It's no secret that Adam Devine is a comedic genius. As one third of the Workaholics trio, the funnyman is basically a one-liner machine. That's why it comes as no surprise that Funny or Die and the Philips Norelco (a brand of American shavers) approached him to star in a three-part video series that spoofs cops, bros and courtroom dramas, which are all hosted by the faux channel, the Broxygen Network.
We got a chance to catch up with Devine—who, along with Blake Anderson and Anders Holm, were featured in our Workaholics digital cover this time last year—to talk to him about his Funny or Die series, his upcoming Comedy Central show House Party, and, of course, Pitch Perfect 2.
Interview by Tara Aquino (@t_akino)
How did you get involved with the Funny or Die series?
Funny or Die and the Phillips Norelco shaver came up to me and they were like, "This guy probably needs to trim his ball sack." I was like, "Thank god! I needed the help." Now, here we are three videos later and I am so smooth!
How do you think those new grooming techniques that Norelco taught you have informed your characters in those Funny or Die skits?
I was able to really internalize every different grooming technique with each character. In the "Special Units" video, holy shit that is the perfect amount of 'stache! Anything more you’re a creep, anything less you’re not a man.
Trey, on the other hand, from "The Dude’s House," is so smooth down there. He seems like a maniac. I don’t know how many chicks that guy actually gets, but if he ever is able to lure one into his sleeping chamber, let it be known that his body hair will not be the issue. His brain hopefully is the issue for any girl, but his body hair will not be.
Were those skits your idea or were they presented to you?
They came up to me and were like, "Do you have any ideas?" And I was like, "I don’t know, I wouldn’t mind playing different characters instead of just sort of doing the same guy I do in Workaholics." And they were like, "What if we do something like a reality show but each show has to do with body hair and grooming?" That sounded cool, so Funny or Die wrote them and I buffed them up and added a little bit of my stank to it.
How much of it is improvised?
Quite a bit. A lot of "The Dude’s House" stuff was improved, but it’s all based on the Funny or Die scripts. That’s kinda what I do on Workaholics; you take what is written, you do that, you make sure you get it, and then you do some other takes where you go way, way off. Then, in the edit, they bring it in and meet in the middle. It’s totally a bizzaro world, but it’s still within the confines of what the sketch is and should be.
Do you have an improv background?
I did Second City L.A. That’s where I met [Anders Holm]. Before Workaholics, we had a group called Mail Order Comedy and we made 80-something Internet videos in a few years span. That way, we were able to really own what we do, what we film, how we improv, and our technique through trial and error.
What can you tell us about your upcoming Comedy Central show House Party?
It’s a stand-up comedy show, but what’s cool about it is that it’s half scripted sitcom and half stand-up show. It’s set in a house party that I am throwing, and it’s out of control. The comics who are on the show are the other actors in each episode, and we get in all this crazy shit together. Then I’ll bring up the comic, we’ll watch him for five minutes, and then come back inside the party and see what’s happening there. That was really fun to write because I got to do both things that I love, which is writing sketches and little stories and doing stand-up. It was really cool to give my stand-up friends a shot, too.
Is that something that you had always thought about doing?
I actually had that idea for 10 years or so. It’s just been illuminating up there in the old noggin, but before Workaholics nobody was going to give me that kind of show. Luckily after the success of Workaholics, I went to Comedy Central with that idea, which was perfect timing because I think they were looking for something to showcase new stand-up comedians since they cancelled Live at Gotham and they hadn’t had anything for stand-up comedians for a couple years. So the network bought it, and now we are doing eight episodes of the show. Hopefully when it comes out people will love it and we can do more because it was a lot of fun.
Thanks! It’s cool because a lot of stand-ups are really funny actors. It’s easier to get in with stand-up because if you’re funny you will get stage time and you can move up the ladder that way. With acting, it’s hard because you need to get an agent and there are more hoops to jump through. But some of these stand-ups are really funny actors who haven’t been given a shot as an actor. This way, comics are able to prove that not only is he a really funny stand-up, but also a really funny actor who should get cast.
I’m excited to see what happens to the acting careers of the comics we put on blast this season. If I was at that point in my career now, I would absolutely love this type of show. It would be my favorite thing to do.
Something I noticed talking to comedians and comedic actors is how willing every entertainer in the comedy community is to put his or her friends on. They're all in each other's projects.
Yeah, I think it’s different than just actors because you’re not competing for the same role. We are like, "Oh we are all stand-ups, we can all get our stage time, we are all different, and we are all funny." I don’t find it super competitive in that respect. When people do get shots, there’s a lot of reaching back and being like, "Hey man, come do my thing and let’s do it together."
Also, you spend a lot of time with these people and they become your best friends. Instead of you getting off work and hanging out at your friend's house, you go to the comedy clubs every night and hang out with your friends who are also stand-ups there. Or, you go on the road with some comedians and are with each other 24 hours a day for however long you are out on the road. There’s really a sense of camaraderie.
Who are some of your comedic heroes?
I like the guys who wrote their own stuff and were able to perform it, like Seth Rogen. He popped off so young. When he did The 40-Year-Old Virgin and he was a co-producer on the movie, I was like, "Oh my god that’s exactly what I want to do." Actually, we wrote a movie together and he’s helping us produce it, so it’s become a dream come true for me in that respect.
There are other comedic actors I love too, like Bill Murray. I loved Adam Sandler’s early stuff. I thought it was so cool how irreverent and weird he would get. As far as stand-ups go, I always loved Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, and Sinbad. Basically, I love black comedians because they’re the funniest. I wish I were a black comedian, actually.
Were you a fan of Arrested Development before you made your cameo?
Oh my god, I loved it! It’s one of my favorite shows of all time. Mitch Hurwitz is the creator of Arrested Development, and he is such a genius. He has a million jokes on the top of his head. He is actually in an episode of Workaholics Season Two. He contacted us and was like, "Hey I’m a fan," and we all lost our minds because we were so amped on it. He said, "I would love to come in and do something." And we were like, "Do you want to write an episode?" He said no. [Laughs.] He wanted to act, so we wrote a character for him and he crushed it.
Just dick jokes, that’s what inspires me the most.
So, when he reached back and asked us to do a cameo on Arrested, of course we all freaked out and did it. It was a ton of fun! It was surreal acting in a scene with Jason Bateman as Michael Bluth.
What runs through your mind when you have people that you look up to reaching out to work with you?
I mean, you try to be cool and you’re like, "Oh no, this is how it works, don’t freak out." But then you’re driving alone in your car and you're like, "Holy shit! Seth Rogen wants to produce our movie! Mitch Hurwitz is a fan! It’s incredible!" Like, Blake Griffin is my favorite basketball player and he’s a fan of Workaholics! He invited me to a game and I got to sit in his personal seats and meet the team afterwards. It was mind-blowing.
Every time I hear anyone likes the show, I’m still so excited. You don’t even have to be famous. I was just at The Coffee Bean and some guy was like, "Dude I fucking love the show!" And I was like, "Yes! It's working!"
What inspires your comedy?
Just dick jokes, that’s what inspires me the most. [Laughs.] There's not one thing that inspires me the most. Me and my friends joke around with each other and hang out so much that whatever makes us laugh really hard makes it into Workaholics. But the characters that I think are funny are guys that are confidently stupid. There’s something really funny about someone who thinks he’s the man and has everything figured out, but is kind of a dummy. Will Ferrell does that really well, so does Ben Stiller.
What is your involvement in Pitch Perfect 2?
The second! Deuce! I don’t know yet. My character is sort of ousted halfway through the first movie. If it works and my character could come back that would be cool, but if it’s forced and it feels weird, then I wouldn’t want to come back and be like, "Bumper’s back for three minutes!" That would be strange. I did say to Kay Cannon who is writing it, "I only have one pitch for my character —use it or not, I don’t care—I should definitely come back as a K-Pop star." Like, in the meantime, I’ve just blown up in Asia. I’m huge!
He should come back as a campus performer at Barden University.
Yeah totally! [Laughs.] Who knows if that would work, but it was cool doing the movie. People really loved it.
People still love it. It’s all over Tumblr.
I wasn’t expecting it. It’s a little teen movie that isn’t exactly in the house of the type of comedy I do, but I thought the script was really funny and I thought that I could make my character pretty funny. I did it thinking it would fly under the radar, but it just blew the fuck up!
Now I have 10-year-old little girls just screaming and running towards me at airports, which is pretty strange. I’m so taken aback. There was a whole cheerleading squad going to some cheer convention, and all of a sudden I literally had, like, 80 nine to 10-year-old girls scream, "Bumper!" For a second, I was like, "Are you guys Workaholics fans? Because your parents should not allow you to watch that show." But no, they were Pitch Perfect fans and that was A-OK!