The Lost Roles Interview with Ken Marino
This Lost Roles is brought to you by Childrens Hospital, which airs on Adult Swim tonight, and every Thursday, at midnight. Watch it why don’t you?
Lost Roles is a weekly column exploring “what might have been” in movie and TV comedy as we take a different actor, writer, or comedian each week and examine the parts they turned down, wanted but didn’t get, and other projects that never made it to the screen. This week, I interviewed Ken Marino, star of the Adult Swim series Childrens Hospital, the Yahoo! web series Burning Love, and an alumni of The State and Party Down. Marino was nice enough to chat about some of his projects that never made it to your movie or TV screens, including his sketches from The State that were cut or never filmed, a role he didn’t get that led to him walking around in public in a pirate costume, and meeting Aerosmith to film a pre-ride video for their roller coaster.
So do you have any good audition stories?
I’ve done many auditions where I’ve said to people, halfway through it, which I think a lot of people think this but haven’t done it and I started doing it for a little while during my time in L.A. where I would stop in the middle and I’d be like, “We’re done, right? We don’t need to waste anybody’s time. We’re done. You don’t need to see anything else. I feel like I did poorly, and we’re just wasting people’s time at this point. I’d prefer to go, and it looks like you guys aren’t interested at all.” I like doing that in auditions. I was doing that for a while just to make everybody in the room uncomfortable so I wasn’t the only uncomfortable one in the room.
Dodgeball: The Movie
One of the main characters is a guy who thinks he’s a pirate. He’s played by Alan Tudyk. I went to that audition, I was like, ‘You know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna dress like a pirate for this audition,’ which is really stupid. So, I was like, ‘I’m gonna walk into this audition dressed like a pirate, and they’re gonna be so amazed and floored by the fact that I went out and got a really stupid, cheap pirate costume and duct-taped a stuffed parrot to my shoulder that they’re gonna give me the part.’
You know what happened? I didn’t get the part. I was embarrassed, but I thought, ‘Okay, the best thing to do to get over the embarrassment of wearing a pirate costume, I’m gonna walk around in the pirate costume before my audition so I’m comfortable in my pirate costume. I ran into Larry Charles, the guy who directed the Borat movies and he was one of the producers of Eddie’s Father. He was in his nice BMW car, and I was walking down the street in a pirate costume, and he was like, “Ken?” And I said, “Yeah!” And there I was having a conversation with him in a pirate costume in Beverly Hills, trying to prepare myself for an audition for Dodgeball. That was the last time I dressed up for the part because that was really stupid of me and embarrassing.
Lost sketches from The State
Tom [Lennon] and I wrote a skit called “The Lard Factory,” that was this kind of slow, meandering musical about a lard factory where everybody made lard.
Do you remember why that didn’t get filmed?
Oh, probably because it wasn’t funny. [Laughs] But I know that Tom has saved a lot of [sketches]. I was at Tom’s not too long ago, and he pulled out a book of all the unaired, unproduced State sketches from way back, and he had pulled out “The Lard Factory.” Everybody just started throughout [the sketch] singing “The laaaard factory. Laaaard factory.” Other than that, I don’t think anything happened.
There was also a sketch that, way back when we were doing The State, that I wouldn’t give up on but that we never did. It was called “Señor No Exaggeration,” which also had a song. It was about me in a sombrero… I’m trying to remember the sketch. This is what, like 70 years ago? There was a song that went with that too. The skit was, I stood at the end of a long pier, and people would come by and they would be like, “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse” and Señor No Exaggeration would believe it and not understand that the people were exaggerating. He would freak out, and that was the sketch.
And I really thought that that was important to put on TV. With hindsight now being 20/20, I realized that it didn’t need to be put on TV.
It just got shot down by everyone else in the group?
I would bring “Señor No Exaggeration” into the writers’ room, I would say — and this is no exaggeration — 6 or 7 times, 8 times, and keep bringing back different versions of it, hoping that it would go. Another one that I would bring in would be “Coach Gunner.” We actually shot a version of it and it wasn’t funny, and I was like, “Well, we should shoot it again.” It was about a very aggressive high school coach who would make fun of his students and say, “Jimmy squats to pee.” “Jimmy squats to pee” was his big thing, and I thought that was really funny. Again, didn’t need to be on television.
Out of Bounds (a 2006 pilot that Ken Marino co-created for Comedy Central that starred himself and Joe Lo Truglio as the hosts of a Long Island sports radio show)
Out of Bounds was never shot. The story on that is we wrote what I thought was a very funny Comedy Central pilot, and then they wanted a very different type of show. And I believe we walked away and said, “Ah, forget it then.” We didn’t want to do that show… But what we wrote was very funny, and I hope at some point we get to shoot it.
Eddie’s Father (a 2004 pilot for the WB)
Eddie’s Father was a remake of [the late 60s/early 70s sitcom] The Courtship of Eddie’s Father. It was a hybrid of a single-camera show and a four-camera show. It was actually quite sweet. It was a family comedy. It was nice. A little trivia: the kid who played my son was an eleven-year-old Josh Hutcherson. You know who he is?
Yeah, from The Kids Are All Right and Hunger Games.
The guy from Hunger Games! He’s a huge movie star now. He was delightful. He was an adorable little kid. We shot it and that didn’t get picked up.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
I read on your IMDb that you were in a pre-ride video for an Aerosmith rollercoaster at Disney theme parks.
I was, and I still am. Until that roller coaster is no longer in working condition, I will continue to be in an Aerosmith pre-video show before you get on the actual roller coaster. I am the non-speaking part. It’s Aerosmith, myself, and Illeana Douglas as Aerosmith’s manager. I just sit there in a lighting board, and I just look like I’m mixing stuff. Then, they stand behind me, and they start talking about, “We’ve gotta make this roller coaster the coolest roller coaster thing possible.” I’ve never seen it, but this is what I recall. And then, Illeana Douglas says, “That’s great, guys, but you’ve got a concert to do.” She leads them in a limo all the way behind me, and I sit there at the sound board and continue to mix the sound for the people who are getting on the roller coaster. I got paid $5,000 to do that.
I remember Steven Tyler started talking to me about flossing and brushing. That’s my fondest memory of that day. Steven Tyler, who has quite frankly some of the best choppers out there. He’s got fabulous teeth, there’s no denying it. The guy’s got terrific teeth, right?
You’re not gonna debate me on that, right? You appreciate his teeth as much as I appreciate his teeth, right?
I appreciate his teeth more than I appreciate his music.
Okay. Listen, that’s for you and Steven Tyler to get into. I think he’s got some classic hits. There’s no denying that. I don’t listen to every Aerosmith album, but I think that he has made his mark in rock and roll history. He certainly would be in the rock and roll hall of fame, but what he definitely should be in outside of the rock and roll half of fame is the perfect teeth hall of fame, if there is such a thing. He has fabulous teeth. They’re white, they’re perfectly-aligned. He talked to me about the importance of flossing and brushing your teeth, and that is my fondest memory of working on the pre-film to the Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster.
Bradford Evans is a writer living in Los Angeles.