Interview: “Kroll Show’s” Nick Kroll

Nick Kroll’s been a bro, a cartoon, a female publicist, an Ed Hardy boy, and a stand-up comic. He’s now all of those things, especially that last one, on his own show, Kroll Show.

Kroll Show premieres January 16 on Comedy Central, and you can catch the pilot on Hulu right now.

We decided to talk to Kroll about the whole thing, but here’s a quick primer on a few of the characters you’ll be seeing, before we get started.

Kroll and Jon Daly play Rich Dicks Aspen Bruckheimer and Wendy Shawn.

“Basically leisure has bred all the masculinity out of them,” Kroll says.


Then there’s Bobby Bottleservice—one of the Ed Hardy Boyz, along with a guy named Peter Paparazzo (also played by Jon Daly). The duo solves mysteries, gets girls, and of course, rocks Ed Hardy.

There’s also Liz G, a college graduate who expects the best. She’s the driven one, and her business partner, Liz B. (played by Jenny Slate) is trying to have a life. Together, they run a PR firm called PubLIZity. You’re not going to believe this, but it’s based off of their names.

Then there’s Kroll himself, but we’ll let him explain that.

Hulu: So what’s the show gonna look like?

NK: “A hybrid of sketch and longer-format story-telling. It feels more like you’re watching a collection of mini-series that is very character and story driven more than a classic sketch driven.”

Hulu: What’s first?

NK: A little bit of me as me, talking directly to camera, to get a little of the standup out and give the audience a little sense of who I am.

Hulu: Then?

NK: A bunch of characters. They’re all kinda like loveable losers in some capacity.

Hulu: What was it like playing Stu on “The Life and Times of Tim?”

NK: (Show creator) Steve (Dildarian) had established the character, I just auditioned over the phone for that while I was still living in New York. It’s collaborative in that, like “The League,” there are scripts but a ton of room for improv. So, both with Ruxin (on “The League”) and Stu, the creators did a very nice job of establishing the kind of person they are. Then, through collaborating on writing and improvising in the room I was able to add various layers that seemed funny to me to each character.

I love doing animation stuff. One, it’s incredibly easy. It’s really easy to do in that you don’t have to put on makeup or dress nicely or anything but also you can mess around and find new angles and you’re not wasting anybody’s time. Hopefully, if we do Season 2 of Kroll Show, we would be able to tinker around with some animation.

And doing ”The Life and Times of Tim,” I actually met John Levenstein, who ran the show in Season 2. He ended up as one of the executive producers and showrunner for Kroll Show.

Hulu: So tell me a little bit about “The League” season finale.

NK: All I can say is that there will be some very shocking, shocking occurrences that will…I can guarantee there will be some surprises and I can also guarantee that everyone will be miserable.

Hulu: And how’s the show going overall?

NK: The show obviously has resonated and people seem psyched about it. I can just sense that people are enjoying it.

(Note: The day after our interview the season finale premiered. It was indeed very shocking. And FX announced that the show was picked up for a 5th season.)

Hulu: What’re you watching these days?

NK: I do a lot of what I like to call TV tapas, which is flipping through shows for five to ten minutes at a time. I’ll watch five minutes of “Duck Dynasty” and five minutes of a Korean soap opera and then five minutes of “SportsCenter” and then five minutes of Junior, the movie. I’m watching Season 2 of “Breaking Bad” now. I need to catch up with this whole season of “Homeland.” I watch “Parks and Rec.” I enjoy the Steve Brule show (“Check It Out! With Dr. Steve Brule”). Beyond all my friends’ shows, which I watch, which are like Paul Scheer’s NTSF on Adult Swim (“NTSF:SD:SUV”) and “Childrens Hospital,” I like “American Masters” on PBS a lot. I grew up watching SNL I still watch a good amount of it. I’ll go to Hulu, actually, and watch it.

Want more of Nick Kroll? See him discuss “Kroll Show” and “The League” with buddy and “The League” costar Paul Scheer here.

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ANDY GOLDBERG
SVP, Global Brand Planning & Content
American Express
The first ad I remember:
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Impossible to name just one but Friday Night Lights is on the all-time list.
I’m here to:
Connect with others on the potential of streaming … how things are changing so rapidly and how brands can be at the forefront of amazing content.

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ALEX LOPEZ
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Gadi Amit

Founder, New Deal Design

Gadi: The development of serendipity in recommendations is very important. An analogy I use is that of a restaurant. If you go to a good restaurant, you don’t always want to see what you’re looking for. You’re looking for surprises. It’s not the expected, it’s the unexpected. You trust in the restaurant’s atmosphere. You don’t know exactly what you’re getting, but you trust their creativity and that you’ll enjoy whatever they serve you.

Do you think it is possible for a streaming service to become that “restaurant” - a trusted source of serendipitous recommendations?

Gadi: I absolutely do. But it is difficult. It’s a long game. It requires them to build trustworthiness with audiences through genuine content recommendations over the years.

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Gandi Amit

Found New Deal Design

Gandi: The development of serendipity in recommendations is very important. An analogy I use is that of a restaurant. If you go to a good restaurant, you don’t always want to see what you’re looking for. You’re looking for surprises. It’s not the expected, it’s the unexpected. You trust in the restaurant’s atmosphere. You don’t know exactly what you’re getting, but you trust their creativity and that you’ll enjoy whatever they serve you.

Do you think it is possible for a streaming service to become that “restaurant” -- a trusted source of serendipitous recommendations?

Gandi: I absolutely do. But it is difficult. It’s a long game. It requires them to build trustworthiness with audiences through genuine content recommendations over the years.

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Jonathan Miranda

Emerging Strategy Principal, Salesforce

Another expectation among younger generations seems to be personalization. How are you seeing this play out in media?

Jonathan: If you go into the world of advertising and marketing, customized, personalized advertising is more important than ever before. There’s a realization that eight years of funny commercials that we’ve showed everybody probably for the fourth time, doesn’t work anymore. So there’s a lot of companies moving towards specialized advertising.

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Head of Research & Insights, Hulu

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Julie: One of the things we found with Gen Z is that they really want to be immersed in something for a long time. They want to have content that they can live with for a while; it’s like this long, seamless storytelling. They’ll knock off a couple episodes a night and it will last a couple of months. And then they’ll re-watch it a million times over.

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Julie: For years, television had to deliver a specific rating. Shows had to appeal broadly or else they wouldn’t survive. And those days are long gone because, with streaming services, shows can reach hundreds of thousands of people or tens of thousands of people and still be considered successful. There’s more experimentation with the types of content; we’re not locked into an hour, a half hour, a comedy, etc. The industry can create really niche shows to appeal to niche audiences, but also simultaneously create big, broad experiences that are shared by millions.

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Founder, #HalftheStory

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Larissa: I think for young people digital content is a way they’re able to explore their own identities through the story... They want to see themselves and their stories in the content that they’re engaging with.

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Global Creative Director, Spotify

What does the future of personalization look like?

Richard: I think it’s all down to trust. We're going to see more opportunity on platforms like Hulu and Spotify where the user trusts us.

That’s really interesting. Another area we wanted to explore is podcasts, and their relationship to video. For example, the show Homecoming is an adaptation of a podcast; the podcast Office Ladies is a spin-off from a TV show. Why do you think the two formats work so well together?

Richard: Anything at all that drives conversation in pop culture, and TV does a lot of that, is worthy of consideration in a podcast environment. Any of these conversations can become multiple audio streams that evolve with experts, interviews, and all kinds of narrative threads that can flesh out characters, or narrative development, or whatever's happening in those shows.

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