Before 'Jersey Shore' Owned Sleaze, There Was Bobby Bottleservice
Kroll Show, a sketch comedy series from the mind of Nick Kroll, came back this month for a second season on Comedy Central.
Kroll is an expert in over-confident idiot characters — not far off from some of the people you see on reality TV.
He's also known for his role as Ruxin on the FX show The League. Kroll thought the character was going to be "one of the most unlikeable guys ever to be on television," but the character is also funny. Kroll tells NPR's Arun Rath that he's also always wanted his own show, and that helps keep him from being pigeon-holed.
"Being able to play a bunch of different characters has given me a break from just playing this one kind of guy. And I'm very lucky that I get to do that," he says.
On portraying a variety of characters
It's incredibly gratifying to be able to play a wide spectrum of characters, but ones that you can always come back to and learn more about. Like your friends — you have some friends who you hate, and then you're like, "Oh, but they have a terrible mother." ... And I feel that same way about all my characters. You know, you try to find the humanity even in the most mean-spirited people.
On the Wheels Ontario segment, a parody of teen TV drama Degrassi
The idea is that I'm new at a school and everyone at the school's in a wheelchair except for me. ... Part of that is based on the fact that Drake — the recording artist, Drake — got his start as a kid in a wheelchair on Degrassi. It's hard to explain. It's like the drama on Degrassi and translated into Wheels Ontario is ... super high stakes, but the acting and performances — like Canada — are pretty bland. ... Pregnancy, drug abuse, attempted murder, statutory rape, all these things that are hugely important are played with very low-end emotion.
On recurring character Bobby Bottleservice
Bobby Bottleservice started as a character that I did as a way to talk to girls ... He really loves to hit on women, and a lot of women have experienced getting hit on by a guy like Bobby Bottleservice. ...
Soon after I came up with him, Jersey Shore premiered, and it was a very similar kind of guy at that time, a lot of Ed Hardy clothing. And for those of you who don't know what Ed Hardy clothing looks like, it looks like someone splattered rhinestone diarrhea all over a sweatshirt.
ARUN RATH, HOST:
If you're just joining us, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Arun Rath.
If you've been missing Bobby Bottleservice, the gals from Publizity or Too Much Tuna, you can rejoice that comedian Nick Kroll is back with a new season of his sketch show on Comedy Central, "Kroll Show.' If what I just said makes absolutely no sense to you, don't worry. I asked Nick Kroll to start us off by explaining the background of one of those signature creations - the seedy, goateed, wanna-be lady's man named Bobby Bottleservice.
NICK KROLL: Arun, I'm shocked to think that anyone listening to NPR on a Sunday might not know where Bobby Bottleservice came from.
RATH: Just a couple of people.
KROLL: But Bobby Bottleservice started as a character that I did as a way to talk to girls because he was - he really loves to hit on women. And a lot of women have experienced getting hit on by a guy like Bobby Bottleservice.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "KROLL SHOW")
KROLL: (As Bobby Bottleservice) I think of myself as, like, a very cool, very white Jay-Z.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (As character) Yeah, yeah.
KROLL: (As Bobby Bottleservice) I'm straight up looking for Beyonce.
Soon after I came up with him, "Jersey Shore" premiered, and it was a very similar kind of guy, at that time a lot of Ed Hardy clothing. And for those who don't know what Ed Hardy clothing looks like, it looks like someone splattered rhinestone diarrhea all over a sweatshirt.
RATH: You're ahead of the time though, 'cause I'd always assumed that Bobby Bottleservice came after "Jersey Shore."
KROLL: Yeah. No. He came before it. And out of that, we started doing with my friend John Daly, the Ed Hardy Boys, which was Bobby and Peter Paparazzo, and they were solving crimes like the Hardy Boys but always in Ed Hardy clothing.
The fun thing with Bobby is that he changes formats. So in one sketch, it's Ghost Bouncers, like a parody of the "Ghost Hunters" show. Because we watch "Ghost Hunters," and we're like, oh, my God. These guys are real-life Bobby Bottleservice.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "KROLL SHOW")
KROLL: (As Bobby Bottleservice) OK, I'm Bobby Bottleservice, a.k.a. Bobby Bottleservice. I have a great desire to know the un-noble, to see the unseeable, to understand paralegal activity a.k.a. ghosts.
But they're, you know, bouncing ghosts out of a haunted house. And in this season, we find Bobby doing a bunch of different things. They run out of money, Peter and Bobby, and so they have to become very much reluctant gigolos. Their guide and mentor is Peter Gallagher.
RATH: Great cameo from him.
KROLL: A great cameo from Peter Gallagher. And then they meet Jason Mantzoukas who's a rival gigolo, and he invites them to live in his gigolo house.
RATH: After diffusing a tense showdown with a breath mint.
KROLL: Exactly. Breath mints bring everybody together in the gigolo community.
RATH: I want to talk about my favorite recurring segment, which is Wheels Ontario. There's a new installment - great new installment that'll be airing this week. For those who haven't seen it, can you describe Wheels Ontario?
KROLL: Yeah. Wheels Ontario came out of - as a sort of parody of "Degrassi High." And for those of you who don't know, "Degrassi" is a Canadian teen soap that has been on for, I think, like 25 years.
RATH: And that's something that I think the NPR audience - there's probably a significant crossover with "Degrassi."
KROLL: I think so.
KROLL: I think, you know, you listen to WAIT, WAIT...DON'T TELL ME, "Little Prairie Home Companion," switch on "Degrassi" for an episode, then come back for a little ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, go back for another episode of "Degrassi," and then finish off the day with "This American Life."
RATH: Yeah, pretty much.
KROLL: And you've got yourself quite a Sunday. But yeah, so "Degrassi" is this Canadian teen soap, and so we created the show called Wheels Ontario. And the idea is that I am new at a school and everyone at the school is in a wheelchair except for me.
RATH: You get picked on for that reason, for being...
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "KROLL SHOW")
KROLL: (As Mikee) Hey, what the...
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (As character) Hey, legs, thanks for the loonie.
KROLL: (As Mikee) Pardon, I think you took my milk money. And my name is Mikee. I'm new in school and I...
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (As character) Shush up. If I call you legs, your name is legs, legs.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (As character) (Foreign language spoken)
KROLL: Part of that is based on the fact that Drake - the recording artist Drake - got his start as a kid in a wheelchair on "Degrassi." I don't know - it's hard to explain. It's like the drama on "Degrassi" and translated into Wheels Ontario is super high, super high stakes. But the acting and performances, like Canada, are pretty bland.
RATH: It's - and the tone doesn't waiver even when they're going through awful, you know, whatever awful thing they're going through. It's that same kind of...
KROLL: Yeah, pregnancy, drug abuse, attempted murder, statutory rape - all these things that are hugely important are played with very low-end emotion.
RATH: So - this is great, but I just want to keep talking, but we have to stop at one point. I'll ask you one more. What might be considered your real breakout role was - is on the FX show "The League." I wonder, though - and you've been able to play a lot of different characters - was it hard after such a kind of pungent role as that not to get typecast as a jerk?
KROLL: The character I play in "The League," Ruxin, I thought, was going to be one of the most unlikeable guys ever to be on television. And he is, to an extent, but people seem to enjoy him because he's kind of funny. Like, he's supposed to be funny. So he can be a jerk, but he's also making jokes. And I've always wanted to do my own show and play a bunch of different characters.
And so being able to play a bunch of different characters has given me a break from just playing this one kind of guy. And I'm very lucky that I get to do that. It's incredibly gratifying to be able to play a wide spectrum of characters but ones that you can always come back to and learn more about.
And like your friends, you have some friends who you hate. And then you're like, oh, but they have a terrible mother. And you're like, OK, I accept them for who they are because I met their mother and I see that they never got complimented. And I feel that same way about all my characters that, you know, you try to find the humanity even in the most mean-spirited people.
RATH: That's Nick Kroll. He's the creator and star of the "Kroll Show." Its second season just premiered this past week. Nick, thank you.
KROLL: Thank you so much.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
RATH: And for Sunday, that's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Arun Rath. Check out our weekly podcast. Look for WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED on iTunes or on the NPR app. And you can follow me on Twitter @arunrath. That's A-R-U-N R-A-T-H. We're back next weekend. Until then, thanks for listening and have a great week. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.