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Nick Kroll profiled in Nylon Guys Magazine

Mar 2, 2015

Comedy of Errors 

Funnyman Nick Kroll got his break on one of the worst TV shows ever. Now look at him.

Comedian Nick Kroll could be 2009's poster boy for alt comedy if he believed in terms like alt comedy, which he doesn't.  Kroll is in that sweet spot that any funnyman perennially busting his ass always dreams of occupying. He's a regular on the Los Angeles circuit, frequently doing stand up playing characters at Upright Citizens Brigade and Largo. He wrote and starred in tow of the funniest videos on Funnyordie.com: "Rich Dicks," now being developed into a TV show, and "The Ed Hardy Boyz," which even Christian Audigier (the designer it contemptuously parodies) loved. Kroll has minor roles in Judd Apatow's upcoming Get Him to the Greek, as well as in Date Night with Steve Carell and Tina Fey. He lends a voice to HBO's animated comedy The Life & Times of Tim, and now he's co-starring on The League, FX's raunchy and hilarious new comedy about a group of dudes who obsess over fantasy football. I can't help but wonder: How does this guy even have time to have lunch with me?

Nevertheless, over an heirloom tomato, peach and burrata salad at Cube restaurant in Hollywood, Kroll -- who insists he's not a foodie ("I don't have the mental capacity for anything more than comedy") -- is spinning an inspiring tale of hard work finally paying off.

The story begins with the workshops Kroll took at the UCB Theater in New York City while he was a freshman at Georgetown University. He continued doing shows at UCB, wrote for MTV's Human Giant, and lent bits of snarky commentary to several of VH1's Most Awesomely Bad countdown shows. Then his wildest dreams came true. Sort of.

"I came out here for the Emmy-winning television show Caveman," he jokes, referring to the critically lambasted sitcom based on the Geico commercials. "We shot the 12 episodes, and it took off. It was huge. I chose that we shouldn't do any more. We should just go out on top like Seinfeld. The network and the public and the critics agreed...." He laughs. The show was canceled after six episodes and had the dubious honor of landing on the Chicago Tribune's list of the top 25 worst TV shows ever.

Sure, Kroll, now 31, landed his first starring role in a sitcom that tanked miserably, but it got him out to L.A. (and got him on The View, which is one of the funniest bits of television you'll ever see -- find it on YouTube). More importantly, it gave him the network stamp of legitimacy. In other words: "This guy is bona fide," he explains. "He is certifiably willing to get four hours of makeup put on every morning to then be completely thrashed by the critics."

Kroll's new show, The League, looks much more promising. It's an improvised, single-camera ensemble sitcom in the style of Curb Your Enthusiasm. "The story they tell is that Jeff Schaffer was in three fantasy football leagues, and his wife was like, "If you're gonna spend your time doing this, you better make some money on it."

Kroll is part of a cast that includes Mark Duplass, from indie cult hit The Puffy Chair, and Human Giant's Paul Scheer. Having so many funny, talented guys to work with, says Kroll, gives the show its color. "You've got Steve , who is, like, a man, a guy, a real dude. I'm, like, half dude, maybe quarter dude," he says, offering me a bite of potted duck on warm farro with pomegranate ("You've gotta try this -- amazing"), underscoring, perhaps intentionally, his lack of dudeness.

Kroll loves the collaborative nature of the show, and he attributes much of his recent success to just being part of a peer group that supports one another. "It's all about being available and being open to this ability to achieve things," he says, then adds self-deprecatingly, "that sounds like a fucking self-help group."

Does the born-and-bred New Yorker see himself living in L.A. five years down the line?

"That depends where the primo coke is, you know?"
LA General

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spend New Year's Eve afternoon with the kids

Mar 2, 2015

Bobby Odenkirk
New Year's Eve -- with the kids? 

'The Not Inappropriate Show,' an irreverent collection of silly and snarky comedy sketches fit for ages 6 and up, also has a family-friendly curtain time of 4 p.m.


Attention L.A. hipster-parents: New Year's Eve isn't just for grown-ups anymore. And apparently, neither is alternative comedy, that awkward, absurdist brand of humor so popular with the skinny jeans-and-cardigan crowd.

So take note of "The Not Inappropriate Show" on Thursday afternoon at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Hollywood. The show is curated by Bob Odenkirk, one of the alternative-comedy scene's godfathers, and his talent-manager wife, Naomi, and features sketches written for adults but "not inappropriate" for kids. And tickets are just $5.

It's an idea that will no doubt hit a sweet spot for a lot of Generation X parents who hushed their babies with Radiohead and now carpool kids who look like pint-sized emo rockers. The idea was actually borne out of the Odenkirks' frustration as parents themselves. They raised their children, now 9 and 11, to be "comedy connoisseurs" and found quality live entertainment for their family hard to find. So much of it, they felt, was condescending.

"Kids can understand a kind of absurdist, smart, silly comedy that adults enjoy," said Bob Odenkirk. "That's the kind of comedy that's smart-slash-silly that adults start to get when they're in college. . . . They're wrong to think that 11-year-olds can't understand that too."

Alternative comedy spans a wide range of material, but it's almost always off-the-wall and ridiculous. The genre encompasses Tracy Morgan's outrageous rants on NBC's 30 Rock, Zach Galifianakis' weirdo persona in last summer's blockbuster The Hangover and Paul Reubens' witty and winsome Pee-Wee's Playhouse, returning to the stage next month. It often appeals to the squirmy grade-schooler in everyone. Why wouldn't real, live 12-year-olds appreciate it too?

At the Odenkirks' house, the whole family takes comedy pretty seriously. The kids watch The Simpsons, NBC's deadpan comedy The Office" the cult Fox hit Arrested Development on DVD, even the less offensive bits on Saturday Night Live. "Every chance we could, we would bring them to the live theater in L.A.," said Naomi Odenkirk of her son and daughter. "If I was at the Groundlings or UCB and I realized the show didn't contain too much inappropriate material, I'd bring them."

Last year, the couple realized that some of their favorite sketches were -- give or take a word or two -- kid-friendly. They envisioned an annual New Year's Eve show for families and started cherry-picking sketches to include in the production, which is being pitched as OK for ages 6 and up.

Nick Wiger, a regular performer at UCB, impressed them with his "New Alphabet Song," an earnest and complex rendition of the original. Another one of their favorites was "The 3-D Sketch" from the comedy troupe the Birthday Boys -- seven roommates from Ithaca, N.Y. That marathon bit involves the performers pelting the audience with Styrofoam packing peanuts.

The ukulele-strumming waif Kate Micucci (one-half of the comic duo Garfunkel and Oates) also makes the list and will sing hummable pop ditties about growing up without iTunes and e-mail ("When I Was Little") and a moon who drinks Coors Light ("Mr. Moon"). Edi Patterson and Stephanie Courtney, regulars at the Groundlings, will perform a chirpy but nonsensical song as members of "The Women's Concussion Support Group" who haven't entirely recovered from their head injuries. They will also portray pen pals, for whom life is one bizarre event after another.

Bob Odenkirk is the lone parent among the performers. But the other comedians aren't especially rattled by the prospect of an audience full of kids. After all, it still counts as stage time, a tough get in L.A. Besides, these sketches have been road-tested on the beer-soaked hordes of Hollywood.

"Even though they're whacked, they're sort of sweet at heart," said Courtney of her own sketches. "I think there's a sort of sweetness in the chaos. There is a sort of an optimism among the crazy. We'll see how it goes on that day."

Bob Odenkirk himself will don a beard and play Abraham Lincoln, sharing tidbits about the 16th president gleaned from the place mats of family restaurants.

"I was born in a log cabin," Odenkirk will tell the crowd in an exaggerated baritone, "made of logs." He'll pull out an imaginary mirror, measure his reflection against a penny and muse: "It's true. I've lost weight."

It's a bit he started performing years before he had children and one that holds up in large part because it is so ridiculous and accessible.

"I don't like when people characterize what I do as edgy," said Odenkirk, who co-wrote and co-starred in HBO's 1990s cult-favorite sketch series Mr. Show. "I've always hated that. I just think it's funny. I'm not trying to be irreverent. These are the subject matters I think about. That's one of the things I like about this 'Not Inappropriate' show. It's a bit of a statement."

Note: All proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Sante D'Or Foundation, , a nonprofit animal rescue and adoption group in Los Feliz.
LA Shows

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Dave Horwitz & Marisa Pinson sell Dealbreaker book

Mar 2, 2015

Deals: 1/4/2010 

Foundry's Hannah Brown Gordon sold the tongue-in-cheek relationship book Dealbreaker by the founders of the same-titled Web site, Marisa Pinson and Dave Horwitz, to Jennifer Kasius at Running Press. Kasius took North American rights to the book, which Gordon calls "a hilarious rundown of all the horrifying things that we do to stop a relationship dead in its tracks."
LA General

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