Talking to Derrick Beckles About His New Adult Swim Show, ‘Hot Package’
Adult Swim already has a fake medical drama, a fake public access show, a fake crime procedural, a fake newsmagazine show, a fake self-help infomercial, and a fake talk show, but tonight, they’re adding a new series called Hot Package, a fake entertainment news show in the vein of Entertainment Tonight or Extra. Of course, creator/star Derrick Beckles doesn’t like Hot Package being called a fake show; he prefers to think of it as a real tabloid show just set in a fictional parallel universe.
I recently chatted with Hot Package creator Derrick Beckles, a Canadian-American comedian who created the cult hit compilation series TV Carnage and has served as a writer on The Eric Andre Show and a narrator on Drunk History. Beckles and I discussed getting tabloid news kingpin Pat O’Brien to be a co-host on Hot Package, writing for The Eric Andre Show, and Totally for Teens, his old Adult Swim pilot for a fake teen show that nearly got picked up.
How’d the idea for Hot Package come about?
I used to do this thing called — I still do — this thing called TV Carnage. [Adult Swim creative director Mike] Lazzo liked it a lot, and a lot of people around the network and people who were doing shows enjoyed it a lot. I decided to just build a framework that would allow me to mess around with found footage stuff and celebrate interesting celebrities and people that are very gifted in very special ways [Laughs] in the entertainment industry. So yeah, I figured it’d be funny to do it as an Entertainment Tonight-type show. I mean, we got Pat O’Brien, which is fucking great.
He’s in every episode?
Yeah! I host it and he’s like my co-host and then, this woman, Anastasia Roark, who also works so for like E! News or something like that. They’re like teleprompter pros. I’m just this weirdo who’s in the show. It’s great, though. It’s a lot of fun. I just want to spotlight up-and-coming celebrities and stars that nobody would ever talk about.
Like what types of celebrities?
Perry Caravello from Windy City Heat, he’s in it. There’s this woman Jennifer Day, who’s a singer. Rob Stallon who’s like a porn director. Gregg Valentino, who’s in this documentary called The Man Whose Arms Exploded. And then, Jeff Deane Turner is our celebrity gossip columnist, and he’s in a movie called I Think We’re Alone Now. This documentary where he follows Tiffany around. I’m using the world follows instead of the other word [Laughs]. But yeah, it’s just like Entertainment Tonight from a parallel universe. Its fun. It’s funny.
Had you watch a lot of those types of shows prior to this?
Yeah, those shows are insane. They have their own language, and they have this super frenetic pacing. It don’t allow you ever to think about what you’ve just seen. They’re constantly hard-selling you, so I love that. I love how fast those goes, and the more you study them, the more you realize how insane they are. They’re pretty psychotic.
Did you have to watch a lot of them to research this?
Yeah, but I mean, those shows are like the ultimate kind of junk food for me. I remember once, they were doing a whole story on Tom Cruise’s daughter. She was three at the time, but they were talking about what shoes she bought that day. I was like, ‘That’s pretty fucking awesome. You’re covering a story about a baby buying fucking shoes.” But I didn’t want to make a show that made fun of those shows because they’re already so self-parodying. I’m really excited about the show because it’s a really unique experience
It just takes place within that world?
Yeah, it’s a total parallel universe. We just treat everybody in the show as if they’re stars. You know, the way Entertainment Tonight would treat Brad Pitt or somebody. These people who you’ve never heard of, we just kind of force them on you. It’s pretty amazing.
What was the process of getting Pat O’Brien to do the show?
He did the pilot. He was amazing in the pilot, and when I brought the show over to Abso Lutely, we were in the writers’ room and we were just like, “We have to get Pat back”. He was totally into it. I’m not sure if he knows how insane the show is. [Laughs] He’s like the James Brown of entertainment news. He’s the guy, so we were super excited to we got him.
Yeah, it’s interesting to see him making fun of that type of show. He gets it and stuff?
Yeah, he gets it. He’s well known for a lot of different reasons. [Laughs] I don’t know if you’ve ever delved into it, but yeah.
[Laughs] He’s known for a lot of different reasons.
I can Wikipedia it, I guess.
It’s so vague. My mind is just running wild.
I’m not sure I should actually be going into it. That’s why I’m just like, “Yeah, you should check it out.”
I’ll check it out. The whole rest of this interview, that’s all I’m going to be thinking about.
So, who’s on your writing staff for Hot Package?
It was myself, Tim [Heidecker], Eric [Wareheim], Douggpound. He came in for a bit. Derek Waters, Tommy Blacha. Michael Cera was in for a bit, and Curtis Gwinn. Those are the main people.
What’s the process of assembling the scripts for the show?
Its weird because one of the stars of the show was the found footage stuff, and I treat that stuff like, in this universe, these are the movies that everyone goes to see. And we have ridiculous countdowns and shit like that. It was interesting writing around the footage, and a lot of the writing happens in the editing process too. I cut the shows, pretty much. It’s like, we write to the clips and every show has a weird arc, as much as it can. It’s like entertainment news. You can’t really give that shit an arc at all, right? So, something basically fucks up in every show. We write to that and then, we write around the clips as much as we can. And then when I’m cutting the stuff, the clips kind of tell me what they want to do, as well. It’s a really unique process. It’s not like any other show I’ve written on. I was writing on Eric [Andre]’s show, and that’s a really amazing show to write on too but just a totally different process.
Did you write for both seasons of The Eric Andre Show?
Yeah, I wrote on the first season, and second season, I’ve just been hanging around because I was doing my show a the same time. Whenever I can lend anything, I do. I love it. He’s got a great show. I’m excited [for Hot Package] to be paired with him. I think those two shows are like — it’s kind of like Adult Swim’s lost their mind and they have a talk show and an Entertainment Tonight-type show back to back. It’s kind of amazing.
Eric mentioned when I interviewed him that you gave him fireworks that he ended up setting off as a surprise when he was on The Jeselnik Offensive.
Yeah. [Laughs] Then, I turned on The Jeselnik Offensive, and I saw Eric lighting the fireworks and I was like, “Oh, there. That’s exactly what they’re meant for. Perfect.” Then, it turned into The Jeselnik Defensive because he [Anthony Jeselnik] got really defensive about the whole thing and he was like going, “I didn’t tell him to do that.” It was pretty fucking amazing. He was freaking out. Did you see that?
Yeah, I saw a clip of it on YouTube.
There’s a point right after — I guess the fucking producer came up or something. “I didn’t tell him to do that!” [Laughs] So good!
It seems like you have kind of the same anarchic sensibility as Eric does?
Yeah, we have a lot in common that way. We’ve known each other for a few years. We’re very similar in those ways. A lot of the same shit makes us laugh. Just making things come out of left field, I think both shows do really well. It’s pure anarchy. I love it. Adult Swim is such a good place to be for that, obviously. It’s such a great opportunity to make a show there. The speed that we’re moving with these shows is pretty fucking crazy.
And this is the second show you’ve created for Adult Swim, right?
Yeah, I did a show called Totally for Teens, which was received well but it never went to series. It was a weird thing.
It ended up airing though, right?
Yeah, it ended up airing. I did it with Vernon Chatman, who’s one of the main dudes on South Park and he writes on Louie now, shit like that. I did it with Vernon and this guy Ari Fishman. We got like 60 kids, and they had no fuckin’ idea that it was a fake teen show. I’m really fond of playing these douchey hosts, so it was great to be the teen host and be the worst moral compass possible for these kids. And the same thing with Hot Package. Just pretending I care is one of my favorite things to do. Totally for Teens was great. I’m hoping we do it again some day.
As a series?
Yeah, as a series. It keeps coming up in conversation, so I’m hoping it’ll happen.
But it came close to getting picked up?
Yeah, it was just a weird thing. Basically, we’ve been talking about making the show happen ever since. I’d love to. I think it would be a really funny, good show.
For the pilot, did you have to deal with the parents of the teen actors?
Yeah, it was really weird because there was a scene where we had cream spurting out of pickles, but the parents just were laughing. They were totally into. I think they were just equally as confused too. We built like a massive set. The Internet Pit is one of the stores, and then there’s a place called Blades for roller blades. There’s The Pizza Shack. Then, tucked away in the corner was an abortion clinic. It was just really great to see these kids on set. They were sitting in bleachers. It was like small town USA. There’s like an abortion clinic on the corner, there’s a place called The Internet Pit next to it. It was ridiculous. But their parents just came in, looked at everything, and went upstairs and all hung out.
They assumed it was a real teen show too?
Yeah. It was great.
Do you ever get people on Hot Package who think it’s a real show?
I mean, to me, it’s a real show.
I mean, the type of show it’s emulating.
Yeah, they come on the show, and we treat everybody as they should be. They’re all wonderful celebrities. Everybody that’s on the show is real. Everybody we refer to, any names that you hear on the show, these are all real people. It’s pretty awesome to live in that universe and create our own stars. And I want it. I want to make these people into the most insane kind of — I want to make stars out of these…
Just parallel universe celebrities.
Yeah, totally. Just create a parallel universe and see if we can get some parallel universe fans going. I’m sure we can. Yeah, they’re totally into it. It’s a great opportunity to showcase their wonderful talents.
Do you have any other projects coming up?
Yeah, I’m doing a couple things for JASH. I’m gonna do a thing for Brett Gelman. This cult thing that we’re doing right now, which is gonna be fun. Hopefully, keep going with Hot Package. But yeah, there’s a bunch of stuff I’m still writing and working on.
Hot Package premieres tonight at 12:45am after The Eric Andre Show.