Q & A: Rob Corddry talks ‘Childrens Hospital’, Winning an Emmy and His Philosophy of Life
The season finale Adult Swim’s immensely funny Childrens Hospital airs this Thursday as a special double episode. When asked if there was anything particularly challenging about filming a double-episode, series creator and star Rob Corddry said the challenges “increased by 50 percent.” And that’s why I love Corddry; an actual straightforward answer, but yet, still ridiculous.
The show is a permanent fixture on my Tivo and I never miss an episode. The cast (including Erinn Hayes, Ken Marino, Rob Huebel, Megan Mullally, Lake Bell, Henry Winkler, Malin Ackerman) are some of the best comedic actors working today.
In this interview, he talks about the finale, if winning an Emmy changed anything and his philosophy of life (which is something I will totally live by!).
Childrens Hospital season finale airs Thursday at Midnight on Adult Swim
Could you talk a little bit about the craziness we can expect in the season finale and the challenges or benefits that you found making a double-length episode.
Rob Corddry: Well, it was – it was – yes, basically, the same challenges that would come with making any episode increased by 50 percent. It was a lot – we were – we were really kind of under the gun, and we always are when we’re shooting. And this episode, in particular, we were writing right up until the minute it was shooting downstairs and sometimes even during because, you know, we got cocky after last season. We won an Emmy. It’s sort of like, oh, we got this. We can throw these three episodes away and just write some more as we go.
And so we were just writing a lot. And I was literally writing a scene for two days in the future. I was – I was looking over notes that David was rewriting for a scene that was going to be done next while I was writing a scene that was actually shooting downstairs with Erinn Hayes that was a complete circus.
Is everything pretty much scripted or does the cast also improv?
Rob Corddry: Yes. I mean, we have some of the best improvisers working in comedy today, so it would be silly to say you have to – you have to say every word. And also, it’s not really the trend these days is that this is the idea. If I want something (inaudible) particularly want something stressed, then say it that way, but, you know, for the most part it’s just an idea.
And usually, the common way to do it is, for all movies and T.V. shows, is to like you do it on the script and then you have your fun with it, but we’re just lucky that we have some of the best working right now, you know, who are making up – I mean, Huebel is like – he is like the big (pappy) of Children’s Hospital – always hitting grand slams.
You guys have an all-star cast. John Hamm returned again. What do you think attracts the all talent to an 11-1/2-minute show?
Rob Corddry: Mostly just because I think we have a good reputation for being a fun show to work on, which is the only reason we’re able to keep this all-star cast and also have the same crew for five years because, you know, nobody gets paid a lot and it doesn’t take a lot of time and – proportionately. And it’s just – it is a fun place to work.
And also I’m like my philosophy in life is basically just do cool stuff with people who aren’t dicks. And so, you know – and then you end up just kind of conducting your whole life that way and not being a dick yourself and then attracting – I find myself surrounded by wonderful people all – you know, most of the time. And it just seems to like happen that way. Everybody is a bit pretty supportive community these days kind of blocking the reputation that comedy has for all being broken jerks.
The script and story lines can be just ridiculous. How much of it would you say is original and how much is really inspired by hospital antics? I mean, there is that musical episode of Grey’s Anatomy that is asking to be mocked.
Rob Corddry: Oh, god. Every year somebody is like you really have to do a musical episode. And over my dead body that will happen. It’s just too on the nose. You know what I mean? We don’t – I think after the probably the first or second season we stopped drawing from that specific genre and just started basically, you know, using T.V. as our – you know, parody in T.V. in general, T.V. shows and T.V. show conventions.
And most of the jokes are about like kind of messing with television conventions that the casual viewer will also understand or understand by watching it. And like – you know, and that’s also just being a 15-minute show helps that. But I agree like I can’t watch – I can’t watch any of that crap, I really can’t. And don’t think David Wain has ever seen an episode.
Is there a specific scene that didn’t make it into the season that you really wanted to or any other story lines that you may be didn’t do this season that you would like to maybe move into next season?
Rob Corddry: Oh, my goodness gracious. (Inaudible) are worst questions because I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday. But I – just looking over it right now like a document that I’ve got, no, not really. I mean, the only thing I can think of is that sometimes when we are writing or when we’re getting (Mike Lasari) into record the P.A. announcements, we’ll pour over. We have this master doc from years and years.
But really like I did this with my to-do list as well. If you have something on your to-do list for more than like a month or so, you’re not going to do it. Get rid of it. And like it’s the same with – the same with these jokes like this is a joke we’ve been on – it’s been on the joke sheet for three years. We’re not doing it. Let’s kill it. And so there are those episodes that keep coming up.
But it’s also interesting that I can’t even think of them right now. They’re that uninteresting.
Did winning an Emmy change anything for you guys? Did that put more pressure on you? Did you have more money to work with?
Rob Corddry: It changed – it changed nothing really in terms of money. You know, there is that like sort of rumor and maybe this happens in Network T.V. or something where you get an anime and immediately your price tag goes up. That does not happen on a show like this.
But, you know, but purely because also they are like, “Well, go to something else, man. We’re having as much fun as you are.” You know, like I said before, if you’re in this for the money, you’re doing the wrong show. But I think mostly…
Do they give you a piece of the party or something?
Rob Corddry: I think they are – they give us very nice gifts like some really nice (inaudible). But like I think – I think what has changed the most is that in a larger sense, if the industry is now at least recognizing this kind of – not just short form comedy in a – as a category, but also just like that whole idea of what my sort of family – our family of comedians are doing right now. You know what I mean?
Like there’s – it’s weird because you see us all over the place on T.V., but no one can say, “Oh, that’s Adam Sandler’s group or that’s Will Farrell’s group or that’s, you know, that’s sort of comedy family,” because there’s no real centerpiece of it. And so I think because now I think Emmy’s and articles start acting as a centerpiece for a group that people can go, “Oh, that is also an entity,” even though it’s more of a like community than it is spearheaded by someone.
And so like I think – I think it’s a (map). I think it’s drawn more attention to our – and it’s our comedy, but it’s – and it went on time because, you know, (inaudible) by early 40’s. It’s almost over. It’s almost over for me.
Are you looking ahead already to next season?
Rob Corddry: Yes, yes, in a very general way. We’re – you know, it’s going to be – we’re going to wait and usually we shoot it in December and January, and we’re going to wait until next – the beginning of next summer or spring to start writing it just because – I think if we cranked another one out right now right after we finish the first one, I mean, this last one that I really feel like maybe we’re – we’ll be tapped. And I’m just afraid of that. And so we’re going to wait a little bit and get excited. We’re going to get excited to do it again.
And then like – and then – and then we’ll – then the ideas really start coming. But now we just have like wouldn’t it be cool if (dot dot dot), you know, conversation going.
I wanted to get your opinion on how both the real life set change for this past season and also the fictional venue change to Japan and what ways do you think that kind of helps in freshening up the show a little bit or at least sort of making things different for you guys.
Rob Corddry: Well, it certainly did that. You know, the genesis of that was that we, of course, lost our second hospital. We are – if you want your hospital torn down, let us shoot there because it will be torn down within the year after we wrapped.
And so we found a hospital. We could have easily rented and shot in a hospital, but they – well, there was always a catch and, you know, either they’re too expensive or the thing for me was they are often too far away. And if this, as I keep stressing, like a show where people do it every year to have fun, I don’t want to do anything consciously to take away from that like make some travel an hour and a half before, you know, before – (inaudible) dark every morning.
So I think – I think it just is a luxury of doing something like that. Like we thought, “Well, why don’t we just do something different like this and like setting the show on an R.V. based in Japan? We’ll just get a different set.” So I don’t take care of that. But also this is like the only time in our career that we’ll have the freedom to do something this stupid.
And it’s also like the spirit of the show. It’s like this – I said this before the second season. I was going to just make it Childrens Lawspital and have the same characters, same names, but they’re lawyers and there’s no explanation and would do the law – if they’re to be a law show parody. And thank God we didn’t do that. It just turned into like one episode in Season 4 or Season 3. But, you know, it’s just we have the freedom to like kind of take those – to see we can leap over those sharks.
Do you have a favorite character you like to write scenes for or that you like to do scenes with?
Rob Corddry: Oh, man. That’s a great question. I’m really, really hard-pressed to choose. And I have no problem picking favorites. Believe me.
Let me see here. God, there’s like – any of them like have their – like, “Oh, yay, I get to do a scene today with so and so.” One thing stands out off the top of my head. Every year, every season, Huebel and I have a scene where it seems like we really like enjoy the fact that we’ve been improvising together since ’97 and really get into it. And so that’s always kind of fun like, “Oh, this will probably be the theme.” To me, you know, we just really like we improvise it and it’s really funny.
And I would also have to say Chet is pretty funny to write because Brian Huskey is a maniac and so easy to channel. And I think I find it very hard to write for Reverend Jewy McJewJew that David does that almost exclusively.
Who else? Erinn is such a great – I mean, I can’t think of – I’m really trying – I’m trying to pick the favorite here.
You were up against an Emmy with Ken Marino this year. Was that a friendly competition and was he angry that he didn’t win?
Rob Corddry: It was friendly – absolutely friendly. And I truly would have been just as happy if he had won. Maybe even like – I think there’s something more satisfying to him winning because for one, I think it’s an amazing show and bring love, and the parody television like Childrens never did. It’s so funny and so specific. It looks so good, you know, that that’s the kind of thing I was talking about before like that we’re being recognized. It’s sort of like a way you can do comedy. And for two of us to get an Emmy as well, that would have been awesome. So it was a little – you know, it was just kind of bitter sweet.
The one (armor) about it was that we were – we were all getting pictures taken as a cast in that big like sort of pic. And one of the photographers was like, “Oh, Ken, can you go stand near Rob?” And I was like, no, that’s really lame. You just won – you’re trying to like get a picture of us together. You see you can go, you know, (inaudible) story. But I understand it. I was just – that bummed me out.
But, yes, I know he was definitely bummed out, and I would be, too, and I’m bummed out. And Childrens wouldn’t knew what it is if it weren’t for him. And I know that I’m one of his biggest influences. He idolizes me, so we’re good.