As you can tell by the Seeso hat Ian Abramson was wearing during a recent video chat with The A.V. Club, he’s serious about comedy. Recently, Abramson took it upon himself to keep a cooped-up nation entertained with Saturday Night Quarantine, which wrapped up its incredibly chaotic run on Twitch earlier this month. And now, perhaps as an act of penance for unleashing such anarchy upon the world, he’s joined the side of justice as a correspondent on Gary Busey: Pet Judge.
The concept is pretty straightforward: Humans come into Gary Busey’s courtroom looking for resolution for pet-related disputes, and Busey rules in favor of one party or another with the help of bailiff (and stand-up comedian) Mike E. Winfield. Then Abramson interviews both parties about their feelings regarding the verdict, with longtime radio host and voiceover artist Shadoe Stevens serving as narrator. But while the setup is simple, the intricacies and implications of such a court are profound. And so we asked Abramson to clarify some of the finer points of pet law, and his place within it.
The A.V. Club: What is your role in the pet courtroom?
Ian Abramson: Everything’s based around Judge Gary Busey and his process. That’s taken very seriously. And once the verdict has been laid down and decisions have been made, the people involved come out and speak to me. I ask them how they felt about the decision, how they felt about the process, and what it was like to have the decision made by Gary Busey. [Pauses.] I’m basically just doing the post interviews.
AVC: So what’s it like to work with Gary Busey?
IA: Mostly, because I would be right outside [the courtroom], I would hear different sounds and words and other things being yelled, and I would just get a general vibe. That was mostly how I grew my respect for Judge Gary Busey. He can yell so loud that I can hear it through walls that were built a hundred years ago.
But he was incredibly nice. Even when he didn’t make sense, it felt like a compliment.
AVC: How would you describe Gary Busey’s legal philosophy? Is he a “tough on crime” kind of guy?
IA: I would say that he is completely pragmatic. He plays by his own rules, and whatever those rules are, he sticks to them. He is not going to break any of the rules that he made up.
AVC: Were you apprised of these rules, or was it an ever-changing situation?
IA: The beautiful thing about Gary Busey is, as hard-line as he is about his rules, he’s also flexible with what those rules are. They can change case to case. And that’s what makes him a good judge.
AVC: You might say we’re looking at an improv approach to justice.
IA: It’s like jazz, you know? You know the basic beats, but you’re going to see some different themes come up. And then sometimes he’s just going to go wild. That’s the beauty of having Gary Busey involved in our legal system.
AVC: What exactly constitutes a pet crime?
IA: It’s less a crime, and more one person suing another over a pet-related incident. So let’s say that your neighbor was unhappy about the way your cat meows—not a euphemism, by the way—and then Gary Busey would be the person to help decide whether or not your cat should be allowed to meow.
AVC: Were his decisions ever controversial?
IA: The good thing about Gary Busey and his decisions is that, love them or hate them, they were final. How could you have controversy about the truth? He decided what the truth was. You can’t argue with that.
AVC: So, to be clear, it’s the humans doing the crime. You’re not putting pets on trial for their crimes.
IA: You definitely see a wide array of cases. There is at least one remote-controlled pet that became remote-controlled after it was taxidermied [on the show]. It was a lot of things like that. If there’s not a human involved, then it’s just an animal, you know?
You have to understand that Gary Busey is not a wild animal judge. He’s not a zoo judge. He is a pet judge.
AVC: You have to have humans involved to make it a pet, is what you’re saying.
IA: Yes. That is a rule that was always very consistent. You see a squirrel in the road? Probably not a pet. You see a dog in the road? Probably a pet.
AVC: Who would you put in charge of wild animal court?
IA: I would say Flavor Flav, because he always seems to know when it’s time for justice.
AVC: Okay, Ian, keeping in mind that there’s a narrow legal definition of “pet crimes,” if you were a pet, what crimes would you commit and why?
IA: Here’s the thing. One of the rarest of pets is the polar bear, because it is an endangered species. Global warming is slowly killing them off, etc. Another endangered species is the panda. But it would be easier to live with a panda than it would a polar bear.
IA: So I would be a panda posing as a polar bear to beef up the numbers. I just have to paint the black spots white and then suddenly—boom! I’m convincing people I’m a polar bear.
AVC: But what crimes would you commit?
IA: Posing as a polar bear is a crime, Katie. You should realize that. I would be committing a crime by doing this, but I think that it’s a noble crime.
AVC: Okay, so what justice would Gary Busey bring upon you as a panda disguised as a polar bear?
IA: I think that he would have mercy. I think that as one endangered species posing as another endangered species, he would understand that while my message may be mixed, and while it may not make sense to everyone—including myself—it is an important message.
AVC: What message do you have for all the pet owners out there who might want to bring their pets before a court of law?
IA: I think that the beauty of watching the show is that, in the same way that when you’re watching Judge Judy you’re like, “Oh, now I have a better understanding of how to handle my neighbor’s fence,” you will be able to watch this show and learn Gary Busey: Pet Judge about what it means to have a pet, to be a pet, to love your pet, to give a pet away, to involve your pet in a startup, and so on.
Gary Busey: Pet Judge is available to stream and on demand now on Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play, Xbox, and VUDU.