Some years ago at one of the many Friars Roasts I had written for, someone told this joke, ” Someone broke into the William Morris office this past weekend and stole a million promises!” Now it didn’t necessarily have to be the William Morris office. It could have been any agency, or entertainment group. The point was that in “the biz” people make a lot of promises they don’t keep.
Not so with Nick Kroll and John Mulaney. Both had been telling me for quite a while that they wanted me to be in their “Oh, Hello” sketches. These guys have been friends since college at Georgetown,when John who was a Freshman when Nick was a senior, had to audition for Nick to be in the campus Improv group. They’ve been friends and writing partners ever since. It would be hard to find two nicer and more talented guys!
So anyway, one day I’m at home working with my assistants when the phone rings and it’s Inman Young, the producer of Nick’s upcoming show on Comedy Central, “The Nick Show Kroll”, which is due to come out this summer. He says, Nick asked him to call me and invite me to be in some “Oh, Hello” sketches, and would I be interested! Of course I told him “No”,and that I was insulted that he asked! (LOL)
What I actually told him was that I’d pay HIM to do those sketches, and how soon did he need me to be out in LA???
The funny thing was when I started getting e-mails from the production people who were handling the details, the e-mails were labeled ” The Nick Show Kroll” and I corrected the first couple thinking the person just had A.D.H.D. and switched the words around. No one said anything, but when they kept coming like that, I checked and found out that I was the moron and that the show WAS actually called ” The Nick Show Kroll.”
First day on the set was very exciting. They were kind enough to send someone to pick me up which was very nice and took away the fear that I wouldn’t find the location and I’d miss the shoot! That someone turned out to be Peter Moses, a guy working his way up in production.
When I arrived Inman was there to greet me, and was very accommodating. He has a ton of credits in producing comedy, from Mad TV, to the new film High Road, with Lizzy Caplan, to The Comedians of Comedy with Zach Galifianakis, and Brian Posehn.
They took me to my trailer at the base camp, (Yes, I actually had a room in a trailer!) where I could change and relax while waiting to go on set. Stage Manager Toby Burge made sure I had everything I needed, including a made to order sandwich before it was officially time to eat!
And both Louis Tocchet the 1st A.D., and Giselle Gurza Junco, the 2nd A.D., went out of their way to make sure I was comfortable at all times! Thanks guys!!!
This was a huge, major production, with a tremendous crew, and tons of locations. Most projects are happy to have a director at all! This one had a 1st and 2nd A.D.! (LOL) It all spoke to how much Comedy Central thinks of Nick Kroll.
Nick has such a great team behind him. I got to meet producer John Levenstein, who had been a writer, consulting producer, and co-executive producer for the hit show Arrested Development.
Then the hair and make-up people came over to say hello, and quickly realized they had nothing to do. I did let one girl touch my hair a little bit, but when I told her she was making me nervous, she said she understood and left! (LOL)
Then wardrobe came over, looked at the clothing I had brought, and quickly agreed that I did not need their services! (LOL) After all I was playing myself, so it behooved me to look as much like myself as possible.
I had actually met myself once, ( many years before!), and kind of remembered what I looked like, so it was easier for me to try and re-create that look than it was for anyone else to attempt it!
At one point I told John I had to go to my trailer and get into costume, and he said, ” Aren’t you already in costume?” And I had to admit that I had something a little more fun in mind. A nice pink jacket I had brought from New York!
Nick is so talented, I would actually put him in the category of my old friend Phil Hartman who was one of the most respected character performers in the business. Everyone on SNL always respected Phil as one of the best. I think with characters like Bobby Bottleservice, Fabrice Fabrice, and Gil Faizon, Nick will be seen the same way.
I can not divulge anything about what the sketches were about, except to say they were “Oh, Hello” sketches, but I was in them not only with Nick, (Gil Faizon), and John, (George St. Geegland), but also with celebrated actress Karen Black, who was once up for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress. She was so much fun to work with as well, and as the Director Jon Krisel, who created and directs IFC’s Portlandia with SNL’s Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, allowed us to improvise a bit, she wound up calling me “Galvani”, and in doing so afforded me an extended bit in the sketch we were doing.
The second day of the shoot, I got there in time for lunch and was pleasantly surprised to find myself in the company of Ed Helms, of The Hangover movies and his newest one just released, ” Jeff, Who Lives At Home”, by Mark and Jay Duplass. In an earlier Comedy Matters TV video,at Comedy Central’s First Annual Comedy Awards, Mark promised me a part in “Jeff” although it had already been shot, edited and wrapped! (LOL)
Also on set was Jason Mantzoukas, who plays Rafi in FX’s The League, and will soon be co-starring in the new Sacha Baron Cohen film “The Dictator” which everyone is excitedly waiting to see, Adam Pally who plays Adam Blum in ABC’s Happy Endings, Jon Daly from the UCB group Mr. A$$, who is also a producer on Nick’s show, and all around “macher”, ( which is a very technical term! LOL), Owen Burke from UCB, Seth Morris a comic/sketch guy from TV and films, who also writes for this new Nick Kroll show, and Brian Huskey who plays Chet on Adult Swim’s Children’s Hospital, and is a regular on the Onion News Network.
Most of these guys, ( if not all!), are UCB guys, who know and like each other and happen to be on the “hippest”, most cutting-edge shows on the air. It was quite a crew, and they all made me feel very at home. As a matter of fact, I can’t tell you how many people on Nick’s team did their homework on me, and were familiar with things I have done. Ed Helms in particular was very kind and generous, and shared a very cool story with me which will be for a future post.
The reason I say he was kind and generous is when we broke for lunch, the entire table was filled with all the guys, so I sat down at an adjoining table by myself, which happened to be in the direct sun! In LA that’s HOT!!!
It almost felt like high school again in the cafeteria when you were hoping to sit with the cool kids, but there was no room. I’m older now and more grounded,( hopefully! LOL) so it wasn’t exactly the same, but Ed looked over and said, ” Jeff, you’re gonna melt over there. Come and join us!”, and he moved over and made room for me next to him. That is the sign of a kind, caring, and gracious person! It may seem like a small thing but it was a HUGE kindness! Thank you Ed!
All I’ll say about the second day of shooting was that it involved a lot of tuna fish, and I personally came away smelling not too good, unless you’re the kind of guy who likes the scent of tuna fish!
In my sketch, I also had to try and keep up with Nick and John which was hard because they’ve been bouncing stuff off each other for years, and have so many inside jokes. We got good feedback from the people present, so I think, (and HOPE!) it came off well!
After the shoot, we shot a little video for Comedy Matters TV with Nick and John in character as Gil and George and it was HILARIOUS! It will be posted as soon as it’s edited, so stay tuned!