Comedy Central often uses the web as a sort of testing ground for what could be its next generation of stars (::cough::”Broad City”::cough::) and “Nothing to Report” could be just the next example.
A satire of the world’s greatest buddy cop dramas created by the comedy trio Nick Mundy, Clint Gage and Michael Truly (known, at times, as Team Tiger Awesome), “Nothing to Report” stars Mundy and Chris Jericho, who made his name originally as a professional wrestler in the WWE, but has proven his comedy chops in the Groundlings and a number of cameo appearances across television.
The pairing of Jericho and Mundy, as anyone can now see on YouTube, is an irresistible tag-team force (perhaps aided in part by wrestling fan Mundy’s pre-existing adoration for Jericho). Below Mundy and Jericho explain what’s key to creating a good relationship for improv, their favorite movie cop partnerships and just what we might expect from the show should Comedy Central greenlight it for television — including cameos by some of Jericho’s former wrestling colleagues.
So I want to start off by asking about how the project came together.
Nick Mundy: We’d been writing a lot of features and rewrites, and Comedy Central approached us about doing a web series. And we were like, “Yeah!” We’ve had this idea for a while, about two cops on an endless stakeout; what happens in between the “Lethal Weapon” or “Bad Boys” sequels. It’s almost like a deconstruction of the whole buddy cop genre. And we pitched it to them; they liked it a lot. They liked it enough to buy it from us, and the first name they brought up in casting was Chris’. Growing up a lifelong wrestling fan, Truly had just become one, the answer was “yes.” We knew his acting background, we knew his performing background. To me, it made perfect sense. He’s very strong and he looks good in a tight t-shirt. Right, Chris?
Chris Jericho: Well, I’m glad you think so, thank you. No, I mean, I’ve said that from the get-go! It was just a really great pairing and it was all Comedy Central who jumped up on it.
Chris, did you have a pre-existing relationship with Comedy Central? Did you know that they were looking for stuff for you?
CJ: No, not at all! That’s the funny thing about it. When you go to the Hollywood world and you wade in the waters out there, you never know who you’re going to meet and what meetings you’re going to have at some point, somewhere that leads to something else. So you could see somebody years later that comes to fruition.
I’m not sure exactly how I got into the realm of Comedy Central. I did a web series called “But I’m Chris Jericho” about two years ago. It did really well. I think maybe they saw that, and I think I might have had a meeting with them years earlier. Plus, I stalked them and harassed them daily. Masquerading as the window cleaner and pizza delivery boy, that sort of thing. And they said, “We either need to press charges or we need to use this guy.” So, that’s how I got in there.
And it was really, really cool because when you do something under the banner of Comedy Central, that’s like playing for the NFL or being on Sony Records. Comedy Central is the brand name for funny things; instantly it gets more prestige and more credibility, just doing it for that network. So right off the bat it was something that had a lot more focus and a lot more prestige behind it, which worked out great when we finally released it because it’s gone through the roof, already, in the first week. A lot of it is because people are thinking, “Oh, it’s Comedy Central, we know it’s going to be good,” and then they check it out.
Talk to me about the first time you guys met.
NM: We had lunch, and it was me, Clint and Truly sitting down, and then Chris walked up and he looked at me and was like “Oh, crap, this is some superfan that’s going to start hounding me.” I was like, “No, we’re going to be working together!” And then the four of us had lunch, and we just kind of kicked it off. We just started talking about how you get four comics in a room, you’re going to start doing this, you’re going to start doing a schtick. We talked about the project a little bit, but we just started riffing off each other, and kind of immediately you knew that this could be really great.
CJ: Whenever you get a bunch of guys that are funny or think they’re funny, when you first meet, there’s always a lot of bits and it’s never, ever, ever funny. So basically you have to get through the awkwardness, and then I remember I did “MacGruber,” the Lorne Michaels movie from a couple of years ago, and I was on the “Groundlings,” the famous improv comedy troupe, and so was Kristen Wiig and so was Will Forte. It was like, “Oh, you’re an improv comic! Oh, yes, we’re all improv comics! Let’s do some improv.” Not funny, but then after the first 15 minutes then you actually start getting along and getting each other. That’s kind of what happened.
For you guys, building a comedic relationship, is there a secret to it? Or is it just exposure?
CJ: It’s just about spending time with each other. I can’t remember what the first episode was that we filmed, but we got into right away, and as we’re spending more and more time with each other, it becomes more natural. Then you’re unafraid to take a few chances. When you’re good at improv, even when you’re going to deliver somebody else’s line that they’ve written, you’ve got to nail it. And sometimes it’s not going to be as good as you think, and you have to not worry about hurting each other’s feelings. All that matters is the product itself. All that matters is the show. And if the show is great, it doesn’t matter who wrote it. It doesn’t matter who takes charge when you’re filming it. It just matters if it works or not. I think the more time you spend together, the less on edge you are about whether you’re going to insult somebody.
NM: And me, Clint and Truly, we’ve been working together for nine years, so we have this weird thing where we know what each other’s thinking and we don’t take anything personal. Chris just fell right into it. We didn’t have a lot of rehearsal time. We had that lunch that one time, and three months later we had day one, and we were off and running. It just felt like there was a trust, there was a belief, there was no ego. Everything just worked out and we became partners right away. I think it also helped that the first scenes we shot with were with Truly and Echo Kellum who are fantastic. So right off the bat we were just having fun with it. From the get-go, and Clint was really smart in setting up that scene first.
CJ: It’s funny how you meet people. I sit down at this meeting and there’s these three guys. Then when we finally got the greenlight, we sat down and had some conversations over the phone, but I didn’t know in my head which guy is which. It’s like “Nick Mundy’s going to be playing your partner Moses,” and I’m like, “Which guy was Nick Mundy? I don’t know which one was which. There’s three guys, and everyone sat down.” And then the first episode was called “Moses Is Fat,” and I remembered, “Okay, so I know which guy Mundy is!” I didn’t even know that. I didn’t know which guy was which.
In your eyes, who’s the bad cop and who’s the good cop?
NM: I know for me, we’re both bad cops. We’re both good cops. We tried not to have it where there was one straight man and one funny guy. We tried to switch it up. Like, they’re both screwed up in different ways; they’re both funny in different ways. It’s just setting up that balance and changing it. We worked really hard on it because we don’t need to see “silly, silly, silly guy” and then “boring, boring, boring guy.” We worked hard on trying to generate that balance. But to answer your question, we’re bad cops.
CJ: That’s one of the things I liked when I read it. It’s such a cliched world, the buddy cop movie, and that’s what they tapped into: it is cliched, but it’s not about the action that’s happening. It’s about the time in between. The 23, 24 hours, the 48 hours, in-between the gun fights — what do those guys do and what do they talk about? When people say, “What’s this show about?” I say “Two neurotic cops discuss their feelings while on a stakeout.” And that’s basically what it is. There really isn’t a good cop/bad cop, although by the script, you’d think that Chance was the bad cop, the dashing cop, and that Moses was the good-hearted, ne’er-do-well. But if you’re looking at on-screen kills, Moses has all of them! He kills so many people in this show, and I don’t even shoot my gun! So if I’m going by a police record, you’re definitely the bad cop.
It’s funny, but it also has a depth of character to it.
CJ: My one friend was laughing about how messed up Chance is about his ex-wife that left him, Theresa, and how throughout the whole series he’ll bring Theresa’s name up in completely inappropriate places. He can’t get over it. Moses’ kids don’t love him. Moses’ wife doesn’t respect him. Moses’ wife hates Chance. Chance doesn’t like the fact that he can’t go to Moses’ house because his wife doesn’t like him. There’s a whole drama series here that you could do, based on these six five-minute episodes. All of these untapped stories, we could write three years of stories just with that, and not even pull a gun. That’s the side of the show that’s different from other “buddy comedies.”
If you guys got to make this show for Comedy Central, what could we expect from it?
NM: I think you would see a bigger version of the show as it is now. We could expand into those action elements, like we had with the shootout episode. I think focusing it on the relationships between Chance and Moses, and their families and their boss and the other cops around them, about what happens with these guys and why they make these terrible, poor decisions and act the way they do.
CJ: We’ve got it figured out, too: We want Paul Stanley [from the band KISS] to play Captain Sanchez, their boss; Dave Batista wants to be in the series. He’s only in the biggest movie of all time and now he wants to be in our show. So we’re considering different roles for him. Maybe the transvestite mayor for him. Mayor Rick.
Like I said, Comedy Central does use the web series as a litmus test to see if it would work, and so far we’ve exceeded their first week expectations in downloads on YouTube and viewing-wise on CC.com. So I think give us another couple of weeks and we’ll know if it’s something that they want to do more of. And if it’s not, we’re going to fire bomb the whole Comedy Central thing. So keep that in mind Comedy Central, thanks!
NM: And then I’m moving in with Chris, no matter what happens. If things don’t go well, I’m moving in with Chris. If things go well, it solidifies the friendship and the relationship.
CJ: I set up the tent in my backyard, so it’s great.
Just like in “Blue Valentine.”
NM: Yes, exactly. It’s the first time anyone has ever compared me to Ryan Gosling!
Do you guys get into those debates, like who’s the Murtaugh, who’s the Riggs, or who’s the Vin Diesel and who’s the Paul Walker?
CJ: I had the guys on my podcast, and […] we talked about “Tango and Cash.” “Tango and Cash” and “Turner and Hooch” are our two favorite buddy cop movies. So Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, Tom Hanks and an unidentified dog are our favorite buddy cop people.
NM: When the show kind of started it was taking that Riggs/Murtaugh dynamic. Like the guy who wears the badass leather jacket, the guy who wears the tight t-shirts, has the cool hair. He’s not that cool! He doesn’t follow the rules and it’s really annoying, and he’s not a very good cop. He just has this death wish.
So let’s explore that, and then let’s explore the family man who should have the job he wants, have the family he wants, but they’re just taking his money and they’re giving him shit and all he keeps saying is he’s too old for this shit. That’s really sad. Let’s take those dynamics— they’re really messed-up dynamics! Riggs and Murtaugh are really weird characters. You have to watch “Lethal Weapon,” like all of them, 500 times, to realize this, which I have. I made a sacrifice for the show. But they’re really screwed-up dynamics, and I feel like they would both rather die on the job than grow old. And that’s just weird.
Do you feel like Comedy Central would want more or less action?
NM: It’s weird, because the two most well-received episodes are the “Emotional Scars” episode, which couldn’t be more insular and focused on the two of them and their emotions. And the other one is the shootout episode, where I blow away 10 people. I think it’s just more of both. I think that balance is what people really like.
CJ: Well, you’re blowing away 10 people as we argue about each other’s feelings. That’s the beauty of it. No matter what happens — if we capture a meth-head and have him in the back of the car, we’re having a three-way debate on whether Moses is out of shape or not. That, to me, is the best part of it. No matter what happens, “Oh yeah, I think you’re out of shape!” “I don’t think I am.” “Okay, which side of the coin are you on?” And here we go. Preposterous, analytical conversation with meth-heads or a drunken child. We get some gun shots along the way, and that’s great, but you can see gunshots anytime.
NM: And what’s cool is that it’s fun taking these iconic action sequences and getting into the heart of the matter. I have this idea of, if we do more, where they’re trying to stop a guy from jumping off a building. Of course, then they start talking about how their lives are and I’m sure they’re going to talk themselves into saying they should jump off the building too, while the guy who was originally going to try to jump is trying to stop them. Taking these iconic scenes and being able to twist and turn them on their head, and play around with them; that’s where a lot of the scenes came from when we were writing.
For each of you, what was your favorite moment from the production?
CJ: I think my favorite moment while making the show was just, they would come and get us so quickly. We had a great crew from Comedy Central. Everybody was on the same page instantly, which you have to be to make something special. You could tell this was going a lot smoother than it should have been. As far as that though, there’s a few other minor things: one, is we filmed it in Clint’s front yard, so there were sprinklers that were about to go off right where the cameras were, and realizing “we better finish this scene before the sprinklers go off, because we can’t stop them.”
And the other one was watching Mundy get super nervous. If he did a take and messed up one word, he would try it again and then mess up two words, and then try it again and mess up the whole line. And then he’d just get himself into a total frenzy. I was like, “You’re Moses Packard.” That’s exactly how it worked.
NM: My favorite moment of production was at three in the morning: me and Jericho were in our underwear in front of our 50-person crew. My fiance was there, my agent was there, and I took a moment and was like, “Okay, that’s Chris Jericho, guy I grew up watching wrestling. We’re doing a show together that me and my two partners wrote, in front of 50 people, and I’m in tighty-whities. This is why I love doing this job.” It was one of those moments where I was like, “This is why it’s all worth it!” — no matter how dumb I look. It was one of those amazing moments where it’s like, “This is why you spend all the time where things go shitty. It all works out sometimes.”