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Comic-Con 2011: Children's Hospital Press Room and Panel

Adult Swim’s Children’s Hospital might be short at only eleven minutes per episodes but after interacting with the cast on the second day of Comic-Con, I can easily say that what their show lacks in length more than makes up for it in laughs and star power. Attending the Con this year to promote the show was star and creator Rob Corddry along with an gaggle of co-stars in the shape of Malin Akerman, Lake Bell, Erinn Hayes, Ken Marino, and of course, the brilliant Megan Mullally.

I got the chance to sit down with various groupings of this fantastic cast and it became clear within minutes that they love being together and are never at a loss to crack each other up. Up first at our press interview table was the tremendous trio of Bell, Hayes, and Akerman who swarmed down upon us with a burst of goofiness that kept us all on our toes. From hearing about their anger at being left out of filming the infamous Brazilian sequence to talk of baby-making on the set (especially of the girl-on-girl variety), scarcely a minute went by without everyone in hysterics.

One fact that might surprise many viewers is that the show is very tightly scripted and there is actually very little improvisation that goes on despite the seemingly random and off-the-wall style that the series exudes. Episodes are typically shot in only two days and, as Corddry later confirmed, the crew is surprisingly large and all union employees despite the very indie tone of it all. Despite these traditional production tropes, the ladies expressed their pleasure in the fact that the show doesn’t rely on traditional character arcs (or even continuity) which means they can basically show up on the day of filming and just make whatever is on the page funny. There are even times, according to Hayes, that roles are swapped around between actors for maximum impact without altering the dialogue or scenario as written, which keeps the production fresh, unpredictable, and at its funniest.

Beyond the show, I couldn’t help but ask the ladies a couple questions pertinent to their individual careers. For example, I was dying to know where Bell got the inspiration for her scene-stealing character in this year’s romantic comedy No Strings Attached. With great modesty she claimed most of it came directly from the pages of the script with a dash of minor tics and stumbles added in based on a friend she was unwilling to name in an effort to not offend said inspiration.

Akerman, a veteran of Comic-Con due to her role in Watchmen, is someone you might imagine fearing to come back and be attacked by mobs of comic book fans but she says she loves coming back here if only for the pure, genuine energy that the fans provide out of their love of what they do.

Up next at our press table was Mullally and Marino who both offered a lot of great insight and humor about the show…that is when Huebel wasn’t distracted by thoughts of the tacos he was craving. Delicious Mexican food aside, both agreed that the show is at its best when pushing the offensive/shocking envelope. Marino said they “can’t really perceive how others will take it but we think its harmless because it is so ridiculous.”

At one point in the interview I asked Mullally if she had any plans to return to Broadway in the near future and the subject seemed to hit a nerve. At first she simply noted that her most recent experience, Lips Together, Teeth Apart, went poorly and she is currently just happy in Los Angeles, which she considers an ashram compared to the small New York City theatre world. The conversation quickly moved on but when the round table interview commenced, Mullally asked me to step aside for some additional information on the topic of musical theatre.

As it turns out, her much publicized departure from Lips Together, Teeth Apart was the result of the abusive nature of the show’s director, Joe Mantello. I won’t use her exact descriptor words on request, but her treatment under the director was less than desirable and reached a tipping point when he tried to pit her against friend and co-star, Patton Oswalt. Mullally and Oswalt quickly realized what was going on and she decided it was worth breaching her contract to leave the show and avoid working in such a hateful and unhappy environment. However, musical theater is still one of her great loves and will likely be in her future again sometime.

She may not have to wait too long though as Rob Corddry revealed that they are actually considering a musical episode that they could then take on tour! Basically just imagine the show on a stage with live music to go along with it to picture the potential hilarity. No plans are firmly in place yet but it is definitely in the works and will hopefully be coming to stages near us all soon.

The cast then headed out to their panel discussion for the thousands of waiting fans and, as expected, the proceedings remained just as goofy if not more so. Some highlights include the airing of an entire episode, Marino sprinting from the back of ballroom to reach the podium where he hugged everyone (including the chairs), one fan questioner referring to Corddry as “that guy from Hot Tub Time Machine“, and Hayes dancing poorly to a beat provided by her castmates. This is a group that apparently lives to have fun and with luck they’ll be around to make people laugh for years to come.

Children’s Hospital airs Thursday nights at Midnight on Adult Swim.

Images courtesy of Matt Degroot for Poptimal.com.

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