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Starpulse Q&A: Comedian Nick Kroll Of 'Cavemen' Talks About Wearing A Silicone Mask For 17 Hours And Trying To Get With Joy Behar

October 22nd, 2007 4:01pm EDT
Caveman NickIn 2004, Nick Kroll was named one of Time Out New York's favorite comics. Now it's 2007 and the press has zeroed in on Kroll yet again, this time for his hilarious work on ABC's primetime comedy Cavemen.

A seasoned improviser and frequent panelist on VH1's Best Week Ever, Kroll has managed to capture the attention of viewers as Nick, the cynical cro-magnum, and, as he tells Starpulse.com in full Caveman makeup, it's allowed many of his dreams to come true - including the chance to appear on The View and getting to know many of Hollywood's leading ladies.

While you have been working on Cavemen, have you met any craft service people like Fabrice Fabrice?
Actually Fabrice Fabrice was doing craft services on Cavemen, and then we got into a bit of a fight because I didn’t like the spread he was putting out and he threatened to punch me so I would look like a real caveman. So I had him fired and I’ve been getting threatening emails from him ever since. We still go out and party together, but for some reason he insists on sending me threatening emails throughout.

Cavemen

So what sort of emails has he been sending?
I’ve got one email from Fabrice that said: "Dear Nick Kroll, There is nothing special about you. You are not a good caveman. I always thought that Ringo Starr was a much more effective caveperson. I’m going to banish you to the dark ages... The 1980’s!" It’s sort of stuff like that. It’s a lot of voicemails, a lot of threatening emails, but when we’re together we have a great time. We hang out; we go to parties. He’s great on the red carpet, and he gets me into parties, so we continue to hang out.

I’ve heard a lot of comedians and actors talk about how when they’re working on the set, they end up eating a lot of weird food combinations because they have this spread available to them. Have you been eating any weird food combinations?
Yeah, but the truth is, because of the makeup I’m very limited to what I can actually consume. So I end up eating literally a lot of cylindrical food. Rolled up turkey slices, I’ve never eaten more taquitos, or spring rolls, or stuffed grape leaves. Seriously that’s like all I can consume on set.

And how long does the entire makeup process take?
It’s about three and half-hours in the morning and it’s about forty-five minutes to take it off at night. My makeup artist is Gabriel De Cunto. And the only thing that makes it bearable is that the guys who do our make up are awesome. They’re really fun and easy to get along with. And they do a great job. Otherwise I would probably go old-fashioned crazy.

Do you think some people take the crew for granted?
Yeah. The truth is, those guys have worked on so many shows whether it’s Cavemen or Indiana Jones or Girlfriends, they’ve seen it all and they’ve done it all. They’ve been on more sets and have survived a lot longer than many of the biggest actors in Hollywood. And none of the shows would happen without them. Like the gaffers and the grips and the makeup artists, they’re the people who keep the machine going. All the writers could go on strike immediately, but if the gaffers went on strike, nobody would see anyone on television.

Have any of the old-timers had any stories or things to teach you?
Yeah. Be nice to teamsters. Be nice to everybody because they’re all good people and they deserve respect and if you’re mean to them, they can pee in your drinks.

So, does all that makeup make it difficult for you to see and, as a result, make you easier to sneak up on?
Well, it’s very easy for someone to sneak up on me in general because I welcome the world with open arms. But my peripheral vision is not great. Plus, people don’t know this, but we de-evolve our eyes to be like a caveperson, so my eyes are much, much worse when I am out of character. So our peripheral vision is worse, I have trouble distinguishing between different colors, but ironically my night vision is much better.

You do a lot of character work in your live comedy. What sort of approach do you take when you go up on stage?
I usually have some talking points. When I’m a character on stage I like to leave it in a presentational format because I think that allows me to sort of react and respond to the audience. So I have talking points and I have bits that I know I’m going to hit, but I like to leave it open so that you can find new things when you’re on stage. Just about every time I do a character on stage live, I’m able to find new activities, new aspects of the character and that sort of thing.

Is there any improvisation done on the set of Cavemen?
There is improvisation on the set of Cavemen. We always do things as scripted, but then I try to find things by speaking the way he would. I have an idea of how my character phrases things and they let me sort of create some of my own language to an extent. They’re great about letting us find new things.

And so have you concocted more back-story than you were given about your character?
I think everyone on set, from the writers to the makeup artists to the costumers to the actors, I think we’re all sort of discovering that when you’re working on a new show you’re always sort of discovering new aspects to the characters. A back story of what he would wear, like my character would wear his hair down, or he would actually wash his hair because he’s having a party, or for Longnight, which is a caveman version of Christmas. So we’re all discovering this stuff together, which makes it a pretty cool group experience.

You’ve done some in character promotions. Is that something you plan on doing more of?
It really depends on the event. I mean going on The View as a caveman, or as a homosapien, has always been a dream of mine, so if they ask me to go on The View as, say, Star Jones, I would do it if it meant that I could get the close to Joy Behar again. It really depends on the specific situation. Putting that makeup on for anything but doing the show really requires something special, and I do all of my radio appearances in full makeup.

Cavemen

Does that add to the experience?
I think it helps. I mean, people see cavemen and it’s like seeing a celebrity. I walked around New York when I was doing The View and people went bananas for it. They just couldn’t get enough of it. So that was kind of exciting because people just loved it.

So where will you be willing to appear as a caveman?
Well for this interview with Starpulse.com, I’ve gotten in full makeup. Mainly I’ll get in full makeup for radio and Internet interviews.

Outside of being on The View, what are some other dreams that Cavemen has helped you achieve?
Of course, to have sex with famous actresses. That’s always been a dream of mine, and being on Cavemen has made that happen. Since being on Cavemen, I won’t say sex because I’m a gentleman, but I’ve spent some quality time with Rita Rudner, I have spent some quality time with Ms. Rita Moreno. It’s always been a dream of mine to be covered in a silicone mask for 17 hours a day, and being a caveman has helped facilitate that dream. And I was able to kick the winning field goal in a Dallas Cowboys game as a caveman, and I don’t think I would have been able to have that opportunity without being a caveman.

How does working on a network like ABC compare with working on a network MTV for Human Giant or on a project for VH1?
They’re all great for different reasons. Being on a network show, there are obviously more people watching. You get paid better and the sets are fantastic. And you’re working with some really talented people. The other side of it is that there is a lot more control. I love doing stuff like Human Giant because my friends are the executive producers. They're the ones calling the shots. And you can get away with a lot more on a show like Human Giant. I love doing all of it, but as long as I get to make people laugh, I don’t care what format it comes in. So whether it’s doing something like Layers, a web show I did before Cavemen with the Sklar Brothers, or if it’s something like Human Giant for friends of mine or doing Best Week Ever doing all the talking head stuff or acting on a network show, they’re all part of a larger goal which is a desperate need to be recognized. And so I don’t care about the medium. They’re all unique and they all sort of fun and different and all help get me closer to my goal of having sex with Joy Behar.

Have your career expectations or aspirations changed at all since joining the cast of Cavemen?
No, but it’s definitely helped me learn a lot more about how the business works. It continues to make me want to create my own stuff because whenever you’re working on someone else’s stuff, you don’t have final say or final cut, and not that I don’t think that everybody is doing a great job on the show, but there’s always something that I would want to do because I’m a control freak. But it’s been an amazing learning experience and it’s great. I think that the quality of the stuff that we’re putting out now is really good and the two guys I work with everyday, Sam Huntington and Bill English, are awesome, funny, funny dudes who are also a pleasure to spend time with. And with the amount of time that we spend on set and then makeup and then acting together, we’re together more than we are with our families. It makes it a pleasure to go to work when I’m working with guys that I respect as actors and who are also really, really, nice, good people.

When it came to Layers, how was it that you came up with the character that you portray?
I just sort of started joking around about the idea of an agent representing agents, and I did it on stage once and then I did it at the Montreal Comedy Festival for a bit with comedian Christian Finnegan and then when I met the Sklar Brothers and I talked to them about it, they thought it was a really funny idea. They were like "Oh my God, we should be your publicist!" We just started chatting about it and came up with ideas and we just went to Super Deluxe about it. Even though we filmed it all before Cavemen, it's just coming out now.

So, outside of Cavemen and Layers, where else can we see you?
I’m not working on anything else while I’m working on Cavemen. I'd love to do more Fabrice Fabrice when I have the chance. I did Fabrice at The MTV Video Music Awards, I was on the red carpet and that’s all on MTV.com and I’d love to continue working with John Mulaney, my partner from the Oh, Hello show. John and I are always writing stuff together. And also I’m pretty close to finishing a cure for Hep C.

Interview by Ben Kharakh
Starpulse.com contributing writer