In 11 Questions, The A.V. Club asks interesting people 11 interesting questions—and then asks them to suggest one for our next interviewee.
The Kroll Show went off the air over a year ago, but given how much Nick Kroll has done since, it seems like it’s been a lifetime. In just 15 short months, he’s appeared in films like My Blind Brother with Adam Scott and Jenny Slate; lent his voice to Seth Rogen’s animated Sausage Party; wrapped up his time on The League; and gone on an extensive (and extensively weird) tour behind Oh, Hello, his two-man show with John Mulaney in which the pair plays gray-haired pervs hell-bent on reliving their glory days. He’s even become the spokesperson for Take5 candy bars, just because.
With Kroll’s consistently rising star and the third season of Kroll Show released on DVD this month, The A.V. Club asked the comedian 11 Questions, where he discussed his embarrassing jazz phase, panda webcams, and his love for Mel Brooks and Wayne’s World.
Nick Kroll: “What else are you doing while you give this interview?”
AVC: What are you doing?
NK: Well, I was just on the toilet.
AVC: As long as you’re not on it now.
NK: No, I’m off now.
AVC: Thank you for that.
NK: But I am still going to the bathroom. I just got off the toilet and am dragging it around the house.
NK: I’m really into pandas right now. They’re really scratching an itch for me. They’re so goddamn cute.
I want to set up a PandaCam. I want to have a panda in my office on a webcam and do my own little webcam. I want a webcam panda. I don’t know what the laws are or what the pornography laws are with that. I wouldn’t have the panda do anything gross. But I feel like I could make a few extra bucks and that panda could get out there and network a bit. I think it’d be good for everybody.
AVC: Everyone says pandas are really cute, but pandas are bears. Can pandas be mean?
NK: They can. I’ve hung out with pandas. It’s not a big deal. They are vegetarian, but they’re still bears. My feeling is that they’re adorable and they’re vegetarian, but they’ll fuck you up. They’ve got to have their bamboo.
AVC: Have you really hung out with pandas?
NK: Me and John Mulaney and Annamarie Tendler, John’s wife, got to visit the pandas in D.C. at the National Zoo. We got up close and personal hanging with pandas and watched them eat bamboo and carrots, and it was one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen.
AVC: Was that on the Oh, Hello Tour?
NK: That’s right.
AVC: There’s a place south of L.A. where you can swim with otters.
NK: I like an otter. I like a sea lion. I like a walrus. That’s my favorite version of a sea creature.
NK: Probably Wayne’s World. There was a year—I don’t know what grade I was in. My best friend, Andrew Goldberg—and this is genuinely not me trying to cross-promote, but this new Netflix show I’m doing called Big Mouth is about me and my best friend, Andrew Goldberg, from childhood—but there was a year when I went to his house after school every day and we watched Wayne’s World and ate Doritos.
There are a couple others, like Mel Brooks’ movie The Producers, but on pure amount-of-times watching, it was probably Wayne’s World.
AVC: Wayne’s World is an excellent movie.
NK: It’s a great movie. Weirdly, it ended up being a real model for Kroll Show in that it’s a duo sketch about these two people who come from a similar world. I had PubLIZity, I had Oh, Hello, I had Bobby and Farley—all of these sketches that were really these duo sketches, but the relationship between them is really what catapulted them forward. A lot of that, I think, came from Wayne and Garth, these two similar guys—they’re Midwestern metal guys—but in the end, they’re quite different because there’s an alpha and a beta. And I think that model became very present for me on Kroll Show.
NK: That it was a good idea to tell an interviewer that I had been on the toilet one minute ago.
NK: I gave the graduation speech at my high school. Not because I was valedictorian but because the grade voted for me to do it. And I gave a slightly contentious speech. I was a little critical of the administration. But for a long time it said on Wikipedia that I took my balls out and exposed myself to the crowd. So that existed for a long time, that I took my balls out during the graduation speech, which—no pun intended—would have been pretty ballsy. I did not do that, but that was the general belief.
NK: It’s not that weird, but when I was in Peru, I ate a guinea pig. If you’re going to eat guinea pig, you call it cuy. Cute word for such a cute little animal that I ate a few times. It’s not that weird, but it’s always weird to eat something that is a pet elsewhere.
AVC: Did it look like a guinea pig when you ate it?
NK: It kind of did look like a guinea pig. It looked like somebody cut a guinea pig in half and cooked it.
NK: My first concert isn’t that cool or ironic. I wish it had been like, “My first concert was the Backstreet Boys,” but the first concert I went to, I think, was this band called The Samples.
It was sort of in the jam-band era and it was at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester [New York], right where I grew up. I actually went back there a couple years ago when I was on tour for Kroll Show. I performed at that theater, which was really cool to go back to the first place I’d gone to a concert.
So, yeah, The Samples. Their logo was the Colorado license plate.
AVC: Their name makes them sound like a ska band.
NK: Yeah, I mean, that’s how far back it goes. I think they were a jam band?
The truth is I just didn’t care. Music was not a big deal to me when I was in middle school. And then I slowly became a big jazz fan. Even more than concerts, a lot of my high school time was spent going to jazz clubs in the city. Robert Altman made that movie Kansas City about the jazz scene in the city, and we saw that band all together, and that was an amazing show. That’s what I got into. I like jazz.
NK: On Kroll Show we did the “Wheels Ontario” sketch, which was a parody of Degrassi, and—I think at the Emmys or something—I met the whole Degrassi cast and the executive producers. They were very sweetly fans of “Wheels” and of Kroll Show in general. It didn’t work scheduling-wise, but I was going to play Mikey or Brian La Croix depending on exactly what narrative they wanted—I was going to have Brian La Croix do a cameo on Degrassi. But, unfortunately, the scheduling didn’t work out. When I was in Toronto, they weren’t shooting. To me, that would’ve been a pretty crazy meta experience.
AVC: There’s new Degrassi, but that’s not necessarily the people you might remember.
NK: Brian La Croix’s got a drug problem now. He’s in and out of rehab, so he’s not really fit to act at the moment. He got addicted to Moosinex, his version of purple drink. So he’s working through some stuff right now.
NK: The jazz phase or the backwards newsie cap phase. I’m sure there are people who say like, “I was wearing weird emo eyeliner,” but there’s something pretty embarrassing about the jazz phase. It’s almost worse because you think that you’re mature and classic when you’re in the newsie cap jazz phase. It’s not a great look, a young person trying to seem old and mature and cultured. That’s a summarily not-cool look. And that’s why I’ve decided to just keep doing Oh, Hello, where I play an older man who thinks he’s very cultured. That clearly has not gone away.
AVC: Having a jazz phase sounds very thrift-store pants, bowling shirt—
NK: Exactly. Oh, for sure. It was butterfly collar—a lot of thrift stores and weird backwards hats. A lot of that, a lot of that.
NK: A piece of Bazooka gum when I was 5, and I told my mom about it. She made me return it and apologize to the candy store. But I kept the comic. I got the heart and mind of the Bazooka Joe comic.
NK: Mel Brooks came to see Oh, Hello in L.A. Mulaney and I had a meeting with him, and we invited him to come to the show, and he saw the Oh, Hello show live in L.A. To me, he’s the most famous person. Having him come to our show that was so inspired by both of us loving The Producers and all his movies… Really, more than anything, The 2000 Year Old Man is a huge influence on all of our comedy, but specifically the live version of Oh, Hello. And he came to the show and seemed to enjoy it. No doubt there are people who are our guests who are more famous, but to me, Mel Brooks is the most famous person. So that was really cool.
Bonus 12th question from Jim Gaffigan: If you were a medical doctor, what kind of doctor would you be and why?
NK: Because we’re talking the Kroll Show season-three DVD with Señor Feeture, I would be a podiatrist so I could fuck people’s feet. Or that’s what I would say if you had asked Señor Feeture that. Señor Feeture bears a small resemblance to Pitbull. That’s what Pitbull would answer, and that’s what Señor Feeture would answer.
AVC: What do you want to ask the next person, not knowing who you’re asking?
NK: What was something you thought was a big deal in your life that turned out not to be?
AVC: Does something come to mind for you?
NK: My first job. I got fired from this MTV prank show, or I didn’t make the cut of what ended up being, as we all know, Boiling Points. It was my first professional job and I was bragging. I sent an email out to everyone saying, “I’m going to be on MTV’s Spring Break this weekend.” And then they didn’t use my segment, and I was so bummed. It seemed like such a big deal. You think you’re going to be on TV a year out of college and you’re not. Then you tell people and it’s embarrassing. And then it’s not a big deal at all.