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Whitney Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

Whitney

This is an interview with Ken Marino on October 21, 2011 about the show Whitney.

Question:
Can you tell me a bit about your character, what he'll be doing and how the role came about for you?

Ken Marino:
I'm playing Chris' brother, Brian. I'm his older brother, and I sell furniture. Chris is the younger brother who I'm kind of jealous of because he's smart and artistic and creative, and so I'm a little passive aggressive, if not aggressive, with him. That's about all I have.

Question:
How does Whitney differs from some of the things you've really been thriving on recently? What's it like getting back into that traditional multi-camera setup with the live audience? How does that impact the energy, impact the way you approach the character, the way you deliver your comedy?

Ken Marino:
It's interesting, it is a whole different kind of vibe and when you get in there and you're in front of an audience, you tend to want to play up to the audience so you get laughs. You get that immediate response where, when you're doing single camera, you're not thinking about that. You're thinking you can have quieter moments and it's a different approach. And so it's exciting for me. I've done four-camera in the past and I really enjoyed, I like hearing the reaction from people that immediate reaction. I like both styles of comedy, I enjoy both.

Question:
Do you think when fans are watching on the Whitney episode the audience is going to really get a sense of that honest voice, that this is going to feel like a Ken Marino character rather than just some role that any recognizable funny guy could have stepped in to perform?

Ken Marino:Question:Ken Marino:
I took the part because I like Whitney and I'm friends with her and I enjoy the show. I enjoy the people who work on the show and I like the character. And I'll play it the only way I know how to play it which is filtered through me. And if it touches upon any of those things that you were talking about, great, and if not, I apologize to everybody involved.

Question:
What was the best part for you, working on Whitney?

Ken Marino:
It was a fast week. I enjoyed pretty much all of it. I think the actors on the show are a lot of fun getting to know them a little bit. I didn't really know any of them other than Whitney. I've run into a couple of them but they're just really good, funny people. And then the people running the show are very passionate about it and so it's fun watching a group of people creating a show that are really into it and passionate about it.

That's nice to see, because sometimes you work on a show where everybody's just kind of walking through the motions. But there was an electricity on that set which is always exciting to be around. And then they gave me a fun part to play Chris's older brother. Chris is hysterical, and getting to know him, like, after I met him we went to YouTube and started watching his standup. And man, that guy is funny.

Question:
Speaking of his brother, Brian, who would you rather hang out with in real life, Alex or Brian?

Ken Marino:
I would rather hang out with Alex. Brian's kind of a little brat.

Question:
Did you contribute to the story at all on Whitney when they wrote in your character?

Ken Marino:
No, I threw out, as I do on anything I work on, I go I ask if there's value to a certain joke that might fit into the structure that they have, but usually I just kind of go in and play the part. I'll throw in jokes because I can't help myself. But every once in a while I'll land on a good one and they might say, "Hey yes, keep that."

Question:
Are there any projects you're working on that you might want Chris D'Elia or Whitney Cummings to be involved with?

Ken Marino:
You know, I'm working on Children's Hospital right now, and I'd love for them to be come on and do a guest on that, or any of the people on the show like Rhea, Zoe or Dan, any of those guys. But yes, and then I'm writing some movies with Dave Wain, so sure. I was thinking about something for Chris actually the other day that I wanted to write by myself that he would be great in.

Question:
What was that?

Ken Marino:
It's a standup a comedian as the main character. But it's a longer explanation than that I'm not going to bore you with.

Question:
Do you have any brothers and sisters and did you have a lot of sibling rivalry that you could draw on for this role?

Ken Marino:
I have an older sister and there wasn't so much sibling rivalry. Our dynamic was I wanted to hang out with her and I bugged her all the time and I was a pain in the ass to her, and she wanted me to leave her alone. But I've grown up with a lot of I have a lot of friends from The State and those guys and that was basically all guys except for Kerri Kenney. And they're basically all my brothers and have been since college. And there's always kind of a feel or a sense of sibling rivalry with those guys, which is fun.

Question:
Do you think the rivalry between brothers is a different brand than between brothers and sisters?

Ken Marino:
I think it's slightly different. I didn't have it with my sister. Now perhaps brothers and sisters do have that but I didn't have that with my sister. I was just a nudge to her.

Question:
You're probably most recognizable as an actor, but you've been really racking up the writing and producing credits. Which aspect do you enjoy the most and where do you see all this going in the future, continue writing and acting and all?

Ken Marino:
My goal is to do it all, to try to continue to do it all. My ultimate goal is to stay out of the red and feed my family. But I think the creatively I like doing all aspects of it. I enjoy producing and love writing and I directed an episode of Party Down and some Childrens Hospitals. And I'm getting into that which I very much enjoy. And then acting is something that I don't think I'll ever stop doing unless I'm not hired, and then I'll, I don't know, maybe act for my kids or something. But no, I enjoy it all. I enjoy it all and I hope to continue to do it all.

Question:
Having a chance to spend a few days on the set of Whitney, did you sense anything about that show that reminded you of what made some of those other shows?

Ken Marino:
I think I think when you get on a set, one of the things that you immediately are kind of drawn to or you recognize is the chemistry and whether or not people are having fun because I think that translates, like, you can't help but see that once it's shot. And I think that absolutely was there on the set of Whitney, that everybody was enjoying themselves and enjoying each other and having a good time and laughing. And if you can make people that you work with laugh, then that's going to translate on some level.

And I just think that I think that what makes a good four-camera show, the thing that is key is characters you like and you like watching. And I find the relationship between Whitney and Chris's character to be kind of fresh and different and exciting. And then I really am enjoying that group of friends, so yes, it seemed special to me, it seemed like a special group of people.

I haven't seen enough episodes to know if anybody goes in the asshole route, but I know that the actors and the vibe with the actors is definitely a positive, like, cool thing. But I'm not saying I'm against characters on sitcoms that are I feel like it's okay for characters to be assholes.

Question:
As an actor turned producer, do you think that gives you an advantage that others don't have in terms of understanding an actor's psychology and using that to draw out strong performances?

Ken Marino:
As an actor turned producer, when I'm directing or producing something and then talking to an actor, yes I think that does help. I wasn't that on Whitney I was basically a hired actor to come in and hopefully help the show. And my answer would be yes, it helps enormously.

Question:
What did you find taking on the role about yourself that you didn't know before?

Ken Marino:
The first thing I found out about the character of Brian is that his waist is 35 to 36 inches, and my waist is 34, and I'll stand by that. I don't know how they did it in the wardrobe department, but somehow they made my waist bigger the week I was hired. It could be that I was eating a lot more, but I don't think it was that. I just played Brian like me, like a version of me. Probably the more annoying version of me, which is a good portion of me.

Question:
Which of your roles have presented most of a challenge in getting to that level of comfort?

Ken Marino:
I don't find them when I play a role to be, I don't look at it as a challenge. I look at it as something that's fun to do, like a puzzle to solve and they're all hard in different ways to kind of answer certain questions. But it's an exciting and it's fun to solve that problem. And for me, the character of Brian was an easy guy to play.

Question:
What do you do after you finish filming?

Ken Marino:
I usually shower up and a little lather, I'll lather up and then I KILZ my skin just to keep it nice and moist and then I kind of wash just extra focus on my T-zone because I'm a little oily. And then and then at that point I've showered, I have to put a little product in my hair so I don't look like a Beatle because it'll look like a bowl haircut so you've got to put a little texture in there. Then I'll probably pick out a nice, comfortable pair of underwear and then it just kind of goes from there jeans, shirt, socks and shoes.

Question:
You've had the lucky opportunity of getting to work with a lot of your collaborators in a variety of your roles. But when you're stepping into a show like Whitney, it sounds like you know some of the cast and crew but maybe you don't have that same level of ownership of the situation and that same comfort zone, are there any additional pressures your face? I mean, do you feel obligated to impress in a certain way, maybe a different way than you would working with somebody you've been doing things with for the last ten years?

Ken Marino:
I feel I think anytime you walk onto a set where you don't know anybody, you want to impress them. But I try to get rid of that feeling very quickly because that's not the thing to be focusing on, for me, because it gets in the way of just kind of being creative and trying to serve the story and serve the scene and serve the character. And so - but you can't help but walk on a set and be like, "Okay, I hope I'm everything they want me to be." But I try to get rid of that very quickly, that feeling.

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