At first I thought he was kidding, and it took me asking a lot of questions before I realized he was for real. As crazy as it was though, I still felt the need to be respectful of this practice if it came from a culture or tradition I didn't understand. Weird, conflicting emotions inside of me.
The most awkward moment of my career was when I was doing MadTV and I had to wear high-heeled sneakers, a blond wig, and a Speedo, and I was playing a pool boy, and I remember dancing and thinking to myself This is the point of no return. I will never be a serious dramatic actor. I just sold my soul, and it was worth it.
I’ve definitely seen some crazy shit. I saw this one show where a guy goes up and somehow picks himself up in a plastic garbage bag. It was so upsetting. I’ve also seen a guy in L.A. jump up and land on thumbtacks. Someone from Chicago, Ian Abramson, did sort of break the mold of a stand-up comic—he found himself performing on Conan, and he did his bit where he wears a shock collar.
GRANT! U.S. Grant (Hiram Ulysses Grant was his true name). I have been messing with an idea for a screenplay about the man. I quiet, unassuming fellow who was passed over for years by everyone around him (nickname "Useless") but in the end he drove it home and saved our beautiful republic.
So cool people talking about this kind of stuff and having all the conversations about race, etc. since the show premiered. As far as Rachel (and other love interests too), we didn't set out to cast someone white and auditioned people of all ethnic backgrounds, and wanted to cast the person I seemed to have the best chemistry with to sell this huge relationship arc. In the end, Noel blew us away. And, for the writing, I'm pulling a lot from my own real current relationship, which is with a "white" person - so we can do interesting scenes like the scene in 109 (Mornings) about the parents (which many South East Asians have told me really resonated with them and they'd never seen an interracia...
No, no. It was never mentioned. I never thought of it. Jerry never thought of it - furthest thing from my mind. And by the way, I couldn't have done it anyway. There's no way that I could have. First of all, they wouldn't have let me do it (laughter). But even had they let me do it, there's no way that I could have done that and also been the executive producer of the show. It would have been way too hard. I mean I had a 24/7 job just on the writing end of it and the producing end. So there's no way I could have been in it.
I had actually pitched Nathan for You to Comedy Central before I started working on Jon Benjamin Has a Van. It was inspired by segments I did for a Canadian series called "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" where I'd interact with real people in an interview setting. I first began doing these segments in 2007. But it's always interesting to watch different approaches to dealing with real people, and it was very educational to work with Jon and see how he operated. You Can't Shoot Here is one of my all time favorite comedy bits.
"The Ben Stiller Show" was a crazy ton of fun. In fact, when it ended I had the very conscious thought that it was the most fun I would or could ever have in showbiz and my goal from that point on would be to try to replicate it. "Mr. Show" could have been more fun if I hadn't been such a tight-ass, but we still had a ton of laughs.
My parents were never informed of anything. They were never paid to do the show. They never shot promos for the network. They were just living their lives and we would show up and prank them. This was before anyone had seen anything like this on TV so it was a much different reaction from people watching back then. People freaked out!
The pros and cons of live action and animation are pretty much what you'd expect: in live action, you can shoot the same scene from a thousand angles for a thousand takes and figure out how to assemble the scene in "post," but if you realize that a character should have been looking a different direction or wearing a different kind of hat, you're either CGing their eyeballs or you're screwed. In animation, you can make eyeballs and hats change until the cows come home, but on the other hand, your script has to be darn near finished before the first actor even records their first line. The funny thing to me is that in live action, you can type "a room full of people" and nobody will have a he...
One of the great things about the internet - beyond the amazing reddit AMA experience - is that you can research any voice you want, just by going to YouTube. Which was very helpful in figuring out the Canadian accent, the Pennsylvanian accent, C-Czar (I watched a lot of Riff Raff to get that accent down).