You may not have heard of Quinn Marcus, but at a spry twenty-five years old, she’s already on her way to becoming a household name. It all began at the age of seventeen in the town of Little five Points in Atlanta, GA. Marcus hit the streets asking strangers funny, disarming questions for a series she dubbed Quinnterviews. She pitched the show to MTV-U and next thing you know, she’s sharing a laugh with Tina Fey, speed dating with the cast of Community, and exchanging hair caresses with Paul Rudd. A crossed path with Adam Pally, and A Little of Your Time With Quinn Marcus, a new show on ABC Digital, was born. Pally produced the show and Marcus stars, interviewing celebrities including Ben Schwartz, Terry Crews, Casey Wilson, Maria Bamford, Isaiah Mustafa, and Moby. The interviews take place in non-traditional settings like at Marcus’ house, on a basketball court, and around a campfire. Marcus has a gift for making her subjects laugh by just being herself. Her interviews are so much fun because she reveals the genuine person behind the media persona. She carried this spirit of authenticity into her short film, Alone With People, a funny, affecting story about coming out to her parents as a teenager. She’s onto feature films next, maybe talk shows and definitely more shorts. Who knows how far she’ll go? Pally certainly thinks she has what it takes to make the big time.
How did you two meet and decide to work together on A Little of Your Time?
Adam: When I first met Quinn, I knew. Some people are just born funny and it doesn’t matter what they’re doing, you could watch them read a phone book and it would still be funny. We really wanted to put that to the test. Quinn really is just funny in every situation. I met her when I was on Happy Endings. She was probably like 18 and she was doing an interview segment for MTV-U. She interviewed the whole cast and she was so funny. Then three years later I was on The Mindy Project and Mindy came into the room and said, I just had the funniest interview. Then it was my turn to be interviewed and it was Quinn again. And we were talking, and I was like, what do you want to do in life? She was like, I want to be a talk show host. And I was like, I don’t know if I can make that happen, but if I can get you the smallest amount of money and no crew, would you do it that way? And she said yeah! And then it happened.
Quinn, since your time on MTV-U you’ve now done hundreds of interviews. How do you typically prepare for an interview?
Quinn: What I like about doing interviews is getting to know the actual person. I like to be with the person in the moment. So I don’t really ask a lot of questions about their work. I think A Little of Your Time is pretty personal. I’ve found that if I start talking about my personal life then they start talking about theirs. So I like talking about things I’m going through. Like I’m 25, so right now I’m going through becoming an adult and figuring out how to date and what dating is. So when I’m interviewing someone my age, we talk about our shared experiences and if I interview someone older I just kind of ask for advice. I like to talk about life issues.
How did you come up with the premise of each episode?
Quinn: We’ll start with a very intrusive idea. Like wouldn’t it be fun if I went to Moby’s house and he taught me how to make a smoothie? And of course the publicist is like no. Which we understand. But yeah, we try to think of what will get a good natural honest reaction out of people. So we decided Moby would come to my house and we’d just grill vegan hot dogs on my grill. So that’s the plan. But we have an hour and half, so I showed him my room and I showed him my roommate’s room and I don’t think it made the episode, but he was very mad at my roommate because she didn’t water her plants enough. You know, Moby is very into animals and plants so it made him uncomfortable.
Adam: When I left Happy Endings, me and my cousin started a production company so my cousin was really the one on the ground producing the show. The main job for me was to make sure no one fucked with Quinn. I think I did that okay. I wanted the show to be her voice and her vision. I just trusted that whatever she did it would be funny. There are so many shows and no rules anymore about what makes a successful show, so it was nice to be like, do what you want to do and the rest of it, we’ll figure it out. Everything is changing in how you develop something and how much money it costs to make something. I mean we made this show for you know, less than my nanny’s car. This might not even be the final iteration of Quinn. I think she’s so good and funny, there’s no reason she couldn’t have a late night show.
What was the most surprising thing that happened in the making of A Little of Your Time?
Quinn: I think the most surprising thing was when we were doing Ben Schwartz’s episode and we were going to play basketball. When you watch the episode, it looks seamless and very calm and casual, but what actually happened is the crew went to the first basketball court to set-up and we got kicked off the location by the park ranger. So now we’re calling Ben Schwartz’s people to tell them we’re changing locations. So Ben is about ten minutes behind us and we’re driving around acting like we know where we’re going, but we’re actually just looking for another basketball court. The lighting guy is on Google Maps trying to figure out where we’re going to take Ben Schwartz. Meanwhile I’m driving in my car with the camera guy and I get pulled over by a cop. Part of the show is that I call my parents and talk to them about who I’m interviewing. They never know who the guest is. So I get pulled over for being on the phone and get a ticket. I was so nervous. It was crazy. But we got to the second court and it all worked out.
Adam: I would say the fact that we were able to wrangle guests at all was surprising. And that we came out with a product that I like so much. It’s always a challenge when you’re given such a low budget. Our conceit was that we could do anything with anything. But it was a lot harder than I think we anticipated. I really liked every guest so much. I really liked Maria Bamford, she’s a comedy legend. It was fun watching her upbeat energy mixed with Quinn’s dry deadpan humor.
If you could interview anyone living or dead who would it be and what would you do with them?
Quinn: It changes all the time, but right now it’s Fetty Wap. Because I think that would be so funny. I don’t know what he would say, I don’t know what he’s like, but his songs are so funny. We like to do opposites. Put the person in a situation that is the opposite of what they do in real life. So with Fetty Wap, what is the opposite of Fetty Wap? I’d like to take Fetty Wap back to his old high school and ask his teachers what he was like.
What was it like to be a guest on the show and invite Quinn into your life?
Adam: I was lucky enough to be one of the guests on the show. Or, basically we couldn’t get anybody else, so I said I’d do it. It was the first time my kids had ever been on camera. They were kinda hamming it up, having a good time.
What was the most uncomfortable moment in the making of this show?
Quinn: I interviewed John Gabrus, and we thought, it’s Los Angeles in April, let’s do a campfire and roast marshmallows outside. So we set up this fire and Gabrus comes and we’re sitting there for like an hour. But for the first ten minutes the only thing we can talk about is how hot we are. I’m not joking. Our shins. Our shins are burning by the fire. We’re in these shitty lawn chairs. It’s fun to get these celebrities and put them in these uncomfortable experiences. I mean I’m experiencing it and uncomfortable too. So anyway, at the campfire, I wasn’t thinking and was like I want to look cool! So I was wearing a vest, and boots and I’m just sitting there sweating. Then we’re drinking beer. It was a very interesting episode. I think I was laughing the entire time.
Adam: It’s always uncomfortable in the best way when you’re with Andy Milonakis. He’s an old friend of mine and I love him dearly. I mean I always fear that he’s going to slit my throat at any moment, so it felt like I was kind of putting Quinn in danger by sending her to his art studio. But it worked out and I think we were just blessed by the production gods and everything just kind of fell into place.
What’s up next for you?
Adam: I’m currently in production on a new Fox show called Making History. It’s Lord and Miller. The show starts in the winter after The Simpsons. I play a dufus who works at a college in Boston and figures out how to time travel to go back in time and score chicks and get rich. Its really funny. I finished a movie over the summer called Bandaid with Fred Armisen and Zoe Lister-Jones. That was really fun to get to play in a band with Fred. I’m continuing to try to find projects like A Little Of Our Time and develop them. Hopefully I can make web videos and get paid for it for the rest of my life. I don’t know if that really happens, but it would be nice. It’s really fulfilling because there’s very little interference. I find that that often leads to the best product because it’s pure from the artist.
Quinn: I want keep making shorts, a feature film. I want to be a talk show host, that’s been my goal since I was twelve. My mom was watching Dave Letterman and I thought this looks like the most fun job ever. This is what I want to do. He’s my hero. My favorite thing was when my mom had adult dinner parties. I felt like I’d really won when I could get three forty year-olds listening to my story. I think that’s basically what a talk show is, trying to get my parent’s adult friends to listen to me.
Adam: I know it’s crazy to meet someone and be like oh, they’re the next Jimmy Kimmel, but I don’t know, I think Quinn could be it.