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Interview with Josh Gad of "The
Comedians" on Lifetime 4/6/15
It was such a privilege to speak with Josh! This show
he's doing with Billy Crystal is really funny. Of course he
was also excellent in "Frozen" and "The Book of Mormon." He
was so sweet and kind on the call. I hope you get to watch
FX NETWORK: The Comedians
April 6, 2015/1100 a.m. PDT
Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by,
and welcome to The Comedians conference call. At this time,
all lines are in a listen-only mode. (Operator
instructions.) We ask that you please limit yourself to one
question and one follow-up. You may then re-queue and
additional questions will be taken as time permits. Iíd also
like to remind you that todayís conference is being
recorded. (Operator instructions.)
I'll now turn the conference over to Stephanie Kelly for
opening remarks. Please go ahead.
Stephanie: Hi, everyone, thank you very much for joining us
for The Comedians conference call with Josh Gad. This
morning, as a reminder, The Comedians is premiering this
Thursday night at 10, only on FX. And this conference call
is being recorded, but we ask that you not include audio in
your stories; itís for print and on-line coverage only.
And without further ado I will introduce Josh Gad, co-star
of The Comedians on FX. And we can get started.
Josh: Hello, everybody, very excited to be here. Thank you
guys so much for joining me.
Moderator: Thank you. Our first question will come from Jamie
Steinberg with Starry Constellation Magazine. Go ahead,
Jamie: Hi. Itís such a pleasure to speak with you. Thank you
for your time.
Josh: No, thank you.
Jamie: You have such great comedic timing. Is it something
thatís always come natural to you, or have you had to hone
it at some fashion?
Josh: I got a book called Comedy for Dummies, and I just read
it front to back and I wasó no, itís something that I think,
I think weíre all born with an innate sense of what is
funny, right? I was fascinated watching the SNL 40th
anniversary special because there are these sketches that
are 40 years old, which feature the likes of John Belushi
and Richard Pryor, and all these different people that are
still funny to this day.
And I think taken out of the context of any period will
remain funny, i.e. Charlie Chaplin. I still revel in how a
movie like Modern Times holds up and feels, for lack of a
better word, as modern and fresh as ever before. So I think
that comedy is something thatís innate in all of us and
understanding what is funny.
And then you hone that skill like you would any other by
getting the proper training. And for me it was going to
Conservatory, and not only learning how to be funny, but
learning drama techs, and learning how to do theatre and all
that stuff. And then going to places like The Groundlings.
And thenóIíve been fortunate enough to work with people like
Jon Stewart and Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and now Billy
Crystal, and that continues to be a master class education
in comedy. And so you keep picking up new things along the
way and you keep learning. And youíre always growing,
hopefully, as an artist and as a comedian.
Jamie: And what was your first impression when you met Billy
Josh: My first impression was, oh my God, I'm in the midst of
not only a brilliant comedian, but an icon who I've looked
up to my entire life. I can vividly remember wearing out the
VHS tape of Princess Bride growing up and City Slickers. And
watching Comic Relief as a ten-year-old, and being like, oh
my God this is one of the greatest performers I've ever
So youíre awestruck. But at the same time you just jump into
it because you want to leave a good impression on an idol,
and you want to be worthy of sharing that billing with him.
And so for me, it was like I said, a master class education
in comedy. But also the foundation of a friendship that Iím
beyond honored to have, and to be able to call Billy Crystal
your friend is a dream come true for me.
Jamie: Wonderful, thank you so much.
Josh: Thank you.
Moderator: Thank you. Our next question is from David
Martindale with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Go ahead,
David: Thank you. Hi, Josh. I love the show, youíre really
quite wonderful in it.
Josh: Thank you.
David: Yes. Is it fun, or scary, or both to play a version of
Josh Gad, this is vain as needy, as self-loathing, as
screwed up as the one we see in The Comedians?
Josh: Absolutely terrifying, probably the most terrifying
thing I've ever done. Anybody who knows me will hopefully
tell you that I'm much more modest in real life that I am on
the TV series. And for somebody like Billy, I think itís
slightly easier to play on preconceived notions about him
because he has such a story to history with audiences.
I'm sort of newer. I'm a younger guy. I'm just developing
that relationship with my audience, with my following. And
so to trust the audience enough that you figure theyíll be
in on the joke is something that requires a leap of faith,
especially when youíre playing some of the ugly colors that
I get to play on this series.
Having said that, itís also exhilarating to keep the
audience guessing as to whatís real and whatís not. I like
to joke around that thereís probably like 8% to 10% of
similarities that fake Josh Gad and real Josh Gad share, and
those 10% are absolutely heightened beyond belief. So what
youíre seeing is a very meta-heighted version of who I am
really am in real life, and thatís both exhilarating and
David: Sure. Do the writers conjure up all of these character
flaws for fictional Josh Gad and you take it and run with
it? Or do you sometimes go to them and go, hey guys, hereís
another of my shortcomings that you can work into the show.
How does it work?
Josh: I think itís a mixture of both. The writers will come
up withóthe writers came up withóthe creative team came up
with the foundation for what they wanted this character to
be in order to service a relationship with the heightened
version of Billyís character. And to give the show enough
conflict that it wasnít just two guys kissing each otherís
a** for thirteen episodes.
In doing that, a lot of times Iíll get a script and Iíll be
like, ďWait a second, is this really what you think of me?Ē
You donít have the safety net of having a different name,
youíre literally getting lines as Josh Gad and youíre like,
ďWow, these guys must really think I'm an ***hole.Ē And that
is always a terrifying thing because youíre not sure what
their perception is of you, or if theyíre just creating
these conceits from scratch just because this is whatís
going to service the show best.
David: Thatís funny. Okay, thank you so much. Itís been a
Josh: Thank you.
Moderator: Thank you. Weíll go next to Suzanne Lanoue with
the TV MegaSite. Go ahead, please.
Suzanne: Morning, Josh.
Josh: Good morning.
Suzanne: Itís great to speak with you. I really love the
show, itís so funny. I was wondering, you do a lot of
different things, do you think of yourself primarily as an
actor, a comedian, or singer? You wear a lot of different
Josh: I think of myself as a guy whoís looking for the next
challenge. I think of myself as a guy whoís constantly
trying to learn, and constantly trying toó like I said,
challenge myself and prove to myself that thereís something
else that I can learn from, that I can conquer, that I can
In the case of making the distinction between comedy and
being a regular actor, so to speak, look, I cut my teeth
doing theatre. I went to Conservatory at Carnegie Mellon for
four years. I trained to be an actor first and foremost,
theatre will always be my first love. Itís the foundation
for what I do.
But having said that, I love making people laugh. Itís the
ultimate joy to be a part of something where you can hear an
audience, you can see what that is doing to an audience.
Thereís an actual visual and aural sensation that comes
along with that. Whereas if youíre doing a drama or
something like that, you donít get that same kind of
response. And that to me is always the joy of doing comedy,
and itís why I keep coming back to it.
Suzanne: And do you have plans to direct someday?
Josh: If somebody is foolish enough to give me the power,
yes. I would love to. I think that, again, I'm always
looking to grow and I'm always looking to discover new
things. And hopefully be allowed to screw up and find my
way, and discover that path as well. I would love to
eventually down the road.
Suzanne: Alright. Thank you very much.
Moderator: Thank you. Our next question is from Nicole
Carrington with Hello! Canada. Go ahead, please.
Nicole: Hi, Josh. Thank you so much for taking the time to
talk to us today.
Josh: My pleasure, thank you.
Nicole: Congratulations on the show. So we know, obviously,
that Billy Crystal is a complete master at his craft. What
have you learned from him since partnering for The
Josh: Itís an interesting question. I definitely have learned
to listen and watch, I mean thatís what I've basically
learned. Billy is a master at a lot of things. So one thing
that heís really adept at, is he transforms into these
In the series we have the luxury of doing a series within
the series where we get to do sketch comedy. And watching
this guy, who I think is one of the most brilliant voices to
ever come through the halls of Saturday Night Live, itís an
amazing study developing characters, and character comedy
that is so distinct.
To create characters that are able to have catch phrases
like, ďYou look marvelous,Ē and have that become a pop
cultural touchstone, thatís an enormous feat. And so that to
me has been, I think the most enlightening part of this
process, is just getting to see him do what he does best in
creating all of these amazing characters and distinct voices
in his approach to sketch comedy.
Nicole: Thank you so much.
Moderator: Thank you. (Operator instructions.) And our next
question will come from Bill Bodkin with Pop-Break.com. Go
Bill: Hi guys, thanks for doing this with us.
Josh: Hey, my pleasure.
Bill: Awesome. My question is, thereís so much on television
right now, and Thursday night is chock-full of programming -
comedy and drama. What do you think makes The Comedians
stand out from everything else and makes it a unique show
that people should be dedicating their time to watch?
Josh: Right. Well I think that thereís a number of reasons.
First and foremost, I happen to think itís hysterically
funny. And yes I'm subjectiveó
Bill: Of course.
Josh: ó but there is, baring my bias, there isóI've had an
opportunity now to watch screenings of it with audiences and
it is laugh out loud funny. I think that the return of Billy
Crystal to television is an event worthy of viewership in of
But I think above all else, even though the show uses the
backdrop of industry and the inside machinations of creating
the show, as I said, a backdrop, itís about a generational
disconnect that exists between an older guy and a younger
guy. And I think thatís a universal theme that people can
get behind, especially the baby that I hear in the
background. I can seeóis that a child that I hear?
Bill: Thatís my four-month-old daughter, yes.
Josh: He sounds like heís absolutely over this conversation.
Bill: Sheís actually laughing, soó
Josh: There you go. Heís like, ďWait a second, why are you
talking to Olaf, daddy?Ē But I think that people can get
behind that universal idea of people who have the same goal
in mind, but are approaching it through their generational
experiences, the colors of whateverís gotten them there, and
the eras that theyíve grow up in. And I think thatís what
makes the show so relatable, so human, and ultimately, so
Bill: Oh, awesome. And my follow-up would beóyour
impersonation of Billy Crystal is not to be cheesy, itís
marvelous. And was that something you always had in your bag
of tricks as a partósomething you just pull out every once
in a while? Or was that something you just put together when
you started working with Billy?
Josh: That was something that when they said, ďCameras
rolling,Ē literally came out of thin air. I mean, it really
was. The beauty of getting to work with Larry Charles, who
of course is the mastermind behind Borat and Bruno, and Curb
Your Enthusiasm, and Seinfeld, the beauty of getting to work
with him is that he keeps the cameras rolling long after the
scripted pages are done. And so you arrive at gems like that
where youíre sort of stuck with each other in a car or
whatever the situation may be, and all of a sudden that will
Bill: Awesome. Well thank you so much, and thank you for
making my daughter laugh.
Josh: Oh, my pleasure. Give her a big kiss for me.
Bill: Thanks, I will.
Moderator: Thank you. Our next question is from Karen Moul
with 55 Vision. Go ahead, please.
Karen: Hi, itís great to talk to you today. My question is a
bit of a two-parter. You are Co-EP on the show, so could you
tell us a little bit about how much input you have into the
direction of the program? And second, could you tell us a
bit about working with FX? Theyíve allowed you to set the
show at their network, which maybe sets them up for a little
bit of humor directed at them. And can you tell us about
Josh: Yes, absolutely. In terms of being a co-producer on the
show, I definitely have a voice in the process, but it
really is a collaborative effort. Billy, Larry, Ben Wexler,
and Matt Nix created the show and brought it to me as
something to be a part of, so I tend to defer to them on
their vision. And when I agree or disagree, my sentiments
are always heard and always listened to. In the process of
creating storylines, I'm always allowed to voice my opinion
and be a part of that conversation. Itís a very
And then with regard to the FX of it all. Look, I think itís
safe to say that in this golden age of television, they,
along with some of their competitors like HBO and AMC and
Netflix, are setting the gold standard for what great
television should look like. Whether itís what I think is
arguably the best comedy on TV, Louie, or a short-scripted
series like Fargo, which I thought was extraordinary, or The
Americans, or Justified, there is this incredible lineup,
that to even be a part of that conversation is an honor.
And in terms of their collaborative nature on this, they are
of the opinion that whatever the creative team wants to do,
they trust them enough by virtue of giving them a series to
be on their air, that they can make the series that they
want to make. And thereís rarely, if ever, any interference,
which is very unusual if you know anything about television.
They sort of just let you do it. Even by the way, if it is
taking the p*** out of them, which theyíve been very
tolerant of. Itís an unbelievably collaborative network to
be a part of and they have gone above and beyond the call of
duty with regard to letting us do the version of our show
that we all imagine doing.
Karen: Well that bodes well for a great season. Thanks so
Josh: You got it. Thank you.
Moderator: Thank you. And next we have Anushika Ganegoda with
Mike the Fanboy. Go ahead, please.
Anushika: Hi, Josh. Thank you so much for your time. I'm
excited to talk to you today.
Josh: Thank you so much.
Anushika: So how much of the show is actually improvised
compared to scripted?
Josh: You know, the scripts pretty much always come in very
strong, so thatís always a great foundation to go off of.
Having said that, I canít really think of a situation where
thereís been more leeway to improvise. Like I said, given
Larry Charlesí direction, he sort of set the tone in the
pilot and the subsequent episodes that he directed, nine of
which he directed, that the cameras stay rolling long after
the scripted material is done.
Like I said, he was a part of Curb Your Enthusiasm which has
built their entire series around the nature of
improvisation. So for us it always comes down to has the
scene run its course, or is there more story and more
relationship to discover by allowing us to explore without
any scripted pages. And usually, in more cases than not,
weíre given that freedom and that opportunity to explore.
Anushika: Awesome. As a follow-up, working with Billy
Crystal, do you have a favorite episode or a scene that you
would like to share with us?
Josh: You know, I would say that there is this great birthday
episode, which I am not sure if you guys were able to see in
your screeners or not. But thereís this episode that really
speaks to what the crux of the series is about, which is
this generational disparity that exists between two guys who
are after the same goal, but approach it differently.
And it wasnít only hysterically funny episode, but it was a
very poignant one. And Billy was so fearless in it because
he really had to call upon some of his own experiences, not
only in his career, but throughout his life. That I think
are, for lack of a better word, the foundations of
insecurities or fears or whatever they are. And that episode
was trulyótruly speaks to the potential of what this series
ultimately can be, and it was a really amazing experience to
sit back and watch a master do what he does best.
Anushika: Awesome. Thank you so much.
Josh: Thank you.
Moderator: Thank you. We now have a question from Lynnie:
Thieme with twocentstv.com. Please go ahead.
Lynnie: Hi. I was first introduced to you in theatre. And I
wonder if you have a favorite genre to work in, be it
theatre, film, television, voice-over work, if thereís
something that really calls out to you above everything
Josh: Well look, I think they all have their pros. They all
afford an artist opportunities to flex his or her muscles in
different ways. For me, my beginnings were theatre, and
nothing will ever replace that as my first love. I think
that thereís something very empowering and special about
being on a stage without a safety net, and not having
editing to fall back on to save your performance, but having
to prove yourself eight times a week to an audience who can
read between the lines and know if you are phoning it in or
That to me is still the biggest thrill. Having that
once-in-a-lifetime moment with an audience which
night-to-night will never be the same. Itís a veryóitís the
foundation for my love of wanting to do this all in the
first place. So if I had to pick one that would be it.
Lynnie: Thank you very much.
Josh: Thank you.
Moderator: We now have a question from Brandon Katz with
Headlines and Global News. Go ahead, please.
Brandon: Hey, Josh. Thanks for your time today, much
appreciated. Youíve been a part of a lot of really, really
successful entertainment endeavors over the years. But your
TV resume is a little hit or miss, as youíve said yourself
in a few interviews. I was wonderingó
Josh: I think youíre being way too gracious.
Brandon: Well what about The Comedians sets it apart and is
such a success?
Josh: Look as Iíve said before, I've been very unlucky in
love with TV. I think that TV, especially when it comes to
comedy is a tough nut, if not an impossible nut to crack
especially in the current age of seen it all, been there,
done that mentality that viewers approach television with.
Thereís only so many different ways you can tell the same
Whereas in drama and serialized shows, you sort of have a
hook to lean on. You can hook the viewer in an
episode-to-episode, keep them guessing as to whatís going to
come next. In TV you donít necessarily have that luxury.
So yes, itís been a downhill battle and I didnít really want
to come back to TV. I had no ambition of wanting to return.
I'm not a glutton for punishment. But I was really taken by,
when I saw the suite of series, they sent me the entirety of
that series. I was taken by this storyline of these two guys
who had so much in common, and yet nothing in common, had
the same goal in mind, but had very different ideas of how
to approach that goal.
Again, I've had an opportunity to work with a lot of older
comedians and learn from them. And the idea of turning that
into a series was, I thought, very unique. Other stories
have touched upon it, whether itís The Comeback or Curb, or
Larry Sanders, but theyíve done so with the prism of it
being about the behind-the-scenes machinations of that. And
I donít really believe that thatís what our show is.
I think that our show is that on the surface. But really
what itís about is these two guys who are trying to figure
each other out, and are coming at it from being colored by
their personal experiences and their generational
experiences. You always sign onto something with what about
it excites me, and what about it intrigues me, and that was
the point of entry for me.
And of course working with a master like Billy Crystal is
not something you generally turn down, if like me, youíre
always looking to keep learning and to keep learning and to
Brandon: And should viewers expect anything new comedic-wise
from you that [indiscernible] youíve been a big song and
dance man in the past. Are you going to show off any other
Josh: Oh, absolutely. Look, as ironic and strange as it is to
say, by virtue of the fact that I'm playing Josh Gad on this
series, and a heightened version of Josh Gad, you will be
seeing a side of me that I donít believe youíve ever seen
There is a cynical prism that I donít usually do in my work
that is sort of the foundation for this bizarro version of
myself. Heís a guy with a healthy ego, heís a guy who is
absolutely clueless when it comes to certain social
behaviors. And I'm excited about showingóletís just say a
somewhat uglier side of myself. And itís dangerous, itís
tricky, but itís also enormously rewarding. I think that, I
do think itís going to afford viewers definitely someóthe
opportunity to see me in a different light than theyíve seen
Brandon: Great. Thanks so much for your time, Josh. Looking
forward to it.
Josh: Thank you.
Moderator: Thank you. And we have Nicole Carrington with
Hello! Canada. Go ahead, please.
Nicole: Hi, Josh, me again.
Nicole: Hi. I wanted to touch on a little bit about the
Beauty and the Beast and your role in that. I wanted to know
whether or not your kids are excited about it, or what kind
of films theyíre into.
Josh: Yes. Look, I've worn out the Frozen welcome in my
house, so I needed something to win back their affection.
And Beauty and the Beast, itís funny, because itís just as
much for me as it is for the kids. It was my Frozen, I like
to call it. I was kind of that age when I first saw that
movie, it was everything to me.
And like Little Mermaid and Aladdin and Lion King, it was
one of those movies that I saw over and over again in the
theater and was memorized by the songs, by the storytelling.
And so to now bring those characters to life in a way only
Disney can do, I'm really excited about it and I'm excited
that itís going to give me the opportunity to do my first
live-action musical, which I havenít been afforded before.
Nicole: Apart from this one, what other films resonated with
you as a child?
Josh: Besides Beauty and the Beast?
Josh: Well, I mean, it depends on the genre. Look, I'm a
child who was reared from the nipple of Amblin films, right?
I literally grew up watching Goonies and Gremlins and all
those Spielberg movies over and over and over again. I grew
up watching all the second golden age Disney classics.
I grew up watching movies like City Slickers and movies like
Princess Bride over and over again. It sort of runs the
gamut of what shaped me. But it always goes back to those
perennial films like Back to the Future and those movies
that I grew up with, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars.
That all sort of defined my love, especially for film.
Nicole: Great, thank you so much.
Josh: Thank you.
Moderator: Thank you. And our final question will come from
Cody Schultz with Hidden Remote. Go ahead, please. Cody, is
your phone on mute?
Cody: Hello. Can you hear me now?
Moderator: Yes, we can. Go ahead.
Cody: I'm sorry, I'm not sure what that was. Hi, Josh. Thanks
again so much for speaking with us today.
Josh: Thank you.
Cody: Do you have any fun on-set stories that you can share
about your co-stars with us?
Josh: Do I have any what stories?
Cody: On-set stories?
Josh: On-set stories that I can share about my co-stars? You
know, I will tell you that my first day on set with Billy
was a very strange, surreal one because not only am I acting
alongside this guy whoís an idol of mine, but I have to sort
of insult him to his face without the safety net of calling
him by a different name.
And so on the very first day of shooting the pilot, we had
to have a conversation and just be at ease with each other
and tell each other, okay so now I, Josh Gad, fake real Josh
Gad, am going to say things as fake Josh Gad that are going
to be a little bit insulting to fake Billy Crystal, but I
want you as the real Billy Crystal to be okay with it. So it
was a very surreal first day where we had to make a pact and
come up with the rules of the game.
I remember we had this scene that takes place in a
restaurant where I come in and Iím sort of like, ďItís so
great to meet you.Ē And I said to him usually when you meet
each other, youíre not sure what the other person is going
to look like, but I've been seeing you a lot on Starz Family
lately. And it was this quick zing that wasnít scripted or
anything and I'm like, this is going to set the tone. Heís
either going punch me in the face right now or heís going to
go along with it.
And once he went along with it, I knew that I was in a safe
zone and that the sky was the limit in terms of what we can
do. And the fact that we were going to sort of Thelma and
Louise style, take a jump together down this rabbit hole and
go all the way.
Cody: Alright, thank you so much.
Josh: Thank you.
Stephanie: So that concludes our conference call for today. I
want to thank Josh very much for participating, and all of
you for calling in and asking questions. As a reminder, we
will send out a transcript within 72 hours. And again, The
Comedians airs this Thursday at 10 p.m. only on FX.
Thank you, Josh.
Josh: Thank you guys so much. Have a great one.
Stephanie: You, too.
Moderator: Thank you. And ladies and gentlemen, that does
conclude our conference for today. Thank you for your
participation and for using AT&T Executive TeleConference.
You may now disconnect.
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