Since premiering in 2011, Workaholics has picked up more and more steam as one of today's most smartly written shows starring some of TV's dumbest characters. Beyond the writing though, the secret ingredient to Workaholics is the real-life friendship between creators/writers/directors/producers Adam DeVine, Anders Holm, and Blake Anderson – a chemistry that earned them a double-season renewal last year. Ahead of tonight's Season 4 premiere, we talked with the Workaholics gang about how their show has evolved, how they come up with fresh ideas, and their extended thoughts on Justin Bieber.
Was the new season any more difficult to produce now that you have other things going with movies and other TV and acting projects?
Adam DeVine: I mean, I think so. We work the best when all of us are in the room, and I think we all have a hard time letting other people write our show for us, like build the stories for us. It works the best when we’re in the room together, and this season was a little more difficult, but we were able to make it work. We put in some extra hours and when we were able to work together, we tried to make the best of it. We played less ping pong.
Anders Holm: We’re control freaks, essentially.
Adam: We’re total maniacs.
Do you have any new writers who helped out this season?
Adam: Dominic Dierkes, Scotty Landes, who I wrote [Adam DeVine's] House Party with was one of our new writers that wrote a really funny episode for us where we get trapped in a brewery at night. And that was a really fun episode to shoot. I mean, we break all the stories together. We gangbang our stories. Porno is very similar to comedy in that respect.
Any surprises this season? Any new characters?
Adam: We lost Jet Set a while ago, in Season 3. Jet Set passed away, and he was such a huge part of our office and a part of Workaholics and we really utilized him a lot because he’s so funny. It took us a little bit to plant some people that we think, not necessarily fill his really shiny awesome alligator shoes, but we have some really funny office people that we’re sort of testing out.
Blake Anderson: We tried to get Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber but the schedules did not align for us, so maybe next season.
Adam: They were pretty amped on doing it, but like Blake said, turns out they’re world famous and sometimes have to go to Brazil to perform concerts.
You guys ever have any run-ins with Bieber?
Adam: Never met the guy, actually. I would like to go egg and toilet paper neighbors’ houses with him.
Ders: Yeah, maybe go spit on people.
Adam: He seems rad, right up our alley. I love that he lives in a neighborhood that all the houses are like six million dollars, and he just acts like a 19- year-old kid and goes egging. And people are like “How dare he?” He’s 19, what do you mean, that’s like the stuff you do when you’re his age. People are like “He’s a maniac!”. No, he’s not like throwing eight-balls of cocaine at preschools; he’s throwing eggs at homes that he lives near. Although, $25,000 worth of damage? I want to know, does he hard boil these eggs before he throws? What happened with these eggs that they’re so potent?
Ders: They were ostrich eggs.
Adam: They’re all dinosaur. That’s how rich Bieber is, he has giant dinosaur eggs that he was able to find and then destroy on his neighbor’s home.
Do you feel like you’ve hit your stride in any sort of way with the show, now that you’ve got three seasons under your belt? In terms of writing stories, coming up with ideas for plots, acting, etc.?
Ders: Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that this season will finally be recognized as the funniest show ever on television. It’s what we’ve been fighting for for a long time.
Adam: We’re the Brooklyn Nine-Nine of cable TV. Yeah, I think it is getting a little tougher. We’ve done, what, 53 episodes now, and so writing those episodes was kind of like 'Oh we’ve done a story similar to that.' I pitched earlier with total conviction “What if we did, like, an episode where we took hostages hostage?” and everybody just looked at me like “Are you kidding? We did that episode. We did that exact episode.” I’m like, “Oh yeah, we did.” But also I feel like we’re getting better at, when we do come up with the story idea, we’ve done it so many times now that we’re able to flesh it out more efficiently than we used to. To make it more of a funny answer, also add that I was farting the entire time.
Ders: That makes it funny.
Adam: Add that I had a high-pitched fart going the entire time.
That’ll go in parentheses. Are you guys ever conscious of, or worried about making sure the show doesn’t get stale. Is there pressure there? Obviously, the more seasons you do, the tougher it becomes to come up with new ideas and funny plots. What do you do to make sure it doesn’t run its course?
Blake: I mean, if you didn’t think our show was stale after the third episode then it’s pretty good to go from now on. It kinda just remains on that same heartbeat of what that show is. It’s just drunken fools running around getting into adventures.
Ders: Like, croutons are stale bread. So if anything we’re turning into croutons, which are delicious.
Adam: If it’s too familiar to us, I think we all just naturally sort of shy away from it. Like, “Oh ,I saw that on Mad About You.” We can’t do something like that. It’s just like the normal “guy meets a girl” and the friends don’t like her because for whatever reason. Then we have to add something, like a crazy reason that they wouldn’t like her. Like diarrhea. And she’s farting all the time. Sorry, now we’re just pitching stories to each other.
Blake: We’ve got to go write the next season.
Adam: Yeah way funnier, because she farts all the time.
Adam: I don’t know. It’s a work in progress, it’s a work in progress.
Blake: I like that.
Ders: Which was based on a true story about Ben Franklin’s first wife.
Adam: Ders was a history major, so he’s always explaining history to us.
Ders: Welcome to the writer’s room.
I can only hope that will be an episode next year.
Adam: If we do 20 more seasons, it’s 100% going to be in there. And it’s a funny thing that Ders is always dropping history knowledge on us, and Blake and I just totally believe every second of it.
Ders: I’m like, "Before the Ottoman Empire, people’s legs didn’t touch the ground."
To get four seasons of a show today is impressive, so what in your minds do you feel makes your show a hit? If you were a critic, what would you guys like about your show?
Ders: It’s positive. We’re having fun. It’s like at the end of the episode, everything’s pretty much going to be okay. It’s not a dark show. I think that people would rather tune in for years on end to watch happy people than pissed off people.
Adam: There’s a mainstay in comedy where people are either depressed or horribly mean to each other, and we talked about that when we were writing the first season. We made the conscious effort that we’re not going to write that show. We’re going to write guys who get weird and have fun. I do think the chemistry helps, and people can tell that we’re actually having fun while shooting the show and that we’re best friends and we hang out all the time. I think that works a little bit.
I know you guys met in college when you started doing Mail Order Comedy, but in comedy, you meet a lot of people and you have to decide who’s funny and who you want to work with. What about your three personalities drew you to one another? How did you guys decide to work together?
Adam: Dick size. It’s a dick size thing. Seeing each others’ dicks. We all have the exact same size dicks, four-and-a-half inches fully erect. So, yeah, that’s hard to find.
Blake: On Job Fair Day, Ders just had this booth set up that said, “Can you hang?” And he kinda would just ledger dicks up against his, and if the shoe fits, you wear it. It’s like a Cinderella story.
Ders: And we’ve been docking ever since.
Adam: I think it was we got along, you know? Some people, especially in comedy, some people are either like total egomaniacs or just super self-involved, and some people you just don’t click with, like I don’t want to spend all this time with these people. I thought these guys were super funny, and I saw in Blake and Ders something very similar to me. We all thought the exact same stuff was really, really funny, but they also brought something different to the table that I didn’t bring. Like, I can’t do the same thing Blake can do, and I can’t do the same thing Ders can do. So I really lucked out finding these two.
Ders: I’m giving out charity so that’s why I’m doing it.
Blake: Yeah, yeah, thank you again.
Adam: This is my make-a-wish.
Ders: Of course. They call me Santa Clause.
Adam: I’ll be dead in 70 years, and this is my very, very slow make-a-wish.
How critical is it having someone like Workaholics co-creator and director Kyle Newacheck as the behind-the-scenes guy who knows how to do the shooting and editing. Do you need someone who keeps you on task?
Ders: Completely. We had a leg up on every other sketch group that we were, you know, not competing with, but doing similar stuff at the same time. We had polished material because of Kyle.
Blake: Even as we talk to people in Hollywood who are trying to find a way into the biz, you realize all that some of these people need is somebody really to just point the camera at them and edit the footage. I think it just kind of helped to have Kyle, who is also a really funny dude behind the camera, just sort of as a quarterback of our team.
Adam: We put a lot of work together as a group. Kyle was an amazing filmmaker out of the gate, and we were hilarious actors and writers. We put in a lot of work with the videos, and some of our earlier videos, you can kinda tell we were figuring stuff out. Then you can see in some of our later videos that the production value has really increased.
Ders: Still trying to figure things out. Production value is high, but we’re still trying to figure things out.
Adam: Yeah, Kyle was like “let’s make 80 videos,” so it was a lot of work editing them and directing them. But I think in this business and like any other business really, you have to match up with people who are willing to bend as much as they possible can.
What’s been the most surreal part of becoming famous?
Ders: I’ll just jump in and say giving the commencement speech at University of Wisconsin last year was pretty crazy. Because I was a horrible student, and I love the school, and it was a total honor, but it was just bizarre that people thought I was worthy of that.
Adam: So many things. It’s like, Blake Griffin is a fan, I’m a huge basketball fan and Blake Griffin is one of my favorite players, and we tweet back and forth now. I went to the game on Saturday and was kicking it with him after the game in the locker room. Just stuff like that that like, blows your mind. 10-year-old Adam’s brain would just fucking explode that someday I’d be hanging out with NBA basketball players that jump over Kias.
Blake: I guess reading Entertainment Weekly and seeing that Woody Harrelson watches the show. It’s cool to be on a level where people you respect are paying attention to what you’re doing. For whatever that’s worth, it doesn’t really matter too much, but it is cool to be like, "Whoa, Woody watches the show.” That dude is like a legend in his own right. I don’t know, that’s kinda what’s wild about it, but other than that it’s just cool to be working our dream job I guess. That’s surreal in itself.
Season 4 of Workaholics premieres tonight at 10 on Comedy Central.
Phil Davidson writes about, performs and produces comedy.