Talking to Martin Starr About ‘NTSF:SD:SUV’! A Months-Old Update on the ‘Party Down’ Movie! A Bird Flies Into the Room!
Every comedy fan worth his or her salt knows Martin Starr. The guy’s been popping up in some of the best comedies going for over a decade now, from Freaks and Geeks to Knocked Up, Party Down to Adventureland. Starr’s latest series, NTSF:SD:SUV, sees his hot streak continue. The 15-minute Adult Swim comedy returns for a second season this Thursday night, August 9th, at 12:15am (it’s technically Friday morning), following the season premiere of Childrens Hospital. I’ve seen a couple new NTSF episodes early because I’m a “journalist,” and I can assure you that Season 2 is just as funny and zany as Season 1, if not even better.
Like six months ago, I was invited to visit the set of NTSF:SD:SUV in some God-forsaken town an hour north of Los Angeles. There, I got to watch the cast and crew film the new season and conducted some interviews with the gang, joined by a trio of other entertainment journalists – or as I prefer we be called: “journalists.” As anyone who’s ever been on a movie/TV set can attest, there’s a lot of waiting around. It was a day full of me pretending to be interested in something on my phone while the other “journalists” talked about Star Trek.
Below, please find a transcript of the roundtable interview these other “journalists” and I conducted with the lovely Martin Starr. It’s a sad state of affairs that the stars of Party Down and Arrested Development can’t step one foot outside of their own front doors without being asked by strangers, “What about the movie?”, “Where’s the movie?” or “I need more of your cult TV series and I need it now!” Rest assured, this particular day in Martin Starr’s life was one no exception, as my colleagues were quick to try to get him to comment on the likelihood of a Party Down movie. And comment he did!
Read on for a now-outdated update about the Party Down movie from six months ago! Watch one of the other “journalists” try too hard to show off his knowledge of NTSF and prove he knows the show better than one of its stars! Oh yeah, and a bird flies into the room! Enjoy!
Journalist #1: So, how does it feel to be the butt of the jokes? Your character—
Martin Starr: Whoa, whoa, whoa…
Good. It feels really good. I love butts.
Journalist #1: You can’t lie.
[Laughter] I feel like… this whole show is a giant joke that we’re all the butt of. I mean, that’s the point of it. We’re all just mocking this…
Journalist #2: Is [your character] Sam ever gonna come to terms with the fact that there’s a robot sitting right next to him who’s there to replace him at the drop of a hat, or is he gonna snap? How’s he gonna deal with this issue going forward in season 2?
You really, uh… I didn’t see it as an issue until you said that.
Journalist #2: [Laughter] I thought the fact that they were both named the same thing was this running joke that they’re gonna replace him. And they treat him like crap, just like they treat Jessie like crap.
Yeah. Well, everybody gets treated like crap pretty much. Even Kove gets treated like crap sometimes. I don’t know, I suppose if I’m unavailable next season, then he’ll just slip in, but I can’t imagine that—I mean, we haven’t toyed with it that I’ve seen so far.
Journalist #2: We understand that this season that we’re gonna learn a little of the backstory of a lot of the characters. Is Sam included in that? Is there a Sam episode? Is there something we learn about him?
There’s a few. There’s one in particular where my ex-girlfriend is a bad guy and she wants me to get married, so I end up at the altar with a decision to make.
Journalist #2: Who’s the guest star in that role?
Journalist #1: Oh yeah, she tweeted pictures of that, I think.
Yeah, we both have, I think. I worked with her on a movie called Save the Date a while ago. We were in an oddly similar circumstance [to our NTSF characters]. We were supposed to get married in the movie and then, in the end, we’re in love but it’s not right.
Journalist #2: I wanted to ask you what it was like to do a Party Down crossover on Childrens Hospital and maybe if doing a crossover with the cast on this show would ever be a possibility.
Legally, it’s not a Party Down crossover. It just so happens that a lot of the people that were on Party Down happened to be on Childrens Hospital in very similar attire. Yeah, I’ve pushed that. I’ve pushed the idea that we have some people back and maybe just the people who couldn’t make it on that day because we couldn’t get everybody that day.
Journalist #2: Obviously, for lack of a better term, that crossover fit with Childrens Hospital. Would that fit with this show, do you think?
I think so… We all loved working on Party Down so much that any way that we can kind of broaden that spectrum of people being aware of this. Like I’m sure if we had the opportunity and could do it legally, we would do cameos on every show because it’s fun for us as a group to be together… It’s such a great group of people that we all kind of elevate things. It felt like that was the environment on-set every day of Party Down. Everyone was pushing for each other to be the best that they could be and coming up with ideas and things that weren’t selfish.
You know, coming up with jokes for other people … people are so competitive that that’s a rarity, unfortunately. So, for us to go and do that on every show – to like be those similar characters on every show – would be really cool for us just to be around each other but to also kind of promote the potential and possibility of doing a movie or whatever potential that there can be to bring back the show or to—
Journalist #2: Well, I wanted to ask you about that because obviously, there’s a groundswell of fan support for Party Down. Fans love Party Down. Similar to Arrested Development.
Journalist #1: Or Freaks and Geeks, for that matter.
Journalist #2: Or any of the shows. Could you see something like that, something that they’re doing with Arrested – that fan groundswell has now [given way] to a miniseries or a film. Do you think that that could ever happen for Party Down?
Absolutely. I absolutely think so.
Journalist #2: Has there been some talk amongst the—
Yeah, we all would love to do it. All the talk is speculative until we sign contracts. Until Jon has a script to the people who can finance and they send offers out to everyone to do it and we start working out dates, I can’t say definitively that it’s happening. But we all want it to happen so badly and everybody is pushing for it. At least every couple months, there’s an email that goes out from one of us that’s like “Jon, when is this happening? How fast can we make it—“
Journalist #3: I’m sort of curious, which cancellation was easier to deal with, that or Freaks and Geeks?
I don’t know.
Journalist #3: ‘Cause it seems like with Party Down, you’ve shown up on Parks and Rec. You guys end up working together a lot.
We’re all such good friends.
Journalist #3: And a lot of the Freaks and Geeks guys. It seems like you’re the only one of the male leads who hasn’t written a script yet.
Well, I’ve been working as a writer – more officially now – but I’ve been working on ideas for a little while that—I don’t know. I don’t know what’s stopping me from going out with one of them. But I did sell a show to ABC this past year, and the year before that, Eugene Levy and I sold a show to CBS. So, I’ve been pushing towards having more control over the things I’m a part of and running a set that has the same vibe that I love.
Me: Are you gonna be involved in Seth Rogen’s apocalypse movie?
Um, I can’t say definitively at the moment, but I would like to be and they would like me to be.
Journalist #2: Having the sense of camaraderie that you guys have on this set, how does that translate onscreen, especially in a comedy?
[At this point, a bird flew into the room through the open door and was puttering around.]
Wait, say that again.
Journalist #2: Just having this camaraderie with the cast that you have here. How do you think that positively translates to the onscreen product, especially in the sense of comedy?
Is that a spider? No. I’m sorry.
Journalist #1: There’s a bird over there.
Yeah, I noticed that guy coming in. He’s real curious about what’s going on in here.
Um, absolutely, it translates. Us being such a good group of friends on Party Down pushed us to want to be around each other and make everything better. When you’re working on a set where you don’t enjoy being around those people, you might be a little more eager to leave as soon as you can and less interested in giving as much input as you can to make it as good as you want it to be. It just promotes growth and creativity.
Journalist #2: In the episode where Kove and Sam—
Good. The bird made it out. Sorry.
Journalist #2: There was an episode where Kove and Sam get it on…
What are you talking about?
Journalist #2: From season one, right?
Journalist #2: [Laughter] So, her catchphrase-worthy line “You were good, but I was better.” We’ve seen how you guys do a lot of alternate takes. Was that one of the first takes or was that just one of many things Kove could have said after the event?
I don’t remember. I don’t remember. I mean, we shoot so fast. It wasn’t that memorable.
Me: Do you ever give the writers ideas for where you want your character to go?
Yeah, this was my idea [pointing to a zany hip hop outfit he was wearing for the shoot]. The hip hop thing. I think it’s so funny how drastic every one of those shows makes their character of the IT person. Between last year and this year, I ended up on Hawaii Five-O as the IT guy, and the way they brought me in was like, “You would potentially be on this show. You would potentially be the IT guy.” And I think someone else who was already a regular cast member ended up taking that role. I would have been the Rastafarian IT guy, like this white dude who also sells drugs. It was just this crazy kind of hippie guy who lived in the woods. It was so weird.
Journalist #2: This was on the real Hawaii Five-O?
This was the second episode of Hawaii Five-O. I noticed how out there they make these characters. We were just playing with the idea of– they have an emo and a Rastafarian. They want these extremes. Some crazy hip hop guy.
Journalist #1: Obviously, you played the IT guy in The Incredible Hulk. Is this a character you’ve grown tired of?
I’ve never really done it in depth, I don’t feel like… On The Hulk, I knew Ed [Norton] and he asked me to come and do it, and he was trying to get a bunch of the other guys in our group to do it and they were not available. Not that particular role, but just like different roles in the movie, to come and hang out ‘cause we’ve all been friends with [Ed Norton’s fiancée, producer] Shauna [Robertson] for a while. And this [NTSF], Paul and I were friends and he was just like, “Would this interest you if we got the opportunity to do this?” I was like, “Yeah, it’d be fun to work together.” It’s always just been under the right circumstances. It’d be another thing to audition for one of these roles… because then I might be a little pickier about what specifically it is. Life is short. I want to enjoy every second of it, so that’s what kind of prevails always for me.
Journalist #1: So, your philosophy is to make TV shows and movies with friends, basically?
With people that I love and/or respect.
Bradford Evans is a writer living in Los Angeles.
The second season of NTSF:SD:SUV:: premieres Thursday night at 12:15am (technically Friday morning). Check it out!