Knowing that "Childrens Hospital" (Season 4 premieres Thurs., Aug. 9, midnight ET on Adult Swim) is the brainchild of Rob Corddry will make you wonder a bit about Rob Corddry's brain. The most comforting thing? He still can't find a simple way to describe this bizarre, short-form, no rules comedy parody show that started as a web series and can now call itself an Emmy-nominated staple in Adult Swim's midnight primetime lineup.
"I say it's an absurd comedy about a bunch of doctors who do inappropriate things in the workplace ... and their workplace happens to be a children's hospital," Corddry said. "But that doesn't really describe the show -- it's hard to describe absurdity in general I think."
The show's audience might be niche, but Corddry loves that people who get it, find it. "We're never gonna get 'American Idol' numbers. I would just be so happy to reach half of the people in the world that like this kind of comedy. That would be awesome."
I caught up with Corddry to congratulate him on the "Childrens Hospital" Emmy nomination (in one of the more amazingly random categories, of course) and he teased a few episodes that'll make Season 4 really different. He also got a little choked up talking about one of his co-stars, tiptoed around the topic of Madonna guest starring and discussed the long-awaited reveal that may or may not be happening. And Corddry discussed the kinds of guest stars he loves having on, then revealed whether or not he'll be returning to "Community" or "Arrested Development" for some guest starring of his own.
Congratulations! I didn't even know that Outstanding Special Class Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program was an Emmys category, but there it is, and there the show is.
And what a mouthful! They just started it, which is almost as exciting as being nominated for one, because it means that the establishment or what have you is recognizing what most comics are doing right now. It's pretty cool.
Agreed. Going into Season 4, I feel like people finally think they know what to expect on this show, but you all have been saying that this season will be very different. How?
I've learned more about absurd comedy in general and why I've loved it since I was a child, and it's because it's inherently meaningless, which means you can write your own rules. And you can keep changing those rules, too. You choose the rules that work for you, and you get rid of the ones that don't ... like we're a parody of medical dramas. [Laughs.] There's really no limits, so this season has definitely snowballed into something that took us kind of by surprise. We do these brainstorms every year where we get all our friends together and we just pitch jokes and episodes, and all the episodes that people pitch are always conceptual and weird and out there. And at first we were like, "Hey, we need some normal episodes!" And I was like, "What is a normal episode? Can there be such a thing in an absurd comedy?" It's something I've been thinking a lot about lately ... obviously. [Laughs.]
But I love the fact that they don't have to be in the hospital. I feel like we will follow these people anywhere.
It's funny you say that because there's an episode called "Childrens Lawspital" that takes place mostly in a courtroom. My original concept -- if we kept doing it on the web -- was that Season 2 was going to be a law show [with] the same actors, same names, but they were all going to be lawyers or judges or bailiffs or whatever. It was just going to be a legal parody. Luckily we got picked up on Adult Swim before I could make that terrible error. [Laughs.]
[Laughs.] Now it can just be a random one-off episode error! Is Dr. Blake Downs the zany judge or the D.A.?
Actually, Reginald VelJohnson is the judge -- the dad from "Family Matters." Blake Downs is actually in the jury, it just so happens. Lola, Erinn Hayes' character ... it's revealed that she has no pets, no friends, no family and no boyfriend, so she got a law degree in her spare time. And so she represents one of the other doctors in a malpractice suit. A life or death malpractice suit!
I can't wait for the episode "Attention Staff," because it's always been a fun, random thing that Michael Cera voices Sal the hospital PA announcer, but we never see him. We need Cera!
Yeah, I definitely listen to people on Twitter and in interviews and stuff, and that's a huge question -- when are we going to see Michael Cera? This whole episode is geared towards trying to find the person with that voice because no one's met him before, we all discover. There's rumors he might be a ghost, he might be a robot ... but I have to point out, Michael Cera may or may not be in the episode. You'll have to tune in and watch.
I'm picturing like a 300-pound elderly Indian woman when you guys open the door ...
Yeah, yeah, we went through all that -- "He's gonna be a fat Samoan, right?" [Laughs.] Our whole M.O. is to find the quickest way to the least familiar joke. That's the first thing you said, and that's the first thing we all said, so you have to kind of go, "What else?" And maybe it's Michael Cera. Maybe it's the actor Michael Cera from "Superbad." Who knows? Well I know, but ...
I love that Jon Hamm is coming back, and you've got David Krumholtz and Timothy Busfield, but did I hear something about Madonna?
Listen. I am not allowed to say. I have been scolded. I am not allowed to say that Madonna is guesting on the show. That's all I can say right now ... but I'm not allowed to say it. I invite you all to interpret that as you will, without any legal ramifications on my part.
So there's an all-British episode with Dominic Monaghan and Frances Fisher, who isn't even British, by the way. Who is playing the British Blake?
Well, she was born in England. Give her that. The British version of Blake is actually interesting -- it's a guy I know, and I don't know if he's ever even done any TV. All I will say is he's a terrible mime, and everybody calls him the French doctor. The only real crossover is that everybody hates him like they hate Blake. [Laughs.]
I adore Henry Winkler. So much. And I know I'm not alone there. At Comic-Con, he actually said that this season "is one of the best seasons ever of any show on television." You have to kind of pinch yourself at that, right?
You just described my every day at work. I'm so glad, so happy for me selfishly, that I never get used to seeing Henry Winkler at work every day. And also, to say that I've become even comfortable around him -- and friends with him! Nothing makes me happier. I wish there was a more satisfying way to describe his character other than I endeavor to be more like him. He's a really, really, special, special ... I'm getting a little choked up talking about him. He's a really uncommonly special guy, and when you meet him, there's no mystery behind the success of the Fonz. He just exudes happiness and love. It's one of the greatest treats of my life to know that man.
I love hearing that. Now to transition back to the nonsense ...
Yeah, let's get back to the dick jokes!
The cast on this show is hands-down one of the best on TV, with Winkler, Ken Marino, Lake Bell, Rob Huebel, Erinn Hayes, Megan Mullally, Malin Akerman ... and the guest stars are always insane, too. Has there been a dream guest star that you haven't yet gotten?
Madonna is ... I cannot say that Madonna is on the show. No, up until now, up until this season, I always said my brother, Nate Corddry. This is the hardest show to schedule because all of these people are very successful and in demand and not getting paid very much by us, so it was a coup to get Nate Corddry this season. He does a guest spot actually on "Childrens Lawspital" -- he plays a lawyer. But that said, we have such a good cast that it's silly to worry too much about guest stars. I really don't think about it until one arises or it happens in a more organic way. Alicia Silverstone was on last season, and I don't think it's the best episode -- and that's my fault. I wrote that, and I think the writing is flawed, but she came up with the core idea with me on a set, and I cast her out of that. That's an organic way to do it. But I think I just go through life collecting people that I like, that think the way I do, and I've amassed a pretty cool farm team, and I'd like to find more places for them.
Then people that surprise you, like Olivia Wilde -- arguably one of the most gorgeous people in the world, but she's also one of the funniest. And super raunchy. I would love to find something for her. And I'd love to get Ed Helms back on the show. I keep praying for the cancellation of "The Office" so he can do five minutes on my 11-minute TV show. [Laughs.]
There's a weird, one-sided rivalry with you guys and "Suits." What the hell did "Suits" ever do to you?
[Laughs.] Uh, that's a question for Paul Scheer -- hashtag #Suits. I didn't even know it was a thing, "Suits," but at our Alamo Drafthouse marathon a couple of months ago, Paul was saying "Tweet about the show, hashtag #Suits!" "Suits" is getting great numbers because of us! Up until a week ago, I thought "Suits" and "Franklin & Bash" were the same show, so I don't know. I would just say watch "Game of Thrones" -- that's a good one. Hashtag #sendaraven.
Any chance you'll return for more "Community" this season?
Oh god, I hope so -- I love it. I love that show. Dan Harmon unfortunately is not on that show anymore, which is fucking crazy -- it makes me angry because he's a goddamn genius. I get more inspiration from that guy and Louis C.K., just listening to them talk, then I get from anyone. But every time I do that show, it's not easy. Those poor guys ... Joel McHale will get a three-page monologue at lunch that he has to do in an hour. It's really hard, but when I get those pages -- and I say a lot because I'm a lawyer on that show -- I'm always like, "I'm never going to do this again." Then by the end of the day, I'm like, "This is the best. I can't wait to do this again!" So basically I will do anything those people tell me -- they're great.
And now "Arrested Development" is back in production for their Netflix deal. Do you think there's any chance that "Wrench," your character Moses Taylor's show, is possibly still on the air?
Well yeah, I'm gonna start campaigning now. We need to hashtag #Wrench! I think that was the first TV show I'd ever done, not counting "The Daily Show," and I had no idea what I was doing. So nervous, the whole time -- I had no clue as to how to act on a TV set. But I'd love to do it again.
"Childrens Hospital" Season 4 premieres Thurs., Aug. 9, midnight ET on Adult Swim.
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