John C. Reilly, the Boing Boing interview: Steve Brule's long-lost sitcom, “Bag Boy”
Brule is back. Everyone's favorite dingus stars in a new sitcom set in the universe of Meyer’s Superfoods, starring a familiar cast of weirdos that “Tim and Eric: Awesome Show, Great Job” fans know and love.
When Dr. Steve Brule debuted on the Adult Swim comedy show “Tim and Eric: Awesome Show Great Job,” the mumbling, bumbling newsdingus stood out even among that program's ensemble cast of extraordinarily weird characters. Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim have a special gift for extracting offbeat, awkward realness from their stable of odd outsiders, but none made such a lasting impression as Brule.
The Channel 5 TV reporter spun out of “Awesome Show” with his very own awesome show, “Check It Out!, with Dr. Steve Brule,” a newsmagazine with a theme for each episode: space, fear, food, friendship. Brule is back, in the form of a long-lost sitcom pilot airing tonight on Adult Swim for the first time ever.
“Bag Boy” explores the world of shoppers and employees of Meyer’s Superfoods, whose obliquely creepy ads you may recall from the aforementioned shows. The pilot was made several years ago by Brule, but was shelved by Channel 5 “due to its substandard quality and low entertainment value.”
We spoke to John C. Reilly, the actor who refuses to admit that he is in fact Dr. Steve Brule, about the new show and what it means for Brule's legion of fans around the internets.
“Bag Boy” airs Friday night, February 20th 2015, at 12:30 a.m. ET/PT on Adult Swim.
Boing Boing: John, we're longtime fans of your work, and of Dr. Steve Brule. Tell us about Bag Boy.
John C. Reilly: A few years ago, Channel 5 allowed him to make a sitcom he wrote and directed, based on his work at Meyer's Superfood. It stars all the people from Steve’s world, and it's kind of a lost episode, a pilot that the local news station chose not to make because it was deemed to be of very poor quality. We're very excited to release it now.
BB: Did you expect for Dr. Brule to take off in the way he did?
JCR: I try not to expect anything from the work I do, other than the fact that people will hopefully see it. I define success in any artistic enterprise as just getting it done.
I think Steve himself would be excited about just getting the show made. When he was on tour, he asked the audience in each city to please call Mike Lazzo [television producer and senior executive vice president in charge of Adult Swim] to release this, because it had been in the can for a long time.
BB: What's Steve like in person? He seems like a pretty cool guy. I mean, he's not a hunk.
JCR: I’ve never met Steve. He and Denny make the shows. They just send them to Tim and I. We’re the executive producers of the show.
BB: [awkward pause] Got it. Well, why do you like his work?
JCR: He has a really original take on things. There’s an innocence to him. He’s very honest. I don’t know that I would take all the advice that he offers. But in this world of things that are very controlled, and homogenized to please everyone, he's a real maverick. The only people he’s concerned with making happy are himself and Denny.
BB: On “Check it Out,” and in Brule's earlier appearances on T&EASGJ, we often hear Brule yelling at Denny, giving him irritated commands. Who exactly is Denny?
JCR: Brule would say that Denny “does the technicals.” He does the sound, camerawork, and live editing.
BB: It would seem that he doesn't always do it very well, given how often Steve is annoyed at him.
JCR: Well, he's doing a lot. He has a lot of jobs.
BB: Is there any wisdom you've heard from Dr. Brule in his shows over the years that you really took to heart?
JCR: I liked his advice from the news clip that he did about being lonely. You can make puzzles for yourself, or just go to sleep if you get lonely. You can make a bunch of sandwiches and stock up, if you're sad and tired of being on your lonesome.
BB: “Sweetberry Wine” from Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job! episode #20 is literally the funniest thing I have ever seen. It never ceases being funny to me. I have watched it hundreds of times and shared it with countless friends. But it suggests to me that Steve's relationship with alcohol may be troubled. Has he ever had to seek help around his fondness for peanut noor?
JCR: I don’t think so. I don’t know. I do know from watching the show that he’s not afraid to be embarrassed in the name of education and science.
BB: STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education for young people, that's a really hot topic these days. I wonder if he could become a new STEM superstar, or maybe NASA could send him up to the International Space Station with an astronaut and STEM advocate like Leland Melvin.
JCR: There was a “Check it Out” episode on space. He has done a lot of scientific stuff. Almost all of his shows involve some kind of science. If people think sending him to space to make science television is a good idea, they should definitely write to Channel 5 News, and also write to NASA, and ask if he could become an astronaut.
BB: What could we all learn from Dr. Steve?
JCR: There's so much to learn, it's hard to pick one thing. I guess I'd have to say that what he's taught me most is that every person is the result of their collective experiences. So be careful what drugs you take and what foods you eat, because you are a sum of those things.
He is a very mysterious character. It's hard for us to even get in touch with him. We have to page Denny, and Denny faxes Steve, and later
Steve faxes Denny back. All we can really do is appreciate what he has given us. He doesn’t really do interviews. But “Bag Boy” is an amazing glimpse into his creative side, and the first time he was given the reins to become the writer, director, and star of a television show that didn’t work out.
BB: Well, didn’t work out YET.
JCR: It is an incredible piece of TV.
Just what we needed, said exactly no one.
* whether they deserve one or not
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