By Mike Hughes
After breaking into the improv scene in Los Angeles eight years ago, Adam DeVine, Blake Anderson, Anders “Ders” Holm and Kyle Newacheck formed the group Mail Order Comedy and, like any number of other ambitious young improv troupes, began putting up videos on YouTube. Unlike most other ambitious young improv troupes, however, they actually managed to strike gold when Comedy Central stumbled across their Internet oeuvre and liked it enough to green-light a pilot.
The resulting sitcom, Workaholics, follows the lives of three twentysomethings hanging onto the pot-and-booze-fueled insanity of their college days while (just barely) holding down jobs as telemarketers. After only two seasons, the show has turned Adam, Blake and Ders into household names in certain stoner circles.
Currently, the guys – including director, co-creator and recurring character Kyle, who, unlike the others, goes by a fictitious first name on the show (Carl) – are hard at work trying to balance production for season three with writing a feature film and partying with their exuberant fan base ... all while keeping it very tight butthole.
Does your sketch comedy background influence the show? Is there a lot of improv in the finished product?
KYLE: Well, it’s all very scripted when we go into it. Like we go in with a solid idea of what we’re going to do—
ADAM: We have a strong story and a structure, and we all sort of take that and get it the way we’ve written it and then go off-base and come up with some weird stuff. So, usually, it’s a good mix of the weird and what was written.
BLAKE: We have noticed, though, that when it’s like seven in the morning, it’s nice to have some jokes on paper. We start improving more after lunch.
The pacing of the show seems tailor-made for the attention span of the Internet age. Did you intentionally bring that type of pacing to Workaholics after cutting your teeth on Internet videos?
KYLE: I think so. I mean, coming from the Internet world and a medium where you only create three- to four-minute sketches, you’re always looking for a way to make each one its own stand-alone funny scene – like you can watch it individually, but they all chain together into this story that’s 30 minutes long.
DERS: It helps separate us from other shows. It’s moving so quickly. We run and gun.
The show goes pretty far, but is there anything Comedy Central wouldn’t let you do?
BLAKE: For the most part, they’re pretty cool about letting us do almost every single thing.
ADAM: They’ve been weirdly trusting of a bunch of kids who had like 2,000 hits on their Internet videos. Since day one, they were like, “We believe in you guys.” And we were like, “Really? Us? Are you sure?”
BLAKE: We’ll take stances on the weirdest things, and they’ll go to bat for us. Like we really, really, really wanted to show Adam’s mangina on the last episode of last season. And they’re like, “Well, you can’t show pubic hair.” And so we’re like, “All right, then Adam will be completely shaved.” And then—
ADAM: I wasn’t completely shaved.
BLAKE: Yeah, you were pretty clean, though; I was just looking at it this morning. But then Comedy Central actually was like, “Yeah, we’ll do it.” And I’m pumped about it, because we’re pretty sure that that’s one of the first manginas on TV.
ADAM: That was a big step for American television.
KYLE: With the guys jerking off, you know, in the car together – that was one thing they wouldn’t let us do. You can’t move your hand in a jerk-off motion.
You can have erections, but you can’t actually touch them?
ADAM: Well, you can jerk off, but you have to jerk off with your shoulder, for some reason.
DERS: No wrist action.
KYLE: Yeah, any jerking off on the show is just shoulders.
BLAKE: There’s a lot of ways to skin a cat ... [laughter.]
Are people always trying to party with you guys because of the characters you play?
BLAKE: Yeah, definitely, like on trips to music festivals and stuff.
DERS: At Bonnaroo, it’s like, “Smoke this!” “Fine! Wait ... what was that?”
ADAM: I got lost from these guys during Arcade Fire, and I’m just walking around, and that was like the first experience where people actually recognized us. And I probably smoked 15 joints on the way back to where our camp was. I was so stoned, I’m sure I looked like a maniac.
BLAKE: That’s what’s kind of cool about our fan base. I mean, we put it out there that we like to party, so they’re like, “Hey, we’ll buy you a beer!” or “Here’s some of this!” And you’re like ... I mean, I’m down.
ADAM: I’m down!
What do you think of the pot scene in California?
ADAM: It’s great.
KYLE: I just got my card, and I’m pretty amped about it. I feel like I just unlocked the treasures of Los Angeles.
ADAM: I need to get mine. I don’t know why I haven’t.
KYLE: It’s just the most amazing thing in the world to go into a fucking store and buy weed with your debit card. I was like ... I couldn’t believe it.
ADAM: I actually got caught with pot a few years ago, me and Blake. And so I had to do 10 Marijuana Anonymous classes, and I went to these things – it was just the most painful thing. People were like, “Well, I started smoking weed, and then I did heroin and threw my kids in the dumpster!” And I’m like, “Uh, I think it was the heroin. I don’t know if it was the weed there ...”
You guys are writing season three of Workaholics now. Any plot lines you want to give away?
BLAKE: It’s pretty crazy. There’s more drug use, there’s more adventure, there’s more—
KYLE: The guys try some harder drugs.
DERS: Yeah, we amp it up to acid.
ADAM: Ders reads us Steve Jobs’s biography, and we get inspired – to do acid.
BLAKE: More adventures. A lot more of the same. We’re not trying to change anything up too much.
There’s some buzz about a movie, too. Is there a feature film in the works?
DERS: Yeah, we’re working on it now; we got the script going.
Is it a Workaholics movie?
DERS: It’s Mail Order Comedy; it’s a vehicle for us. Kyle will direct, but it will be a totally different backdrop.
ADAM: Same guys, different characters. Different story.
DERS: Different hairstyles.
ADAM: Different wardrobe. But it stars the three of us.
DERS: It’s being written right now.
When does the new season start?
DERS: May 29th ... my birthday. [Silence.] No “Happy birthday”? [To the others.] He seemed cool.
BLAKE: How old is HIGH TIMES?
1974 was the first issue.
BLAKE: Oh, wow.
ADAM: I actually got in a lot of trouble for having a HIGH TIMES calendar in high school. I put it up in my room, and my parents were like, “You can’t do that.” And I’m like, “I’ll run away!” And they’re like, “Please – Grandma’s coming over!” So I said, “All right, for Grandma, I’ll take it down.”
That was nice of you.
ADAM: Yeah, she was a sweet woman.
By Mike Hughes