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Rob Huebel interviewed by Movieline

Feb 20, 2015

Rob Huebel on Childrens Hospital, Life as We Know It and Playing George Clooney's Best Friend

If you've seen a mainstream comedy in the last five years, the chances are good you've seen Rob Huebel. From the MTV series Human Giant to I Love You, Man to The Other Guys to Adult Swim's Childrens Hospital, the UCB performer has appeared alongside his fair share of comedy icons. Huebel branches out a bit more this Friday when he co-stars opposite Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel in the romantic dramedy, Life as We Know It, and coming soon he'll tackle the biggest part of his career: That of George Clooney's best friend, in Alexander Payne's The Descendants.

Huebel rang up Movieline last week and discussed how Childrens Hospital is almost getting too good at lampooning medical dramas, his role in Life as We Know It and just what it was like to appear in The Descendants opposite one of the biggest stars in the world.

How did you get involved with Childrens Hospital?

I thought you were going to ask me how my life has changed since the show has aired on Adult Swim, in terms of fame and dealing with all that. What a lot of people don't realize is that Adult Swim has millions and millions of more viewers than network shows, so when I walk down the street, people go f**king crazy. But that's not your question. What was your question?

No problem: What drew you to Childrens Hospital?

A lot of us were friends from New York that had transplanted ourselves out to Los Angeles. Rob Corddry and I were friends, David Wain and I were friends, and Ken Marino - we knew each other also. Rob and David came up for the idea for the show during the writers' strike and originally it was just a fun internet project we could do. Warner Bros. was paying for it, so we just cranked out a bunch of five-minute episodes, just for the Internet. And that was really fun, because you could do whatever you wanted. No one gave us any notes. It was like, "Let's just sort of make this absurd medical drama to screw with shows like Grey's Anatomy and House." And then it got picked up by TV. Just crazy.

I always feel like any time you get a chance to work with your friends and no one is going to mess with you, there is no reason not to do it.

Has being on Adult Swim curtailed the "Wild West" feel of the initial episodes?

It's really interesting. Adult Swim is - I don't think they mind being described this way either - they are pretty much the Internet on television. They pretty much allow us to get away with anything we want. I don't think we've ever been told to reign it in or change anything. Some of it is so absurd; we don't set out to make it offensive to anyone, but it's a bunch of comedians trying to outdo each other. So sometimes it becomes really dark and crazy. I wrote a script for the most recent season and I'm writing more on the third season and I literally turned in that script and they were like, "Great, thanks!" They don't mess with it. That's really helped us a lot and helped us establish a very specific tone. In a way it can be scary because there's no one to blame. You can't say, "Oh, well, the network screwed it up!" If it falls flat, it's totally on us.

It seems like the type of show you can just do for seasons. Do you worry about running out of stuff to parody?

We got together a few weeks ago to try to come up with ideas for the next season and we started pitching these ideas, and one of the writers' assistants was like, "They've done that, they've done that" - talking about House and Grey's. We're like, "What?!" I don't watch those shows so I have no gauge on what they do. We're trying to throw out comedy purposes and it's like, "Yep, they've done that." 

So it's getting harder to top those shows?

It's not even trying to top them - it's trying to do stuff they just haven't done yet. We don't want to look like we're copying them. Like, we did one this year that just aired where there was two people impaled on a flagpole. In our version it was an old black man and a young, white a**hole. And it became this very racial situation. We can only save one of them, so who are we going to save. So we shot this and like a week later, Grey's Anatomy did this. This! They didn't have the black/white thing, but they did have two people impaled on a flagpole or something. So there's starting to be a little bit of unintentional crossover.

And you also had Kate Walsh from Private Practice on recently, to further blur the line.

Here's a weird twist: The marketing for this season's House has Huge Laurie in clown makeup. I have no idea what they're doing there. I don't know whether - because ours has been out there for a while, that's Corddry's thing on the show; he wears clown makeup. It doesn't even make sense that House would do that. I don't think it's a reference to us, I think it's just a weird coincidence. He doesn't wear clown makeup...

You've also got a supporting role in Life As We Know It.

It was really fun. The movie is a total girl movie. If you have a penis, you will probably not see this movie; if you have a vagina, this will probably be your favorite movie ever. It's really good. It's Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel and they're raising this baby they sort of inherited. I'm with a group of other comedians as the annoying neighbors, giving terrible advice. I'm gay in the movie, but I don't play it as a stereotype; I play it as me. So it's basically me-as-Rob Huebel hitting on Josh Duhamel. It's funny and everything. I just feel like if you're a dude, you don't want to see a movie with a baby in it; you want to see a movie with a car chase, which leads into a crash, which leads into a shark attack, which leads into another car chase.

I must say, I was a bit surprised to see you starring...

That I would do a mainstream romcom...

Yes, exactly. What made you take the part?

What I wanted to do was cockblock myself for the next ten years. I figured if I could get myself into a movie that only girls will see and then I'm gay in the movie, girls will think I'm gay in real life and stop bothering me. No. Come on. I looked at my part and I thought I could do it and be funny. I had a phone call with the director - Greg Berlanti, who's great - and he was all for getting really funny improvisers in the movie. So it's me, Andy Daly, Will Sasso, Jessica St. Clair, Melissa McCarthy. He wanted us to riff a lot of the time and improvise. So even if it's not a movie that is not necessarily my taste, as long as I can be funny in it, that's all I really care about.

And you have another surprising movie on your resume: The Descendants.

I shot this movie that Alexander Payne directed - and there's this other guy in it that you may have heard of named...George Clooney? Yeah I think that's right: George Clooney. But yeah, I shot a part in this movie in Hawaii which was just amazing. Alexander Payne is one of my favorite directors; he is the man.

It's based on the book by Kaui Hart Hemmings and deals with some pretty serious stuff. What's your role?

In the movie I play George's best friend. So all my scenes are with him. It's really terrible what a cool person he is. It's off-putting. He has everything in the world going for him. He's super good looking, politically involved and super smart and also hilarious. So you meet him and you're basically like: "OK buddy, what the f**k? How did you get everything in the world?" He's just the coolest guy. That was a great, great experience.

Was it a nerve-wracking experience for you to be involved with what will undoubtedly be a high-profile, Oscar-bait-y type film?

It is sort of intimidating. It's not a comedy movie. There are some funny moments, but it's a fairly serious story. I come from a comedy background, so first I was a little bit concerned about it. But those guys - people at that level, Payne and Clooney - they know what they're doing. When you get there, they make you feel so comfortable that you don't have to worry about anything. Alexander said something like the first day we were on set. Like, "I don't want anyone to be nervous or remotely uptight about this, because I cast you and you're in the movie because you're a great person and I see you as this character in this movie. So from here on out let's just have fun and enjoy each other." So nerves go away then. You don't think, "Whoa, this could be really great!" You don't worry about what might be with the movie, you just try to enjoy yourself and do a good job.

How did you get the part?

I had to audition a couple of times. I originally read for a different part and then I got called back for the part of like Clooney's best friend, who lives down the street. Then I got a call on my phone from Alexander Payne and - I saved the message, of course, because eventually when my life bottoms out and I become addicted to crystal meth and I'm a prostitute on Santa Monica Blvd., I'd like to have that message. It was really the high point of my career.
LA General

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Ben Schwartz interviewed by TV Guide

Feb 20, 2015

Undercovers' Ben Schwartz on Agent Hoyt, Action Stunts and Improv in the Spy World

As Undercovers' skilled CIA agent-Steven Bloom fanboy Bill Hoyt, Ben Schwartz knows how to lighten the mood no matter what serious international crisis his character may face. Behind the scenes, Schwartz is a comedy writer who won an Emmy for penning Hugh Jackman's opening number at the Oscars. He talked with about what's coming up for Hoyt, doing his own stunts and finding room for improv in the spy world. What will we find out about Hoyt's back story?

Ben Schwartz: I think the fun thing about him is we really have no idea what his background is. He's quirky, he's a little bit crazy and he obviously is just enamored with Steven Bloom. As the season goes on, we get to learn more about why that is -- and all the secrets Josh and J.J. don't really tell me about. I only learn about them when I read the scripts. Hoyt is so funny in the field. I can picture what he'd be like in training school.

I want you to write one episode about me in training school. We could shoot it all film noir-y, like black and white, and it could be one huge flashback episode . How has it been doing the action stunts?

If I were ever in a situation where there was someone who put their hands around me -- and allowed me 15 seconds to get a hold on them -- I could do the same maneuver that I get to do in these episodes. I have stuntmen and they taught me all these things that I get to use in upcoming episodes. Even jumping around or jumping over things, for somebody who comes from a comedy background, is the coolest gift. What's your secret to getting laughs in more serious scenes, but not going overboard at the same time?

I think it's a testament to the writing. Our showrunner, Josh, and our writing staff are good at writing it for me so I can see when I'm doing my jokes and then when it's time to be serious. If we're diffusing a bomb, they pick and choose their places so perfectly for me to throw out one-liners. Are you able to improvise your lines at all?

I'll pretty much stick to the script and maybe I'll add something a little bit here and there. Josh has been so cool about allowing me to improvise in certain places. We're on the tenth episode now and I have learned exactly where I have room to improvise. ... I'm so lucky because Josh writes for me so well. We talk a lot and he just knows my voice. How does your improv background influence your work on Undercovers?

Taking improv has helped every other aspect of my field. I've been doing it for seven years, and the ideas of improv and the rules I've learned help with my acting and my writing. ... A lot of the time, you're supposed to play to the top of your intelligence, as truthful as possible. But when you're on stage making people laugh, you're still acting. I think it helped me a bunch to go on stage two or three times a week. I never went to acting school, so improv was my training. Just being quick on your feet helps in everyday life. Beyond J.J. and Josh's involvement, what made you want to do the project?

I really wanted to do something like this where I could kind of flex different muscles. For me, I always want to get better whether its writing or performing on stage or acting, and I just thought this would be a wonderful place for me to really work hard. This is an opportunity that I can't believe came so early in my career and I was so excited to jump on. What else are you working on right now?

I'm writing a script for Imagine Entertainment and Brian Grazer. I sold one more script. I sold my third book a little bit ago. ... And then I perform every Sunday at 11 p.m. at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, the place where I started. I still perform for free and its one of my favorite things. It's one of the most relaxing and entertaining things that I love doing. I remember when I started at the UCB Theatre, I was taking out the garbage and taking tickets just so I could take classes, so it's such a great feeling to have a weekly show over in LA.

Undercovers airs Wednesday at 8/7c on NBC.
LA General

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Eric Appel to exec produce TBS pilot

Feb 20, 2015

TBS Back In Reality Game With Funny Or Die's 'Undercover Karaoke'

TBS is reentering the unscripted arena with a pilot order for Undercover Karaoke (working title), a half-hour hidden-camera project from Funny or Die based on the comedy site's viral hit 'Undercover Karaoke with Jewel' video. Undercover Karaoke will feature celebrities disguised as regular people going to everyday events where they perform as the superstars they really are. Undercover Karaoke with Jewel featured the singer disguised as a mousy-looking, mild-mannered businesswoman who had a Susan Boyle moment when she performed some of her signature songs to a dumbfounded audience at a local karaoke bar. The video's creator Eric Appel and executive producer Mike Farah of Funny or Die will executive produce the TBS pilot with Gary Sanchez Prods.' Chris Henchy. The pilot will be produced internally at Funny Or Die with input by the company's creative director Andrew Steele and partners/co-founders Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Undercover Karaoke with Jewel went viral when it premiered on Funny Or Die in August, generating 2.5 million views in its first 3 days and sparking interest in the reality marketplace. The tally has since risen to over 3.3 million views.
LA General

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