Oh, Hello at the Balboa Theatre
- Thursday, January 21, 2016, 8 p.m.
868 Fourth Avenue,
Nick Kroll and John Mulaney bring their off-Broadway success Oh, Hello! to the Balboa Theatre on January 21. Here’s a sample what the veteran comedy duo have in store.
Scott Marks: Nick, you play a part in one of this year’s — and last year’s, and come to think of it, the year before that’s — most hotly anticipated films, Knight of Cups. How did Terrence Malick find you, what was it like working with him, and do you have any idea when we’re finally going to see the damn thing?
Nick Kroll: I got a call on a Tuesday asking if I wanted to be in a Terrence Malick movie on Thursday and I said, “Absolutely! What do I need to prepare?” They said, “Nothing. Just come dressed for a party.” I came in on Thursday and basically said “Okay” all day long to everything that was brought to me. I guess he had seen some of my videos or something and wanted me there to basically mess with Christian Bale. That was my job, which I did to the best of my ability. I was not sure...people who were the leads of his movies have gotten cut out, so I was just happy to be there for the day and have that experience. I’ve been told that I am in it. I have not seen it yet and have no idea when it’s coming out. It was one of those tremendously fun, interesting days working with someone who is a complete and utter individual in his creation. As we were shooting it, there was one guy using a GoPro and I asked who it was. It was Emmanuel Lubezki, the guy who just shot Birdman and The Revenant. I was like, “Oh. Okay!”
SM: When can we anticipate your big screen debut, John?
John Mulaney: Well...umm...Straight Outta Cotton is still in development. It’s about my search for Q-Tips this morning when I was cleaning my dog’s ears. The title is silly, but there was a real scramble for a cotton swab this morning. And my dog did not want to sit for it. There! I’ve given away the ending.
SM: I was drawn to Mulaney — your TV series, not a family member — for the same reason I watched Schitt’s Creek: a lifelong devotion to anyone who appeared on SCTV. Tell me something about Martin Short that we mortals don’t already know.
JM: Okay. Let me think. Marty is very light but very dense. A few times on the show, I had to carry him in my arms and he would go dead weight. It was like a thousand kettlebells. It was great. He’s a spry, thin man who somehow can go completely dead weight to the tune of a thousand pounds.
SM: They announced the Oscar nominations today. Any thoughts?
NK: I hadn’t heard anything. Did Straight Outta’ Cotton get nominated?
JM: It’s still in outline form, so I think it’s too early.
SM: When did you guys first meet, and furthermore, when did you decide to make a team?
JM: We met my first week of college. Nick was a senior and I was a freshman. He was the director of the improv group and I auditioned for him and he cast me. And I’ve been in his debt ever since. We started doing the Oh, Hello! show as a sort of sketch and standup show in 2005 at this club in New York called Rififi. We had done a lot of stuff, but then we had an opportunity to host a Thursday night show. We remembered these two old men that we saw at a used book store in New York. They were both buying a copy of Alan Alda’s autobiography and we decided that instead of ourselves, what if we hosted the show as two old sort of crotchety, liberal-but-racist guys? We started doing it, and we’ve been doing it for ten years.
SM: George was banned as a guest on his own imaginary talk show. That got a five-minute laugh out of me.
JM: He was inspired by Jack Paar. He had a tumultuous, very controversial talk show that he did in his room with different puppets and pillows.
SM: There are hours and hours of material from both of you on YouTube. Does that piss you off? Jokes aren’t like songs. When people pay to see comedians in person they don’t want chapter and verse what they heard on a comedy record.
JM: Speaking for myself, I make sure that if there’s unreleased stuff, it doesn’t end up online. I think everything that’s up there is released in some official capacity that made me seven or eight dollars, so I’m okay with it being out there now.
NK: It’s a back and forth. On one hand, your material is accessible for people to see...maybe not exactly how you presented it. On the other hand, it allows people to become fans of you and hopefully get onboard to support whatever it is that you’re doing next. People are bigger fans of comedy now than they ever have been because of that kind of stuff.
SM: It’s good in the sense that it forces you to keep coming up with new material.
NK: We’ve been doing these characters for ten years, and yet they keep changing and evolving and growing. Part of that is because of the demand to keep writing new stuff, but in this case it’s the most fun thing that we do, and it’s only our pleasure to write new jokes for them.
JM: I don’t find it that much of a drawback. I’m happy people can find it.
SM: Right now your career is going well, John, but just in case: do you ever see yourself pulling a Lou Cannon (Martin Short’s character on Mulaney) by whoring your talents on a gameshow?
NK: Yeah, John!
JM: I would do Family Feud.
NK: I’d watch that. Those are big shoes to fill.
JM: Yeah. I would change the title to Nightly Race War.
SM: Or you could do Celebrity Apprentice and get a shot at the White House.
JM: If John did Celebrity Apprentice his catchphrase would be, “You’re tired.”
SM: Nick, you played a small but crucial role in Little Fockers. Did you encounter either De Niro or Harvey Keitel on the set? And if so, did either deign to acknowledge your presence?
NK: I did shoot one day on Little Fockers and De Niro was in the scene. He didn’t have much to do but was happy to stand there for everybody else’s coverage. He kept largely to himself, but I talked to him and he was very nice.
JM: He was still in character as Jake LaMotta, right?
NK: Of course.
JM: People don’t realize he’s never broken character.
NK: And I stayed in character as my favorite character I’ve ever played: Young Doctor. You know you’ve made it when you play a character without a name but who has a description of what kind of person they are. For years I played a doctor, but when I finally got the opportunity to play a Young Doctor, I realized that that specificity meant I had made it.
JM: If only you had been Young Doctor #1. That would have been great.
SM: I assume that we’ll see a lot of Gil and John at the Balboa Theatre.
JM: Well, Gil and George will be there.
SM: What did I say? John? I’m sorry.
JM: Gil and George will be at the Balboa Theatre in San Diego. They’ve been on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for about 40 years and this is going to be a real adjustment. This is going to be like mole people coming out of the subway tunnel. They had a great off-Broadway run in New York. The show was well received and it’s on the road now and your city will never be the same.
SM: Have either of you ever spent any quality time in San Diego?
JM: I, John Mulaney, have played the Balboa Theatre and enjoyed it very much. I gave myself two hours to drive from Los Angeles and it took five. I had to pee so much, it was like I really thought I was going to die during the drive. Luckily — and please publish this because it’s a big plug for the theater — the Balboa does have a bathroom.
NK: And I was known for five years as the Gaslight...as the Gaslamp District’s arsonist. So I’ve spent a lot of time burning down buildings in the Gaslamp. I guess that’s the best way to describe it.
SM: Dream along with me, fellas: Lorne Michaels Presents The Gil and George Movie. Do you like the sound of that?
JM: I’ve worked with Lorne Michaels and I love him. I believe Gil and George want Charlie Rose to produce. They love what he did with his show...the music...the table. Either Rose or Alan Alda would be their dream collaboration.
NK: Nick and John would be honored to work with Lorne Michaels, but George and Gil...Gil was a cast member on the 1981 season of SNL when Lorne had taken a hiatus. Gil was a featured cast member alongside a big bag of cocaine wearing sunglasses. Gil feels like Lorne doesn’t want to work with him because he was there when Lorne wasn’t.
JM: They still refer to Lorne as that Canadian kid from Laugh-In.