David Wain and Nick Kroll on ‘Childrens Hospital’, Working with Friends and Being the White Jerry Bruckheimer

David Wain and Nick Kroll talk about taking Childrens Hospital from the web to Adult Swim, improvising and more!

Did you get a chance to see Childrens Hospital when it was a webseries? It was hilarious and ridiculous and I loved every minute of it!

Well, it’s now on Adult Swim every Sunday at 10:30 with brand new full length episodes.

I got a chance to talk with producer David Wain and the great Nick Kroll at Comic-Con in a roundtable interview. These two are incredibly funny and if you love comedy, be sure to check out anything these two guys do – especially Childrens Hospital!

How’s it been having a web series go to TV?

David Wain: I think it was just really a great opportunity for–you know, we did these, very short, one-off blasts on the Internet and basically to have the opportunity to make 12… more rounded, full half-hour episodes and just gave us a chance to do a larger scope. More stories, more ideas, tiny bit more budget, and bring in all our talented friends and so many of them, it’s been really fun. Like Nick.

When you guys first did this, did you have any inkling that it was going to get picked up?

David: No, it it was definitely not at all in any way intended as a TV idea. It was just like, this was a fun web series and that it was interesting. And we’re happy to have done it of course.

Nick: I was just a guest star in the show but I was around for some of the filming the first season and second season and the opportunity to work with David and Rob (Corddry) and Jonathan (Stern) who produced this as well, I just think there are a lot of people who are like, “We’ll work with you doing whatever format that you present to us. Because we just wanna be able to work with people we think are funny and to do something on the web was just — it was an opportunity to do wild stuff that isn’t normally allowed on TV. And then I think they proved that it could be funny and sustainable on the web and so when it became a show, they were allowed to continue to do stuff that they might have been inhibited to had it gone straight from a… I don’t know if that’s true or not, but…

David: Yeah. Another thing we’re excited about is the last episode we’re gonna be doing live. We’re gonna be doing it live this fall.

Were there any other like friends of yours that weren’t able to be in it?

David: Many, yeah, I mean you know it was–

Nick: Name ‘em.


David: I mean, the whole idea of the show was to bring in our funny friends and we’re very blessed to have many and we didn’t even have enough room for all of them. That’s why we’re doing more.

Nick: And I think there are a lot of people who will see what comes out of the show and realize that they want to do it or make themselves available to do it.

David: We’re getting ready to do the third season, we’re already preparing that now.

You mentioned a live show, when will that happen?

David: It’s in the fall, I think it’s in October. I forget the exact date. It’s the last episode of the 2nd season.

What technical hoops does that entail?

David: We’re still figuring it all out but basically we’re gonna set up just like the old days. With all the cameras and I’m gonna be directing it. It’s gonna be very exciting.

How much of the actual script is improvised?

David: I guess it varies depending on what the scene is but like what would you say when you were on?

Nick: The scripts are so funny that there wasn’t a necessity to improvise a ton, but there was always room. And I think one thing about improv that is a misconception is that the actor’s sitting there on set coming up with it. But I think a large part of improvising is that the producers and writers in the back are also throwing out stuff based off what they’re seeing. So it’s the writers who are throwing out options as much as it is the actors but I’d say a lot of– I mean the scripts are so funny that—

David:Yeah, in anything that we do, we try to keep it flexible so that if the idea comes right while we’re shooting or six months before or with an actor as it’s coming out, we just have room for every version of the best idea.

Nick: Or a rehearsal five minutes before the scene like, “Hey, maybe if we just switch this line around,”  so whether that’s considered improv or not —

David: You have only so much time– We shot, it took us four days to shoot every two episodes so it’s very quick. A very, very fast shoot.

Nick: But you never felt as a guest of theirs, you always felt that you had the opportunity to get out what you thought you wanted to do.

With going from Internet to television is your approach writing any different? Do you feel  added pressure to push out more of a story?

David: A little bit (laughs). You know, going from five minutes to fifteen minutes we wanted to make sure that there was a clear story arc in each episode and that there was a certain cohesion that we didn’t feel was as necessary in a five-minute format. We tried to, you know, we ran it like a real TV show — a little bit — without taking away from the sort of anarchic silliness.

Who else was in that writing room?

David: We actually recruited people like Rob Huebel and Ken Marino and people sort of in our circle. One episode is written by Diablo Cody and all of her collaborators.  But then the scripts came in to me, Jon Stern and Rob Corddry and we were basically the creative central point, you know, the clearing house and we then shaped everything into the voice that was developing on the show.

When the show was originally coming together did you guys have like a particular pet peeve about popular medical dramas that you just couldn’t wait to satirize?

David: You know it’s funny, I think Corddry might have and that might have been his initial instinct in creating the show. I weirdly have never watched those shows. I think when I was a kid I was afraid of hospitals and felt like it’s where you get a shot or something and so I’ve literally never seen any of them. But maybe that gives me a different… I never think of it as a spoof as much as just a dumb show, a funny show with silly events.

Nick: Well again, as an outside observer, it seems more like a celebration of TV in various genres. Because as the second season goes on and it covers so much more than just medical dramas —

David: In fact, if there’s spoofs happening they’re usually of something else. There’s one episode that’s basically a slasher movie and another episode that’s essentially the movie, Do the Right Thing.

When it went from the Internet to TV, were there are a lot of other people giving notes? Or do you can still have the freedom that you’ve had?

David: It was truly minimal. Adult Swim is a very streamline operation and they give a few thoughts and they were usually just suggestions; take it or leave it. It’s a really amazing, free environment. Probably just because I’m so incredible that they knew, these guys know what they’re doing.

Nick: Well, it’s like when you get Jerry Bruckheimer, you don’t mess—

David: I’m the Jerry Bruckheimer of media.


Nick: You are the Jerry Bruckheimer of internet web series.

David: I’m like the white Jerry Bruckheimer. (Laughter)

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