Since its debut on Comedy Central two years ago, Workaholics has steadily built a cult following of fans and spawned some of the greatest slang in recent pop culture. We got the chance to talk with Adam DeVine, one of the shows creators and discuss his start in comedy, stoner fans, and upcoming projects with Seth Rogen and Mitchell Hurwitz. It was very tight butthole.
Heavy: Hey Adam, good to talk to you, are you working on set today?
Adam: No, we’re writing the next season of Workaholics right now in beautiful Van Nuys, California and it is about 200 degrees here.
Heavy: So, I know that you grew up in Nebraska. Is that where you got started doing comedy?
Adam: As much as you can get started when you’re in high school. I would do every pep rally and comedy theater production that I could, but I really didn’t get started until I moved out here to California. I moved out the summer after my senior year of high school when I was 18. Really, I was sort of a pussy about the whole thing. I moved out here and did improv but really didn’t get going full steam ahead until a few years later.
Heavy: Did you know you wanted to pursue comedy as career in high school or did that come into play when you moved out to California?
Adam: My dad is really funny and we use to always watch Evening at the Improv, and I remember one day I was like, “I could do this. Like, these guys are funny, but I could do that.” My dad’s a great guy and very, very supportive but when I told him I was thinking about being a comedian he said “Adam, you’re a funny kid, but you gotta be really funny in order to be a comedian.” I was like, “Oh no you didn’t. No you didn’t. I’m doing it!” That was sort of the catalyst of me wanting to prove that I could be really funny and become a comedian.
I knew I wasn’t going to be a professional basketball player or football player, but was always pretty funny and just said “fuck it”, moved to California and met Blake and Kyle day one of community college in improve class. I said, “Hey dude with the afro, you’re pretty funny, let’s do comedy together.” We just started writing and then I moved up to L.A. and met Ders at Second City where I was taking improv classes. Kyle was going to school for directing and this was right when YouTube was coming out, so we just started making a ton of videos and luckily Comedy Central saw them and we got our own show.
Heavy: I’ve watched “Purple Magic” probably a dozen times on YouTube. How did you guys come up with the idea for these gangsta rapping wizards?
Adam: We had tried to come up with a few show ideas before Workaholics and had this idea that was sort of Superbad-ish right before Superbad had come out. The show was about these idiot guys who just kept failing high school called Super Seniors. During the pitch presentation we were developing, there was a scene where we were dressed as rappers and in between takes we just started rapping.
“I’m a wizard, bitch. You can’t defeat me!”
We thought it was the funniest thing, and at the time we all had girlfriends except for Kyle, who would just stay at home making wizard beats while we were out with our girlfriends. We would come home and he would have like 5 tracks ready to go. We were just like, “Holy shit, man, you gotta get out of the house. When’s the last time you changed your pants?” [Laughing] Luckily, he had them though because we were able to come out with a whole album which is pretty bonkerz when you think about it.
Heavy: You guys have had some pretty out there comedy on the show, for example, the masturbating in the car scene. Is there anything Comedy Central said absolutely no to?
Adam: No, man, not really. They’ve been really cool with us doing kinda whatever. When we got the show we were nobodies who weren’t established at all really. You had to be the biggest comedy nerd to know about our YouTube stuff really. They put their trust in us to do a show and if it failed it was really no skin off their back because they hadn’t invested much in us to start. They kinda hung us out to dry and put it all on us to make a show that either worked or didn’t. Luckily, people liked it and now they’ve taken that same approach and are just letting us do what we wanna do.
Heavy: How did some of the other characters like Montez (Eric Griffin) develop onto the show?
Adam: I had done telemarketing and worked with a guy would do this crab-walk after he made a sale and say, “Sellin’, sellin’,sellin’, I be sellin! Woo!” He was a nice guy but was annoying and we needed that dynamic on the show of a big, loud guy who was really good at telemarketing to butt heads with. I knew Eric from doing stand-up, he came in and just crushed it and that was it.
Partying with the fans…
Heavy: On the set, is there a lot of partying or is it more straight to business?
Adam: Nah, people are always like, “I bet you guys smoke so much weed on set” and it’s not really like that. We work 12 hours days and I’m a bad improviser when I’m stoned, I’ve done it before and I suck. I’m just “Whatever, man, it doesn’t matter, it’s all good.” [Laughing] We do that stuff after we wrap on set.
We’ve done a few music festivals, Bonnaroo two years ago and SXSW this year and you do get a ton of free weed. It’s cool going to do stand-up now and people will throw weed on stage. I feel like the cops are going to catch on to me, but in the meantime, I have a bunch of free weed to smoke.
Heavy: Yeah, I saw you blame it on your friend on Conan.
Adam: [Laughing] I was such a dummy about that. My friend Kyle Walsh is actually a really good childhood friend and lives in the house we where we shoot Workaholics. But his mom called me up and said, “How dare you use his name like that on national television. How’s he supposed to get a job now?” He has a job, he works for me, he can be a stoner. I love it!
Heavy: Concerning your FOD video series with Norelco, calling out violators of manscaping, how do you feel about pube crime?
Adam: A lot of celebrities take on noble causes like water conservation, not me, I’m all about trimming pubes baby! No, but actually those videos were really fun to do because I got to play this weird character of a cop with a Chicago accent patrolling in Los Angeles. And personally, I’ve got a wild amount of chest hair. I’m hairy little dog. And you gotta maintain the sack-a-roo! You don’t want that to be a hairy hacky sack.
Arrested Development and the future…
Heavy: You’ve got a cameo on the upcoming season of Arrested Development. How did that come about?
Adam: Mitchell Hurwitz came to us and said he was a big fan of Workaholics and appeared on season 2 as “Cool Eric” the hr guy that helps us with our alcohol addiction. He was really cool and funny to work with and I thought that was going to be it but when they revamped AD he asked us to do a cameo. Speaking for myself, it’s one of my favorite comedy shows.
Heavy: Any other shows or comics that had a big impact on you?
Adam: Jim Carrey blew the lid off it for me. He was the first comic that I was obsessed with after Ace Ventura came out when I was in fourth or fifth grade. I really loved SNL when they had Farley, Sandler, Hartman, and David Spade. That generation of SNL gets shit on about how sophomoric and silly they were, but that class was the pinnacle for me. I think comedies try to be too heady sometimes. The stories need to be smart but the characters don’t need to be geniuses. Some of my favorite comedy characters are these guys who think they’re geniuses, but are just arrogant buffoons.
Heavy: Doing stand-up, writing, acting, is there one that you feel stronger about than the rest?
Adam: I love doing it all and they all contribute to each other and work together in the end, but I love being on set and having the freedom to try different things in a scene if something isn’t working. We’re able to find a really cool, weird scene that’s a a hodgepodge of the script and improvised bits created on the spot. It’s really gratifying to be able to edit and tinker with it and then put it out for a huge audience to see and see all the responses from Twitter and Facebook. Stand-up is really cool though because I’m able to get instant gratification of what joke people did or didn’t like. It’s cool to know right away if something’s working or not.
Heavy: As far as after Workaholics, do you see yourself and the other guys going on to do another TV project or movie together?
Adam: We’ve [Mail Order Comedy] written a movie that we’re producing with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Superbad, This is the End). Those guys are kinda the movie versions of us, in that we’re doing the same type of stuff except they’ve been able to do it in movies and now they want to team-up and help us make that transition. They’ve been really cool to work with and we’re hoping to shoot sometime early next year. It’ll be the three of us and while it won’t be Workaholics related, fans of the show will love the movie. We’ll get the chance to do some big action comedy sequences that we might not have the time or budget to do on the show.
Heavy: A few final “let’s get weird” questions… three best foods after 2 am?
Adam: Tacos, cold pizza, and just fistfuls of ham.
Heavy: Fistfuls of ham, that’s a curveball.
Adam: I’m not willing to put in the extra work for a sandwich after 2.
Heavy: “Macho Man” Randy Savage or Hulk Hogan?
Adam: I’m going to go with my gut and say Macho.
Heavy: Bang, marry, kill – She-Ra, Jem from Jem and the Holograms or April from TMNT?
Adam: Bang She-Ra, marry April and kill Jem. That’s an easy one.