"Notaro isn’t the first comedian to animate their work: Kyle Kinane released an animated short of one of his jokes on his YouTube channel in July 2020, and a decade ago, excerpts from Ricky Gervais’s podcast became The Ricky Gervais Show, a three-season animated HBO series," says Kathryn VanArendonk of Notaro's new HBO comedy special. "But it’s not a well-populated genre, and especially because Drawn is built from material written and performed before 2020, it’s perhaps even more welcome, and more formally noteworthy, than it would have been at another time. Some stand-up specials have been released in 2021, but it’s a scant few compared with the robust catalogue of the past several years. Those that have been released are formally weird, or they’re from comedy shot pre-pandemic that’s only now being made available, or they’re records of comedy made post–spring 2020 that have trouble achieving escape velocity from the black hole of topical pandemic jokes. Drawn hits both of the first two categories — it’s an atypical formal experiment for a stand-up special, and the jokes were written years ago. That combination is beguiling. Older material is unburdened by the exhausting necessity of talking about Now, while the transformative effect of the animation makes Drawn feel cared for, fresh, a treasured piece that’s not just a collection of scraps left lying around in a drawer somewhere. It’s that thing you always tell yourself will happen but so rarely does: Leftovers from several meals pulled from the fridge somehow combine into a dish that’s even better than its constituent parts."
Notaro was blown away by animator Greg Franklin's precision: “I’m like, Oh, my gosh, I think that is how I look when I say that kind of thing," she says. "When asked if she had a favorite moment, Notaro couldn’t choose. “I have to be honest, I hate this question,” she says. “It’s so hard…I really feel like all of the artists elevated each story and joke.”
Notaro was very hands-on through the entire process: "There was no point where I finally saw the animated special because I was working on it the whole time. I was working on it from the picking the artists to the rough sketches to figuring out 'Should my or this person’s ears be bigger? Smaller eyes?,' you know?" she says. "So it wasn’t like they went away and animated it and showed it to me. I’ve been working on the special from start to finish—each little segment, each joke each, each character choice, the colors. I was very hands-on the entire process and I’ve seen the special probably 50 times, if not more. We’ve been working on it for a long, long time."