As far as funnymen go these days, Craig Robinson is about as funny as they come. A former music teacher, Robinson cut his Hollywood teeth on TV shows like Lucky, The Bernie Mac Show and Friends, which lead to Robinson appearing on early episodes of The Office as Daryl Philbin, a role that continued to grow throughout the years. On the big screen, Robinson's scene-stealing antics in films like Knocked Up, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Fanboys and The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard have made him a force to be reckoned with in the world of comedy. His latest film, Hot Tub Time Machine, hits the shelves on DVD and Blu-ray on June 29 and I had a chance to chat with this hilarious comic over the phone yesterday about this new DVD release and much more. Here's what he had to say.
When you first get a script that's called Hot Tub Time Machine, what's the first thing that comes into your head and how did you kind of wrap your brain around this crazy concept?
Craig Robinson: The first thing is, 'Sign me up. Put me in it. Please.' I was real anxious to read it and once I read it and got up off the floor from laughing so hard, it was like, 'Yeah, put me in.' My manager was like, 'Yeah, they're interested in you for this movie.' I was one of the first people that was on board.
Since you were one of the first to sign on, what was it like seeing all these other guys come on like John Cusack, Clark Duke and Rob Corddry, and especially all these cameos on the film. What was it like to see this all come together?
Craig Robinson: Well, when Cusack signed on, it was like, 'OK, this is putting the stamp on it. This is fantastic. Oh yeah.' We just knew it was going to be big after that. Then just working with Crispin Glover and Chevy Chase, man, it was amazing all the way around. I talk to Chevy every day. He's a musician, quite like myself, so we got along fabulously.
I read there were a few of the lines that you had were improvised and weren't scripted. Was there a lot of that going on and were they flexible with the script?
Craig Robinson: Yeah, they were very flexible. Some days, they were writing the scenes when we got to the set, so they were very flexible and they wanted improvisation as well. We made it through somehow.
There are some deleted scenes on the DVD as well. Will there be a lot of crazy stuff on there as well?
Craig Robinson: I haven't seen the deleted scenes, but I've heard about a couple of things that are on there. They've got the outtakes from when I was talking to this girl and then the outtakes from the bathroom scene. I'm looking forward to that one. Corddry was at his finest in that one. It was amazing to watch.
I also thought it was interesting that this was the second film in a couple of years that you have this crazy, controlling wife. Is that fun to play?
Craig Robinson: Oh, of course. Luckily, the wives that I've had, I wouldn't mind being controlled by either of those ladies (Laughs). But yeah, it's fun to play, and it doesn't fall too far from some of the relationships that I have had, so it was easy for me to draw from there.
You guys filmed up in Vancouver. Can you talk about your experiences up there and can you maybe walk me through an average day on the set?
Craig Robinson: Vancouver is f-u-n. That's all it was. We kicked it. We stayed at this place that was right across the street from two of the coolest bars in Vancouver. One is called The Winking Judge, one is called Jody's. We'd get done shooting a lot of times and just go to one of those places and drink and barely make it to set the next morning. It was so much fun, man. There's just so much to do there. It's such an active city. They're all out kayaking and playing soccer and skiing and climbing mountains, so it's an active community. Once we went to this comedy club down the street called Yuk Yuk's and would sometimes perform. One time, Corddry and I made up a bit on set and went to the comedy club that night. Moments like that would happen a lot.
Nice. So you were all hanging out a lot after the day was done then?
Craig Robinson: Yeah, yeah. A lot of times, that was how it went down. Sometimes, you know, you're so tired and you have to get up early, but we would go have dinner, go hang out, and drink.
I'm really enjoying what I'm seeing so far out of Last Comic Standing so far. Can you talk a bit about how the semi-finals are going to move forward, now that the auditions are done?
Craig Robinson: Yeah. Now you're going to see comic's going at it. Comic vs. comic. You're going to see some good stuff and you're going to see what kind of strategies these folks have got. When we get to the top 10, people can call in their vote and you can see them battle it out to get to that.
I read that the finale is going to be done live, correct?
Craig Robinson: Yeah. Once we get down to the top 10, it's all going to be live.
Is there a house or anything or any behind-the-scenes stuff? How does that all work?
Craig Robinson: No, it's just straight up going to the mic and doing the competition. Yeah, that's it.
No late-night drama or anything like that? Just all comedy?
Craig Robinson: No. They were trying to get it back to being all about comedy. There are a couple of new producers that joined in and they wanted to salvage it and make it special again. So that's what happened and they got me and the judges and now it's all about comedy.
Craig Robinson: No, but the writers are so good over there and (co-creator) Greg Daniels is a genius, so if they want to keep it going, I'm sure they could. I'm not saying it would be the easiest task in the world, but I have no idea.
Is there anything else that you're working on that you can talk about?
Craig Robinson: There's a movie called The Pretender that we're looking at making this year, should everything go well. It was written by Jeremy Garelick, who wrote The Break-Up and did a punch-up on The Hangover. We're trying to make that happen.
Is there anything you can say about the story of The Pretender?
Craig Robinson: Yeah. It's about a boxer. I play the role of Honey B. Jefferson. I don't want to give it away. I don't know how to talk about it without giving it away because I'm really not supposed to talk about it."
Are you just shopping that around right now then?
Craig Robinson: Well, it was... man, that's too much business. I don't want to get into all that because I don't want to sound like an idiot. It supposedly has a home.
Finally, what would you like to say to any fans of yours who might not have seen Hot Tub Time Machine in the theaters about why they should grab the DVD on Tuesday?
Craig Robinson: Run, don't walk. Go get the DVD because it's one of those guilty pleasures. Enjoy yourself. I don't know what to tell you, but I love it. I'm getting one (Laughs). That's horrible.
(Laughs) Thanks so much for your time, Craig.
Craig Robinson: Thank you, Brian.