BYT Interview: Barry Rothbart & Scotty Landes from Adam Devine’s House Party
jenntisdale | Oct 23, 2013 | 11:30AM |

Adam Devine isn’t just a clever name. Or the name that was given to him at birth, probably. He was divinely hilarious in Workaholics and was the kind of douchetastic asshole we all wanted to date-hate in Pitch Perfect.

The comedy Gods at Comedy Central decided it was time to let him stretch it all out with his own show: Adam Devine’s House Party which airs Thursday night at 12:30 on Comedy Central. This is EXACTLY as it sounds. People threw a bunch of money at Adam. He rented a mansion and threw all that money into a huge goddamn party. He invited all of his favorite comics to perform. Motherfuckin’ madness ensues.

I was EXTREMELY lucky enough to chat with Barry Rothbart who is a fantastically hysterical comic featured on the first episode as well as Scotty Landes who cowrote every episode with Adam and is brilliant. Everything about this show is already delightful and wonderful. You’ll never throw a better party than this.

Jenn: Hi Barry!

Barry: Hi Jennifer, how are you?

I’m good, can you hear me? You have to be on speakerphone so I can record this. I have a really shitty memory. There’s probably some sort of technology where I wouldn’t have to do it like this but I’m really terrible at technology so this is what we’re doing so I hope it works. I’m also eating and I think that covers all the potential problems I could have created with this chat.

Well I’d say you have problems but I’m the one that made us start this interview late so…

Yeah, fuck you Barry. I’m kidding.

Ha ha ha ha, wait you’re kidding right?

Of course! That wasn’t a threat or a promise (I hear a chuckle in the background). Oh, is Allie on this interview also (Comedy Central Press Person Extraordinaire)? I thought I heard a little noise in the background. Cute. Just the 3 of us! I already told her I didn’t have a chance to watch the first 2 episodes of Adam Devine’s House Party yet but that’s okay. It’s better for you to explain. What I did instead to prepare myself was watch everything on your website. Barry…you’re really funny. I bet you already knew that.

No I don’t, believe me. Every time I hear that I’m always surprised.

Well you are and I wanted to tell you I know Scotty Landes (interview coming up!), who cowrote every episode of the show, and he told me one of the things he likes the most about you is you’re funny AND you can act, which is rare for comedians. Barry it’s true. Finger Dick was fucking flawless. I will say that much.

Finger Dick might be my greatest achievement.

I really want that to be true. Any time you have the word dick in a thing people are like “Ah it’s a dick,” and I’m like: No this is a good dick!

Oh people love the word dick I think but I wanted to make it more than a dick joke.

It took me a second to realize that it’s a parody of The Social Network. It’s very good. I have some weird questions for you then we will totally I swear get to Adam Devine’s House Party because that is after all the point of this chat. It seems like you’ve been on every single late night talk show possible. You got all the good ones.

I’ve been on 3. There are maybe 6 or 7.

That’s all of them. That’s all of them Barry. You don’t need to go on Kimmel. He seems mean at times.

Ha ha ha, that’s it. Okay I’m done.

So my weird question is this, after you do a set on a late night show and the host comes up to you and shakes your hand…do they actually whisper anything into your ear? What’s happening right then? Is it just bullshit or is it ever something really wonderful?

It’s never wonderful. It’s always like: Hey great. Great work! or Keep smiling! I wish it was like: Oh my God, your joke about your mom was amazing. There is never anything specific. You’re so nervous that you’re just like…ah, am I still on camera?

You’re like: I’m just trying not to shit my pants right now. Which show made you the MOST nervous.

Well The Tonight Show was my first one. That’s Jay Leno and that’s like the uh…when you do your first one all you can think about is the fact that you have 5 minutes on national TV and if your mouth stops creating words it will just be silence. You’re like if I don’t keep speaking for 5 minutes there will be a whole nation watching me not speak.

Was there ever a moment where you felt your brain was about to forget jokes you are all too familiar with?

It’s a very weird one time only thing and you can’t really redo it. You don’t want to be the guy that’s like: Hey Jay, can I redo that one? You can’t fuck up. And I fuck up at a lot of things very often so I had to make sure I didn’t fuck up and it went well. To be honest I had vodka tonic before I went on stage. I had one drink because I needed to loosen up a little bit.

They didn’t frown upon that?

They offered it backstage! Especially at Ferguson there was a full bar backstage.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcMt43UJY_k

Well he’s Welsh right? That’s all they do over there. I think. I don’t know the British.

That’s what the Welsh do, have full bars in their dressing rooms?

Yeah…that’s a well known historical fact. I’ve read it in all the books (Allie politely laughs because she’s very nice). Okay so, back to the show at hand and then this will make more sense once I talk to Scotty I am sure. It obviously looks like the most fun idea in the world. Since I haven’t watched an episode yet I am trying to piece together from what I’ve read…so Adam, who I feel like off the top of my head most people who don’t follow comedy very closely will remember Adam from Pitch Perfect.

That was the way I had to pitch it to most people…hey I’m on the show with the guy from Pitch Perfect. That’s how my mom and my girlfriend knew him.

And on the show, basically Adam rented out a house, is that what happened?

Yeah, this Indian doctor who apparently was just like: Yeah, use my house. And it’s this huge tacky thing. It was insane. It was like what you would picture, and I don’t want to quote a John Mulaney joke but it’s like if The Golden Girls or an old lady had decided to buy a mansion. It was the perfect home for that. I feel like every time I say Adam Devine’s House Party it sounds like a drag queen’s show.

Ha ha ha ha…Yeah because of Divine as in John Waters. You might not remember who that was.

Yeah of course I do! So we rented out this crazy mansion and at some point I thought it would be really funny if I just stole a vase and that was the final thing of me leaving the party was to say good bye to Adam while holding this huge expensive vase. I just took this insanely expensive vase off a shelf somewhere and used it as a prop. It’s probably someone’s family heirloom. I just picked it up and used it as a prop. Apparently the house is across the street from Val Kilmer’s old house. He’s still alive, right?

Yeah yeah, he’s just heavy. He’s Val Kilmers now. Vals.

Ha ha ha…

So why don’t you lay the show out for me since you’re on it and I can stop guessing at what is going on.

Yeah it’s like a political thriller….no it’s a party and a bunch of comedians were invited to perform at this party. Apparently we all know Adam and we all have little, tiny subplots with him. So it’s like a sitcom with standup in it. I play his confidante…the one who gives him advice on how to handle the fact that one of the other comedians shows up with his ex-girlfriend then the funny ensues.

The stage for the comics looked really intense. I couldn’t stop staring at it.

Yeah I had a funny line about it but it got cut. I said the set looked like it was designed by an 8 year-old alcoholic. So if you want to print that…they definitely did not put it in the show.

Ha ha ha ha, they were like: We can’t condone 8 year-olds drinking. I would have been like: It’s happening anyway! It’s fucking happening. Who do you think built this set. It looked like there was a slide and other mad things?

There was a playplace and kegs surrounding it.

So you’re in the first episode, do you remain in every episode but just do standup in the one?

No, there are 3 comics in each episode and different comics in each one.

I saw Brooks Wheelan will be on the show…with whom you made Finger Dick. He’s on Saturday Night Live now. I also saw Ahmed Bharoocha…

Ahmed Bharoocha yeah he’s on the first episode and Andrew Santino who is also a good friend of mine and we were cast members on Punk’d together.

THAT’S RIGHT…Oh my God Barry, you’ve met Ashton Kutcher. This is an incredulous, if you don’t want to talk about this that’s fine but I just put my hands against my face like Macaulay Culkin at the idea that you’ve maybe spent time with Ashton Kutcher.

Macauley-Culkin-Home-Alone-525x393

Yeah very brief. He was our boss and would show up every once in a while, laugh at a few ideas and then leave. Yeah I shook hands with him and at some point I might have hugged him. Yeah he was there. He’s a real person. He’s tall, great abs.

Yeah I don’t really think he’s very attractive.

(Barry then complimented me on the interview and said it was great. I made sure Allie was having fun. We made some Allie jokes and laughed.)

One last non show related question. You made a Martin Scorsese film. What the fuck was that like.

It’s hard to explain it. It was surreal. I don’t know, at some point it’s just like any other job. No it wasn’t. It was never like any other job. It was amazing, like going to summer camp with a bunch of famous people.

Barry you are fantastic. Thank you so much.

Thank you Jenn.

Excited for Adam Devine’s House Party yet? Of course you are. The following day I hopped on a call with Scotty Landes, the cowriter of the show with Devine. By the way Scotty has a very nice phone voice. I am pretty tired of listening to my own voice.

Jenn: So I spoke with Barry yesterday. I’m just going to use his first name now, like we’re friends. You were right he’s wonderful, good suggestion. I told him you said he was a great actor. When I Googled him, because I’m a real pro, I discovered he did a Scorsese film. So that’s real acting. You were right. That’s fucking impressive.

Scotty: He’s like a good comic and a great actor and that’s always an awesome combination.

He’s so funny and I’m not just saying that. I legitimately laughed. Because I do standup I find it hard to laugh anymore. There’s not really any joy in my life when I see standup. You probably understand but I legitimately laughed when I watched him on, this is a good segue, Adam Devine’s House Party. You are writing on this show…every episode? Most of them?

Adam and I cowrote every episode which was really great because I’ve never worked with him before but we just clicked right away as soon as we started working together.

How did that happen?

I was recommended by a friend. Then he and I met for drinks at this place called The Old Smokehouse then after 2 drinks he and I just kind of hit it off and we knew we were similar-minded. Basically I think I started a week later and we had a very short amount of time to write relative to normal TV writing. We just got together and sat in an office and for the next few days just pitched out ideas and started writing and it was really great.

Did he already have the idea or did you both give birth to it?

It was Adam’s idea and after the success of Workaholics he wanted to do a standup show but they didn’t want your typical Live at Gotham type of show where it’s kind of glossy and it feels kind of like you’re at a club. They wanted something much more live and much more in the brand of Workaholics so Adam pitched this show where Comedy Central gave me all this money  I blew it on a house party and invited some of my favorite comics to have a party in the backyard and that was the basic pitch but going into the show the first week working together we were really feeling out how it would work and how the story would weave in and out of the comedy and how we could utilize the comedy sets to make sense within the house party.

I’ve seen the first two episodes, hot sneak preview, and what I like about the show the most is at this point in the world of standup comedy it’s really hard to find a way to make standup comedy interesting because you have half hour specials and hour long specials and just standup but how can you make people want to watch standup now so they’re not just staring at people on stage. Is there any continuity in the show or is everyone one and done?

The only constants are Adam and Kyle who plays the role of the director on the show who kind of hates Adam and would rather be texting. I actually play a character called Hungry Man who’s just in the background of every episode who is eating as much food as possible in the most important scenes. And we always make a joke at the end of the episode, someone will say they’d rather be partying at Jeff Ross’ house.

jeff-ross-charlie-sheen_f_l_0

That’s so goddamn hilarious. So how much of this is actually written and how much of it is improv’d? Did you come up with the storylines and then just wound Adam up and let him go? It feels like he’s doing a lot of improv.

That’s Adam’s style and is actually why I think Adam is so funny. He can turn scripted stuff into something that feels like it’s off the top of his head. For the most part it’s all scripted out but it’s supposed to feel that there is actually a party going on and Adam is a huge version of himself like a stupid egomaniac. I think we actually succeeded in that.

Oh yeah you nailed it. I can’t help but be obsessed with the design of the stage. I already spoke to Barry about this at great length. Did you guys also come up with that idea in the writing process? I’m just not sure I could ever do standup on a stage like that. I would be so enthralled with everything around me.

We wanted it to feel like a young party house…basically if you gave an 8 year-old a million dollars what would they build? We have a slide, a golden dirt bike….the best part of the show is it’s a new faces show so a lot of these comics, it’s their first time on TV. They all did great. They all just killed. The crowds were really into it. They crushed the entire time.

Right, every once in a while a new faces comics list is released into the world and if you follow comedy at all then most of the time you know these folks aren’t new at all so this is really good and refreshing.

We wanted it to be like you would see the comics, you would get to know their personalities a little bit throughout the stories then we give them some lines and some material so you would see how funny they are and they weren’t just doing standup.

If I were able to choose my first standup TV spot I would go with this show because it’s such a relaxed environment and it’s different and it’s fun. It’s fucking fun, so thank for doing this. I look forward to the other episodes.

Thank you.

Adam Devine’s House Party airs Thursday night at 12:30 on Comedy Central. You need no formal invitation to this blowout. Just get ready to laugh your fucking asses off.