. So I just figured that this would just be my sort of envoy into my career. It took a long, long time. Mostly because I didn't know what the hell I wanted to do for a long time. So I kind-of just toyed with it. But once I sort-of buckled-down, it was about a 3-4 year process until I was able to support myself. And even then it was just because I had built up a network of people who helped me along the way.
I owe everything I've ever achieved to everyone I've ever met.
HN: So it took you a while to get going professionally. If you hadn't taken-off, what would you be doing now? What was your previous job before writing?
JH: My day job for about 10 years...9 years...I did, you know QA? I did quality control for DVDs and Blu-Rays. I worked at Sony. I did that for 9 years.
HN: So that was getting stale I'd have to imagine?
JH: Well you know, I owe that job a lot, it was steady, they paid more than they probably should have, I had benefits, it was kind-of the perfect gig. But yeah, it was monotonous, and not what I wanted to do, every day was kind-of a slog. But once I got my shit together and started writing, I was sort-of able to move out of it.
HN: So how did you land at ponies? You had a couple of shows under your belt, how did you get pulled into this program?
JH: You know, I was just trying to do anything. I didn't know a whole lot about My Little Pony, I had heard the word “brony”, but I had no experience with the fandom whatsoever. And this was just one of the shows I was trying, I knew it was a popular show, a successful show, so I knew I wanted to write on it, and just the friends I had at Hasbro, introduced me to Meghan. They were introducing me to several people at Hasbro, but Meghan and I sort-of hit it off, she liked what I had to say, and the first episode went well. She gave me a chance on the first episode and it went well, and it just kind of snowballed from there.
HN: So was the Castle episode the first that you wrote, or just the first that aired?
JH: That was the first one I wrote.
(lengthy HN preface to question)
HN: Did you go back and watch all the episodes prior?
JH: No, I watched enough to get an idea of who the characters were, so I mean I watched maybe five episodes. But for me, it's mostly just a process of getting those voices in my head. Once I get a sense of how the characters talk, and I get a sense of the kind of stories the show would tell, it just sort-of went from there.
It's because I'm supremely talented. That's really what I'm saying. (sarcasm)
HN: I was sent a list of questions from the board (/mlp/) that they wanted to ask you, but they can't because they're anonymous and can't ask themselves, if that's alright?
JH: Oh sure!
HN: Stuff about you they want to know...(fidgeting with phone)...hold on have to scroll-up because they're talking about soccer. That Soccer ball that they kick is actually the FlufflePuff pony
JH: That's awesome!
HN: Ah okay. Someone wants to know: “What is the best thing to drink while writing?”...If you do, in-fact do that while writing.
JH: Crystal. Meth.
JH: No, I actually can't..I'm not one of these “tortured artists”-
(lights turn off)
HN: So now its a new kind of interview..
JH: The lights just went out, for all of those of you in the ether...I'm not someone, I'm not a tortured artist, the type to have a bottle of Wild Turkey next to their keyboard. There's work and play for me. I don't “get altered” when I work, I would be too freaked out, I wouldn't meet my deadlines if I did.
HN: Fair enough, do you have a favorite drink in general?
JH: Uhh, it really depends on the situation, and the night. There's quite a few whiskey drinks that I'm a fan of, but you know if I'm starting to feel ragged, the vodka-Red Bull will kick in. I went through, probably a too-long of period of a vodka-Red Bull Period, you know, the way Picasso had his blue period. But you know, now I sort of mellowed out, I'm more of a whiskey drinker. Although, I really a fan of the Moscow Mule these days, I don't know if you're familiar?
HN: Heard of that
JH: It's a good drink, it's just Vodka, ginger-beer, and lime. It's a good one, I recommend it – you know, provided you're old enough to drink, people. You have to be old enough to drink.
HN: Another question from them; What is your favorite episode, out of the ones you've seen? And have you had any concepts rejected?
JH: Concepts? Constantly. I mean we have summits, where we'll pitch 30 ideas and 5 will get approved, so you're constantly getting rejected. And even then, you get to the outline stage, and occasionally even at that stage things will be abandoned, because it's just not working out, or it's too reminiscent of something that has already gone. And you just gotta let it go, you're just like “alright that was a good idea, but it's not gonna work, so 'next!'”. You just have to continue to move through.
I forget, what was the other part of it? Was there a favorite thing I've seen?
HN: Yeah, is there a favorite episode you've seen, perhaps not even one that you've written?
JH: The Lesson Zero one is really awesome, just because I really like that manic, crazy, maniac Twilight...reminiscent of people I know...so...
HN: Family members? Christmases, Thanksgivings?
JH: Yeah you know
HN: The other thing people want to know is; What, if any, websites do you frequent online? Are there any fan communities that you monitor or see in your free-time?
JH: A-I don't have any free-time. B, it's not that I don't, I just don't have time to explore online the way I used to, I mean, if this situation had presented itself when I was in my 20's, and single, it would be a very different story. But yeah, between the show, and my 2 kids, and my mortgage, I really don't have time to sort-of dive-in the way I used to. That's what happens when you grow up I guess. I have money set-aside for a PS4, to buy for myself, and its been sitting there since Christmas. And I have yet to go and buy it. It's literally sitting right there and I'm like “mehh I'll just go and get it next weekend..” and then it's like “what games am I going to get with it?” and then it's like, I'm never going to have time to play it, so I mean...
HN: So were you like a video-gamer in the past, when you had time? Are there any favorite games you played when you were younger?
JH: Yeah, in college, we had this really cheesy old Nintendo Baseball, I forget what it was, but you would play a whole season. So me and the room mates, we would play a whole season in the school year, and you would have your team...this...this was a long time ago.
HN: So this is like, before fantasy sports and all that?
JH: Well, the graphics were much more...suggestive...of baseball. It really lived in our heads, this league we were playing in, but you know, it was college, I remember it was a good time.
HN: Are there any shows out there today that you would like to write episodes for?
JH: Yeah, absolutely. Archer, would be fantastic to write for. Gravity Falls, is a great, great show that I think is super funny. Adventure Time, but they don't really write scripts, it's a board-driven show. So they just write outlines, and the actors kind-of riff. I mean, it's probably slightly more involved than that, but that's a show that I really enjoy. The Regular Show is cool, that's basically just a sitcom that happens to be about a bird, so I really respond to that show too.
I mean, obviously The Simpsons would be fantastic, just to get in to that group of people would be fantastic, but yeah.
HN: Are there any nerdy things, other than pony, that you are a fan of?
JH: Yeah, I have a regular Dungeons and Dragons game. I DM a regular game, so yeah, just bring on the hate!
HN: What edition?
JH: Oh, first and second edition, its a first-second-house rules sort of thing, whatever I decide... I have this sort of the same group of people playing, we actually just recently-because we all had kids, so there was this long break-we just recently started playing again. But we played in college. Well I played as a kid, then I played in college, and then played in grad school with the same group of people, and we just started up again. So it's been fun. And it's cool, because I know the game has sort of evolved over time, so bringing back this first and second edition stuff is a blast.
HN: Are there any conventions that you would LIKE to go to? Any geographic areas you would like to be invited to?
JH: I'd love to go to Europe! Europeans...I'm really a big fan of the Euro...no hahaha. But seriously, depending on time, and my work schedule, I would go just about anywhere...assuming my wife says it's okay. Because you know, you leave for the weekend, you have kids and stuff, it's hard to have someone else take care of everything while you're gone. I think it's fantatstic, but yeah. I know there's some cons in Europe, but this Pony Con in Japan I find very intriguing; it doesn't look they ever have any guests.
HN: Have you ever been to Japan?
JH: I haven't. So, you know, if you guys want to invite me...I'd love to check it out. But yeah, I've never been to the East at all
HN: Is this your first time in Dallas?
JH: Well, I've been to the airport. This is my first time outside Dallas-Fort Worth the Airport. I've had a layover there many times. This is the first time I've ever left the building. But yeah, I love it, it's nice.
HN: Well alright! Well we won't take any more of your time, considering we took two whole interview segments (we stole PVL's timeslot too), so thanks for sitting down with us. Do you have any other panels the rest of the day?
JH: I don't know, I'll be around
(someone mentions the drinking panel)
HN: Oh yes the drinking panel with Larson?
JH: Oh yes, I'll definitely make it to that, assuming HE makes it there himself after dinner.
HN: Well thank you sir
JH: Thank you!