By Liz Ohanesian
Have you ever wondered what would happen if the self-absorbed, hypersexual doctors on Grey's Anatomy were staffed at a children's hospital? After spending some time in the emergency room at L.A.'s Children's Hospital, former Daily Show correspondent Rob Corddry asked himself that same question. He went on to imagine a world where clown doctors go astray, a chief of staff "riddled" with disabilities is the hospital's resident babe, and the rest of the crew finds no shame in unloading their drama in front of ailing children.
It's a strange, perhaps even disturbing concept, but can we expect any less from Corddry? In The Winner, one of the funniest TV shows that no one saw, he played a 31-year-old who loses his virginity to his high school English teacher. Then there was his turn as the neighborhood sex offender on Curb Your Enthusiasm. And let's not forget deranged Homeland Security agent Ron Fox in Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanomo Bay. Corddry, who recently played Ari Fleischer in W, excels at the weird and slightly creepy. And so the 10-episode web series Childrens' Hospital, co-written by Corddry and Jonathan Stern and featuring performances from Megan Mullally, Nathan Corddry and a host of others, premieres Monday December 8th on theWB.com.
Check out the Childrens' Hospital preview below and read on for L.A. Weekly's Q&A with Rob Corddry.
L.A. Weekly: Why do an Internet show?
Rob Corddry: It's mostly about freedom. Warner Bros. has given one note since we started this process and even that note we were able to compromise on. I think even Warner Bros., even the studios, feel a bit of freedom in doing these things in that they can be hands-off and kind of enjoy the process as fans of comedy rather than suits. For us, we can do whatever we want.
Can you push the envelope in ways you can't with television?
Absolutely. I don't mean just in terms of swearing or anything like that. There's nothing too R-rated in nature... It's dark and can sometimes be a little creepy for television, perhaps excluding Adult Swim.
Is it more in the vein of something like Aqua Teen Hunger Force or Robot Chicken?
I think that would probably be the closest comparison. It seems that they can get away with a lot more. I know that's largely because they are cartoons, just like Family Guy gets away with a lot because it's a cartoon. We didn't necessarily have to be subversive in that way, but it is kind of like a cartoon. I like to say that the doctors on the show have respect for nothing, including the fourth wall. It's definitely a weird world scenario.
It doesn't look like there are actual children in Childrens' Hospital.
Yes, there are no children or black people. I wrote a lot of it with kids and then realized that the least funny things I was writing were with the kids. So, I wrote a lot of bits that just had kids in the room. A lot of the comedy comes from at least the threat of these horrible doctors doing something inappropriate in front of a child. Really, once that premise is set, I could totally do another season and not show one child. It would be much easier to shoot.
Have you ever been afraid of clowns?
My pediatrician decorated his office with terrifying clowns. They didn't scare me so much. They definitely fascinated me. I remember being transfixed by them. But, I know that I now come to associate doctor's offices or medicine in general with clowns. When Patch Adams came out, I was like, well of course... I don't see how a clown is necessarily comforting to an ailing child, only perhaps because the only thing scarier than a clown is cancer. A kid who is battling a life-threatening disease is probably not afraid of clowns.
Are you releasing all 10 episodes at once?
Yeah. It's never been done before. It's kind of an experiment. I believe that's the future of television, if not the present. I rarely watch a show once a week. I've watched the entire of series of Lost on either DVD or TiVo up until last season and last season wasn't as fun for me because I was waiting week to week.
Once Apple TV or the equivalent becomes the norm -- meaning once we can watch Internet video on television -- that is going to be the benchmark. That will be the turning point, rather. I think that people are going to want to see all of the content that they can at their leisure. It will be up to the networks to decide what they can watch.
What can you tell me about your character?
I play Dr. Blake Downs. I actually play Cutter Spindel, the actor who plays Dr. Blake Downs. In one episode, my character, Cutter Spindel, acts, writes and directs a very special episode of Children's Hospital. He is a clown doctor. Episode Five is sort of his origin story. In this world, clowns are not unlike gays, a still marginalized faction of society who have to create their communities and really try to be who they are, which are clowns. This guy finds his way to a hospital and had, I imagine, a very successful early career, using only the healing power of laughter to save lives, but now he sort of lost his way, i.e., turned into a huge dick. There are rumors of a spinoff with my character, Dr. Blake Downs, M.D.
Will it be like Private Practice?
It will be a little like Private Practice. I believe Blake Downs takes in a young, 10-year-old clown, gets a girlfriend and I believe, tries to answer the question, "How are they going to get along?"
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Childrens' Hospital premieres on theWB.com on Monday December 8th.