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Arts and Entertainment

TV Junkie Interview: Anders Holm of Comedy Central's 'Workaholics'

Adam Devine, Anders Holm, and Blake Anderson star in Comedy Central's "Workaholics" which airs on Wednesdays at 10:30pm
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Anders Holm is one of the co-creators and co-stars of Comedy Central's "Workaholics" which began airing on Wednesday nights at 10:30pm in April. Holm is part of the comedy troupe Mail Order Comedy which also includes his series co-stars Adam Devine and Blake Anderson, and series director Kyle Newacheck. The series is about 3 buddies who live together and work together at a telemarketing company, TelAmeriCorp. While the work at TelAmeriCorp is horrific, the show is much more about what is going on between these three guys who alternate between being supportive and destructive of their goals - as Holm said in our interview "we're our best friends and our worst enemies at the same time."

"Workaholics" has been the go to on Wednesday nights since it began airing if you're comedically inclined and now that the top shelf dramas have concluded for the season, there's no excuse to miss any episodes of this very original and funny show. "Workaholics" is about as far away from "The Office" as you can get in terms of content and style. It's about the much more realistic subculture that exists between friends trying to exist in a system rather than a show about the system itself. You might talk to your boss about something, but you will have a real conversation with your friends back at your cube. we were extremely pleased to see Comedy Central announce that "Workaholics" had been picked up for a second season which will air this fall but don't wait until then to watch the show.

LAist: Is Anders what I should call you, because I've heard other diminutive versions of your name on the show?

Anders Holm: Well, let's get more familiar with each other as this interview goes on and we can scope that out.

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LAist: Was this show supposed to come out last summer and then it came out in the spring, what happened?

Anders Holm: That was the rumor, it was supposed to come out in late July originally. But they didn't know who we were or what product we were going to turn out and I think to their surprise they started liking what they were seeing so they wanted to develop a marketing campaign to get behind the show. Then it was going to be released right after the holidays in the new year but it got pushed to whenever we came out because they wanted us to wait until the new season of "South Park" was ready so that we had a nice launch pad.

LAist: What does this mean then, when did you shoot this?

Anders Holm: Oh yeah, we shot this a really long time ago, I guess we started in June, last June.

LAist: So almost a year ago?

Anders Holm: Yeah, it's been in the incubator for a while and we were getting anxious but now that it's on the air we're breathing a sigh of relief because people are liking it.

LAist: Didn't I see an announcement that you guys were renewed already?

Anders Holm: Yes, we had been approved to do another 10 scripts a while ago and then just the other day they picked us up for production for season 2. So in about 6 weeks we will begin production and the tentative idea for season 2 [premiere] is October, the scariest month of all.

LAist: [Laughs] Congratulations, so does this mean that there's a Halloween episode?

Anders Holm: Because we didn't even know when the show would air we don't even look at the calendar so we have a "Half-Christmas" episode that won't be airing near "Half-Christmas." So we might have a Halloween episode air in January or something, who knows. There's something corny about every show on television coming out with a "Valentine's Day" episode and you just go from one to the next, to the next. You just get sick of it. So maybe we will or maybe we won't but they will probably not air near the holiday.

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LAist: Are you guys shooting on sets for each episode, what kind of location work are you doing?Anders Holm: The way we do it is that we have a ghetto office building in Burbank. The first story is parking, the 2nd floor is our writing offices and the 3rd story, the top floor is where we shoot all the office stuff so we work where we shoot. This made for an interesting scout because we said "We need to find a building that's like really sad on the inside but we also need to work there every day." So that was something else and then the kicker was that we shoot all the house stuff at this place where the other guys actually lived for 3 years. We looked at a bunch of houses but they didn't have the right feel, so those guys had their rent paid for from the first season.

LAist: So you came to this from a comedy writing group?

Anders Holm: Yeah, we were doing internet comedy - we formed a sketch group around the same time YouTube came out. One of the guys, Kyle Newacheck, is a magical director and editor. So we just started making videos for the internet as opposed doing live shows or going through the ranks at UCB or Groundlings to get an audience. But there was a whole deluge of people like us for a while and nobody ever saw our videos. Only one of our videos got a million views because it was a porno spoof and people were clicking on it because they thought it was porn. Got some interesting comments, there are a lot of homophobic guys out there, that's a fact.

That's how we started out, and Comedy Central happened to see a web series we did on a website called 5th Year. It was basically what was the genesis of what became "Workaholics."

LAist: So what about the inspiration for the show - did you work in telemarketing?

Anders Holm: Yeah, I got into it when John Kerry was running for office and I wasn't very happy with the politics of the country. So I started making phone calls then and that didn't pan out. But I needed work so I stuck around and raised money for Greenpeace and NRDC and it sucked asking people for free money. Especially over the phone, you'd never met them before and they probably just gave $500 two months before. Also, Adam Devine, from the show, he paid for his car in high school and gas money by doing telemarketing for Ginsu Knives and Omaha Steaks and vacation packages and such. We agreed it was the worst job ever although I was pretty sure he was good at it. I could never get my soul that deeply in it.

LAist: Speaking from personal experience, was there a hierarchy there? People who got the good lists?

Anders Holm: Oh yeah, but not to sound like a dick, but I was one of the few college educated callers who could hold a conversation and knew facts. So I made a bit more money, it worked out for me.

LAist: It sounds like you guys both have a good fall back in case this doesn't work out.

Anders Holm: That's right, if this all goes to shit I'll be back on those phones in no time.

LAist: Thankfully, we don't spend too much time in this show with this level of horrible detail on the miserable aspects of the job. It's more about these great characters you guys have put together.

Anders Holm: On the flip side we didn't want to be like "The Office" where it is very mundane, where you hate to go to work. It's a place where you get to hang out, it pays for beer money. I remember just getting out of college and getting a job and no matter what it is, it's good. I worked at Lacoste on Rodeo Drive when I first moved to LA. It's funny to think "Oh, I get paid to stand around and sell girls clothes, it seems like a good deal." I'm sure there are some shitty jobs out there but sometimes it's kind of amazing that you get paid to do anything.

LAist: The caliber of girls going into a shop on Rodeo Drive has to be pretty good.

Anders Holm: It wasn't bad, and some of the moms too, they were pretty nice to me.

LAist: How do you work out the dynamic between your 3 main characters. It seems like there is a pretty good triangle of power between them. Somebody is always going up, how do you figure that out? Do you know at the beginning of writing a script that "OK, this episode is one where Blake really comes into his own."

Anders Holm: Usually when we're breaking stories, somebody will come in with an idea. Something new will come into their world and one or two characters will take advantage of it. We want to think of this time of your life as one where you want to hustle to improve things for yourself. You're an adult for the first time of your life, all these opportunities are presenting themselves. When I first moved to LA I knew all these people out here but they would get opportunities to go elsewhere and I'd say "Whoa, you're going to move? You're going to leave this place? I thought we were all going to stay together." So it's kind of real, everybody is figuring out who they are and who they want to be, but in this situation we're big enough dicks to drag the other guy down, or we're big enough dicks that we ruin it for ourselves and end up with out buddies anyway.

LAist: There seems to be this concerted effort to maintain the status quo. To have a good time, but in order to have a good time you need to stay in the same place.

Anders Holm: Yeah, we're our best friends and our worst enemies at the same time. We're not trying to be too maniacal with each other, we don't want to be too nasty. But it's out of fear: "You're going to leave the group? I can't let that slide, I should be the one leaving!" My character and Adam's character are always butting heads and Blake is in the middle trying to fuckin' keep things civil.

LAist: Yes, and/or find another way to get high!

Anders Holm: Exactly. He's like, "Chill out, smoke this, drink a little of that, and we'll be fine."

LAist: After your experience with the first season what are you looking at doing with the second? What are some ideas that you have?

Anders Holm: Well, we only had 10 episodes in the first season and that's not much. We're still trying to get our audience, people are just discovering the show right now. We're going to keep season 2 the same as season 1 - just episode by episode. You're not going to miss a building block if you don't watch for a week. We'll be in the same office space, it will be new hijinks and more hilarity. But perhaps in season 3 and season 4 we will start building some arcs like a girlfriend or new job but in the meantime we will be keeping it real, keeping it where we're at.

LAist: Having you been doing other projects? It's been a year since you began shooting the last season.

Anders Holm: We've been working on season 2. We had already written 7 episodes and that took 14 weeks. And then the guys and myself, Kyle, Blake, Adam, and me, have been writing a feature film to kind of branch out into that and that would be something for us to star in.

LAist: There's a great dynamic between you guys on the show, a tangible camaraderie.

Anders Holm: We're best friends in real life. We would be hanging out every day anyway. Now we've just been given an office and some cameras. We have a shorthand with each other. We have a script and we'll do it a couple times as written and then we'll just wing it. We get final cut in the editing room - Comedy Central has been awesome, they kind of let us do our own thing. Once we're all done with the edited product, it's usually 60% script and 40% improv material which I think gives it a looser feel that's not so scripted and canned-laughter-y.

LAist: Since you guys are so tight, how does it work out when you are casting?

Anders Holm: Well, Jillian [Bell] is a friend of ours also. She's one of the funniest people out there for real. We'd worked with her on a project before and stayed friends. She had done live shows with us when we needed a girl. She was a writer on "SNL" for a season so she's doing her own thing but we said "We've gotta have you on this show." And then Maribeth Monroe who plays the boss, Alice, coincidentally I had seen her at a Second City show in Chicago about 6 years ago. I noted that she was a real standout on the show, cut to 6 years later when we were casting "Workaholics" and she walked in the door and I said, "That's it, we're done."

LAist: Her character is a lot of fun, she's a bit neurotic. It would be fun to see her lose it a bit, loosen up or buy into what you guys are doing.

Anders Holm: We keep pitching ideas on how we're going to crack her shell but we want it to be perfect. Perhaps we will meet her boyfriend or catch her slipping up. It's got to be pitch-perfect for her character, I think you'll see that in this next season.

LAist: That's great, can't wait to see how you finish this season up and I'm looking forward to next season. You guys definitely had one of the most original comedies to come out this spring.

Anders Holm: Thanks!

"Workaholics" airs at 10:30pm on Wednesdays on Comedy Central.