2007_04_human_giant.jpgThursday April 5th at 10:30 on MTV, the world will say, "Hello," to Human Giant, but the people who go to Crash Test at the UCB every week are going to be saying, "Hey," to the familiar faces of Aziz Ansari, Paul Scheer, Rob Huebel, and Jason Woliner. The foursome have been screening selections from their show for months now and the reaction is always the same: uproarious laughter. Thanks to the Internet and to MTV, Human Giant is going to bring alternative comedy to a mainstream audience, but first Gothamist brings you this Q and A with Human Giant. (Bonus: Trailer for the show after the interview, and get the first episode on iTunes for free!)

Quite a few of the Human Giant sketches begin with you hanging out and then your hanging out escalating to insane situations. How often do crazy things happen when you guys get together and how crazy does it get?
PS: This entire show is completely autobiographical. We just found that writing sketches is too hard, so instead we just focused on the times in our friendship that we thought might be good fodder for short films, like the time we went camping and we all killed each other. We wrote that up and boom. Done, time for lunch. Human Giant is really the Seabiscuit of comedy shows, everything you see if based on a true story.

JW: Usually nothing too crazy happens when we hang out, though one time the three guys did brutally murder each other in the woods over a simple misunderstanding.

AA: Jason and I were hanging out in LA once and through our little friend Drevon, ended up backstage at an R. Kelly concert and hung out with Mr. Showbiz himself - R. Kelly. Not to mention Cedric the Entertainer and Michelle from Destiny's Child.

RH: We hang out all the time, but usually no one gets killed like in some of the sketches. If that starts to happen in real life, we might be fucked. Lately, Aziz and I have been hanging out a lot in the east village and drinking too much. I woke up on my couch the other morning with no pants on. That's about as crazy as it gets.

Are there any subjects or themes that you found yourselves coming back to in the writing room?
PS: We love idiots. I know we are all drawn to ultra high status characters who think they are cool and that take themselves too seriously, you know, real a-holes. We are also fascinated by awkward moments, uncomfortable silences, and situations that escalate into sudden violence. Probably too much at certain points. We definitely had discussions throughout writing where we'd have to come up with an ending that was different than someone dying.

JW: We definitely have some stuff we lean on, like fake sad montages and people dying in different ways.

AA: Death and violence. Characters that are very confident and dumb.

RH: We def kept veering towards dark/weirder stuff. Or at least stuff that didn't feel sketchy. We wanted the pieces to look and feel more like short films. At one point we were worried that we murdered each other or killed ourselves too much, but we end up just shooting whatever made us all laugh the hardest.

Who are some of the other writers that contributed to the show outside of the four of you and what was the process for that? Did you have them come with ideas or did you all just get together and brainstorm?
PS: We worked with a lot of people over the course of the show. Every week we would try to bring in someone for a day that we all thought was awesome and we would have them pitch ideas or help punch up pre-existing scripts.

AA: Our main staff of consultants were Jon Glaser, Brian Posehn, and Dan Mintz. People would come in with their ideas, build on ours, and we'd also brainstorm together. It was so fun working with them. And a lot of them act in a few parts in the show as well.

RH: We were really lucky to get some of our comedy heroes to work with us.

Who are some guests that we should expect to see on the show?
PS: We have a pretty amazing cast list, here's a list of all of guests but one of them is fake: Mary Lynn Rasjkub, Jay Johnston, Patton Oswalt, Jon Glaser, Jon Benjamin, Kelly Slater, Tony Hawk, Ghostface Killa, Bobbe J Thompson, Linda Cardellini, Nichole Hiltz, Jonah Ray, Bronson Pinchot, Jonah Hill, Rob Riggle, Andy Blitz, Brian Poshen, Nick Swardson, and I'm sure I'm missing some.

Outside of TV commercials, what sort of promotion has MTV got planned for Human Giant? Will there be a live tour, talk show appearances?
PS: We are doing a lot of grass roots promotion. We've been showing our favorite clips from the show around town. In effect we're taking the show to the people (Haha, I feel like a jerk, typing that). For example, we just got back from SXSW where we did a special sneak preview of the show there. We also are doing special shows in LA and NYC leading up to the premiere and hopefully if people like what they are seeing they tell their friends and everyone will set their Tivos for the show. Plus we are creating a powerful Spam Engine to really get the word out. So look out for that.

JW: We just found out a few hours ago today that they're going to be putting up posters in major cities across America, which is cool. I think there might be a couple of talk show appearances.

AA: I think we should be doing some talk show stuff in April.

RH: We've had to really rely on the Internet to get the word out. A lot of our friends at cool websites are blogging about the show and several nice magazines have written cool things about us. And we've tried to spread a lot of the films around they way we did when we first got started. A lot of people have no idea this show is coming on. Please tell them.

Outside of the TV series, are there any other projects that you're working on together?
PS: Right now I am working on a Reggaetron Album called "The Night Beatz" and a book of a short poems about Kurt Russell. As a group we definitely have a few ideas brewing but our focus now is the TV show, we want to make it's as good as it can be. I think we all come from the school of doing one thing right before starting half a dozen other projects.

JW: Right now we're just trying to make a funny season of the show. We've got some movie ideas we're tossing around, but no solid plans at the moment. The upcoming project I'm most excited about is sleeping a lot when this is done.

AA: Right now, its all about the show, but once that settles, we're going our separate ways. I think Scheer is working on a book of his favorite Sloppy Joe recipes. Rob is moving to London to start a grime label called Cut Em' in the Face Records . Jason is going to use the money from Human Giant to open a Pinkberry franchise in Soho. I think I may get an internship at Morgan Stanley or work at Jason's Pinkberry.

RH: Right now we're just trying to focus on making this season awesome. It's a really labor intensive thing. There's like 10 sketches in every show. It's insane. Our director, Jason Woliner and our show runner Tom Gianas sleep in the edit rooms and don't shower. It's disgusting.

What will happen with Crash Test?
AA: I basically just do Crash Test when I'm in NY, so I'll probably keep doing it when I'm in town.

What are some factors that you attribute to the success of Crash Test?
PS: Crash Test is an awesome show and all the credit for its success is due to Aziz's tenacity in booking great co-hosts and amazing guests. Before Human Giant was formed, CT was one of my favorites shows to perform in. I loved doing it because it was so much fun to create a different show every time we did it. It was like an Improv show but it was more prepared and that was the beauty of it. Now CT has really become an extension of Human Giant and it's equally fun because it gives us a chance to work on performing together as a group in a live environment and, most importantly, it's a chance for us to screen shorts and gauge the audience's reaction to see if what we are doing is actually good. CT is invaluable to us during postproduction.

AA: It's been so much fun to screen the videos at the show. Oh, the show is also free and UCB has cheap beer. That may be a part of it also.

What are some things that you've learned about the writing process from this experience?
PS: Never get stuck with the Menu Book; it's too much responsibility.

JW: We really kind of figured out our own writing process as the series went on. The four of us had never written together as a group before we got the show - Aziz and Rob wrote Shutterbugs, Aziz, Paul and myself wrote Illusionators, me and Aziz wrote the "Other Music" video (with a lot of jokes from our friend Andy Blitz) - so because we were never really a "sketch group", we never sat in a room before and tried to write scenes.

Basically, we would all each come in with a long stack of ideas that we'd thought of, then get in a room and pitch them to the group. Aziz and I lived together in LA for the month we did a lot of the writing, and during mornings driving into work (after eating enormous LA-style breakfasts) we would try to challenge ourselves to come up with at least one bit a day. This is how we wound up with many ideas that would crack us up and be met with blank stares from the rest of the group.

Eventually, we started laboring less on the writing and improvising more on set. As the network got more confident in the stuff we were showing them, they trusted us more to write scripts that were looser and left more room to figure stuff out on set. Most of our
favorite moments were spur of the moment.

AA: It's very hard. It helps to have funny friends help you out. Our scripts were also treated very loose, so when we got on set we'd find a bunch of new jokes improvising and stuff.

RH: I also learned that sudden, unexpected violence is hilarious.

Were there any sketches or lines that didn't make it passed the network execs? Were there any things that you were surprised that to be able to have on the show?

PS: There were definite ideas we loved that never made it past the network execs. Aziz and I were really behind this idea to do a "Wire" style episodic but we could never convince them it would be funny enough. It just seemed too serious and weird, but we knew it could work. Other times when I look back I'm glad that they rejected ideas like "Farting Deadzone" - yes it's as bad as it sounds. But I have to say, a majority of the time we were surprised by the overwhelming acceptance of some of crazier ideas. It seemed like whenever we thought, "Oh they'll never let us do this idea" they loved it and that was awesome and if you need an example of this just watch Shutterbugs: Episode 2.

JW: We got really lucky in that the MTV exec on our show, Tony DiSanto, really digs our stuff and genuinely gets what we're trying to do. We were definitely surprised by some of the stuff they were into letting us do, including an upcoming Shutterbugs that delves into some dicey waters.

AA: We couldn't use handguns, but instead had to use oozies, missile launchers, and crossbows. We couldn't say "raped by a dinosaur," but "diddled" or "sodomized" by a dinosaur were fair game. And penises have to be drawn in a very specific way to get on TV. One wrong mark and it'll look too much like a real penis and it won't get past standards.

RH: That was a big deal. a roomful of lawyers had to meet and approve the final drawing of the penis. For the record, you cannot indicate the
'head' of the penis. It must appear headless. Or neckless. Whatever. You know what I mean...

There's a lot of famous foursomes: The Beatles, The Marx Brothers, Kiss, sometimes The Three Stooges, etc. Which famous foursome members is each member of Human Giant most like?

PS: We are probably most like Fruit of Loom Foursome. I'm an Apple, Aziz is the Green Grapes, Rob is Purple Grapes and Jason is the guy wearing the underpants.

AA: I'll compare the show to Timbaland's "Shock Value." Jason is Timbaland. Me, Huebel, and Scheer are like Nelly Furtado and JT.

RH: wow. I would like us to be more like KISS. those guys were awesome. I would like to be like Peter Chris the drummer. He was a cat. That's
insane. A drummer that paints his face to look like a cat. Can you imagine the drugs it took to make that seem like a cool idea? They completely tricked him, I bet. 'No really peter, it looks cool. Seriously. It does.'

Speaking of The Three Stooges, what do you think of physical and slapstick comedy? Do you have any favorite gags?

PS: I can't believe you! I told you ask me anything BUT the one question I won't answer is "Do you have any favorite gags?".... I can't believe you did this. You son-of a bitch! This interview is over! Goodbye!

AA: We have a few brutal car hits, an arrow shot, an ax to the chest, shovel to the shins, a blood oath, and one of us gets exploded by a missile.

RH: We're big fans of physical stuff. We get killed and beat up a lot. My shoulder is still messed up from the first day of shooting. A stunt man was supposed to beat me up and throw me across the hood of a car. He kicked my ass so bad. I should probably go to the doctor.

Ready for some visuals? Here's a trailer for the show: