One of the primest examples of the YouTube revolution is Human Giant, the New York sketch group that recently parlayed its hilarious online shorts into a primetime series on MTV. But unlike most of the, well, crap that goes viral online, these Upright Citizens Brigade improv performers actually deserve their success-Ansari is one of the country' hottest young stand-ups, Huebel slam-dunked small roles like Cingular' "Inconsiderate Cell Phone Man," Scheer is known for his snarky commentary on VH1' talking head shows, and director Jason Woliner appeared in Weekend at Bernie' when he was a kid. The four funnymen took some time to tell us about their new show before it premieres next month.
How'd you guys all start working together?
Aziz: Basically, we kind of met performing together at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York. And that' where me, Rob and Paul started performing together. Then when we started having ideas for these short films, we met our director, Jason, and he worked with us on everything we did. We were big fans of his and we just decided that we should start doing stuff together officially and call it "Human Giant."
Paul: One night, we got sent out to a touring show at a New Jersey technical school. We were all going to be performing in this big cafeteria"Â¦and we just kind of started talking and we liked the same sort of stuff. We just became friends and we started. Aziz does this stand-up show called "Crash Test" every Monday night, and we started co-hosting with him and making shorts. People liked them, and then all of a sudden MTV saw the shorts online and let us do the show for them, which has been pretty cool.
Where does the name "Human Giant" come from?
Aziz: There' a line in one of our sketches where someone says, "Are you familiar with Michael Clarke Duncan, the human giant? We can get him to carry you around Hollywood wherever you want to go." And that name-Human Giant-just stuck in our heads.
Will the sketches on the MTV series be different than the ones that are online?
Jason: Some of our stuff that we've put on the Internet will make it onto the show, but it will be mostly new stuff. What's great is that MTV is letting us do whatever kind of short films we want-fake TV shows, bits with the three guys playing themselves, weird little clips-but it's all hopefully going to have the same spirit as the stuff we made on our own.
Rob: The stuff that we're shooting isn't really abstract"Â¦it' just not like really mainstream comedy. There aren't a lot of really traditional sketches, where it' like, "Oh, there' the crazy neighbor, I bet he' gonna say something funny!"
Paul: We've been working with these amazing executives over there who loved what we did online, and they basically just said, "Make this into a show." The only difference between what you've seen online and what you're going to see on the show is that there' 20 minutes of it in a row instead of five-minute chunks. I guess the other main difference is that in a lot of sketches and in a lot of these short films that we're doing, we play ourselves.
How does the writing process work?
Jason: We usually just hang out and joke around with each other, and when something makes us laugh-like how ridiculous someone like Mindfreak
's Criss Angel is-we try to figure out a funny angle on it and make it our own. We've also been lucky enough to bring in some of our really funny friends-like Patton Oswalt, Jon Glaser, Brian Posehn and Dan Mintz-to help us write stuff up and pitch in jokes. Writing with people that I'm such a big fan of has probably been my favorite part of getting to make the show.
Paul: It' interesting. You know, we've never had to write so much, ever. So we are basically like trapped in a room for hours at a time and we all pretty much have to agree on a sketch for it to go forward. Sometimes it gets a little frustrating because we all have to be unanimous, but at the same time, it means that if something does get through every one of us, then that means that it should be good"Â¦. The way that our process is, we're like a little family in there. We'll bicker with each other and fight about little things. Like, if we pitch and idea, it' like, "Wait, I saw like an element of that sketch on a sketch show in 1985, and so we can't do it."