“If you had asked me that question eight months ago, I would have said we were done. After shooting this current season, I finished the last day with a fever of 102 and stayed in bed for a week.”
The question was, “Is 'Childrens Hospital' on its last legs?” Yahoo TV talked with Rob Corddry, creator and star of the Adult Swim show that has garnered two Emmys in its first four seasons; the Season 5 finale airs October 24 at midnight.
Corddry already gets a lot of work in film and television; his most recent film, “Hot Tub Time Machine 2," is due out in 2014. So why is he driving himself past the brink of exhaustion to make such a small show for almost no money? “When doing sketch, I didn't get paid for anything until I started doing commercials in '96 or '97, and even then I still had to have a temp job. So it never felt like anything I was doing for money.”
But he didn't start out doing comedy. “I got out of college thinking I was going to be the next big Shakespearean actor and I was completely content to do that.” He began auditioning for every role he could find just as an exercise to get good at auditioning, and accidentally ended up on a sketch group. “I didn't even want it. And we were terrible, but I understood, 'Oh, this is something that I do really well and enjoy.' So then that's where I developed my sort of philosophy just to surround myself with like-minded cool people that aren't d---s.”
He ended up at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York, a place he likens to “CBGB in '76 or '77,” the legendary music club that helped incubate the punk and new wave movements. “The UCB has an attitude that sort of defies the reputation of comedy and comedians throughout history.” In his first improv class there, he learned, “If you make your partner look good in a scene, you'll look good. And that attitude has infected, I think, comedy in general with the spirit of this community, which is really cool.”
It's that spirit of community that draws in people like "30 Rock's" Jack McBrayer (who appears in this season's finale), Jon Hamm, Megan Mullally, Malin Akerman, Michael Cera, and more — people who clearly could be doing more profitable things with their time. And it's what keeps Corddry working at (literally) a fever pitch. The last two episodes of the season (three, actually, since the last is a double episode) are “sort of the epitome of what makes 'Childrens Hospital' really fun to me," he says. "It's being able to do whatever we want, because we'll probably never get the chance to do it again in our careers.”
The finale features helicopters and explosions and all sorts of effects you wouldn't expect from such an inexpensive show. Corddry credits John Stern (his partner along with David Wain), who “is a genius with a budget,” and also the fact that, being a double episode, they could afford a little more. Would the show work if it had a big studio budget? “There is something great about having a ton of money. Like when I go from this to doing a big-budget movie — which are few and far between — my trailer gets bigger, I'm like “Ho ho ho!” But “we also work slower, and I feel like sometimes people are less apt to problem-solve or be in the mood or even have their problem-solving muscles worked out, because they can throw money at the problem.”
“I don't care so much about money; I care more about time and attention.”
Watch a scene from this season of "Childrens Hospital" right here:
The end of the show probably won't come because the show fails, either ratings-wise or money-wise. When the end comes, it will probably be because the show is successful. Not only does scheduling the cast become harder every year, now the crew is even in demand. “Our [director of photography] had done nothing before 'Childrens Hospital,' and now he's directing episodes of '[The] Mindy [Project]'. Our production director Ryan Berg was a performance artist, and now he's the production designer for 'Hot Tub Time Machine 2.' Its getting hard to schedule our main crew members who, I feel like, are cast members of the show as well. I credit them all with being creators.”
So Corddry will likely continue making the show as long as the like-minded people (who aren't d---s) he's surrounded himself with want to do it. “It's only about fun, and they're giving the gift of their time, and if they have to take it back, I get it.” Hopefully, that's a long time off.
"Childrens Hospital" airs Thursdays at midnight on Adult Swim.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Rob Corddry
- Childrens Hospital
- Adult Swim
- Hot Tub Time Machine