Julie Klausner dishes on wearing multiple hats, her relationship with Andrea Martin, and the moment she heard Kevin Spacey was hosting Sunday’s Tony Awards.
Julie Klausner is an underrated voice in today’s television landscape. Hulu’s Difficult People is one of the most critically acclaimed comedies in the last two years (yours truly named it the top show of 2015), and Klausner should have boatloads of Emmy® Awards by now. Not only is she a prominent face of the show, but she wrote every episode in both seasons (writer Scott King shares a co-writer credit on a handful with Klausner). Her chemistry with Billy Eichner’s Billy solidified them as the most cutting duo on television.
Klausner’s work on Difficult People is biting, vicious, and worthy of Emmy recognition.
I have to start with an incredibly professional and relevant question Who would win in a cage match: Will and Grace or Julie and Billy?
Physically, I think Julie and Billy are a lot scrappier. But Will and Grace probably have much better trainers than we do, so I’m tempted to say them. If we’re talking about real life, they win many, many times over. The cast members of Difficult People would probably play a little dirty. You know, like tell them we were meeting them one place and then surprise them at another. That kind of thing.
You and Billy Eichner are so funny together. You previously worked with him on Billy on the Street. Was the chemistry there from the very beginning?
It was there from the start. I can write in Billy’s voice. We have very similar senses of humor.
With all the crazy things going on in the world right now, do you think we need comedy more than ever?
Absolutely. We have to survive it. The election took a toll on me and had me thinking about reconciling what I do. What helps is really twofold. One, comedy is a wonderful distraction. Laughing is much better than crying all day, right? And two, Difficult People is a really inclusive show. It’s very diverse. We celebrate people that aren’t always represented on television. We allow LGBTQ people to be as funny and sexual as they are in real life. Difficult People is everything that Mike Pence hates.
One of the funniest additions to the second season was Shakina Nayfack, the 9/11 truther. What the heck did that come from? She’s so great!
I love shaking things up, and Shakina is such a dynamic addition to the show. I wanted to be inclusive, and with Difficult People we can be inclusive in a way that other shows can’t be. When we first came up with introducing a new character to work in the café, Scott suggested that she be transgender and my idea was that she be a truther. I wanted her to be as much of a jerk and as obnoxious as everyone else on the show. Truthers are ridiculous, and it goes way beyond 9/11. Writing for Lola became a little bit of a challenge, but in a way, she’s sort of the voice of reason sometimes.
You have a hand in everything on Difficult People. You write almost all the episodes yourself, you are one of the co-leads, and you also produce. How do you juggle everything on a day-to-day basis?
Klonopin. Klonopin. And Klonopin. I have a great support system who support me in different ways. I have awesome people who help me take things off my plate. Scott King is great. When I’m not on set, he’s always my eyes and ears and helps things run smoothly.
One of my favorite relationships on the show is between Julie and her mother, played by Andrea Martin.
She is! What’s it like playing her daughter?
A complete dream. Andrea is thoughtful when it comes to both acting and comedy. She asks questions about scenes when something doesn’t really feel right and we’ll work on it together in order to get the scene. Andrea turns me into a better writer. You have to tread water around her or you’ll drown. She makes a B- scene an A+ scene. Like our own Tinkerbell spreading pixie dust everywhere.
My favorite episode from this last year has to be “Patches.” I really think you deserve not just awards attention for writing it, but your performance is really genius. Is there a particular episode that you loved this last year?
Well, thank you! The Italian episode in Season 2 is one that people mention to me most. It came really naturally to me when I wrote it. When writing is easy, it usually means you’re onto something. And, of course, Patches. Scott came up with that when we were talking about Australian actors doing American accents.
Season 2 really featured some amazing guest stars from Lin-Manuel Miranda to Julianne Moore. Is there anyone you’d personally to perform with in the upcoming seasons?
I actually have a reverse casting couch clause in all of the guest actors’ contracts. They sign knowing that I will not sleep with them nor will I ask to sleep with them while they are performing on the show. I have to say that we are in the middle of filming Season 3 right now, and the guest stars will blow your mind. All the people we have on the show add their own unique flavor to Difficult People. It’s really a dream come true to work with these people. I would love to get Cate Blanchett or Glenn Close or Frances McDormand. I’ve heard she’s the ultimate difficult person.
You guys should totally do a reverse Fatal Attraction on Glenn Close. Julie and Billy could become overly obsessed with the real Glenn Close.
Well, if we do that I have to pay you now.
No, it’s my gift to you!
That’s not really how the Writers Guild works.
I have to ask something…
Difficult People has taken some shots at Kevin Spacey, and he’s hosting the Tony Awards this year.
I appreciate your thoughts and prayers at this difficult time. Listen, I think I dropped whatever I was holding when I heard that news. I’m pretty sure I blacked out. We all have to prepare ourselves for the inevitable Bobby Darren medley that will surely take place. Man, I can’t wait for that opening number. It’s going to be like the final scene from Inglourious Basterds. I would be too terrified if they locked the doors while Kevin Spacey is hosting the Tony’s.
Difficult People Seasons 1 and 2 stream on Hulu. Season 3 returns in August. The Tony Awards air Sunday night on CBS.