Make Comedy or Watch Comedy? (with Nick Kroll)

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When comedian Nick Kroll decided to end his hit show “Kroll Show” he wasn’t totally sure what he would do next. But it was important to him to decide something was done rather than drag it out. Sam asks Nick about how he’s so good at zeroing in on what he genuinely wants, finding the funniest people in the room to make Big Mouth, and how to decide if he should keep his family out of his standup material.

When comedian Nick Kroll decided to end his hit show “Kroll Show” he wasn’t totally sure what he would do next. But it was important to him to decide something was done rather than drag it out. Sam asks Nick about how he’s so good at zeroing in on what he genuinely wants, finding the funniest people in the room to make Big Mouth, and how to decide if he should keep his family out of his standup material.

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Nick Kroll, Samantha Bee

Samantha Bee  00:19

You know, traditional traditionally, the second anniversary gift is cotton, but when it comes time to marking the second anniversary of the overturning of Roe V. Wade, I think that condoms might be more apt. In fact, I fear you may need to stock up on them while you can, because last week, Senate Republicans allowed a vote protecting the right to contraception to fail. Welcome back to Choice Words. I’m Samantha Bee, and we are back for season two fright and time, because I have some seriously time sensitive choice words for those absolute asshats in Congress who are systematically trying to ban contraception and pave the way for people like Supreme Court Justice Thomas to overrule Griswold a 1965 decision that protects contraception. You know what really stings? What really adds insult to injury? I mean, you think the people trying to ban contraception haven’t ever benefited from it. Are you trying to tell me, the Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, who uses the literal app to stop him from watching porn, has never used something to stop him from having a baby. That guy’s all about preventative measures. You think that Donald Trump is allowed to, just like raw dog at wherever he wants. Oh, no, he more than anyone, needs to wrap that horrible thing up. And as always, it bears repeating. Birth control isn’t just used to avoid unwanted pregnancy because people have historically refused to study women’s medical needs. Men have 1000s of options to cure their penile issues, while women are left with one single pill like birth control to handle an array of medical issues like PCOS, endometriosis, migraines, acne. So when you ban contraception, you’re not just limiting effective family planning, you’re curtailing meaningful treatments that comprise much too much of women’s health care. If cruelty is the point, then Republicans have always nailed it actually that might be the only nailing it that is truly safe anymore.


Samantha Bee  04:14

Luckily, my guest today is someone who brings me levity amidst my moments of rage, we are kicking off season two with the incredible actor and comedian Nick Kroll. You know Nick from shows like The Kroll Show Broadway’s Oh Hello, and, of course, the smash hit, Big Mouth. So take a listen and make good choices.


Samantha Bee  04:47

Oh, look at you. It is a pleasure to see you.


Nick Kroll  04:51

I haven’t seen you since we were in Austin Texas.


Samantha Bee  04:54

We were in Austin Texas, and we won’t we don’t have to play this, but it was funny to be held hostage together and. At an event of unknown origin.


Nick Kroll  05:02

An unknown purpose and unknown consequence.


Samantha Bee  05:05

Unknown consequence, but for three and a half hours of just being held hostage to an idea of, like, maybe getting coverage by variety again, in the future.


Nick Kroll  05:15

I know and then, like, can’t helping myself but to make fun of the event and all of those magazines, all of those things, just can’t help myself.


Samantha Bee  05:24

Oh, my God well, okay, so thank you so much for saying yes to this. I’m so excited to talk to you. You know, I was reviewing how because we’ve met through the years, we’ve met different things. I feel like the first time we ever met was maybe at an audition together.


Nick Kroll  05:40

Yes, I kind of remember, I want to say it was for some sort of soda. I feel like it was like, Jim Gaffigan and someone else. It was like, I feel like the audition was like, will these minor celebrity comedians be someone you want soda from?


Samantha Bee  05:56

Will this enhance your experience of our aspartame and cola ingredients in some form? I think the answer was no.


Nick Kroll  06:06

No, because I really, as I remember it, it’s like a soda that no longer exists.


Samantha Bee  06:11

Of course, there are so many failed sodas, and we, we hardly knew ye. We hardly knew ye.


Nick Kroll  06:17

I know and yet, if they had hired us, I don’t know who’s to say. Who’s to say?


Samantha Bee  06:23

I want to say that one thing that I’ve never said to you before, and I need to say this, is that wheels Ontario is just like a seminal work that speaks to me on a level. It’s like, almost like, well, I guess I should, if people don’t, if people are unfamiliar.


Nick Kroll  06:39

Somehow, people don’t know this.


Samantha Bee  06:42

How could you it is a parody of Degrassi, which I’m Canadian. So Degrassi is a part of my life.


Nick Kroll  06:49



Samantha Bee  06:49

And wheels Ontario spoke to me on such a deep like on a DNA level, I just understood it so thoroughly, and I felt like maybe you just made it for me, and.


Nick Kroll  07:01

That’s how all of Canada feels. And it Yeah, I feel I genuinely when I go to Canada, I feel like a level of warmth from the Canadian public, and also Canadian writer, performer, comedians, actors, I think, almost entirely because of wheels Ontario.


Samantha Bee  07:21

Well, the character that you bring to life in Wheels Ontario is feels very close to my heart, knowing that when I moved to the States, I would wear my backpack to red carpets like, that’s literally who Canadians are. I’d be like, my, my, my PRT would be like, do you want us to hold your backpack when you do your photos. And I was like, oh, yeah, yeah, okay.


Nick Kroll  07:45

Yeah, oh, you mean my back satchel, yeah.


Samantha Bee  07:49

My back satchel. It’s got my flats in it for after.


Nick Kroll  07:55

For the after, I hope there’s some pasta salad at the after.


Samantha Bee  08:00

Oh, my God, all right. I’m glad that you’re here. I’m glad this is like our inaugural. This is, like, it’s not inaugural, but it’s like our season two, big, splashy start to the second season.


Nick Kroll  08:11

So who else would you come to? Who else would you come to?


Samantha Bee  08:14

You have to if we couldn’t get you, we wouldn’t have a second season. So that’s good for you to know and.


Nick Kroll  08:19

Really thrilling to hear this.


Samantha Bee  08:21

Okay, so just a launch point for the show is that it is really about choice, and we’ll talk about like, choices that you’ve made through your career, but it means something different to everybody that we talk to. And it’s always interesting to like, find out how a guest approaches make are you a good are you good at making choices and big decisions in your life? Are you do you ago? Are you like an agony when you got to make a big a big?


Nick Kroll  08:42

No, I’m not in agony about it, but what I’m learning through what’s interesting is, for the most part, career wise, I’m very good at I’m pretty clear and making decisions like, I want to do this, I don’t want to do this. Or it reveals itself to be clear to me, what I am trying to get better at is like, understanding myself. Like, my birthday, for example, like, will be a month of like, I used to, like, throw a big party, but I don’t think I’m that person anymore. And I don’t, frankly, have the time to you become like a I have two children and a career, and like, you just don’t have the time to be, like, like, I used to be like, Oh, I’ll throw together, like, a massive dance party and like, I’ll invite everyone I know. And I could do that. The time doesn’t exist anymore. And what I’m struggling with it is being is, like, genuinely asking myself, like, what do I want? What do I actually want? And like, who do I want there I struggle with understanding and making certain choices of like, I think, trying to understand who I am currently and then planning accordingly for who I believe I am.


Samantha Bee  09:52

Right so you’re not necessarily like I’m very busy and I have two little kids. Let’s celebrate me. Let’s take a month. Just like, shut it all down, everybody be calm. We’re gonna do.


Nick Kroll  10:05

We’re gonna do some major renovations to the life. We’re gonna shut it down. We’re gonna live elsewhere while we get ready for the birthday, no.


Samantha Bee  10:12

I live on a boat.


Nick Kroll  10:15

Yeah, it’s not. And I don’t mean to say that I’m like, this selfless character who cares only about the wellness of others, but I have real trouble zeroing in on, like, in in situations like this, that it’s a real pick them and choose them for me of like, zeroing in on what it is I genuinely want, right? You know, like, like, do I want this year’s birthday to be dinner with my family and three friends, or do I want to bring everybody to a bar? Or do I want to, like, do nothing at all? Like, I get a little lost in those decisions currently,


Samantha Bee  10:50

I feel like society also tells you to want, like, when I think about Mother’s Day, for example, everyone society is like you. It’s your day. It’s your day to just take, take a day off, be, go, be somewhere away from your children. And I’m like, well, that’s what, wait.


Nick Kroll  11:08

I think I like my children and I want to be around them.


Samantha Bee  11:11

Isn’t that the point of the day that we had? The like, yeah, wait, don’t torpedo me into space. Are you trying to get rid of me?


Nick Kroll  11:20

You alone at a terrible nail salon being like I’m told I should be getting a manicure, and I hate how this feels.


Samantha Bee  11:29

Yes, I’m told that this is delightful and this is pampering, and I feel so lonely, and I’m reading a People Magazine. Do were you always good at making career decisions for yourself? Were you always kind of definitive about what it was that you wanted, or did you.


Nick Kroll  11:45

I think, for so long, like going back to that period of time when we were both auditioning for, like, the new squirt soda, I think I was good at that point at just wanting to work. And that’s been the major thing is, like, I just have always wanted to work, and I’ve, and I have been aware that there are certain steps inside of that. So it started, like in commercials and all that shit, because that was what was available to me in New York in the early 2000s and then also concurrently working on the own stuff. I was, and I was always good at being like, here’s what I’m interested in working on on my own, and here’s what’s realistic and tangible to get done. So it wasn’t like I was like, writing like, script after script. When I was like, starting out, I was like, right some can I make my own little things? Or can I get someone to pay me to make my own little things that will be like, you know, like building blocks for the larger things I want to make. I’ve always been, I have genuinely always been pretty good about that and and focusing my energy on things that are tangible.


Samantha Bee  12:44



Nick Kroll  12:44

And not spinning my wheels on ideas that don’t make sense.


Samantha Bee  12:47

Can I? Can I? Can I make an observation that’s just a very Canadian way to do things, that’s pragmatism.


Nick Kroll  12:54

Yes, do you feel that Canadians are more pragmatic than and.


Samantha Bee  12:58

I do.


Nick Kroll  12:58

How come? How so?


Samantha Bee  13:01

I feel like, because we all come from, like, Irish servants, on some level, that we’re all just like, the clean towels are for the guests, and we use dirty rags. That’s how we do it, and we’re happy that way, like we just under it’s just building blocks. It’s like, you’ll dig out potatoes until you don’t, you know, you’ll always be able to.


Nick Kroll  13:21

Until the potatoes are done, right? So we’re in the US. It’s like, there’s a belief that everyone should be like, like, topped off.


Samantha Bee  13:30

There’s more Choice Words in just a moment.


Samantha Bee  16:05

When you think back on the spectrum of your what, what is it? Can you think back to a choice that really, just like changed everything for you, maybe in an even an unexpected way, like even something maybe relatively small or something huge.


Nick Kroll  17:08

A very clear choice was, I came out here for because, like, when we were in, when I was in, you were in New York at the same time, but when I was in New York, I would been like, doing like commercials and stuff, and then there was, like, if you didn’t book, like The Daily Show or Saturday Night Live. There really wasn’t much else, like, there was a lot of like, I’m like, doing, like, a lot of VH one, like green screen, like, best week ever. Like, I had landed on, I was on television, you know. But it was like, not really very lucrative, and it was not very like, necessarily very celebrated. But I was, like, working. I was making money and on TV and all that stuff. And then I was, I decided to come out for a pilot season, like, officially, like, come to LA for like, two or three months, I lived in the Oak woods on Barham. The Oak woods are where, like, a lot of chilled child actors and Disney actors would live.


Samantha Bee  17:58

And it was like, with a wall of headshots.


Nick Kroll  18:00



Samantha Bee  18:01



Nick Kroll  18:01

Yes, exactly. You go into, like the little deli supermarket inside of this complex, and there was, like a wall of like brooding five year old boys aspiring to become like the next, you know, like Jonathan Taylor Thomas, many years before, but like that version of it. And I lived out here and just went to auditions and ended up booking this show, caveman, which, which ultimately failed, but, but, but got me, like, into, got me to LA and working in film and television. And so I think about that choice of, like, deciding to kind of like, be like, I’m gonna go for three months or two months to new to LA, and really like, do that. Okay, here’s something that I even before all of that was, like, I had graduated, but Mulaney, John Mulaney, was still in college, and we were doing these voices. We would do this, like, sort of thing that was sort of like a fake newsreel voice, like, lot, you know, from San Simeon, you know, like that. Like, like, you know, Orson Welles and like it was, and we would just do that to each other, like, There’s jojo Bryson air to the Bryson clam sauce fortune, you know, we started doing that to each other. And so the choice, I will say, is that I was, like, we’re doing this bit together. Why don’t we write it down? And why don’t I begin the process of seeing if I can make this. And it was that was like a real like this thing that we are both laughing about together, why don’t we, if I can, if we can write this as a script in some form, then I can begin to chip away at it. And John was still in college, and we wrote it, and then I started the process of, like, making it like I had met a guy through friends who was like, at that point, you really needed someone who could shoot and edit. Like it wasn’t assumed that everyone could do it. There was, like, a short list of people in New York or LA that was like, This guy knows how to has his own camera and he will edit and knows how to make things look like old timey.


Samantha Bee  19:58

Yes, that was like, gold.


Nick Kroll  20:01

Yes, there was four of those people in New York, and probably more in LA. And I started to, just like, I wrote it, and then we made it. And slowly cast it and made it. And it was like, Oh, this worked, like, I then had this thing that I could show. It was called cavalcade of personalities, and we and it’s very funny, and then that was sort of a calling card to, like, get on other people’s shows and and show it to people. And I think I’ll say that as, like, a small but very big choice, which was, like, you know, taking this little idea and now putting it to paper and then committing to go make it.


Samantha Bee  20:35

Isn’t that just the thing, though, it’s like, the most in a way, it’s the most unsexy comedy, like advice in the world, but it’s the most important thing, which is to just write it down and do it. You have to go do it.


Nick Kroll  20:48

Yeah, go chip away, it’s such an it’s such a and it’s back to the Canadian pragmatism. Here’s where I think I will pat Kroll Show on the back for its canadianness, to make poutine, of course, poutine, but like, poutine is, like, to me, entry level Canada, like, ref like, and then saying, like, a you, you immediately to me reveal yourself as not deeply ensconced in Canadian culture. If you’re leaving it at poutine and a I was in Toronto for another thing, this is a few years ago, to do press. And I was on like a morning TV show, and there was a magician there doing tricks. It was a sponsored content for Tim Hortons for new like, a choco freeze blast. And it was like, and it was a magician there to do like choco freeze blast content on morning television.


Samantha Bee  21:44

Oh, my God, we all every Canadian who has left Canada on some level, has done a Tim Hortons commercial, and mine, really, I think, stood out when they started having bagels at Tim Horton, when they started rolling out their bagels. And so the commercial is just me looking down through the hole of a bagel, which is the most flattering angle that can ever […] from below up through a bagel. So anyway, I hope that.


Samantha Bee  22:14

Was burned.


Nick Kroll  22:14

They’re like.


Nick Kroll  22:16

Yeah like seared, seared double chin through our extensive whole bagels.


Samantha Bee  22:23

We’re not going to light your face. We’re lighting the bagel. That’s the beauty shot okay, you’re supposed to look bad.


Nick Kroll  22:29

We want to make sure that the bagel has light from above, so we’re going to light you from above and then shoot you from below. And so what we’re saying is we want Nosferatu to be eating a bagel.


Samantha Bee  22:40

Whoa, one achieved and done. So I want to talk about big mouth, because, I mean, wow, wait, this is the eighth and final season, or ninth and final.


Nick Kroll  22:55

It will be eight in total, and that eighth and final season will come out in next G, yeah.


Samantha Bee  23:01

Okay, because what a god damn show. It’s incredible. Oh, okay if people who are listening to this have not watched Big Mouth, you have to. It’s all about puberty. It’s the most awkward time humanly possible. I think you must be as obsessed as I am about sex education and the lack thereof in this country, we people are these children people, adults are so unprepared for life. It’s so dangerous to not have that kind of information, if you were okay, if you were designing a sex ed course in the US in the year of our Lord 2024, what would it? What would it be like? Or is that just Big Mouth? You made it.


Nick Kroll  23:50

I mean, I did my version, we did our version of it with Big Mouth, which was, I don’t think we knew up top when we first started making it, that, you know, we were making a show that we thought would be funny for us to watch, me and a bunch of other like people in their 30s and 40s and 50s. Now, what we didn’t realize, but were so pleasantly surprised about, was that when the show came out, it was like, oh, kids. And people who are kids are going through puberty, or have just gone through puberty, are gonna watch this show and be like, Oh my God, you made a show for me. We didn’t even fully realize that. And you know, an animation takes a long time, so you write and voice way ahead of time. So we had done two seasons before Season One aired. But then we we took that very seriously, that kids and people were watching the show, and that whatever we were, the jokes we were making, and the science that we were talking about added up and made sense and was and we were very conscious of the messaging, even while simultaneously being unbelievably dirty in doing it. But we also found that the more dirty we were, the more emotional we could be in the more emotional. We could be, we could be more dirty and not only emotional, but also trying to tackle and talk about big, real things now, so Big Mouth really was, was my whatever I was going to do for sex education. Ironically, my sister Vanessa Kroll Bennett is a become a puberty expert, and is actually designing curriculum for schools about sex education and puberty specifically, she and her partner, Dr Karen Adderson, who’s in a PhD, a pediatrician, doctor specializing in she wrote of the American Girl books many years ago, and has written a number of books, and they have literally been working together, and was an advisor on big mouth for the science of it. They have now themselves are literally, literally creating curriculum.


Samantha Bee  25:51



Nick Kroll  25:51

So you should check out. They’ve got a great podcast called the puberty podcast, and they’ve written a book called This is so awkward, and they are doing curriculum for school. So just as a cross across family.


Samantha Bee  26:06

Promotion, cross family.


Nick Kroll  26:08

Cross family pollination promotion, puberty, pollination promotion.


Samantha Bee  26:12

You guys, you own you own puberty.


Nick Kroll  26:14

We own the space.


Samantha Bee  26:15

You own, the space of puberty. Good for you.


Nick Kroll  26:18

Yes, thank you.


Samantha Bee  26:20

What did you What made you want to tackle it? I guess. What was the I guess, what was the catalyst in your own life? What was the inspiration.


Nick Kroll  26:26

Going back to what we were talking about earlier, of like, what I think I have been good about in my career is, is clarity of choice and Mark Andrew Goldberg, who I’ve my best friend from growing up, who then, when I was doing this, if I was doing it, gone and become a writer and producer for many years, a family guy and Mark Levin and Jen flackett, who are writer directors and had been working with Andrew for a long time, they came to me. We just finished Kroll Show. I had, oh, that was probably that would have been a better or another thing to talk about a choice I made was just like ending Kroll Show after season three, I was just exhausted. I was creatively and I’m physically exhausted, and the choice to end it and start over, knowing when something was done and be like, put this to bed and like, regenerate what is the next thing, and not holding on too tight to something, because I had it, and being like, what comes out of that? And what, what came out of that was Andrew, Mark and Jen came to me, and they were like, what about an animated show about you and based on you and Andrew going through puberty? And I was like, yes, yes. That makes sense, like that. I get that immediately. I understand that. And the other thing that came out of that period of time where the lead the soil was fallow, is that the right use of the term fallow, I don’t know.


Samantha Bee  27:52

I think so, oh, oh.


Nick Kroll  27:54

I don’t know, but that was me and me and John Mulaney deciding to start working on doing some version of what became the Oh Hello, Broadway, but it was sort of like having to clear the table and start over. Is can be really scary, but I think ultimately really creatively generative.


Samantha Bee  28:13

You put together such an incredible cast in a room of writers and voice actors. What is that like for you? Do you enjoy? Do you enjoy being in I guess being in charge, it is fun, but also terrible. At the same time, it’s like very it’s very different experience. How did you cope with that?


Nick Kroll  28:34

Um, well, again, I think it’s about, I’ve always, almost always, collaborated with people, and I think it’s partly out of both confidence and insecurity. Because I think it’s like, on the confidence side, I’m like, Yes, I know who’s funny and I and I think I can convince them to work with me and that we can make something cool together. The insecurity is like, Oh, I don’t know if I can do this on my own, I don’t either know if I’m like, funny enough or organized enough, or whatever the insecurity of the day is, I think, in the case of big mouth, you know my Andrew and Mark and Jenner were, we continue to work together great partners, and they really have always complimented my skill set, skill sets tremendously, and then bringing in the writers and talent. You know, so many of the people on the show were very old dear friends, or people that I had known, so like of the main cast the original, you know, it was like Melania and I had known since college, and Fred Armisen and my Rudolph. I can’t beg to say that I was like best friends of them, but I had known them socially for probably 10 years. And same with Jordan Peele, Jesse Klein and I started in New York doing like open mics together. Jenny Slate and I had met a few years into comedy when she had graduated college and and Jason manzukis I had met at UCB and had been incredibly close with for many, many years. And then the extended cast, similarly, many of whom were our people, who are my friends. And then the writers room, there was new people that I didn’t know, but also writers like Joe Wengert and Gil Ozeri, who had been UCB guys who I’d known since my early, like, my first days of, you know, in level one and level two classes. So I think I have always been, frankly, good at finding out the funniest people in a room, whether it was an open mic or an improv class, and befriending them to make them work with me. Truly, I think from those early days until today, and people are thrilled, very some incredibly funny people are not always the most organized people, and so they’re thrilled to have someone tell them that they show up here and do this thing, and then you go away and something will come out of it.


Samantha Bee  31:04

There’s more Choice Words in just a moment.


Samantha Bee  32:57

So many of the things that you create are based on your life. Do you ever are there areas of your life that you think that you will not explore comedically, or are you just kind of like sitting on, like, parenting now and you’re like, Oh, I’m gonna create something about this, but it’s not right now.


Nick Kroll  33:16

I’m really struggling with that, frankly, and I don’t know where you land. I mean, I don’t think of you as a stand up.


Samantha Bee  33:22

Do you do?


Nick Kroll  33:22

No, so it’s like, so I mean, that’s the thing, is, I sort of always straddled those two worlds of like sketch and kind of character stuff, and then also stand up. And I really have been struggling with talking of whether I should will and to what extent we’ll talk about my family and my personal life, because it’s a weird thing. As an artist, like you’ve, you’ve decided to do this thing, but the people in your life have not decided to. And like, is there? Should their lives be up for you know? And I don’t, I don’t know that I have found the answer, but I know that I’m not entirely comfortable revealing their their lives. I don’t is where I’m at right now, I think.


Samantha Bee  34:08

Yeah, I actually think it’s really good to have that struggle, and it’s really good to be I appreciate that you’re saying that, because I think being thoughtful about it is is critical, because they don’t have a say in it when they’re little kids. And you have to imagine that everything that you’re saying about your kids, and I actually put it up to this lens, because we have three kids, if I could project into the future and think, would they want to read this about themselves when they were 18? Like, how much? How? Because there’s so much to say. There’s so much you could say, so relatable. But would they, would they die 1000 deaths?


Nick Kroll  34:47

Yes, and I think.


Samantha Bee  34:49

Exploited them.


Nick Kroll  34:49

And I think, and I think my instinct is I and I agree, and I wonder the same thing is, is, is there a world where it’s like, well, I’m gonna bring up something about my child, but really. Actually, it’s about myself and how I handled this. Like, there’s a world where, again, it’s always, hopefully I’m always being like, who’s who am I making fun of here? Like, you know, and if it’s myself, then maybe there’s a world where that works. I think the beauty of of moving away from like, stand up or or something like podcasting, let’s say to like scripted film and television or internet, whatever content is. How do I take the essence of something that I know to be true based on something that’s happening in my life, or a relationship that I have or have had, that I can then use in a, in a in another space, like a that isn’t exactly me or my family or anything, but both to protect the like the integrity or the the privacy of my family, while also not being limited by the realities of my family or the true story of it. But, but I think why people are drawn to incredibly personal content is because it’s they want a window into people, but also, I think inside of the specificity, what I what I venture to, and all the things I do is is just be specific. And I think inside of specificity is like, is universality. And so I’m so I think if I can find the thing that’s like, all right, well, this is very specific to my life, or something that I’ve witnessed or experience with my family. Can I take the essence of what that is and then bring it to something that isn’t necessarily, exposing something about my family or my life directly.


Samantha Bee  36:32

Right, do you think that your kids are going to grow up thinking that animated shows are strictly for adults? Really? You’ve really flipped up.


Nick Kroll  36:41

Well, how do you have you found it with like, I find I’ve witnessed it with other people in our profession whose children are like, Oh, the person they least think is funny is me. You know what I mean? Like, and I get it. It’s a, it’s a power dynamic, where one also, they’re just like, I have to fucking deal with you every day. You’re not so funny. You know what I mean. But also, like, there are animated movies that I’m in that I’ve sort of told them I’m in, you know, like I’m in the sing movies. I’m this character, Gunther, you know, he talks like this ge’s a German, you know, sort of a European pig. And I will brag directly in that and say, like that character, some kids lose their mind when they hear me do it. I showed it to my son, and he requests the Bobby Cannavale like the the mean wolf character, like he requests, not me. He wants me to do an impression of Bobby Cannavale. That’s what he wants for me you know, he’ll be like, do the mean Wolf. And I’m like, Hey, what’s your problem in you know, like, that’s my Bobby Cannavale.


Samantha Bee  37:45

That’s good, though, that’s good. No, they don’t. It’s not the natural order. Your children are not supposed to my my son is here. He’s almost 16, and if he even thought that I was talking about him for one second, he would come in and just like, shut the hole and unplug everything. But he they do not think that we’re funny at all. They have no concept that we have a life outside of them. And I actually think that that’s good, do you know? Are you good at being a famous person now? Like, did you what was that transition?


Nick Kroll  38:16

It’s been so nice and gradual for me. It really has been so consistently gradual that it’s been easy to transition inside of it. But I will say I’ve gotten better in that there was a period where I was very because of certain interactions, not particular, just general kinds of interactions that were like, not that fun. I got more guarded, which you sort of have to be at times to protect yourself and your energy. But then, but then, like in the last few years, I think at really after the pandemic, I’m like, wow, what a amazing thing that people, like, know me, or know my work, and want to say hello and say thank you and like, that’s a beautiful thing. And so I’m trying to get better at sort of receiving that, that it’s a weird thing that happens to me, that can be nice. And then also, if I do not like how I’m being approached, then I am. I can be I can admonish, do you ever admonish? As a Canadian?


Samantha Bee  39:24

No, I get physically unable to do that, but and my children have do an impression of me meeting people like I don’t. It doesn’t happen very often to me. It’s I live in New York and no one gives. No one cares. Everyone is 100% over it in our neighborhood, no one cares. But I do have a kind of a standard, like, my body changes, and I kind of, I get really, I get super antsy and but I’m appreciative at the same time, I’m like, it’s so nice. It’s always, nice interaction. People care, they want to say hello, and then my children just. Laugh, eviscerate you very eviscerate me. They eviscerate me because my genes are wrong and also because I react weirdly to outside people. And they do a rock solid impression of me every time, and it’s very searing and painful.


Nick Kroll  40:17

Yeah, my, my, my guys are, they’re, too little to kind of understand what’s going on, but I feel very confident that they will really lay in.


Samantha Bee  40:31

When they fix their daggers on you, it’s gonna be so they’re the only people who will truly be able to hurt you.


Nick Kroll  40:41

I believe, I believe that makes perfect sense to me.


Samantha Bee  40:44

Do you watch comedy when you’re working on comedy? Like, do you actually, are you cons? Are you a consumer of comedy when you’re making comedy now? Or no?


Nick Kroll  40:51

I am not much, I used to be somewhat of like, not wanting to know what exactly like I want to know what’s going on, but I also don’t, because I don’t want my work to be affected by it. And also, I just can’t stop looking at the like, what I would call the math of it, like, you just see the like, oh, okay, they’re doing this, like, stand up or or scripted, like movies interior. You’re like, oh, okay, I see how this is being constructed, or whatever, and it’s not fun. Like, my wife, before we met, was a real comedy fan, like a real like, love to stand up and stuff and, like, I have slightly ruined it for her by kind of, sort of like, being like, oh, well, this isn’t he’s falsely creating the idea that he’s just come up with it like that. He’s done this joke 100 times, and now he’s and she’s like, oh, well, that takes away the fun of it. But then also, I think she’s now seen enough that she can be like, wow, that person is really amazing, because she’s now seen so much, and she can sort of differentiate inside of it better. But the things I like more like, like, I found like, Jury Duty very enjoyable, because it was like prank show, real life East show. I don’t love prank prank stuff, or just inherently, I can appreciate it, but I but, like, when you see Jury Duty, you’re just like, I could watch that as something outside of myself, and just be able to enjoy it in a way that you know.


Samantha Bee  42:21

Right, so you essentially, you’ve ruined comedy for your wife by teaching, like, it’s like watching a magician’s tricks. You’re like, well, this is what they it was just triplets the whole time.


Nick Kroll  42:30



Samantha Bee  42:31

She’s like, what? That’s the damn head.


Nick Kroll  42:34

Yeah, exactly. It’s always triplets.


Samantha Bee  42:36

It’s always triplets.


Nick Kroll  42:38

Power of threes. You know, that’s where the comedy magic crosses over. Do you watch comedy?


Samantha Bee  42:44

No, not really. No, it’s not where I go, because it’s, I think it’s similar. I just kind of, like, not watching relaxing. I’m just trying to make the making the sausage at home. I’m kind of like, Oh, I see, I see, and this is, oh, we’re supposed to believe that this is one continuous shot, but I see where this is cut, I see the cuts, I see the points. That’s good, but it’s too I think we’re just kind of too analytical. There are times where I can throw myself into it like a really, a great comedy actually, I really did love your comedy special, your most.


Nick Kroll  43:21

Thank you.


Samantha Bee  43:22

So occasionally I’ll sit down and just kind of try to just let go and just try to let the jokes wash over me. And it works. And it, if it, it’s it’s very transporting.


Nick Kroll  43:33

Totally, and it can happen. And there are certain things in people that I love to watch, and I’ll watch whatever they do. But I think I’m right, inherently, either I’m like, I want to be super invested in someone making a really special piece of film or TV that I’m like, wow, I am. If a new season of Fargo is out, I’m like, I just want to, like, I can watch that with pure joy and interests, yes and now, and I’ve gotten back, frankly, a little more into, like sports in a way that I had moved away for many years. Because I think, similarly, it is something that I can just like, watch and disconnect from entirely, and not like, that’s the other thing is, I watch the math, but I’m also like, my insecure or like envious brain is like, why, why didn’t I get cast in that? Or, Why am I not writing that? Or why can’t I make that like, which is not relaxing or fun in any way.


Samantha Bee  44:26

No, but when you watch like 1917 you’re like, well, I didn’t do I’m not doing that.


Nick Kroll  44:30

I’m not doing that, but I know, but I know where the fucking cut points are, men.


Samantha Bee  44:34

I know, yeah, I could see the cut points, but, yeah, great job.


Nick Kroll  44:40

Although I think I could play a 19 year old Englishman.


Samantha Bee  44:43

Oh, I mean, unquestionably, it’s not, it’s not too late for you. No, no um, like it was such a pleasure talking to you. This was it, this was very joyful. I looked for me as well for a long time. I’m just happy you said yes.


Samantha Bee  45:09

That was Nick Kroll, and had no choice but to look up one thing. He wasn’t sure if he used the term fallow correctly. Well he did. It’s traditionally used to describe farmland left idle for one or more growing seasons to let it rest and recuperate and regain nutrients. We should all be lying fallow for a while. Thanks for joining us, I’m Samantha Bee, see you next week for some more Choice Words.


CREDITS  45:51

Thank you for listening to Choice Words, which was created by and is hosted by me. The show is produced by […], with editing and additional producing by Josh Richmond. We are distributed by Lemonada Media, and you can find me @realsambee on Instagram and X, follow Choice Words wherever you get your podcasts or listen ad free on Amazon music with your Prime membership.

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