Adult Swim’s Emmy-winning hit show Rick and Morty has a tens-of-millions-strong fanbase, including a huge segment of cannabis enthusiasts.
The most-watched show among 18-24 year olds, guest stars have included Stephen Colbert, Werner Herzog, and Susan Sarandon. The cable network aims to channel fans’ love for the animated sci-fi comedy—and the wacky sensibilities of the rest of its programming—into a three-day festival taking place in downtown Los Angeles October 5-7.
Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody's gonna die.Morty, Rick and Morty
The Adult Swim Festival is a destination event featuring over 40 hot acts, including heavy-metal headliners Mastodon, rap stars Run the Jewels, blazing stand-up comedians like Hannibal Buress, and the exceedingly brilliant (and difficult to categorize) Open Mike Eagle. Is it happenstance that all of these artists have also openly professed their love for weed? Perhaps not. Interestingly, El-P and Killer Mike (Run the Jewels) were introduced by an Adult Swim exec, who thought their musical styles and agendas would mesh. The duo has since released three critically acclaimed albums, and it sure seems like Adult Swim knows what’s good.
``Stop digging for hidden layers, and just be impressed.``
Ride ‘Em, Smack ‘Em, Get A Hole In One
The fest will also feature offstage attractions: you can ride a hot dog that bucks like a mechanical bull, or climb a rope ladder to play Smack Up My Uvula. Trip out and chill in the Meatwad 4D Dome (shout out Aqua Teen Hunger Force, you are missed), or dive into a virtual-reality experience inspired by Dream Corp LLC, the Adult Swim show set in a sketchy dream-therapy facility. You can even play Rick and Morty-themed mini golf. Adventures for weed lovers abound!
And at 9 p.m. on Sunday, October 7th, Rick and Morty get a live showcase as composer Ryan Elder leads a 37-piece orchestra through musical highlights from the show in a Musical Ricksperience. Get ready for an aural adventure through some of the finest musical moments in animated TV comedy. You can buy tickets for the weekend-long festival here.
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Why Do Weed & Rick and Morty Go So Well Together?
As we prepare to run around (or stroll, let’s be honest) at the Adult Swim Festival, we asked ourselves: why is there such a solid Rick and Morty fanbase in the cannabis community? How does a love of cannabis pair so perfectly with the mismatched grandfather and grandson’s antics through the multiverse?
To better understand Rick and Morty’s weird humor (and pathos), and how it connects to a greater understanding of the meaning of life, check out video essayist Will Schoder’s analysis of the philosophy of Rick and Morty:
“Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody’s gonna die.” As OpenCulture points out, Rick and Morty fans understand that, underneath all of the show’s memorable gags and quotable lines, there lies an unusual philosophical depth.
“The human desire to fulfill some special existential purpose has existed throughout history,” declares Schoder in his video essay. That same desire is expressed in the quest to connect to something larger through cannabis. Getting high and wondering about what it all means dovetails perfectly with Rick and Morty’s adventures, and their ultimate discovery that “the only option is to find importance in the stuff right in front of you.”
Just as cannabis helps connect us to the present moment, and enjoy things as they unfold, Rick and Morty deems friends, family, and doing what we love much more important than unanswerable questions about why we’re here in the first place.
Most importantly, Rick and Morty is hella funny. Anyone who’s gotten high and laughed until they cried at Season 3, Episode 3’s “Pickle Rick” knows that. PICKLE RICK! “Stop digging for hidden layers, and just be impressed.”
“Pickle Rick” was written by Jessica Gao, who won the “Best Animated Program” Emmy for writing the murderously incisive episode about family therapy and the burden of intelligence.
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Szechuan Sauce Must Be Had
The off-kilter brilliance of Rick and Morty has seeped into every corner of pop (and pot) culture. Take the McDonald’s Szechuan sauce debacle, for instance.
During the Season 3 premiere of the show in April 2017, in the final scenes of “The Rickshank Rickdemption,” Rick goes on a characteristic rant, telling Morty that nothing in the universe has meaning, and that the only reason he gets up every day is with the hope of finding a discontinued dipping sauce from McDonald’s. (The fast-food giant launched Szechuan sauce as a promotional tie-in for the Disney film Mulan in 1998, and retired the dip soon thereafter.)
“I’ll go out, and I’ll find more of that Szechuan Mulan teriyaki dipping sauce, Morty!” Rick babbles. “Because that’s what this is all about, Morty. That’s my one-armed man.”
Fast forward to October 2017: McDonald’s announced that it would re-release the sauce for a one-day promotion in limited quantities. Demand quickly overwhelmed supply, folks freaked out, Twitter had a meltdown, and everyone had a good time making fun of Rick and Morty fans for caring about a condiment.
Bowing to pressure from dip-crazed zealots, McDonald’s announced in February 2018 that the sauce would be available for everyone in locations across the U.S.
Fans Turn Rick and Morty Into High Art
Fan art is one of the most wonderful interpretative things in the world, and the weed-loving creatives who watch Rick and Morty have left no artistic pickle unjarred.
Creative roller Tony Greenhand elevated Rick and Morty to the fan art pot-culture pantheon with his collection of joints in the shape of Rick, Morty, and iconic characters Mr. Meeseeks and Mr. Poopybutthole. Greenhand rolled the series in a three-hour livestream on the NowThis Facebook page on 4/20.
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Rolled up a grip of Rick and Morty joints for @nowthisnews You could learn how to roll joints just like this Morty, There is a video on Nowthis entertainments Facebook that details exactly how I roll these joints and more Morty. Hit the link in my story for a portal jump #creativerolling #nowthis #wishimadepicklerick
A post shared by Smokeable Art (@tonygreenhand) on
There are Etsy pages dedicated to Rick and Morty smoking accessories. There’s even a guide to pairing a different strain of cannabis with each episode of the show. The multiverse salutes the intersection of love for kind bud with animated sci-fi philosophical comedy in many ways.
We’re Smarter Than You Are, Nyah Nyah
There is one aspect of the Rick and Morty fan base that has received some negative attention: folks who think their enjoyment of the show means that they’re smarter than others. A post titled “To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to understand Rick and Morty” went viral in 2017. It’s pretty funny. There’s no need to spend any more time on it here. If you think your love of a TV show makes you better or smarter than other people, you should smoke a joint, and think about how you’re missing the point.
Tickets to the Adult Swim Festival Oct. 5-7 are available here. The festival does not permit medical or recreational cannabis onsite.