Maxim Interview: Ricky Gervais

The comedian dials up the drama in the Netflix series Derek, which he created, wrote, produced, directed, and stars in.

Ricky Gervais

Ricky Gervais in “Derek”

Set in a British home for the elderly, Derek centers on the daily lives of the residents, employees, and volunteers – most notably, the simple, sweet (and to some, controversial) title character, played by Gervais. Filmed in the same mockumentary style as The Office, Derek – though it has plenty of humorous moments – marks a more dramatic turn for the comedy actor. Can he pull it off? See for yourself; all seven episodes are currently streaming on Netflix.

British humor is often characterized as difficult for American audiences to fully grasp. Derek may be more of a drama, but it still has that trademark wit; what makes it inherently relatable to all audiences?
I think people don’t know it, but they want sincerity.  I think they do, deep down, and I’ve noticed it on Twitter as well. I can do snarky jokes, I can do weird stuff and it gets lots of retweets, but if I do a sincere tweet that’s down the knife, it connects with 10 times the amount of people. I think people are quietly tired with that veil of irony that inhabits everything. You know, if I live in a student house, every poster is ironic. You want to say, put up a poster of something you actually like. What do you actually like? I like that you sometimes grow out of that. I think because people are worried that what they like is cool, they worry about saying what they like. You see that in every walk of life. You ask someone their top 10 albums and they don’t want to put Backstreet Boys and Sting, they try to think of really obscure underground music, and I think that sooner or later people relate more with honesty than anything else. And I did sort of consciously want to leave behind the veil of irony, and I think that’s what makes it slightly different to my previous work and slightly different to most comedy is that sincerity. We’re not laughing at the characters, we’re not laughing at the blind spot, we’re laughing with them. We’re rooting for them from the outset because they’re doing a good job. Whatever faults someone’s got, whatever mistakes they made, if they’re doing it to help someone, they’re forgiven. It’s all about motives. And it just seemed right.

Read my entire interview with Ricky Gervais at Maxim.com

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Maxim Interview: Joel McHale

The actor and comedian talks Klondike Bars, The Soup, and Community. He’s also open to sexual reassignment surgery. Don’t worry about it.

Joel McHale

Joel McHale

You’ve been hosting E!’s The Soup (formerly Talk Soup) since 2004. What is it like being on both sides of the aisle, as both a celebrity gossip commentator, and a sitcom star? 
I’m the male version of Chelsea Handler. She does the same. I would liken it to a comedian that also acts. I see The Soup as kind of like a long late-night monologue that has a lot of clips in it. I took The Soup because—or rather, they offered it to me and I accepted—not just because of money, but because of the Greg Kinnear pedigree, where he transitioned from Talk Soup into acting, though at this point I’m not transitioning, I’m doing both (thank God). And when people see me on Community, I think they see that I can do both. I don’t think they’re like, “I don’t get it! He’s supposed to be telling me about the Kardashians! He’s not Jeff Winger!” But now, with the movie I’m doing now, it’s no joke. It’s not a comedy.

You’re talking about Beware The Night, with Erica Bana?
Yes, it’s heavy, dark, and violent. And really, it has some not-so-pleasant themes. Obviously Eric Bana brings serious cachet to the movie, and Edgar Ramirez is in it, and Olivia Munn.

Do you ever find that celebrities that you encounter off-screen are afraid that they’ll become targets on The Soup?
No, I mean no celebrity’s ever come up to me and said “How fucking dare you!” I mean, I would justify that by saying, well, don’t drive backwards on the highway while high and then I won’t make fun of you. I’m pretty sure Bruce Jenner’s not a fan of mine, and that’s fine. But The Soup doesn’t break stories – it’s the same thing as a late-night monologue. It’s not like “News flash!” People think that because we’re on E! that’s what happens. It’s just like with Chelsea [Handler] – she doesn’t break stories, she’s just commenting on them.

Read my entire interview with Joel McHale at Maxim.com.

Maxim Interview: Chris O’Dowd

With his smash hit UK TV series Moone Boy now available in the US via HuluBridesmaids’ Chris O’Dowd cements his place as the hardest-working man in show biz. I spoke to Chris about his roughly 4,000 ongoing TV and film projects (including Girls and Thor 2), and subjected him to the same 10 questions Maxim always asks everyone.

Chris O'Dowd

Chris O’Dowd


Moone Boy is semi-autobiographical, and you play the imaginary friend of a young boy growing up in a big Irish family. Did you have an imaginary friend as a child?
I didn’t, unfortunately, and I wrote this show just to have that opportunity. I grew up in a house where there were seven of us and we just really didn’t have room for an imaginary friend in our little bungalow.

Do you come from a dysfunctional family?
Not at all, I think it’s the most functional family. I think it’s a family of misfits that work together perfectly, like a scrambled egg sandwich.

How does a kid from Boyle, Ireland, end up in show biz? What were some of your comedy influences?
God, that’s a good question, I don’t really know. I came to comedy much later. I went to drama school and was like a Shakespearean actor for a couple years. But in terms of like the small town…we had one celebrity when I was growing up. Very old, a woman called Maureen O’Sullivan and she was the first Jane in Tarzan. And I remember when I was around 7 or 8, she came back from living in Hollywood all of her life, and she was in her 70s, and they threw her a parade. And as a 7-year-old I must’ve thought, “Wow, she must’ve done something special to get a parade. I want a parade. What do I have to do to get a parade?” And my life’s been basically a journey to get a parade.

You have been quoted as saying that you think women are not offered enough good roles or good opportunities as writers in the comedy world. Do you think that has begun to shift a bit since Bridesmaids? Is that part of what drew you to that movie?
Definitely. To be honest, throughout my career, it’s just been my experience that I seem to work with a lot of female directors, definitely a lot more than the normal percentage of female directors that are out there, and I always enjoy it, because I think the characters are awesome and written better. But I do think things are shifting, it certainly seems that way, and I certainly hope so, with the likes of Kristin [Wiig] and Annie Mumolo, Lena Dunham, and [Friends with Kids director/star] Jennie Westfeldt, all of whom I worked with in the last 18 months. There’s so many amazing women out there, as soon as we get a shift in what male-to-female producers and executives are out there, I think it will come along even quicker.

Read my entire interview with Chris O’Dowd at Maxim.com.

Maxim Interview: Jason Schwartzman

The indie comedy wunderkind talks Moonrise Kingdom, Bill Murray, tequila, and more.
jschwartzman_mk_article1

You’ve worked with director Wes Anderson on many films, including Rushmore, The Darjeeling Limited, and Moonrise Kingdom. Are you guys real-life besties?
Well, Wes is 10 years older than me; I met him when I was 17. I was a musician making an album, and had never really thought about being in movies. But I met this casting director who asked if I’d ever been an actor, and I went to this audition [for Rushmore], just really thinking it would be more of a good story to tell people—hey, I auditioned for a movie!—but I got the part, and that’s the first time I met Wes. And I would say that from 17 until now, he’s been one of the most important people in my life.

You and Wes often work with Bill Murray. Do you have a favorite Bill Murray movie?
That’s really difficult. That’s like asking if I have a favorite Beatles album. Stripes is great, and so is Groundhog Day, and I loved him in The Man Who Knew Too LittleMeatballs,Ghostbusters… I am also a huge fan of Scrooged.

And What About Bob?
HUGE What About Bob? fan. My good What About Bob? story is that for a summer I worked at this small tennis center, and on the weekends they would show a movie in the rec room—which was a huge room with a film projector—and I tore tickets for the whole summer. But because it wasn’t like a professional theater, it wasn’t like a new movie was out every week, so What About Bob? played for whole month, and I took tickets and would watch the movie. I love that movie. It’s a deep, deep, deep love. And actually one of his best performances is also in Tootsie.

Read my entire interview with Jason Schwartzman at Maxim.com.

Huffington Post Interview: Tom Green

Tom Green

Tom Green / Photo by Neil Visel

Hey, remember Tom Green, the man who catapulted to fame in the late 1990s with his eponymous MTV show, starred in cult films like Road Trip and Freddy Got Fingered, married (and divorced) Drew Barrymore, and televised his battle with testicular cancer, only to fade from the spotlight just as quickly as he’d landed in it? Well, he’s back — or more accurately, he never really left. You just didn’t know it. Continue reading

SNL Writers, Players & Andy Samberg Groupies Turn Out to Support Writers Guild

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It was a full house Monday evening at Comix where assorted Saturday Night Live writers and players both past and present participated in a comedy event to benefit the striking Writers Guild of America, East. In keeping with the trend of wearing your support for the writers on your face, “strike beards” were in full effect, and the overall mood seemed to indicate that no one expects to return to work anytime soon.  Continue reading

An Evening with the Cast of MTV’s Human Giant

Photo: Rob Huebel, Paul Scheer and Aziz Ansari are Human Giant

Ordinarily, the chances of me going out on a Monday night are nil, especially in this brick-ass cold. But with my television withdrawal giving me an increasingly nasty case of the shakes, I took the opportunity to check out last night’s sneak preview of the new season of Human Giant–the best thing to happen to MTV‘s comedy programming (or rather, MTV period) since The State— hosted by the Human Giants themselves.

As any proper night should, this one began with drinks. Various members of the press (editors and writers from Maxim, the NY Post, the Village Voice, ASCAP, Giant and other publications) assembled beforehand at West Chelsea haunt Half King, along with the show’s stars, Rob Huebel, Paul Scheer and Aziz Ansari, before making the troupe to the UCB Theater. Continue reading