Interview with Simon Rich from "Man Seeking Woman" on FX - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Lisa

Simon Rich

Interview with Simon Rich of "Man Seeking Woman" on FX 1/30/15

Final Transcript
FX NETWORK: Man Seeking Woman
January 30, 2015/11:00 am PST

Simon Rich
Pam Beer


Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the Man Seeking Woman conference call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a question and answer session. (Operator instructions.) As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to our host, Pam Beer.

Pam: Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Man Seeking Woman conference call with our creator and Executive Producer, Simon Rich. I would like to thank everyone for joining us today, and just a reminder that this call is for print purposes only, so no audio may be used. Man Seeking Woman airs Wednesday nights at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT, only on FXX. And, as always, we respectfully ask that you do not post spoilers pre-air to help protect the viewing experience for our audience.

So, with that said, letís go ahead and take our first question.

Moderator: (Operator instructions.) Our first question will come from the line of Earl Dittman, with Digital Journal. Please go ahead.

Earl: Hey, Simon. How are you this morning?

Simon: Good. Thanks so much for covering the show. I really appreciate it. Thanks, everyone, out there listening in.

Earl: No, no. My pleasure. And, I have to say, I have to make a confession with you. Iím not a real comedy guy, Iím more like scripted drama. I would say maybe 3% of the stuff I watch on TV is comedy, but Iím now addicted to your show. It is brilliant. Itís incredible.

Simon: Thank you. Thanks, thatís really nice of you. Thanks.

Earl: It really is, and I guess weíll have to say, when you were writing it, did you kind of think about it turning it into a show at some point, or just kind of the evolution, itís just kind of happened?

Simon: Say it again? When I was writing itósorry, was I?

Earl: Did you think about it becoming a TV series at some point, or [indiscernible]?

Simon: Oh, oh, yes. You know, when I was first writing the supernatural love stories, I never even imagined that they would get published, let alone be turned into a compilation and, ultimately, a television show. Yes, the stories are very strange, and theyíre also extremely personal.

I started writing these stories almost as a kind of therapy. I was writing about things that I was going through on my own, 20ís situations like getting dumped or being resentful of an actorís new boyfriend; and I was kind of just processing it in my own way by writing these insane stories, and I was amazed when they started to catch on and really thrilled because I got to write more of them and Iím so psyched about this show, because now I have all of these writers and theyíre bringing in their own personal experiences to the writerís room and the showís autobiographical for me, of course, but itís also hugely autobiographical for all of my writers, for my cast and for my directors and now we all get to kind of play in this strange world together.

Earl: And itís a great place to play.

Simon: Yes, itís been super fun. Weíre having a blast.

Earl: Well, Iíve got more questions for you, but Iíll let other people go. So, Iíll talk to you in a bit.

Simon: Cool.

Moderator: Thank you. Our next question will come from the line of Kara Howland with TV Goodness. Please go ahead.

Kara: Hey, Simon. How are you?

Simon: Good. How are you?

Kara: Iím good. So, Iím wondering, Iíve really enjoyed the first three episodes of the show, and youíve gotten some really great guest stars. Can you talk about getting them and who youíve got coming up?

Simon: Sure. Yes, weíve been extremely lucky to get some super talented people to be on our weird little show. We had my friend, Bill Hader, in the pilot and also Vanessa from SNL, and then we were able to get Sarah Silverman to voice Joshís right hand and Tim Heidecker to play the guy who the bartender who ends up recovering Joshís lost dick in Episode 3.

Later on, Fred Armisen, voices ďTanakaĒ whoís a Japanese penis monster from another dimension. And, we have, Carrie Brownstein makes a great cameo in Episode 8. Weíve got a bunch of other surprises. I donít want to give it all away. Minka Kelly, is in Episode 5. She is phenomenal. I canít wait for people to see her in our show. She really nailed it.

Itís a strange show because it requires you to play some very absurd scenes with a lot of dry naturalism and not everybody can pull it off, and weíre thrilled that weíve had such great actors this season, because I think every single one of them has nailed it.

Kara: I agree. Iíve enjoyed that, and also the seriesí regulars are so great as well. Can you talk a little bit about casting them and what you were looking for?

Simon: Yes. Obviously, itís called Man Seeking Woman, so who we cast as the man, who is the most important creative production decision, and I think we won the lottery with Jay because heís given us everything we needed. Heís obviously extremely funny and people have known that for a long time, but I think in addition to being hilarious, he is able to play scenes with incredible emotional honesty and subtlety, and naturalism, which a show like ours needs desperately in order to balance out all of the heightened supernatural madness weíve got going on.

I think the show probably wouldnít work without Jay. He really carries the thing on his back. Our job in the writerís room, we used to joke, is essentially just to dream up new ways to torture him. Thatís kind of what the show is all about, is to figure out new ways to humiliate his character and physically humiliate him. So, Jayís been a real trooper to go through this journey with us.

Kara: Great. Thank you so much.

Simon: Sure.

Moderator: Thank you. Our next question will come from the line of Rebecca Murray with Showbiz Junkies. Please go ahead.

Rebecca: Good Morning.

Simon: Good Morning.

Rebecca: Great to talk to you. Now, obviously itís Man Seeking Woman, but are we going to see ďWoman Seeking ManĒ at any point?

Simon: I canít answer that question because I donít want to give anything away. But, what I will say is that people who watched the entire season will be surprised at just how female-centric the show can get.

Rebecca: Okay, because your writerís room is basically male. Right?

Simon: Itís a mixture. We have Sofia Alvarez, for example, who co-wrote the episode that airs on Wednesday. And our writersí assistant is a woman and so the room itself is, I would say its majority male, but itís not an overwhelming majority.

Rebecca: Great. I really love the show. Thank you.

Simon: Thank you.

Moderator: Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Cole Clay with Fresh Fiction. Please go ahead.

Cole: Hey, howís it going?

Simon: Good, how are you doing? Hello. Hello?

Moderator: We do apologize. We lost his connection.

Simon: Oh, no worries.

Moderator: We will move on to the line of Sean Mulvihill with FanboyNation. Please go ahead.

Sean: Hey, Simon. Iím really enjoying the show.

Simon: Thank you.

Sean: Now, how much time did you have between the pilot and the next two episodes, because as much as I like the pilot, the two that followed just seemed like you guys have really just found your rhythm quickly. How long in between was there?

Simon: Thank you. Thanks. And I agree. I think we learned a ton after making the pilot, as a lot of shows do, and I think weíre still learning. Weíve only been on TV for three weeks and every time we try to make one of these crazy episodes I think we learn a lot from the experience. Iím excited for the rest of the season to get onto the airwaves because I think we learned a lot as we went.

I think we shot the pilot in March and we started shooting the other nine episodes in October. So, thatís actually an extremely long time, in the world of TV when you think about it. Thatís April, May, June, July, August, basically I get six months plus and I think it shows. I think those six months in the writerís room, working with the cast, working with directors, it really deepened the world of the show and enriched the characters and, like I said, itís been thrilling to collaborate with everyone because I feel like every week weíre learning more about the characters, learning more about what works and what doesnít and Iím excited about the direction the showís going in.

Sean: Yes, because it seemed to me like that the pilot you just put in as many weird moments as possible, almost to like warn the viewers that anything can happen in the future.

Simon: Yes. Well all pilots, to a certain extent, have to be pretty expository, because you need to introduce people to the characters and the conceit, and for our show, I think the pilot has to really also kind of teach them how to watch the show and brace them for all the madness thatís to come. So, yes, itís a different set of priorities when making a pilot than when making a regular episode for sure.

Sean: Well, great show. I like how youíre able to get absurdity to reflect reality better than a lot of shows that try to be like real.

Simon: Oh, thanks man. Thatís the highest compliment. Itís like I said, this is like a really personal show, for not just me, for all of us. Weíre really just throwing stuff out there about our own lives and about the mistakes weíve made and the lessons weíve learned or tried to learn and itís a really honest show and itís super gratifying for us in the room when people watch the show and say, ďHey, Iíve been there.Ē

Sean: Yes, well I think weíve all had an ex who dated Hitler, you know.

Simon: Yes, I know, I know I certainly have.

Sean: Well, thanks, man.

Simon: Thank you.

Moderator: Thank you. (Operator instructions.) So, our next question will come from the line of Lisa George with The TV MegaSite. Please go ahead.

Lisa: Hi, Simon. Quite the interesting world youíre creating here. I just started watching the show this week when I was asked to do the interview and I love the music on Episode 3, especially [indiscernible.] I love Mariachi bands so that was great.

How do you go about picking the music for the shows?

Simon: Weíve got a really talented music supervisor named Matt F.X., who is an expert at finding us songs that are a little under the radar. And then, yes, a lot of work goes into the music, because, obviously, itís an extremely important narrative tool and we donít always get it right and sometimes it takes a few tries before weíre satisfied with the scoring and the scene. But yes, Matt F.X. has been a huge help. He also worked on Broad City and so he brought a lot of great cable experience and weíre psyched to have him on the team.

Lisa: Yes, the music in Episode 3 really made that show click and come to life.

Simon: Thank you. Yes, thatís the Magnetic Fields playing at the very end. You can only hear them for a bit, but the book that this is based on, The Last Girlfriend on Earth, I actually thank the Magnetic Fields by name, because the album, 69 Love Songs, was such a huge influence on my writing,

I mean that triple album is 69 different songs that come at the subject of love from the variety of angles and genres and that was very much what I was trying to do with that book and what weíre trying to do with the show, so it was really personally gratifying to get to throw a Magnetic Fields song into one of the episodes. Itís really exciting for us.

Lisa: Thank you. That was good hear.

Simon: Sure.

Moderator: Thank you. Next, weíll go back to the line of Earl Dittman with Digital Journal. Please go ahead.

Earl: Simon, you say that itís autobiographical. I know who you are. I know what youíve done, but Iím going to put you on the spot here. In sixty seconds, how would you explain your life story?

Simon: Ha. My lifeís story. Gosh.

Earl: What got you to this point?

Simon: Well, you know, the great thing about writing fiction and about writing TV scripts is I never have to actually throw any facts out there. I can kind of just avoid that question and take my experiences and spin them into something thatís emotionally confessional, but to actually protect me.

So, yes, Iíve never written any essays, personal essays. Iíve never written any memoirs like somebody like David Sedaris. Iíve never worked in bad genre, and I prefer to express myself through weird supernatural fiction than through actual honesty.

Earl: Now, didnít you work on another show before?

Simon: I worked on Saturday Night Live for four seasons.

Earl: Yes. Thatís what I was trying to get you to talk about, really quickly.

Simon: Yes, you werenít looking for some existential monologue. You just wanted my stats. Oh sure, that I can give you. Yes, I went Harvard, I was president of The Lampoon, and then I started writing for The New Yorker and publishing books and I started writing for Saturday Night Live and I was there for four seasons. Then, I left to go to work for Pixar for a little bit, for about a year and a half, and then I created the show, and The Last Girlfriend on Earth was my fifth book and I just came out with my sixth book which is called Spoiled Brats, which is another weird collection of crazy stories of monsters and aliens, etc. The usual.

Earl: And how old are you?

Simon: I am thirty.

Earl: Youíre a kid.

Simon: Iím a kid. Well, you know. I just went to the dentist and he said I had the gums of an old man.

Earl: Thatís great. Okay. Thanks, again. I appreciate it.

Simon: Yes. My pleasure.

Moderator: Thank you. Then our last question will come from the line of Bruce Eisen with Here Is TV. Please go ahead.

Bruce: Hi, Simon. Good morning.

Simon: Good morning. Thanks for covering the show.

Bruce: Itís my pleasure. Hey, Iím wondering, if you have any time, do you watch TV, and if so, what shows do you like to watch?

Simon: I watch a lot of TV, but I have say that even though I think thereís a ton of really, really amazing sitcoms out there, and brilliant sketch comedy shows, my favorite thing to watch tends to be reality television. Specifically, I love the channel TLC. I love shows like True Ice on MTV. My favorite thing thatís on television is the 30 for 30 series on ESPN. Iíve watched every single one, as fast as I can and I love them.

I canít believe how good 30 for 30 is. Also, I watch a lot of sports. Tragically. I met a New York Knicks fan, which I guess I shouldnít admit in public, but I am a New York Knicks fan, and I do watch those games somehow, day after day, even in the season like this one.

Bruce: Cool. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

Simon: Sure.

Moderator: (Operator instructions.) Weíll go back to the line of Earl Dittman with Digital Journal. Please go ahead.

Earl: Iím kind of a stalker in this kind of thing.

Simon: Oh.

Earl: So, no Real Housewives?

Simon: You know, I like that show, but my favorite reality shows tend to be the ones that are more like occupation based. I loved Ice Road Truckers. You know what I love, isnít it called Life Below Zero?

Earl: Yes, Iíve seen that one. I love that one.

Simon: I really like that show. Oh, and Gold Rush. Iím a big a Gold Rush fan.

Earl: Oh, I like that one, too. Thatís a great one.

Simon: Iím behind. Iím behind on Gold Rush, but yes, thatís a great one as well.

Earl: Well, you know in books, you can write just about anything and say about anything. Now, of course, youíre on television now. Of course, losing your dick and your hand rejecting you and stuff. Have you all gotten to the point where you canít do what you want to do on television? Is there a point where itís too far in the comedy, or just canít go there?

Simon: This morning I did have a few back and forth with standards and practices about specific frames in our Japanese penis monster episode. So, you do occasionally run into some interference, but in general, weíve had an incredible amount of creative freedom making this show and a lot of that is just because the network has supported us from day one. John Landgraf and his team there, theyíre unbelievably supportive of their artists, and I think that comes across in the quality of their programming.

A show like Louie is unafraid to take risks, and thatís the reason why I was so excited to come to FX because I saw their track record and I saw how much freedom their writers enjoyed. So, yes, itís been a really thrilling experience creatively; probably the most creative fulfilling experience of my life. I really havenít had this amount of freedom anywhere outside of the pages of a book, so Iím psyched about it.

Earl: Well, I mean Kurt Sutter and Ryan Murphy have said to me that they couldnít do this show. I imagine you could have not done the show anywhere else but FX. I mean, thatís that kind of place it is.

Simon: Yes, I think thatís definitely true, and Iím not sure I could have done it anywhere, five or ten years ago even. Itís really an incredible time to be working in television. I feel super lucky that I get to be writing for TV right now, because itís just a miracle how much freedom we have.

Earl: Well, thank you for being so twisted, witty, and funny and thank you for the show. I appreciate it, and best of luck, man.

Simon: Thanks. Really appreciate it. It was really nice of you. Thank you.

Earl: Thanks a lot.

Moderator: Thank you. Our next question will come from the line of Kara Howland with TV Goodness. Please go ahead.

Kara: Hey, Simon. Iím wondering, so with a concept like this, it seems like it could go on forever, which is great. Iím sure the network is like keep it coming, we would love to put you on for 100 episodes at least, I hope. Do you have kind of a long-term plan that youíre allowed to share, like is Josh going to be kind of dating for a while? Is he going eventually to settle down and be happy? [Indiscernible].

Simon: Right, right. Yes, thatís a really good question and I think that the short answer is, yes. I do have a trajectory planned for the duration of the show and I think that love is an infinitely complex subject. Thereís a million different shades of love. Thereís everything from unfulfilling, forgettable one-night stands to incredible life affirming marriages, and then thereís everything in between.

So, as a writer, I feel like one of the reasons I picked this subject is I knew that we would never run out of material. And so, yes, I think if weíre fortunate enough to have a long-running show, I think that weíll be exploring more types of dating than just bar hopping and internet trolling. I think if people stick with the show, theyíll be surprised the kinds of relationships we end up writing about.

Kara: Okay, great. Iím also really, really, enjoying Josh and Mikeís relationship. Can you talk a little bit about casting Eric Andre and even what you were looking for in that character to come across on?

Simon: Yes. Yes, good question. Well, we really shaped the character, we really
designed the character for Eric. I always knew that I wanted Josh to have a confident best friend, who could give him bad advice to kind of push him to try things that he was afraid to and, also, maybe shouldnít try. But I wasnít sure. Thereís a lot of different types of confidence, and Iíve been such a huge fan of Eric Andre for years. I think his show is incredibly bold and fearless, and I just had a meeting with him. I wasnít necessarily even thinking that he would be right for this part, but I just had a meeting with him and we talked about comedy, and about our influences, and we were just so on the same page in terms of what made us laugh and what we had loved growing up, and I just knew that I wanted him to be part of the creative team and so we hired him pretty early in the process and he really helped us shape the character.

Thatís true of all of our cast, and like Jay and Britt as well. Theyíre really in on the ground floor with these characters. Theyíve helped us figure out the back stories and theyíve really helped us craft the art for the season. So, I feel really fortunate to have three actors who are not just good performers, but also bring a lot of insight and thought to work and are willing to put a lot of themselves into the piece.

Kara: Great. Thank you so much.

Simon: Sure.

Moderator: Thank you, and we have no further questions in the queue. Please continue.

Pam: All right, thank you so much everyone for joining us today and especially Simon. Thank you so much for your time.

Simon: Oh, my pleasure. Yes, thanks, everyone.

Pam: Yes, thanks. And, as a reminder, everyone, Man Seeking Woman airs Wednesday nights at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT only on FXX. You may now disconnect.

Moderator: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. That does conclude our conference for today. Thank you for your participation, and for using AT&T Executive TeleConference Service.

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