Rob Corddry on ‘Childrens Hospital’ and His Own Mortality
You probably don’t remember the first time you saw Rob Corddry. It may have been on a random, mid-aughts episode of The Daily Show, or in a minor role on some decent studio comedy, or maybe even in the magnificent yet underrated Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story, in which he starred and proved he was more then just a funny face. However, you definitely remembered him, as Corddry’s ability to play a hilarious son-of-a-bitch, drunk, asshole, pedophile, or moron is currently unmatched in Hollywood (with all due respect to Danny McBride).
Throughout his career Corddry has regularly stolen tough scenes opposite proven comedic masters, as well as produced genuine laughs in movies calling themselves comedies that are generally considered absolute turds. That ability has made Corddry a commodity in Hollywood, landing him juicy bit-part roles roles in films like Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Universal’s surprisingly enjoyable and touching apocalypse dramedy due out this Friday, and at least another six films coming out next year. Yet his greatest achievement so far may be Childrens Hospital, the medical drama-mocking Adult Swim series which he created, writes. and stars in as a clown doctor. The series, which began on the WB.com, is quietly entering it’s fourth season this summer and is arguably the best comedy on television no one watches. Corddry and I sat down to talk about this, among other things. Like death.
So let’s talk about death, since that’s the main antagonist in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.
Great. I know a lot about death. Thought a lot about it.
Do you remember the moment when you realized that one day you were going to die?
I don’t know if I’ve really realized that I’m going to die. I’ve had this talk with my wife a lot. And she claims to be completely cool with death. I believe her, too, after having 10 years of conversations about it off and on. She has a knowledge of her own mortality that I, clearly, lack. I know I want to lead a good life and follow my own moral compass for whatever reason—probably just because that’s what my biology tells me I should do.
So you are, or aren’t, afraid of death?
I’m not afraid of it in the sense that I think about it and worry about it, but I bet you that when it comes down to that second before you die, you would be terrified of it. When I was a kid and I wanted to be an actor, I wanted to do a death scene because I wanted a moment where you see complete fear and then… acceptance. Unfortunately, I quickly realized that happens to be in just about every single movie with a death scene.
Would you be the drunk, cheating, drug-using character you play in this movie if you only had a short amount of time before the apocalypse?
I would probably be my character for about eight or nine hours. Then I’d be hung-over and that’s no way to spend the apocalypse. The character I play does have a sort of awakening—though it’s not a positive one. The great thing about Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, however, is that it’s basically a road movie that travels to a number of different apocalypse movies, all of which would be great movies in their own right.
Have you seen Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia yet? It’s kind of like the dark, art house take on the apocalypse, while Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is the more upbeat, studio take.
I have not, though I am planning on watching it between interviews. I’m getting a lot of questions about it. However, I can say that Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is a lot funnier then Melancholia.
In my humble opinion, you have one of the more unique senses of humor. Where do you think it comes from?
I don’t think of my sense of humor as being different. However, when I am writing something, like say Childrens Hospital which is all joke based, the ultimate goal is to come up with a completely unfamiliar joke. It’s next to impossible but when you are able to pull it off and there’s nothing more satisfying when you do. So I guess my sense of humor is trying not to copy, which is almost impossible not to do consciously in the world of comedy. Unless, of course, you’re Carlos Mencia.
Will this new season of Childrens Hospital be bigger and baderrer this season?
Badderer and worserer. We’ve lost the ability to know what a normal Childrens Hospital is now. This is good and bad. It’s good in the sense that this season has evolved exponentially that it has now become the show I wanted to do. It’s bad in the sense that there will probably be a lot of arguments as to where the show will go from here.
What shows on TV are you specifically mocking this season?
There have been different ones every season, like I watched House for the first time before we started doing the third season and that was a big inspiration. Now we’re kind of mocking drama in general, but now we tell stories a lot more. We used to be a joke delivery system and now I’ve realized that the best way to deliver a joke is to come up with your own story.
So you’re telling multiple storylines per 15-minute episode now?
Sometimes we’re telling five storylines per 15-minute episode. But a lot of our storylines don’t have resolutions. They, being the gods of storytelling, say a character can get into a tough situation via coincidence, but if you get a character out of a situation via coincidence, it’s a cheat. Not on Childrens Hospital because we only have eleven minutes and fifteen seconds.
Who’s the best character on the show? Don’t avoid the question.
I was really fascinated by the clown character two seasons ago. But now I am sick of him. I really am into Malin Akerman’s character, Dr. Valerie Flame, right now because we set up first that she was actually a man—Jon Hamm—and she’s related to Arthur Childrens, who established Childrens Hospital in the show. And now we’re finding out that she might not even be human, that she’s a malevolent being.
Could Childrens Hospital survive the apocalypse?
If Adult Swim were killed in the apocalypse, I think we’d probably die, yes. If we somehow survived, and I’m not saying we would, we’d become a travelling vaudeville roadshow in, like, Road Warrior.