Rob Corddry and Erinn Hayes talk about ending the Emmy-winning Childrens Hospital and how the Emmys kick Oscars’ ass.
This past April, Rob Corddry and Erinn Hayes hung up their scrubs and scrubbed off the clown makeup when Adult Swim’s Childrens Hospital aired its final episode after seven seasons.
The show was ahead of its time, starting out as a web parody of medical dramas, before becoming Adult Swim’s late-night comedy treat. Like any medical drama, the cast included a revolving door of the best comedic (and sometimes dramatic) actors working in the business, including Rob Huebel, Paul Scheer, and even a certain Mad Men actor.
I talked with Corddry and Hayes about this final season, the show’s Emmy history, how long it took to apply Blake’s makeup, and whether the show’s one-time muse Grey’s Anatomy will ever end.
AwardsDaily TV: How did the decision to end Childrens Hospital come about? Was the cast surprised when they got the news?
Erinn Hayes: It was a hard decision for me. (Laughs.) We were surprised.
Rob Corddry: (Laughs.) Everybody was surprised, except for me because I hadn’t talked too much about my growing feelings about the show and about how and when and why would it ever end. It was something I’d been thinking about for a long time. Like a lot of big realizations, for me, it hit me like a lightning bolt, and then there was no turning back after that. Everyone really liked doing the show, and they were left in the wake of that. I did feel really bad about that.
EH: It was very surprising because this last season that we did, season 7, was so much fun to do, and everyone was pretty relaxed and the scripts were for the most part done, so there was no last-minute stress. Except for the last one, which you were writing up to the minute. I think we all just kind of assumed, “That was so great! We’re gonna do another one!” But then when Rob told me and told all of us, it did make sense. There is something about going out on top, and have something you’re really proud of and feel good about.
RC: That was really important to me. The show is the first thing I’ve made that got on TV and I really feel connected to it like it’s my baby. I felt like it was respectful to the show in general to go out on that note.
ADTV: Childrens Hospital was the second show ever to win for the Emmy for Outstanding Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program (the first being The Daily Show).
EH: Wait, The Daily Show won one before that?
RC: Yeah, for like a web thing. People were like, “What’s this category? Oh, The Daily Show’s in it? I’ll just check that box.” (Laughs.)
ADTV: Childrens Hospital was the only real non-web series show in the category. Well, even though it started out as a web series. But it was nominated and won for being on Adult Swim.
EH: There’s always been the halftime show at the Super Bowl. And web companion pieces, like The Office. It’s such a hodgepodge.
RC: I do think our edge was not only were we a good TV show, but this was our show.
EH: Compared to some of them, we were a very produced television show.
RC: Even when we were on the web the first season, that was the most important thing: It has to look like a television show. Everybody’s gotta play it straight, including the camera.
ADTV: One of my favorite episodes is the live episode (“The Sultan’s Finger” – Season 2, Episode 12). Actually, that probably is my favorite episode. (Laughs.)
RC: That’s a good one.
ADTV: To this day, I will watch clips and just laugh when the camera falls over.
EH: When Matt Walsh comes on and has a terrified look on his face and Huebel is vamping. “And then you’d say something. And then I guess you’d say something like this.” That all was so much fun to do because all of us are used to working in movies and in TV and you rehearse a little bit, but you rehearse each scene as it comes in your day, not necessarily from point A to point B. We came in for a full day of rehearsal and were giddy to do it. Lake [Bell] was hilarious because she comes on at the very end, and she was so nervous she was going to come in and fuck it all up and send us back to that one long take.
RC: She had one of my favorite lines. Actually, your exchange with her. It clearly defined our tone of the show, and it was: “Long story short, I didn’t die.”
EH: That was also our first Jon Hamm episode, right?
RC: Ohh, yeah.
EH: And you got a lot of giddy ladies on the set.
RC: Oh my god. (Laughs.)
ADTV: Did you guys ever imagine that your show would have such a cultural impact? That it would be the second show to win an Emmy for this format?
RC: (Beat.) No. (Laughs.)
EH: (Beat.) No.
ADTV: (Laughs.) I guess it sounds stupid now that I say it out loud!
EH: No, it’s not because I do think people go into making television thinking, “It should be incredible, guys.” But this is a show on the web about people wiping boogers on kids. We didn’t do it thinking, “awards bait.”
RC: (Laughs.) It was like summer camp.
ADTV: Speaking of Emmys, the Academy has significantly expanded its short form categories this year to include acting. Why do you think the Academy is suddenly taking this genre more seriously?
RC: You would expect showbiz in general to be behind the zeitgeist a little bit, but the Academy is aware of all these changes happening in television and they are adjusting accordingly. Like, right on time. There’s no delay. There’s no resistance to it, like you’d assume there would be.
EH: I think it’s awesome, too, because having been on set with all of these people for seven years, like, give Rob an Emmy, give [Rob] Huebel, give [Ken] Marino, give Megan [Mullally]. I’ve had the chance, we’ve all had the chance, to work with such wonderfully talented people, and good work is good work, just because you’re not on a network television show doesn’t mean that the work isn’t as good.
RC:It’s cool that the Academy itself understands that. I think it’s really great.
ADTV: People are always talking about how the Oscars are a little behind, but I think TV and the Emmys are way ahead.
EH: Way ahead. Especially after reading all of the casting notices this year for pilots. TV can address the issues in a quicker way.
RC: They’re literally calling it the Golden Age of Television. Television itself has surpassed movies as people’s prime source of entertainment. I feel like the Oscars used to be dating the Homecoming Queen, but now the Emmys kicked the Oscars’ ass and are dating the Homecoming Queen.
ADTV: (Laughs) I love that analogy.
EH: Rob, do you think they’re going to get it on?
RC: Oh, yeah. And the Oscars? That dude is racist.
EH: That old white dude.
ADTV: Erinn, you mentioned there was so much talent on the show, and that’s always something that’s blown my mind, how many great actors are on Childrens Hospital. Was it hard getting everyone together to film? Because you guys had other things going on, too?
EH: That seemed like probably the trickiest thing.
RC: It was a puzzle that we were trying to solve every year. We found a couple of small solutions, but still it was very rare that an episode would include the entire cast. There’s also ways around it. I knew I would be there every day on set, so I would write myself into the script. Or I would not write myself into as many scripts because we could always plug Blake in if somebody couldn’t make it.
EH: I think Lola was on the receiving end of a lot of good stuff in the last season because I was 100 percent available that summer.
RC: You are my Swiss army knife. Erinn Hayes can do anything.
EH: That’s very sweet. I’m also a lovefest of the Rob Corddry talent. You didn’t write yourself in enough this season.
RC: I don’t care. It’s the one thing I hate acting in because I have so many other things to do.
EH: I think you also discovered you’re never going to be an official drag queen. You can’t do the makeup.
ADTV: How long did it take to do the makeup?
RC: Well, we got it down to a science. Heather [our makeup stylist] has been doing it since day one of the web series. The only thing that’s tripped her up is the eyebrows. They’re very hard to get even. Everything else, she could do with her eyes closed, and it takes about 20 minutes.
EH: It’s not even about getting the makeup on. Guys aren’t used to having makeup sit on their face.
RC: I feel such empathy now for women because I realized that eyelids are the weakest muscles in our body. That’s science, and to put heavy makeup on those, it’s counterproductive.
EH: It’s not strengthening them.
ADTV: You both have worked on so many other projects while portraying Blake and Lola, some more serious, some funny. Were these roles always fun to come back to? Will you miss playing these characters?
EH: For sure. I love Lola. It’s been so fun to play, especially this show because you don’t have these set parameters for who you are and what your character can do. I’ve had the chance to act in an old-fashioned television show, in a stylized ‘70s show, in a caper, a political thriller, in a sitcom. It’s all different every time, and finding the tone of the episode in keeping with the tone of our show is such an incredibly unique acting challenge and experience. I’ll definitely miss it. But I know the door is definitely open in the future. I hope we do take advantage of that.
ADTV: You’re going to be on Kevin James’s new show. That’s so exciting.
EH: I signed on for a very fun, traditional family sitcom. I’m really excited about it. Look forward to starting. We had a great time shooting the pilot and the chemistry is working. The cast is great. We’re not going to be like doing our “Run, Lola, Run” episode with Kevin James. (Laughs.) Having a show where every two days you’re doing something completely different, I’ll miss that.
RC: I won’t miss anything about the character [Blake], who’s a reprehensible person in makeup. But I will definitely miss writing all of the characters. I’m ferociously tweeting jokes these days because it’s scratching an itch for me.
EH: There was a day the other day, where I was looking at Twitter and thought, “Corddry might be losing his mind.”
RC: Yeah. That’s what I was doing. I was sitting in a trailer, literally typing words into Twitter until jokes crystallized.
EH: I almost called to check on you.
RC: I’m not even kidding. That’s how I’m doing it. “Boats.” Let’s see if this turns into a joke. My draft folder is like a manifesto of horrible jokes.
ADTV: Do you think there’d ever be a Childrens Hospital movie, maybe? A reunion show?
RC: I’m less interested in doing a movie than doing a special, like coming back to the characters in a year or so with a funny half-hour idea and we just do a one-off. And then maybe we can serialize that over the course of a few years. It would be kind of fun. I’ve always thought of this sort of company as a rep company and it would be great to take the exact same cast and do a movie about something totally different. Something that would allow us to have the same fun, to have the same range. I don’t know what that would be, but that’s sort of a long-term goal.
EH: I’ll make myself available.
ADTV: Finally, how do you feel that Grey’s Anatomy, for which Childrens Hospital often parodies, is still on the air? And their storylines are about as crazy as the ones on your show. Do you think it will ever end?
EH: It might not ever end. (Laughs.)
RC: Somehow weird dimensions got crossed, and that show did end in one parallel universe, and we’re all happier for it. The second season was when we stopped being a parody of Grey’s Anatomy entirely. And not even Grey’s Anatomy, just hospital shows in general.
EH: I feel like the “Do the Right Thing” episode was a real turning point.
RC: It really was.
EH: It was like, “We can do whatever we want and whatever genre we want, set in this hospital with these people.”
ADTV: Well, no offense to Grey’s Anatomy, but I always preferred your show over Grey’s anyway.
EH: But what about Mere?
ADTV: Erinn, you were on Grey’s Anatomy, right?
EH: I was. I died with blood coming out of my eyes!
RC: Ken Marino was, too, right?
EH: I feel like there were more of us on there.
RC: I think, given the chance, everyone would prefer Childrens Hospital. I mean, come on.