Rob Huebel on Childrens Hospital, Life as We Know It and Playing George Clooney's Best Friend
If you've seen a mainstream comedy in the last five years, the chances are good you've seen Rob Huebel. From the MTV series Human Giant to I Love You, Man to The Other Guys to Adult Swim's Childrens Hospital, the UCB performer has appeared alongside his fair share of comedy icons. Huebel branches out a bit more this Friday when he co-stars opposite Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel in the romantic dramedy, Life as We Know It, and coming soon he'll tackle the biggest part of his career: That of George Clooney's best friend, in Alexander Payne's The Descendants.
Huebel rang up Movieline last week and discussed how Childrens Hospital is almost getting too good at lampooning medical dramas, his role in Life as We Know It and just what it was like to appear in The Descendants opposite one of the biggest stars in the world.
How did you get involved with Childrens Hospital?
I thought you were going to ask me how my life has changed since the show has aired on Adult Swim, in terms of fame and dealing with all that. What a lot of people don't realize is that Adult Swim has millions and millions of more viewers than network shows, so when I walk down the street, people go f**king crazy. But that's not your question. What was your question?
No problem: What drew you to Childrens Hospital?
A lot of us were friends from New York that had transplanted ourselves out to Los Angeles. Rob Corddry and I were friends, David Wain and I were friends, and Ken Marino -- we knew each other also. Rob and David came up for the idea for the show during the writers' strike and originally it was just a fun internet project we could do. Warner Bros. was paying for it, so we just cranked out a bunch of five-minute episodes, just for the Internet. And that was really fun, because you could do whatever you wanted. No one gave us any notes. It was like, "Let's just sort of make this absurd medical drama to screw with shows like Grey's Anatomy and House." And then it got picked up by TV. Just crazy.
I always feel like any time you get a chance to work with your friends and no one is going to mess with you, there is no reason not to do it.
Has being on Adult Swim curtailed the "Wild West" feel of the initial episodes?
It's really interesting. Adult Swim is -- I don't think they mind being described this way either -- they are pretty much the Internet on television. They pretty much allow us to get away with anything we want. I don't think we've ever been told to reign it in or change anything. Some of it is so absurd; we don't set out to make it offensive to anyone, but it's a bunch of comedians trying to outdo each other. So sometimes it becomes really dark and crazy. I wrote a script for the most recent season and I'm writing more on the third season and I literally turned in that script and they were like, "Great, thanks!" They don't mess with it. That's really helped us a lot and helped us establish a very specific tone. In a way it can be scary because there's no one to blame. You can't say, "Oh, well, the network screwed it up!" If it falls flat, it's totally on us.
It seems like the type of show you can just do for seasons. Do you worry about running out of stuff to parody?
We got together a few weeks ago to try to come up with ideas for the next season and we started pitching these ideas, and one of the writers' assistants was like, "They've done that, they've done that" -- talking about House and Grey's. We're like, "What?!" I don't watch those shows so I have no gauge on what they do. We're trying to throw out comedy purposes and it's like, "Yep, they've done that."
So it's getting harder to top those shows?
It's not even trying to top them -- it's trying to do stuff they just haven't done yet. We don't want to look like we're copying them. Like, we did one this year that just aired where there was two people impaled on a flagpole. In our version it was an old black man and a young, white a**hole. And it became this very racial situation. We can only save one of them, so who are we going to save. So we shot this and like a week later, Grey's Anatomy did this. This! They didn't have the black/white thing, but they did have two people impaled on a flagpole or something. So there's starting to be a little bit of unintentional crossover.
And you also had Kate Walsh from Private Practice on recently, to further blur the line.
Here's a weird twist: The marketing for this season's House has Huge Laurie in clown makeup. I have no idea what they're doing there. I don't know whether -- because ours has been out there for a while, that's Corddry's thing on the show; he wears clown makeup. It doesn't even make sense that House would do that. I don't think it's a reference to us, I think it's just a weird coincidence. He doesn't wear clown makeup...
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