Rob Corddry debuted on The Daily Show in 2002 and quickly became one of the show’s most popular correspondents. Corddry has appeared in dozens of features films, notably Old School, Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story, and, most recently, Hot Tub Time Machine. Rob is the creator, writer, and star of Childrens’ Hospital, now airing on Adult Swim. Watch a full episode here.
After watching a few episodes of the show, my first question is: Does your character just wear clown makeup or is he actually, genetically, a clown?
Well, it’s a good question. It’s a question that will probably be answered in season three but I will say that in the world of Childrens’ Hospital, statistically speaking, one out of ten people are clowns.
Too bad there’s no way of telling.
Well there are telltale signs. Spinning bowties, tiny dogs, and oversized pants it’s not very PC to call it out. You have to let them open up in their own time.
That’s understandable. You shot the Childrens’ Hospital web series during the 2007 WGA strike. Had you wanted to do web content, or was the strike the main motivation to produce for the web?
It was pretty much born out of the strike, and the idea. At the time, I didn’t feel the idea was conducive to television. The shortest shows were twenty-two minutes and I really didn’t think this kind of humor would sustain itself for that long.
So the show wouldn’t translate to a half-hour of television.
It really wouldn’t because you would be beholden to character development and plot structure, which really doesn’t interest me. [Laughs]
Just in this series, or in general?
Well, it depends. I learn by doing. The more I write, the more I try and write in a very traditional way. I’m slowly learning how to do it – it’s a lot harder. It’s a lot more fun to write just eleven minutes of jokes.
Do think you the show’s blatant disregard for continuity will ever hurt it? For instance, in one episode you make a joke that the hospital (whose exterior has yet to be seen) is located in Brazil.
We actually bring it up in the new season a couple of times. And we were even considering, in season three, to just leave the hospital for a coffee break and actually shoot for a day in Brazil. Just leave the hospital and trudge through the crazy streets of Rio de Janeiro – dodging bullets, getting papayas, making drug deals.
That’s hilarious. Do you put any limits on yourself when writing the series?
We definitely have a set of rules for ourselves and we try to stick to them. But at the end of the day it’s really the shortest time to the funniest joke.
What are those rules?
A lot of times we find ourselves saying “Too Airplane-y-. There really is a fine line to this absurd humor. Also, “Too Grays Anatomy-y-. We find ourselves writing the most ridiculous storylines and then find that they could actually be on Gray’s Anatomy and we toss it.
Do you script the show pretty tightly?
We do. That’s not to say we aren’t open to completely chucking out the script when we are shooting. But it’s a very improvisational set because we employ so many improvisers that it would be dumb to not let them do their thing. And a lot of the best material has come from that.
For a script, do you just assemble your funniest hospital-related jokes? Does story ever matter?
For a five-minute web series, jokes definitely matter more. For the show, there has to be at least the illusion of a plot. Before each season, we have a big round table where the majority of the cast gets together with a bunch of our funny friends and a bunch of writers we like and we toss around ideas and expand on them. Then I and the other two executive producers get together and start placing stories together. We like to have an A, B, C, D and even an E story that are complimentary. Then we start figuring out a way that they can come together at the end, which is always very satisfying for me.
Wow, with an E story, that’s almost one story every two minutes.
That’s the challenge and we really enjoy it. The E story really can be a running joke; this character keeps appearing in the background and that’s an E story.
The strike allowed you to bring together a level of comedic talent not usually seen in web series. Was it harder to re-assemble them for the show?
The only trouble we had was with Lake Bell, who has a show on HBO right now, but we still got her for four episodes. And funny enough, the only guy we couldn’t really pin down was my brother [Nate Corddry]. He was in New Zealand shooting Yogi Bear. And, of course, Ed Helms because of The Office.
While researching the show, I noticed that you’re in the elite club of people with over a million Twitter followers.
My mother would be so proud.
Was that something you worked toward, or did it just happen?
If you’re in the business of procuring Twitter followers it’s good to know Ashton Kutcher. I was tweeting for about a week, perhaps, and then Ashton emailed me and said, “Is this really you?- I said yes, and then he tweeted me, and I just gained thousand of followers within the next couple weeks.
You quickly turn off the function that sends you an e-mail every time someone follows you.
Exactly! I didn’t really understand it at that point. I was recovering from my vasectomy yeah, that’s right and my phone just started buzzing. I had no idea what was going on. Once you get that many followers, they really grow exponentially. But in the world where Twitter followers are currency, I am worth 1.3 million followers. I do not go any higher.
Does having that many followers help as a promotional tool for the show?
Well, we’re all at the age of the tipping point, we’re all sort of looking for that maven that’s going to blow it wide open, and you know, nowhere near 1.3 million of my followers read every tweet. But I imagine it has to get us something. It certainly can’t hurt.