NYCC 2012: Childrens Hospital Interview with Rob Corddry and Jonathan Stern

Childrens Hospital was in attendance at the 2012 New York Comic Con. At the interview was creator Rob Corddry, who is known for Hot Tub Time Machine, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and most recently, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and he also plays Blake Downs on the show. Also there was executive producer Jonathan Stern, known for The Ten, NTSF: SD: SUV, and Mexico City.

According to the information given at the interview, Childrens Hospital, “has returned for its fourth season and continues to live up to its reputation as the greatest hospital drama in the history of recorded media. Applauded for its tight stories and medical accuracy, this season has reached new heights: an airborne virus threatens to destroy the hospital and perhaps society, a search for the mysterious PA announcer, Sal Viscuso reveals an undercurrent of evil powering the hospital, the origins of Chief’s handicaps are revealed, a beloved regular character dies a couple times, and Sy gets a dog! Also, from across the pond, we brought ou the British version of Childrens Hospital (subtitled). Finally, 30% more story and character development! For free! Childrens Hospital recently became an Emmy Award winning series in the “Outstanding Special Class: Short Format, Live-Action Entertainment Programs” category.

You can watch the first few minutes below, or just keep on reading.

Anything expected for the new season?

Rob Corddry: We have 4 episodes left in our current season that’s running, and they’re definitely four of our, kind-of top, excited episodes. We are writing- actually tomorrow we leave for our yearly train trip- we travel across the country on a train and start writing the next episodes.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Jonathan Stern: Rob comes home every day and his wife and kids are just a fountain of inspiration.

Corddry: Oh my family-just-it’s like they teach me. .

Stern: It’ll be like his wife is like, “What do you want for dinner honey?”

Corddry: And I’m like, “OH GREAT IDEA!!”

Do you fantasize that they are the patients at the hospital?

Corddry: My daughter was actually a patient at Childrens Hospital. I don’t believe in writer’s block, I think it’s just laziness and procrastination-

Stern: Which I do believe.

Corddry: Yeah, way too much. I think I like to have a system where, as long as everything is out of your head in terms of what you have to do and if I have an idea about anything, like if I have to call so and so, I have to get it out of my head. So just have clear space.

So with your character, anything new with you?

Corddry: Yes, huge developments. Huge developments my character in these last two episodes and possibly show-network breaking stuff. I make love with my Emmy. And, ow, they’re sharp, the wings. But yeah, huge developments and new revelations in the first episode in the next season.

The British show is brilliant-absolutely brilliant, and where can you go for their next season? Like a radio play- there’s so many things.

Corddry: That idea came up! We did a web series, which if Adult Swim had a better website, you’d be able to find and see easily- I can’t even find it so fuck it.

Stern: But at the end of the second season, there is a radio play.

Corddry: Yes, there is a radio play, so we sort of broke it since we thought it would be hard to sustain it for a whole real episode. But we wanted to do ones like in the dark, a silent episode- those ideas are bad because you start with that idea. You start with a concept and you never end up doing that. You usually start with a funny story and then you’re like, “Oh, this would be a funny way to do it.” On next week’s episode, it’s a year in the life, and in 11 minutes, we do a whole year of Childrens Hospital- and it’s really really cool.

There’s rumors about a cross over with NTSF.

Corddry: We almost talked about it. We shoot at different times so it’s like we sort of miss. But we want to do it and we’re putting a lot of pressure on ourselves to do it right in this really cool way. That’s kinda hard to start with, you know, so we set ourselves up for disappointment. Jon produces both shows, so we are very eager to do that.

Stern: Rob as an actor shows up this season on NTSF and Paul [Scheer] shows up every so often on Childrens Hospital as Blake’s clown brother. But I think you’re right, there’s another level to go with the characters.

Corddry: So if I was an actor on the show, I’d like to imagine that it’s actually Cutter Spindell, the actor who plays Mike Downs on the show, doing a role on his friend’s show. Trent’s character is played by- we haven’t given him a name (points at his phone), I have a database of names here. I really do- his name is Loki Gones. And Loki did a guess spot on our show and that’d be kinda cool- like see the methodology of the actors that played Loki on NTSF.

I just saw the new ad for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and the actors were playing other characters for the show, so have you ever thought about that?   

(You can keep on reading here or watch the video here too)

Corddry: Well the British episode we replaced everybody.

Stern: The actors loved that.

Corddry: We want to do an episode, but we’re not quite sure how to justify it where there’s an actor’s strike and they replace the cast with scabs. But it’s hard to do that. We don’t like doing stories where at the beginning you have to explain it somehow. We did that with “The 70s Episode”. The British show, we didn’t have to do that- you just assumed. Once you see the “previously ons” than forget it.

Stern: We had a huge internal debate over how to conceptualize the British episode.  What we ended up with was that it was a British remake of an American TV series, kind of like Law & Order is now in England. But the other version was that this is the original series in England that the American series remade. I don’t think it makes any difference.

How slutty can this show get?

 Corddry: Well what kind of slut are you into? A lot of weird sex play?

There seem to be some times where there was this one actor in this episode and they disappeared in the next. Is there some reason behind it?

Corddry: Sometimes the actor just doesn’t have the timing to make the episode, but sometimes, financially, we can’t fit all the characters in the episode. There are a lot of cast members and schedules and stuff. With Blake it was a bummer because we don’t set the order ahead of time, we decide later after we edited them, like what the order is going to be. Hers was one of the best episodes, so we put it first and then the second one was one she wasn’t in. Then she appears in the fourth one and I thought, “Oh this is terrible, she’s been missing in one third of the season.”

Stern: The problem is the large cast and the 11 minute show, so at a certain point, we decides, you know, instead of having someone say three lines in the show and be a glorified extra- it’s hard to give everyone the equal amount of screen time in a single episode, because when you do, you’re truly diluting the focus among the characters.

Corddry: I hate acting on the show- it’s very hard for me because I’m doing so many other things that to get into costume and to put the makeup on and then do lines that I hope I have because I’ve been working on them so much I’ve never memorized them and it’s so stressful.

I don’t know whether to believe you or not.

Corddry: I’m totally serious- I do not like acting on the show. It’s a pain in the ass.

So where do you want to act?

Corddry: Oh I love acting! I love it!

Stern: That’s a weird thing about it.

Corddry: Isn’t it? No, I love it, but not this. I kind of inform the character, because my character is a clown, but he’s the least interesting, least funny in motive, and that’s all because I got nothing- I just got to say these lines because I got a meeting.

Stern: First off, the makeup does most of the acting.

Corddry: Yes! No, I’m not kidding, it does a lot of the heavy lifting.

So how do you feel, as an actor, working on Adult Swim? Do you feel like you have more freedom on Adult Swim?

Corddry: Yeah, I find that. (In a very serious and hushed manner)

Stern: I think it would be safe to say that you probably have more freedom on Adult Swim in a creative way than anywhere else on television.

Corddry: Or anywhere. In anything. Too much freedom.

What plot lines have you gotten rid of because you’re like, “Ok, no.”

Corddry: Well never for reasons for what I assume you meant, “Oh, this is too much.” No, mostly for reasons like, “Oh, that sounds familiar. I think I’ve seen this before. It’s kind of similar to something done.” It’s just boring to us. Sometimes a story would make it to almost an episode, and then we’re not that into it anymore.

Stern: Something that would kill an idea is when we realize, “Oh, this feels like a sitcom.” This isn’t funny.

Corddry: Yep, and a lot of times it’s like, “Oh you know what? A show like Grey’s Anatomy would actually do this, and so that’s a killer too.

Will you guys be going back to Brazil for shooting season 5?

Stern: We’re always on the lookout for a story line that gives us an excuse to travel to somewhere exotic.

Corddry: In that episode, we shot a couple takes so that in the next season, we could change it or in the next season, we could do the same shot, but then we turn the corner and all of a sudden they’re in downtown Tokyo. We say, “Where do we wanna go?” But let’s not lock us in right now! It’s super expensive- we had 20 seconds of tape that we didn’t even need in the story.

You can watch new episodes of Childrens Hospital on Thursday nights at midnight on Adult Swim.  

Catherina has been writing since she was 14 years old- screenplays, movie reviews, sports stories and anything in between. Living in New York City, she can tell you any fact about any movie. She writes screenplays in her free time and is a huge Kevin Spacey, Tina Fey and Quentin Tarantino fan. You can contact her at catherina@theyoungfolks.com