Working with Friends (with Adam Pally)

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Adam Pally’s whole career has been finding ways to work with his friends. From his early improv days, to his unforgettable stint hosting The Late Late Show with Ben Schwartz, he is excellent at playing off of other people. You can see that collaborative energy in action in his new film “Who Invited Charlie?” Set in the early days of pandemic lockdown, Adam talks about how the movie is able to find laughter and connection in tough times.

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Elyse Myers, Adam Pally

Elyse Myers  00:15

Okay, actually, can you just pretend that you’re listening to a fully complete theme song here? I got really in my head. And I tried to make it perfect and I couldn’t. So this is going to be the theme song right here Hello, and welcome back to Funny Cuz It’s True. I’m Elyse Myers. I was first introduced to today’s guest Adam Pally when I watched The Mindy Project, which is a show that I am obsessed with. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but if you haven’t, you should definitely check it out. So when I had the opportunity to talk to Adam today, I was like 1,000%, absolutely, yes. And as I left for the interview, my husband Jonas ended up like yelling across the living room, like, tell Adam, I said, hi. He really does that. And so I thought it was really sweet. We could connect about our excitement today. So Adam pally is a comedian. He’s an actor, and most recently a guitarist, which is so cool. And there’s gonna be more on that today. And you can catch him in who invited Charlie 101 places to party before you die. And Sonic the Hedgehog two. So two things that are funny because they’re true. Number one, I am far too literal for my own good. And it takes me a while to warm up to banter like back and forth just like a joke. And then I tell a joke, and then you tell a joke. So I end up just believing everything Adam says. And I’m just I’m too gullible for this job. So I do end up getting there, though. And number two, there is a story that Adam tell us about SNL and being backstage and you just, you just have to hear it. So good. Okay, with that, let’s get into it. Adam, Hi, how are you doing? Where are you? I love the guitars behind you.

Adam Pally  01:52

Yeah, so I noticed I noticed that you have a guitar behind you. I want to make sure that I have alpha status for anybody that could also, you know, I just want to make sure that they know that I have four guitars.

Elyse Myers  02:07

Do you actually play them? Or are they like I want to look cool.

Adam Pally  02:11

It’s actually wallpaper. These are just wallpaper

Elyse Myers  02:14

it’s a green screen zoom background.

Adam Pally  02:16

No, I play them. I play them. I I’ve been I actually have a one man show that I’m I’ve been working on. I’m playing doing tomorrow night in Brooklyn, man. It’s a lot of music and stuff. And so it’s like, I’ve been playing since I was a kid. I’m not very good.

Elyse Myers  02:34

Are you doing like, I was imagining it being like music within comedy. Is it not that?

Adam Pally  02:41

Oh, it is that. It’s like music and comedy show.

Elyse Myers  02:46

I wish I could go see it. That’s amazing. Maybe it can be like a Netflix special or something. Would that scare the shit out of here? Would that excite you?

Adam Pally  02:52

You know, that’d be cool. I mean, I It’s all sounds fun. You know it all it no one watches. There’s really very little private, no one watches anything. No one. Like it’s an interesting time.

Elyse Myers  03:03

Man, I really need that kind of mindset. I like wanna puke every time I do anything. I’m just like, This is gonna be so scary.

Adam Pally  03:11

I also heard this thing that the more scared you are, the longer you live.

Elyse Myers  03:17

I will not lie to you. I do not believe this piece of information. I trust Adam. I think he’s a super smart guy. And I think someone gave him some information that was incorrect. And he ran with it. And that’s where we’re at.

Adam Pally  03:29

Like that if you do something that you have never done before, or are afraid to do like, once a day, you will live longer.

Elyse Myers  03:39

I think I would be the opposite. I think I’m gonna give myself a heart attack.

Adam Pally  03:43

No, it actually like it keeps your endorphins going keeps your mind going.

Elyse Myers  03:48

Oh my god, I think I’m gonna live forever. Adam. Well, I don’t mean to brag, but I think I might become immortal.

Adam Pally  03:53

So judging by that standing desk, you’re definitely on your way.

Elyse Myers  03:58

The one thing that everyone comments on when I make a video is like calves. Like okay, thank you. I’m walking all the time. Yeah. But yeah, it’s very helpful to have if you ever do something that doesn’t require you to be like, very fine, you know, motor skills and like drawing or anything. It’s a great alternative.

Adam Pally  04:17

I wonder if I could get a walking mark for acting?

Elyse Myers  04:23

Like your chest up. They can tell you’re walking. It’s great.

Adam Pally  04:28

Trevor Noah was walking the whole time he goes to The Daily Show.

Elyse Myers  04:33

Oh, see, at least I’m just I know I’m sorry. And there it is. So anyway, how did you get into acting and comedy?

Adam Pally  04:43

I started going to see shows at this place called the Upright Citizens Brigade on 21st Street at the time. And I always was like, you know, I wanted to be on SNL. I wanted to be on The Daily Show. I wanted to, you know, be Adam Sandler. But in my mind, I was like, it will all happen if I just keep creatively making stuff, like even now I’m 41 like playing guitar in my little office like, getting ready to do a one man show. It’s like, you just gotta keep making stuff.

Elyse Myers  05:15

That’s like the number one piece of advice like I give anybody and I’m still young, but like, I think that I just have this idea that I’m not going to wait until anyone gives me the opportunity to do something like if I think that the Vanity Fair lie detector interviews are funny, I’m just I made my own like, not being afraid to like self-start. I think that that is a huge thing in comedy and improv and just people that make it happen, I guess.

Adam Pally  05:40

I think you have to, because I think you’re constantly self-starting in this industry. So I have to self-generate the idea. Or the scripts or, you know, find someone that inspires me or find some thing or whatever. And like, that’s all it all feels like the same. And maybe this is a lack of growth. But it all feels like the same 19 year old who was like, putting makeup on yourself. You’re now sitting in a makeup trailer, they’re putting like, millions of dollars makeup, or like werewolf shit on your like, that’s awesome. Or it could be small, like you’re playing guitar, and you’re like, I’m gonna play guitar on stage tomorrow night. You know, like, yeah, so I think you just keep kind of doing stuff.

Elyse Myers  06:23

How do you keep that 19 year old energy? How do you stay in that place of like, this is the same?

Adam Pally  06:28

Honestly, for me, it’s desperation. Like, especially going through the pandemic, where you really are left, you know, you can’t pitch there’s nothing to be bought. Yeah. And that’s, I think, when I went back to, what do I like to do? And what do I think is funny? And how do I make it with the tools that I have around me? And maybe that’ll lead to something else? And maybe that’ll lead to something else? And you just keep spinning plates?

Elyse Myers  06:56

Like, for me, I’m just like, Oh, my God, that makes so much sense. It’s so much pressure, like, do you feel that? Do you feel the pressure to take jobs or projects? Like, do you feel like stressed all the time?

Adam Pally  07:07

No, I don’t feel stressed all the time. But I’m fortunate to have had a long like, you know, I was lucky to have had a couple of years before I had a family. So I was able to like pragmatically build. But I’ve had ups and downs since and, you know, I think sometimes it’s very stressful because you’re like, I need a job, I want a job. Why don’t I have a job. And then sometimes it’s just like you said, like, you’re lucky enough to be working and you don’t have to worry about it. My favorite part of the job is between the lens like I like getting picked up early and getting to work and like talking through a scene, I’ll stay there forever. I want to die on set. Like I love it. But as you don’t get to do it that much. And that sucks.

Elyse Myers  07:53

That’s one of my favorite things is getting to be around other people that are doing a job that’s different to yours or hitting that goal of like making this thing happen. I grew up watching behind the scenes footage of every movie and show I could find every blooper. Like my favorite part about finding a new show is then getting to watch the behind the scenes like them filming on set, editing room and like, it’s literally my favorite thing about anything I consume. So now being in a position where I actually get to see things happen like that, because I’m a part of them. I just feel like I’m that kid again, where I’m like, oh my god, like I want the autograph of everybody around me like the camera guy. Like, it’s just so cool. Do you? Do you like create projects so that you can work with your friends intentionally? Or do you just want to work with everybody you possibly can?

Adam Pally  08:39

My whole career is just getting an excuse to work with friends. I work with the same people a lot, probably to the detriment of my career. I don’t know. It’s like I find these people in my life that make me laugh and that I love genuinely. And I feel like working together is one of the best ways to share time. There’s so many people to collaborate with. And if you find good ones, you just keep doing it.

Elyse Myers  09:08

I saw a video it was of you hosting the Late Late Show with Ben Schwartz. First of all the interview have you on the streets? This is called in itself. Was that completely impromptu that whole thing? Was that like set? That was all improv? Oh my god, you guys, the energy that you guys have with each other. And the way you play off of each other is so incredible. Like, yeah, have you guys worked on a lot of stuff together?

Adam Pally  09:36

Yeah. Ben and I started together. I think Ben was 21 and I was 19. We found each other at this theater. And we started writing sketches together with a third friend of ours named […], who has gone on to be you know, immensely successful. And the three of us would just spend every hour together writing and improvising and, and we were known We had a hard time was hot sauce, we still reach out to each other to do each other’s projects. You know. And I think that that’s again, like one of the lucky things that I was able to come up in a community of such like-minded people,

Elyse Myers  10:13

man, that idea of working with friends and having people in the space that you’re just like close to that are good at their job that make you better at your job. Sounds so cool. Do you feel like they make you more creative?

Adam Pally  10:24

Yeah. Anytime someone asked me like, how do you get involved? I think polar says like, you got to find your tribe. And then you got to invest in those people with your time. And people will bring it out of you. And I was lucky enough to find a tribe that like vibrated at a very high frequency.

Elyse Myers  10:48

And it you just felt like that kind of you guys fed each other creatively and comedically?

Adam Pally  10:52

I think we still do. You know, I like I look at a thing like history of the world. I got there, and it was Nick and I and all my friends.

Elyse Myers  11:02

Okay, so really quick. Adam is talking about the show history of the world part two, which is a sequel to history of the world, part one from Mel Brooks. Part Two has like a packed cast of comedians, many of which come from UCB, Nick Kroll, Jason Mantzoukas . Lauren Lapkus, the list goes on.

Adam Pally  11:19

Ran you looked at every role was another person that you’re like, yes, yes. Like, and you realize that the count goes into the hundreds to the to hundreds of three hundreds of like, entertainers that you feel like, oh, I speak the same language as you.

Elyse Myers  11:34

Okay, we have to take a quick break. But when we return, Adam talks about some of his most recent projects. So you did a project 101 places to party before you die? And that was with John Garbus. Right? How did that start? And also, how much of you guys, were you in those characters? Like, did you play characters? Or was that just fully you guys?

Adam Pally  12:07

It’s a little bit heightened of us. But for the most part, it’s just us, we got put on our first improv team together when we were like 21. And subsequently, as we kind of Rose, we started touring a lot together. And as we toured a lot we would do, we would just kind of like, do bits together all the time. And then subsequently, also, like, get fucked up. So as we got older, like this would be a great TV show. And they were like, yes, it should be. And then it was.

Elyse Myers  12:36

Did you find pressure to be funny as these things were happening to you? Or was that improv background just there? And you guys were funny together?

Adam Pally  12:44

Yeah. I think again, being with John, you know, he’s my best friend. And then on top of that, he’s one of the funniest people in the world. I don’t think he would say that I’m one of the funniest people, no, but I think he would say I’m his best friend. And I think that in that you, again, like you invest in those people, and they bring it out of you. Like, one of the things you’re taught is that your best scene will be the one where you’ve made your scene partner look the best. And so I think I always go back, that’s just like, just make the person you’re with feel good, look, good, be good. And then you in turn, will be better and you won’t have thought about it.

Elyse Myers  13:20

How did you guys plan bits together? Was it on the spot as well,

Adam Pally  13:24

most of it wasn’t planned. I mean, most of it, like we knew what locations we were going to. And then as we started interacting with people, we would just kind of lean on our training and go from there.

Elyse Myers  13:34

I think that that’s so cool. The idea that your goal in improv or your goal in scenes like that is to make the other person look good. Because if both people have or if everybody involved has that mentality, everybody ends up looking great at the end of it. You just did who invited Charlie, right. That was the reason was you didn’t? Did you have a lot of creative input into that role that you had?

Adam Pally  13:56

Yeah, I mean, the director was very collaborative, […] kind of like talk through stuff, but the script. […] wrote, it is a great script.

Elyse Myers  14:07

Something I loved about who invited Charlie was, you described it as like a family movie. And it’s also it’s like a movie about a very serious thing. But it’s been made into something that’s like, light and funny. And I was curious what that felt like, filming and what it felt like watching back and that whole the creation of that movie. Like, how did you guys decide to do that? Especially because it feels like such a time capsule of something that happened sometimes people would steer clear, like, from something that feels so timestamped?

Elyse Myers  14:33

Okay, that sounds, I think it’s all right. We’re gonna say humorful. Welcome to Funny Cuz It’s True, a show where we try and pronounce words. And sometimes it’s hard.

Adam Pally  14:33

You know, I like one of the pandemic first happened. It was like natural for people to be like, I don’t want to watch anything that reminds me of the horror of this and I get that. But like, in that horror, there’s always comedy. There’s always humor to everything. And so I feel like it’s a timing thing. Enough time had gone by that we could look at it. Humor, humorously.

Adam Pally  15:14

But, you know, I think it’s timing. And it’s also like, this movie is not about COVID. It’s not about like scientists in a lab or like, yeah, it’s about that time.

Elyse Myers  15:26

Alright, time for one more break. When we come back, Adam and I talked about how being a parent keeps you grounded. Do you like watching your projects with your family? When you do them? Does it make you proud to show your kids?

Adam Pally  15:50

It makes me proud to show my kids my work because so often because my work is weird. My kids are like, What are you doing today? Before I dropped them off at school, and you know, so it’s like, sometimes it is nice to be like, this is what I’ve been doing, you know, because yeah, they just see me drop them off and pick them up. And they’re like do anything today. You know, it’s like, I think they kind of think I’m like, you know, a bum or something. So it’s like it. It is nice to be like, this is what I did. Yeah. And certain projects, like my youngest son, Drake is obsessed with the Sonic franchise. And it’s fun. Like, I’m a little bit of like, a celebrity at the five year old party circuit. And like, that’s fun and nice. But like, yeah, it’s not as big a deal to them.

Elyse Myers  16:37

Yeah, they’re just used to it.

Adam Pally  16:39

I’m their dad. Like, yeah, you know, I said it. I was watching someone. Oh, Bruce Springsteen. And they were asked about his kids. And he’s like, yeah, you know, they find their own heroes. Like, you’re just dad. And I feel like that’s really true. Like, I, they like it and stuff, but they probably don’t like it as much as other people. And that’s good.

Elyse Myers  17:00

Yeah, I was talking to someone else about this where because I’m a mom, I have one son who’s two and I’m pregnant with our second right now.

Adam Pally  17:08


Elyse Myers  17:09

Thank you, Anna. It’s wild. Because it the back and forth I think, for me is a very big like whiplash of like, experiencing very, very, like high highs in front of a lot of people. And like a lot of people knowing your name or a lot like going into a space where you are, like very celebrated whether rightfully so we’re just because you exist, and you’re like, I don’t deserve this, but then going home, and I’m literally still changing like shitty diapers. Yeah, the back and forth between that is just so wild. And I always say, I’m really grateful that all of this new career for me happened when I became a mom, because it’s like, there will never be a point for me, where I am not immediately humbled the moment I get home, you know, like, I’m lucky. And also it’s, it’s tiring, you know, to balance it. And like, I’m wondering how you do maintain the balance of your career versus your family. And if that’s an intentional decision, or if it kind of just ends up happening,

Adam Pally  18:04

it is humbling and nice to go from these extremely high highs to the everyday of like, changing shit, or you know what I mean? Like, I do like that. What I’m working on, is both, I don’t know why I feel like I need to do more, like get more adoration. I don’t know what that is.

Elyse Myers  18:25

I feel like that’s a big reason why we do a lot of the things we do, even if we don’t admit it to ourselves.

Adam Pally  18:29

Oh my gosh, I struggle with that. So my every single decision I make I feel like I’m saying no to something else and sometimes like how many times have I said no to traveling versus like how many times have I said no to like being in this family thing that I should be out like that to meet the balance is so hard.

Adam Pally  18:29

For sure. I mean, I think that’s probably one of the top reasons like sex and then like a childhood fulfillment from a love that we didn’t get somewhere or attention, we didn’t get somewhere I am working on feeling like I do deserve those high highs that my work is extraordinary that I’ve worked really hard to develop a skill that only I can do and that it is worthwhile to put that out there not just to fill the hole in myself but like, because that’s what you do as an artist you make work you put it out. So like I’m working on being like it’s okay to do that. And at the same time, be fulfilled by the idea that people depend on you. And so they’re two conflicting things in a lot of ways. I’m trying to be in the moment in both and like enjoy them both separately and not conflate them. Yeah, and I think that may be the key to happiness. I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s possible not to conflate things it’s really hard to be in one place and consistently be worried that you’re not in the other.

Adam Pally  19:59

That’s all always gonna be there. The hard thing is to like live your life without that guilt. Because part of you gets attached to that guilt. And you feel like that guilt is what makes you a good person. But it’s not.

Elyse Myers  20:12

That’s a good word.

Adam Pally  20:13

The guilt is actually, it’s like a justification to do the thing you want to do, which I think makes you not fully in either place.

Elyse Myers  20:23

Oh, totally. I definitely agree with you. The guilting though, that’s very fascinating. Because it’s true. You’re like, well, if I’m not home, at least I’m guilty about not being home. So it makes me a good mom. And it’s like, no, it doesn’t home if you wanted to be home.

Elyse Myers  20:36

And then your wife is an actor too, or no?

Adam Pally  20:36

It just makes you not fully present at your job. Yeah. And it’s hard, especially when the marriage, it’s hard in a marriage. Because I think a lot of times something that we work on is like, we both work, you know, and a lot of times in a marriage become so codependent that it’s not even about, like, help me find something in the house or whatever. It’s about just codependency. And even that can take away I think from like, what you’re doing. And it takes a strong person to be like, that’s okay. They’re focused on something else.

Adam Pally  20:37

She’s in business.

Elyse Myers  20:37

I think that would be hard. Or I don’t know if it’d be hard if you guys are both doing the same thing.

Adam Pally  20:44

Sometimes it’s hard. And sometimes it’s not. I’ve seen I have friends that have great marriages, where both are in the industry. And then I have friends who couldn’t possibly be with another entertainer. It’s just like, too much. Yeah, probably. I’m one of them. So, I don’t know I have like, never dated anyone in the industry. Really. Maybe I could have my old age in my older age. But I feel like I my geriatric, my geriatric age, but I feel like as a young man, I needed my own space.

Elyse Myers  22:03

Does your wife like to come with you to events and stuff? Like is she super used to that by now? Or do they intimidate her since she doesn’t like specifically work in the entertainment industry?

Adam Pally  22:12

Before the pandemic I used to go all the time to SNL because a lot of my friends were on the cast. And one time we were visiting a couple of my friends, and it was like a big show. And we were in I think Bill Hader, his dressing room, and we were hanging out. And my wife was there. And we got up to walk out and in walk Lauren and Paul McCartney. So we were saying, hi. Paul leaned over to me, and I don’t think he didn’t recognize me. But he looked at my wife who is this little cute, blonde chick, and he said, and who’s this to me? And my wife steps in front of me and she swears like she blacked out. But she turned to Paul McCartney and she went Namaste. And like, it was like record scratch. Like, everyone was like, what? She swears it was like, she doesn’t know just like thought about yoga or something. I don’t know. It was like […] call was like, hey, and I was like, it’s so weird that you did that. And Paul’s response, Paul was like, Well, okay, you know, and he, like, turned and walked away. Like, we couldn’t believe she had done that. And she was just like, I don’t know why I did that. I’m so sorry.

Elyse Myers  23:37

Hard relate, like the hardest relate right here. I, I lock up when I’m just talking to like, normal people. Like Jonas looks at me, and I’m like, I don’t know what for me to say to you right now. I don’t know. I don’t have any words. I don’t know. But then, when you’re in front of like, famous people that some famous people feel like regal, like it’s not, it’s not starstruck, it’s like, you feel like you are in the presence of like, royal blood it’s really hard to explain but when Adam said that his wife said namaste and I’m just imagining like, putting her hands together and doing like a little bow, right? I imagined that as like her verbal curtsy, like I don’t know what else to do. And I’m not going to just curtsy so I’m going to do a verbal curtsy and say Namaste. It felt right I get it. I totally get what she was doing there.

Adam Pally  24:31

When we like went to the after party. There was like no, she didn’t want to go to close the bog. She was like super embarrassing.

Elyse Myers  24:41

Oh my god. That is like so painful.

Adam Pally  24:44

Yeah, it was a tough moment. And Fred was next to me Armisen was next to me and I believe he whispered to me, he went like very unfortunate.

Elyse Myers  24:56

Oh my god did that’s so painful. Well, with that masterpiece of a story, I think that that’s all the time that we have. But, Adam, thank you so much seriously, I know that you’ve probably got a lot going on, but it was really cool to meet you and get to hear about your life a little bit. So I’m just super grateful for your time. Thank you so much.

Adam Pally  25:15

No, thank you so much. I was really, really happy to do this.

CREDITS  25:19

Thank you so much for listening to my interview with Adam pally, make sure to go check out his new movie who invited Charlie, as always, if you like our show, give us a rating and a review. It helps other people find us. All right. Thank you so much. See you next week. Bye. There’s more Funny Cuz It’s True with Lemonada Premium, you’ll get access to all of Lemonada’s premium content, including my five questions with Pignataro which came out last Friday. Subscribe now on Apple podcasts. Funny Cuz It’s True is a Lemonada Media and Powderkeg production. The show is produced by Claire Jones, Zoe Dennis and […], our associate producer is Tiffany Buoy. Rachel Neil is our senior director of new content and our VP of weekly production is Steve Nelson. Executive Producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer, Paul Feig, Laura Fisher, […] and me Elyse Myers. The show is mixed by Brian Castillo and Johnny Evans. Our theme song music was written by me and scored by Xander Singh.

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