Moderator: Andy Greenwald (Grantland)
Panelists: Abbi Jacobson (Broad City), Keegan-Michael Key (Key & Peele), Jordan Peele (Key & Peele), Nick Kroll (Kroll Show), Andy Daly (Review), Blake Anderson, (Workaholics), Adam DeVine (Workaholics), Anders Holm (Workaholics), Kyle Newacheck (Workaholics)
The second panel of Paleyfest was a fantastic outing of some of the most clever, brilliant, and hard-working comedians on television. It was exactly the high-energy, uproarious event would have been better suited to kick of this year’s fest. The comedians had such excellent chemistry and every moment was full of turbulent quips from each member. Yet, we also gained an insight into the sheer amount of work it takes to bring the funny to their shows, proving that comedy is indeed hard business.
The event began with Andy Greenwald, the day’s moderator, who was a breath of fresh air. He was funny, self-deprecating, and even took a few shots at Comedy Central’s less-than-stellar past reputation. But, mot of all, he was having fun with it, and you could tell that he genuinely was a fan and respected his interviewees.
We were then treated to a clip-show of Comedy Central’s best. This included all of the show’s that the day’s panelists created, as well as Nathan For You, South Park, The Nightly Show, and The Daily Show. There was a great deal of awhs and applause at The Daily Show’s John Stewart. Even Greenwald brought up Stewart’s departure by asking if anyone in the audience was interested in hosting a late-night news show and that they would be accepting resumes afterward.
We then got to see longer scenes from each of the show’s presented that day: Broad City, Key & Peele, Kroll Show, Review, and Workaholics. We were even treated to a never-before-seen clip from Kroll Show that teased the fate of Dr. Armond. Kroll asked us not to spoil it, so mum’s the word.
Finally, the panel commenced and each comedian decided to enter with their own bit, treating their walk-out as a joke. Adam DeVine was goofy, Jordan Peele acted like he didn’t want to be there, and Andy Daly pretended that he was amazed by everything.
The panel kicks off as Greenwald says,
“We are now ready for what I’m sure will be a calm, organized conversation.”
Greenwald then asks how everyone took their refined sense of humor and used it creatively to make a television show, and if Comedy Central is strict or rather hands-off. It’s surprising to learn that the executives at Comedy Central primarily find the talent and let them run. The Workaholics guys and Abbi Jacobson talked about the huge amount of creative freedom that they are given and let to run wild. You definitely have to give a hand to Comedy Central for amassing such a talented group of people with such very unique, distinct styles. The network is absolutely celebrating a creative renaissance, and everyone there knows it.
Greenwald gives his opinion on Comedy Central’s new creative angle and Adam DeVine proceeded to tell how much freedom they truly have on his show.
“I think Comedy Central kind of has a famously hands off approach.”
“We had one episode where we were trying to make an un-burnable American flag, so through the production process, we had to burn like 50 American flags.”
The panel continually goes off the rails because, let’s face it, these jokers can’t stop, well, joking around. Endless giggles at each others jokes. Nick Kroll spends a good chunk of the show leading an ironic tirade against the Obama administration — it starts out funny, gets less so, and then becomes uproarious again.
We learn a bit about the inception of each show. Broad City was a web-series, Key & Peele briefly went by the moniker The Hypothetical Adventures of Key and Peele and Key Vs. Peele, and Review was based on an Australian series. About the remake, Daley says
“A lot of shows get discovered in the Outback, so it’s not a crazy question!”
Each of the panelistis discussed the most daring moments of their respective shows. Abbi Jacobson discusses this infamous tree jerk-off scene in this season of Broad City (hilarious) and the “pegging” scene (also hilarious.) It’s such an enlightening perspective to hear what these unhinged comics feel about their most out-there material. Adam DeVine discusses the “college porno” episode from this season of Workaholics, which is equally as funny.
They then discuss the strangest notes that they’ve ever gotten. Andy Daley’s been told that the scene where he eats too many pancakes was too sad. Nick Kroll was told that his pilot skit “cake train,” which featured a strange man throwing cakes off a train to people, would be too expensive to practically make. So, the funnyman decided to make it in season three of Kroll Show.
“They let us do it by not having very stern oversight.”
The Key & Peele duo were asked if Star Wars was something that anyone cared about after they pitched too many Star Wars-related skits.
The panelists then discuss the hard task of finding like-minded people. Judging by the excellent chemistry displayed by the panelists, it can’t truly be that hard. The night was primarily full of jokes, laughter, and a little suspense. Okay, so the only suspenseful moment occurred when the camera closed in on Blake Anderson as he fought not to break into laughter. The camera stayed close for five minutes, and that’s not an exaggeration.
Later, Abbi Jacobson discussed the hard task of finding writers for her series, talking about how she hires her friends. Nick Kroll agreed, saying
“It really is who do you vibe with, who’s going to get you, and who do you know who you can trust with a funny script or trust on camera with you. Comedy is so much about chemistry.”1
Greenwald then asked them their favorite moments from their own shows and, due to the humble nature of comedians, the panel spent most of the time joking. Andy Daly insisted that his proudest moment was when his show killed Fred Willard and left him floating in space, drawing real-life inspiration from a family’s trip to the grand canyon, in which the young son was vehemently ill and vomiting while the video would cut back and forth between the family and the majestic landmark.
Abbi Jacobson referred to the scene in Broad City in which she argued with a crush before sex and she was wearing a strap-on dildo (a great scene). Nick Kroll loved the journey of his ludicrous character Dr. Armond. Key & Peele loved the Miami Vice skit that featured and explosion. The Workaholics guys had different answers ranging from the earlier discussed “porno episode” to their own fiery explosion that occurred in a promo for the new season.
Keegan-Michael Key talked about how he loved scenes that differed from the scripted material, referring to a bit where he and Jordan Peele played two Arabic guys cat-calling women in burqas, which devolves into a ridiculously homoerotic tone. He specified that he loved scenes that,
“go off the rails organically.”
Looking past the self-deprecation and jokes, and evens past Nick Kroll’s ironic tirade against Barrack Obama, its clear that this group of people are more than just funny. It hinders back to what Andy Greenwald asked in the beginning — How were you able to turn your humor into a creative outlet and a job?
The group of comedians were all brilliantly able to find a way to channel their own individual comedic talents and styles into a hit series with a multitude of seasons. Whatever Comedy Central is doing, they’re doing it right.
Finally, Greenwald reads the audience question: “Who are your comedic influences?”
Blake Anderson says Jim Carrey, Adam DeVine says Chris Farley, Keegan-Michael Key says Richard Pryor and Peter Sellars, Nick Kroll first says Obama’s presidency (laugh) and then admits to Mel Brooks inspiring him. For Andy Daly? It’s Martin Short, while Kyle Newacheck cites Daniel Stern’s performance in Home Alone.
We all agree with these picks, as these are well-respected comedic geniuses that inspire us all. However, as evidenced by the sheer humility and comedic talent evidenced by these comedians on their shows and throughout this panel, there’s no doubt in my mind that someday they’ll be the inspirations to others.
By Bryan Liberty | Contributor