Mary McGahren is still a little stunned by all the attention.
In an interview more than a week after a wacky Adult Swim video she appeared in accumulated millions of online views, McGahren says she’s grateful for the spotlight.
“It’s been an amazing boost,” McGahren says. “I audition for TV shows and movies and I take acting classes and work hard, but it’s hard for anything to take hold. This is just a positive boost for me as an actor. I’m not sure what it all means yet.”
The video by Adult Swim’s Casper Kelly aired at 4 a.m. on Oct. 27. It starts off as a send-up of the opening credits of any of a variety of cheesy TV sitcoms you’ve probably seen over the years, then slowly turns into a warped slasher reel, complete with gallons of fake blood. The 11-minute long mind trip plays out to a cheery, annoyingly catchy theme song.
The Atlanta-based network shot the video last year, and McGahren says she was cast as a character known as “Mom 2,” essentially the friendly couple next door who are friends with the star couple. McGahren, who studies acting at the Screen Actors Co-op in Woodfin’s Riverside Business Park, was cast alongside three other actors who were signed up as extras: Matt Burke, Amy Rollins and Gydion Lashlee-Walton.
“I was just mommin’ it up,” says McGahren, who added that she only had an inkling of the video weirdness to come. “I’ve watched Adult Swim over the years and that’s my jam, that’s my humor,” she says. “It was a cool group of people to work with.”
“The creators were so encouraging and so kind. It was just one of the most wonderful days ever – one of those where you look around and say, ‘I’m getting paid to do this?'”
McGahren said everybody thought a few late-night stoners would be the only people to actually see the video. But the bit went viral on Nov. 7, according to the Wall Street Journal, which reported that Reddit first picked it up, then thing got crazy on Twitter. “It generated 90,000 tweets in the 2.5 weeks following its network premier and racked up over five million views, through Adult Swim’s YouTube channel and unofficial bootlegs,” according to WSJ. “Adult Swim describes the success of Too Many Cooks as ‘the greatest moment of all time’ in their 13-year history and point to the late-night slot as one of the key factors in its success,” the newspaper reported.
McGahren says she got serious about her acting career about three years ago, after leaving college and then returning to follow her passion. She’s participated in the Asheville Fringe Festival, the 48-Hour Film Festival and regularly attends her auditions and acting classes. She credits her mentor, John Menick, with much of her success. (Menick had his own taste of fame in the mid 1980s when he played the character Herb in a series of Burger King restaurant commercials.)
“If I had tried to pursue acting when I was 20, I wouldn’t have had the life experience, so I feel very blessed. You always look back and it makes sense,” McGahren says.
“I’m just genuinely happy for everyone.”
Big thanks to loyal reader Jen for the heads-up on this story.
And just in case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the video: