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Checking In With 'Childrens Hospital': Interview With Rob Corddry

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Jun 23, 2011 | 6:37am EDT

rob corddryFollowing our interview last week with Rob Huebel, we talked to the creator and star of Childrens Hospital Rob Corddry. You might be familiar with the funnyman from his stint on The Daily Show or his roles in hilarious films like Hot Tub Time Machine and Harold and Kumar escape from Guantanamo Bay. But on Childrens Hospital we finally get to experience the Corddry voice in full effect and... it's very strange. And absurd. But it's one of the funniest shows on television right now and Corddry had plenty to say about creating the show. He even dropped the news about a spin-off show, News Reader, and the movie he and the cast are making -- and no, it's not Childrens Hospital: The Movie.

First off, I just have to say congratulations on Childrens Hospital. It’s absolutely amazing and easily one of the greatest things on television right now.

Oh, thanks man! I appreciate that.

Yeah, no problem! I just want to know, what did you learn since creating the show and basically being in charge?

Oh God, that’s a good question. I don’t know how to really, truly quantify what I’ve learned, but I’ve learned a lot from David Wain, because he’s done a lot of TV shows. I can definitely watch him and sort of pretend I know what I’m doing. I definitely fake it. Fake it ‘til you make it. Being in charge, quote-unquote, mostly I’m finding, is about answering questions. It’s being in a position where you’re confident enough that you think—you hope—that you’ll know the answer to any question.

When you set out to write this show, how familiar were you with medical procedurals?

Not really that familiar. I’m familiar with TV drama in general. It’s all the same thing, really, with a different setting. I was a fan of St. Elsewhere for a long time, and I’ve become a fan of House, but that’s about it.

Has it given you a new appreciation for the genre? Or do you find it even sillier now?

That’s hard to say. Because Grey’s Anatomy is really hard to choke down. But I think it would be regardless of Childrens Hospital. Their M.O. is sort of to jump the shark every episode, so that they’re “jump the shark” proof. That’s just kind of exhausting to me.

Speaking of jumping the shark, do you think Childrens Hospital is capable of jumping the shark?

Yeah, definitely. Jumping the shark, really, what that means, is going against your own bible. Doing the thing that is too far outside of what you do, normally, on the show. A good part of our show is doing these weird, very special episodes. They really tickle that realm. We have one episode coming up—I don’t know what episode it is. It’s towards the end, I think. I thought, "This is it." This is going to be a glorious failure. Because it’s so fuckin’ out there. But I think, since then, we have fixed it. It was just about, sort of, going against our bible, and editing it a different way than we’re used to. But what it really is, now, at the core, a pretty typical Childrens Hospital episode, just told in a different way.

rob corddryYou mentioned that you tried to avoid continuity in the show. Yet, you’ve sort of created this world where it’s a show-within-a-show that takes place in Brazil. You filmed a scene in Rio just to show that. How do you keep up with this crazy world you’ve created without giving in to the continuity? And what else can we expect to learn about this world this season?

We’re not cautious about continuity on Childrens Hospital at all, but in the universe that we’re saying Childrens Hospital exists in, we are pretty strict about the continuity there! I really enjoy mythology, and I enjoy comic books, so I like setting up universes. I’m sort of geeky about the universe in which Childrens Hospital lives. It’s pretty hard to explain. When I say the universe in which Childrens Hospital lives, I’m talking about the show Childrens Hospital, which claims to have been on the air for seventeen years. You know what I mean? And stars Just Falcon, and Glarion Rudge, Cutter Spindell and Mark Splorn. It has its own mythology. I know I’m really passionate about it. I’m glad people are really asking questions about it.

Well, it’s definitely like LOST in that regard. As far as your character goes, I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but on Wikipedia it says your clown makeup is supposed to be reminiscent of John Wayne Gacy’s. I’m wondering if that’s true or not.

I’ve been asked not to comment on that.

Then we’ll just leave it uncommented upon.

You can never trust stuff on the Internet. If it’s not in the World Book Encyclopedia, you can’t trust it.

The show’s had probably hundreds of guest stars. Who would you like to see on the show that you haven’t had on it?

To be honest with you, the only one that I’m kind of preoccupied with is, I would like to find a cool way to see Michael Cera’s face rather than just hear him every week. Other than that, I’m more geared this coming season, the season that I’m writing now, towards using our cast rather than just getting guest stars for guest stars sake. There’ll probably be a few less. But that said, it’s a hospital. People have to come into the hospital and get cured. There will be guest stars. I guess we’ll just spend more of our capital on them. Fewer but bigger.

Fantastic. Last week, I asked Rob Huebel this, and I just wanted to see what you had to say, too. What do you bring to the cast Childrens Hospital that no one else does?

Acting in this show is really an afterthought for me. I spend so much time writing and producing it that I am just woefully unprepared when I get in front of the camera. I was talking to Sarah Silverman about that, and she agreed. It’s nearly impossible to do a good performance when you’re running a show. But, luckily, my clown makeup does all the heavy lifting. I’ve given myself the job of being sort of the autistic one in the group. The one that doesn’t make too many funny faces. My job is to support and make everyone else look good, and by proxy hopefully I’ll look good, too.

Would you say your character in the show is the most serious doctor there? That’s one of the things I’ve noticed. Even though he is a clown, he tends to take his job a little more seriously than the others.

Yeah, for sure. All of these medical shows have a dick. Issiah Washington is the dick on Grey’s Anatomy. And the guy with the hair from Fame on ER was the dick for a while. Then you have Dr. Mark What’s-his-face from General Hospital. There’s always a dick, right? And my character’s that guy. He also happens to be of a different species, and therefore he’s sort of set apart from everyone else, and not as well-liked, and just doesn’t seem to fit in. I think the funniest way to play that is by putting clown makeup on a dude that’s totally opposite.

Besides working on Childrens Hospital, what else are you working on these days, and what do you have coming up?

We’re writing a Childrens Hospital movie. It will have nothing to do with the show. It’s really just the same cast and creative team.

Is it going to be called Childrens Hospital: The Movie?

[Laughs] No, absolutely not. Although we played with [the idea] that at the very end of the movie, even though we’re all playing different characters, ending up at the hospital at the very end and all going to work. But we’re starting to write season four right now. And we just got a spinoff picked up called News Readers. So we’re starting to think about that, too.

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