Talking to Rob Huebel about Childrens Hospital, Filming in Brazil, and Scott Aukerman’s Heroin Addiction

Rob Huebel is in high demand in the comedy world these days, splitting his time between a wide range of acting roles in film and TV, most notably on the Adult Swim series Childrens Hospital. Huebel has also had scene-stealing turns in I Love You, Man, The Other Guys, and The Office, and he keeps busy as a writer, producer, and live performer. He has a large presence on the Internet, as well, voicing the title character in the Earwolf podcast Mike Detective and maintaining a hilarious Twitter feed. On Childrens Hospital, Rob Huebel plays Dr. Owen Maestro, a hot-shot surgeon who refuses to let basic reasoning ever get in the way of a diagnosis. Currently in its third season, Childrens Hospital is the fastest-paced and most absurd comedy on television, packing 45 minutes worth of jokes into its 15 minute runtime, week after week.

I recently spoke with Huebel about traveling to Brazil to film a 30-second Childrens Hospital scene, his writing on Childrens Hospital and its upcoming spin-off NTSF:SD:SUV, and a squirrel that’s been outsmarting his dog.

Did you write any Childrens Hospital episodes this year?

I did, yeah. Me and Paul Scheer wrote the one with our buddy Rob Riggle in it.

What was it about?

It’s basically Riggle is this super-awesome heroic doctor that everyone loves. His name is Brock Striker and then, he dies in the first 30 seconds of the show. And then the rest of the show is about everyone else having to deal with his death, and people don’t really deal with it, and they’re all in denial. So, Henry Winkler’s character, Sy, starts doing therapy on everyone. So, it’s basically all of us going to therapy to deal with the death of that guy.

Sounds funny. I heard you guys filmed a scene in Brazil this year. Is that true?

Yeah, we all flew to Rio to film a 30 second scene. The flight to Rio is fucking 24 hours, and it takes forever to get there. We literally got there and shot this 30 second scene and then got back on the plane and came back. The most expensive 30 second scene ever. No one will even get it… No even knows the show is supposed to be in Brazil. That’s a joke that someone threw out early on in the show, and we don’t ever reference that or even talk about it. It was just sort of a sub-sub-joke. So, we literally went down to Rio for the four people that will get that joke.

Did you have a favorite episode this season?

Man, there are a lot of really good ones this year. I love working with Nick Offerman. There was one that just aired last Thursday with Nick Offerman where he gets into this part of the hospital called Ward 8, and that’s where they keep the criminally insane children. So, Nick Offerman goes undercover as a child into the criminally insane wing of the hospital to find this kid. I liked that one a lot because it’s shot kind of like a horror movie. It’s super cool.

There’s a lot of really good ones. There’s one where I actually die. Spoiler alert! I die, and I really like that one. That one’s called “The Night Shift” and basically, we’re all forced to work the night shift, which normally we would never do but there’s an overnight shift at the hospital and the whole hospital at night just goes crazy… It just gets insane at night. Yeah, so there’s porn stars. There’s a porno being filmed at the hospital. All this crazy shit going on, and then, I die, actually, which is really sad. I like that one a lot.

Is it anything like the Henry Winkler movie Night Shift?

Um, no, but I think that’s why it’s called that probably.

You have another show, Family Album, in production at Fox. What’s it like to transition from Childrens Hospital to a more traditional show?

Yeah, well, Family Album is a pilot that we’re still waiting to hear… It might become a real show; it might become a midseason show. Yeah, you know, it’s totally different because that’s a network comedy, and we’re used to doing Adult Swim where we can say and do the craziest things possible with absolutely no repercussions… And then, when you do network things, you can’t do that. They frown on full-frontal nudity on network television, which I was not aware of. I kept trying to film my scenes totally hard. They were like, “Why were you hard? You don’t need to be hard for this.”

It’s a little bit different, but that project was really fun also. This guy, Shawn Levy, directed that, who directs these big Hollywood movies like Night at the Museum and Date Night and stuff like that. It was actually really fun. My character in that (pause) I was able to do a lot of fun stuff because that character’s so fun.

You perform weekly live at the UCB theater in LA. Is it tough to make time for live performances when you’re so busy with TV and film projects?

No, I mean, that’s really where I came from. I came from performing live. It’s something that I’ll always want to do, you know. The film and TV I think is so fun. I’m so glad to be able to do it, and to be able to pay my rent doing that, but the live stuff is really where I came from, so I always want to be able to do that. It’s always fun to go over there and do that. I perform every Monday and Wednesday night in LA, so it’s always a good time.

So, when is your Earwolf podcast Mike Detective coming back?

(laughs) Good question. Pretty soon, I think. We’ve gotta figure out, Mike Detective went on vacation just for a couple months. The cops were closing in on Mike Detective. He had to lay low. I think, hopefully, later on this summer. Scott Aukerman and this guy Neil Campbell, they write that and they both got addicted to heroin. So, Mike Detective is on hiatus while they kick their shitty drug problems. No, they’ll probably come back, you know, later on. A couple months.

How did that come about? Was it always an intention to do it weekly or did it just start as a one-time thing?

Well, it was really Aukerman’s idea. There’s something that’s really appealing about doing a podcast that’s not an hour long. You know, I think you’ll listen to a lot of people’s podcasts and you have to have a lot of time to commit to it… So, those guys were of the opinion, “Why can’t this just be five minutes?” Just five minutes, make it super fun and stupid. Make it like, joke joke joke, and then we’re out.

Were you involved at all in Paul Scheer’s new show, NTSF, the Childrens Hospital spin-off on Adult Swim?

Yeah, I wrote an episode for that. I wasn’t able to be in it because I was shooting Family Album at the time — that pilot. So, my schedule was too crazy, and I couldn’t be on it. So, I wrote an episode for them. And the episode I wrote had Adam Scott, who you know from Party Down and Parks and Rec and everything else that you (pause) know about.

So, who are some comedic actors that had a big influence on you at a young age?

That’s a good question. I grew up really hooked on you know, old SNL, so I was way into Chevy Chase and John Belushi. Bill Murray and all those guys. I’ve always loved, like Steve Martin. These old SNL guys. I liked all those original guys from Saturday Night Live. And you know, as I got older, I got way into like Eddie Murphy and (pause) a lot of guys. I watched a lot of comedy.

My dog is having a pretty serious face-off with a squirrel here. You’re missing it.

Oh, man. I wish I could see.

It’s pretty awesome. He almost got the squirrel. The squirrel is totally fucking with him. (to dog) “He’s over here!” The squirrel is running around a palm tree, and my dog is confused.

Is there a role or a type of role you’d like to play that you haven’t yet?

Yeah, I would like to do something in a horror movie. I’d like to be either some sort of psychopath in a horror movie or someone that gets brutally murdered by a psychopath in a movie. I’d like to be the guy that’s like, “Hey guys! Let’s all go out on my motorboat and get topless!” And then, you know, we all go out on my motorboat, and everyone’s drinking beer and having sex. And then, you know, I get my head chopped off by this maniac. I think that would be fun.

Childrens Hospital airs Thursday nights at midnight on Adult Swim.

Bradford Evans is a writer living in Los Angeles.

Talking to Rob Huebel about Childrens Hospital, […]