Michael Koman is the co-creator of two of the best comedies on TV — Nathan For You and Eagleheart — and he's about to add a third to his roster. Koman is gearing up for production on an yet-to-be-titled Adult Swim sitcom that pairs Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and Jack McBrayer, which Koman co-created with Robert Smigel and David Feldman. After spending seven years on the writing staff of Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Koman left the late night world, and he's since become some sort of anti-Chuck Lorre, responsible for multiple TV shows that are some of the most original and funny things currently happening on TV. Nathan For You, the critically-acclaimed Comedy Central series that Koman co-created with its star Nathan Fielder, is currently in the midst of its second season. The show's "Dumb Starbucks" episode — in which they turned a coffee shop into a Starbucks ripoff called "Dumb Starbucks" to test the limits of parody law and attracted a ton of unexpected media attention in the process — is set to air tonight.
I recently interviewed Koman about struggling to hide his laughter during a surprising moment with a gas station owner on Nathan For You, a mysterious international episode that Comedy Central deemed too expensive, and whether or not there will be a follow-up to Eagleheart's excellent third season.
Is it difficult not laughing on set while shooting Nathan For You?
Oh yeah. It’s really important that the crew is not laughing while we’re making the show. When something like that happens, I’m not on camera, so I can go outside. But you do get good at it. Weirdly, it’s like method acting where I’ll just think about something sad while we’re shooting.
That’s the main way you deal with it? Thinking of sad stuff?
I tell myself “This isn’t funny.” I’m just watching a serious conversation, and I try not to imagine that there’s anything comical about what’s happening. Usually, if you really can’t stop yourself from laughing, it ends up being good on the show. In the gas station episode, when the owner talked about drinking his grandson’s pee, I had lost all control. I was behind racks of candy in this gas station. I was shuddering. It was really, really powerful.
But that was something where it seemed funny in the moment and as soon as it was over, it felt like that would never be part of the show. It was just too insane. It was so out of nowhere. Once we were editing, we realized how incredible it was. Because the people the night before were all talking about how comfortable they would be drinking urine. We thought to mention it to the gas station owner because maybe he would just have a small funny reaction that would be good near the ending. It was just the most amazing thing, that you meet what seem like the only three people on earth who will openly talk about drinking urine and you mention it to a fourth person and he would react that way. I still can’t believe it happened. READ MORE