Rob Corddry Says He's Ready for Time Travel and More Fantomex
One of comedy's best also reveals which of his comedy friends would be great on X-Force.
Rob Corddry has enjoyed a storied comedy career since the early days of the Upright Citizens Brigade. Whether he's creating his own series (Adult Swim's Childrens Hospital) or working alongside other comedy stars, Corddry has been everywhere -- and now he's promoting his new show, The Unicorn on CBS, which airs on Thursdays at 8:30 PM ET/7:30 PM CT. Marvel.com had a chance to talk to Corddry about what has shaped his approach to comedy, and it turns out the Marvel Universe has played a big part!
From deep Marvel cuts to who in that vast comedy universe might be willing to commit actual crimes as part of a super team, you'll get your answers if you read on!
You are currently promoting The Unicorn on CBS, but you have had a career for a very long time. It just feels like you're constantly working, constantly making things. What impresses me the most is that it's a lot of stuff that you make yourself.
Yes, for the most part. I mean, I'm lucky that I came up during a time where people, in the spirit of saving money, would ask comedic actors to also self-generate material. So, I definitely took advantage of that.
You come from an improv background. Did you do anything before that or was that your entryway into show business?
I was in a terrible sketch group before the Upright Citizens Brigade. It was called Third Rail Comedy. We were the pits. Just the worst, man. And then, before that, I was doing Shakespeare. Like way, way off-Broadway.
He was also somewhat of a comedian.
Thank you! Thank you. The first half of Romeo and Juliet is hilarious!
Total comedian! You kind of have to be a comedian to recognize the light so you can also recognize the dark.
Yes, definitely. For sure. Especially stand up, which I've never really done. Stand-up [comedians] are the new philosophers, something like that. It's very true, when it's done right.
When it's done right. I love watching a great stand-up. I can't say I enjoy watching a bad stand-up.
Watching bad comedy in any form is miserable. When I was doing the UCB, it was seven shows a week. And it's long-form improv, which is a lot different from the quick-fast Second City-type games. And it would last like half an hour plus. It either hits or misses. It's boom or bust for that kind of improv. I've seen a lot of terrible improv and done a lot of terrible improv. So, that is pretty painful.
There's so much pressure on improvisers.
It's crazy! You go in with nothing, you're expected to come out with genius gold.
There are no lines! You don't get a script!
No, you just have to be present in the moment the whole time.
Present and in the moment. That's for the birds. Who's present in the moment? No one. Present in the past.
How cool would that be, if you could go to the past and be present there?
If it happens in the movies, it can surely happen in real life.
Thank you. Well they know, they say, you know the Mandela effect. I'm sure you're aware of it. It's caused by, sort of, errant time travelers who messed up. And it's so funny that these time travelers only seem to mess up cereal boxes and children's books. They never cause the Jefferson Memorial to have Hitler in it. I'm in if any time travelers are reading.
Marvel.com has a huge time traveler audience. So, someone will see it and latch onto it. Rob Corddry said he's ready.
If they're out there, they are reading Marvel.com. That's for sure.
I think it's interesting when you meet a comedian with an improv background, or any kind of comedic background, and then find out they're a Marvel fan. It feels like two very different things, but everybody finds or resonates with something different in the Marvel Universe. What resonates with you as a comedian in the Marvel Universe?
I can't really give you an example of what doesn't resonate with me, to tell you the truth. I love, in improv, especially long-form, that it's about world-building. You are building a world for a half an hour or however long. And comics practically invented it. There's a universe, and then, of course, multiple universes. And then there's cinematic universes. That really resonates with me. I love how Miles Morales can show up in the different Earth timeline, and the Ultimate universe is this and now it's not… That, to me, is so cool.
When I was improvising, I was not very good at initiating a scene. But I was very good at making connections. And that's where, I think, comics do so well. Any sort of crossover, whenever you get two characters together, who you would never think would, that's always fun to me.
What is your dream Marvel crossover?
Can't say Deadpool, because he's pretty much thrown into anything. Fantomex. Deep cut. B-side. Venom versus Fantomex, but you know what? I bet you those two kids are going to get along eventually.
They're going to find some common ground.
Yeah, Fantomex loves to steal, and Venom likes to… eat people, I assume, at his worst.
He likes to connect to people.
He sure does. Let's say that one, although, when I leave here, I'll think of a million that are way more interesting.
You’ve mentioned that Deadpool is one of your favorite characters.
Another improv-inspired crossover there, because he's just breaking the fourth wall. And doing it in such a cool way, cause that could be just tiresome, if it's done poorly. One of my favorite runs ever was DEADPOOL KILLUSTRATED. He's going through Moby Dick, and it’s just awesome.
You do the best comedy when you don't care what people think, and you don't care how it's perceived and that's his whole MO. He really lives by his own rules. That's fun.
Your other favorites were Daredevil, Punisher, and X-Force, which is another deep cut.
X-Force is awesome. My favorite iteration was Fantomex, Wolverine was in it, Deadpool was in it? That whole idea of “We are the X-Men, we are just good through and through… but we kill.” It's so fun. I'm a little tired of Super Heroes that will just go to any degree not to kill. You know what I mean? Like Captain America. I love Captain America, but like, come on, man.
But Daredevil doesn't like to kill people either.
No, no Daredevil doesn't. That's a good point.
That's a really interesting pair of characters to like, Punisher whose mission is to kill, and Daredevil, who tries so hard not to.
That's why I like them most together. Daredevil and Punisher, they almost create a character unto themselves, and they're sort of negotiating with themselves and each other to work with each other, which they are forced to do a lot. It's really fascinating.
I also just love that Daredevil is local. He's local. He's like, “I'd like to join the Avengers, but I don't want to leave the West 50s.”
It's why I like the Defenders. Because no matter what iteration they are, none of them want to be on a team, but they can help each other, so they'll do it, they guess.
That's my favorite, kind of like X-Force, those guys like being on a team, but any sort of dubiously constructed team is fun.
You're part of this really big comedy universe, where you work with the same people a lot. Do you kind of feel like a super team in a way? Where you cross over into each other's projects?
I didn’t, but I like that spin on it. I've always thought of us as sort of a community. Almost this mash-up of the UCB alumni and people from MTV's The State, who have created this group.
One of my favorite rules of improv that they teach at the UCB is to make your scene partner look good and you will look good by default. Don't worry about yourself. It's good advice for life. I think that sort of idea has definitely infiltrated the larger comedy world, and it's no longer about stepping over people to get to the top. It's a lot nicer and we all help each other, and we're happy to help each other and be helped and ask for help. It's the only thing where I've ever gotten in on the ground floor. I missed punk rock, I missed everything. This is a really fun community to be a member of, and I am one of the guys, yes, that will kill people.
Yeah, I'll kill people. Rob Riggle will kill people. [Rob] Huebel will kill people for sure.
See, that's a sneaky one. It feels like he's very quietly sinister.
Definitely, Huebel goes bad. We can say if I were writing this story, that Huebel doesn't a stay a hero for long. But then he comes back, of course, he might even die. Then his hero self is reborn. He had to die to kill the villain. And Paul Scheer would never kill anybody.
He strikes me as almost--
Silent killer? Okay, you're right.
He just destroyed Marvel history in COSMIC GHOST RIDER DESTROYS MARVEL HISTORY.
I love it. I just downloaded that, I haven't read it yet. I love it when he writes this stuff, and also Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan on DEADPOOL. Oh my god, that was the funniest. Deadpool's always funny, but those guys are hilarious and nailed it. And also that was around the time that Deadpool got serious for a while there. There were a lot of feels.
That's why I like Deadpool!
Me, too. You can really do anything with him.
He can be the yuk-yuk guy, he can be the “dark comedy/killing guy,” and then it can be like, oh he's a real person. We know he has lots of feelings even with his powers.
Would you be friends with someone with powers if you were...? I wouldn't be anti-powers. I'm totally woke. But I'd be like, “Oh god, here comes so and so, he's got powers. He just talks about himself all the time.”
It depends on what their power is. If they can read my mind, I feel like I might avoid them a little more if I'm having an off day.
They're always trouble. The mind readers are trouble. They can scramble your brains, too. In the larger universe of the X-Men, there are some characters with some weird-ass powers. And I don't even know, what's the dude that you can see through? Glob. His power is just being Glob? Being weird looking?
I always wanted to assemble my own team of X-Men called the Off-Putting X-Men. And it would include guys like that.
That's actually a really good idea. That'd be a pretty funny run.
They're great! I don't know what they do. There's nothing wrong with them, I just have a lot of questions. Let's talk about The Unicorn, now that we're talking about emotions.
And yes, you may do the comic version of The Unicorn, we're waiting, thank you.
Is there anyone hiding a super power on The Unicorn?
No, no super powers at all. My character does have the super power of not quite getting the joke. And Walton [Goggin]'s character would definitely be an early Cyclops kind of guy. All good.
Doesn't know what his potential is, because he's finding himself in a new space. That's what I think is so interesting, because you also mentioned Old Man Logan, and I feel like there are a lot of these characters who find themselves in a new role that they're navigating, and they've always been this one kind of person, and now they're in a completely different setting in a completely different time, even. Or a new phase of their lives, where they have to adapt.
Old Man Logan I love because I love anything Wolverine, of course. But Old Man Logan makes me a little sad. I guess for the reasons you just expressed, and he's avenging the death of his family. But also, the “man out of time” aspect. You feel the loneliness of that. Whereas Cable, you're like whatever, he doesn't care.
Is Walton Goggins character, Wade, sort of a man out of time? Because he's been sort of removed from the dating scene, which he's now re-entering.
He's in the future. It wasn't his choice to be there, and he lost his wife. So, yeah, that's good.
I feel like your character Forrest is rooting him on, but being kind of accidentally brutally honest at the same time.
Yes, and also if I could get away with it, I would be looking at the camera all the time. So, maybe a little fourth wall breaking. All the time. I love just catching the camera, and being like, “Are we fictional? I think we're fictional.”
Do you think your character speaks for the audience? Is he kind of trying to shove Wade into this new phase and he's resistant?
Yes. In a way, all the best friends are representative of some kind of aspect of an audience member. Omar [Benson Miller], who plays Ben, is more practical, well-thought-out kind of guy. If there's anything [for Forrest] to enjoy about Wade's problem, it’s that he kind of wants to live vicariously through him. He just finds all this stuff exciting. “Man, you get to date!” I represent the eight- to fourteen-year-old viewers. As I usually do.
How often do you get to riff with Michaela Watkins, who plays your wife on the show?
Everyday. Every single day. This show is really well written, so there's little reason for us to improvise during a scene for the most part. I usually take a script and look for places to go off a little bit and juice up a little bit. Usually at the end of a scene, it's like finding a button. And we'll always riff until they cut us. It depends on the director how long that goes. We've gone for minutes before, just like total nonsense. Complete nonsense. Nothing that will ever be in the show, but I live for it.
As a way to wrap this up, I’m going to devise a scenario and I’d love to hear your response. Daredevil and Wolverine are on a New York City subway – what's the first thing you think they would notice?
I think Daredevil would just notice everything that Wolverine is doing wrong. Wolverine would be the kind of guy that does the manspread, where he takes up three seats. He's short but there's a lot of man there. I bet you he can take up two or three seats. And if somebody says, “Sir, can you move your leg?” It depends on how berserk he is at the time, he might stab them.
Tune in every Thursday at 8:30 PM ET/7:30 PM CT to see Rob Corddry on new episodes of The Unicorn on CBS!
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