Rob Corddry: “I like improv and sketch in that it’s supportive. You can fail a little bit and your partners can pick you up”
It’s almost hard to believe, but Adult Swim series are eligible to be nominated for Emmy Awards. This year the comedy series Childrens Hospital, now in its fourth season, has received a well-deserved nomination for Short-format Live-Action Entertainment Program (that’s a mouthful). Creator and star Rob Corddry, a comedian also known for his appearances on The Daily Show and in Hot Tub Time Machine, spoke to the Los Angeles Times about how his career led him to this series and why he thinks it has been successful.
Corddry credits the success of the series to its origins as a web series. He explains, “It definitely helped me in that it started as a Web series and Warner Bros.produced it and they let us do whatever we wanted. Then we were bought by Adult Swim, which really is the only place you could do this show. It’s kind of like the Internet of television… They like the 15-minute format, and I don’t think a show like mine could be any longer than 15 minutes. I don’t know how long that kind of comedy would sustain itself, although Monty Python did it. But I do think the Web is giving people a lot of practice right now, a lot of young guys just starting out are doing it on Funny or Die and places like that. The tone there varies, but that’s going to inform comedy in the near future.”
Curiously, though Corddry is known for his comedy he does not come from a stand-up background. He explains, “I came from a pretentious theater background and then started doing sketch and improv by accident.” In fact, Corddry even toured with the National Shakespeare Company, though he admits the challenging nature of that job led to him to pursue improv, adding, “I wasn’t so great at Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s hard to memorize; improv isn’t.”
As for why he’s never tried stand-up, Corddry admits he prefers the collaborative nature of improv. He points out, “I always liked stand-up. Some of my biggest influences were stand-ups, but I guess I like improv and sketch in that it’s supportive. You can fail a little bit and your partners can pick you up. I started at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and their philosophy behind improv is that if you make your partner look good, you will look good by default. So it’s very supportive, fun and really very kind of unique as far as comedy goes, because comedians have the reputation of being arrogant and back-stabbers.”
As for why he’s so funny, Corddry credits his time in therapy, explaining, “Therapy worked in spades, and I think my comedy has gotten better. I know myself more, and therefore I’m a better worker. And the more you know yourself, the more you know your creative process and the more you can exploit it, the more you can change it and direct it, the more relaxed you feel and the more confident you feel. And that informs any work you do.”
The fourth season of Childrens Hospital begins August 9.