In tonight’s very special, double-length half-hour season finale of Childrens Hospital, we find out if any of our lovable crew can get off the island — the Osaka Military Base where they’ve been exotically located all season — and back to sweet home Brazil … alive. We’re crossing our fingers that this was all just a ridiculously funny daydream in the shower, you guys! Regardless of outcome, to celebrate making it through, we asked series co-creator (and sometimes very special guest star) David Wain to break down five of his favorite fifth-season moments — and instead he walked us through nine.
But first, here’s an exclusive clip of Wain, as Rabbi Jewy McJewJew, leading a therapy session in tonight’s finale.
The episode: “Triangles”
The moment: When the episode suddenly turns into the musical Hair at the end for no reason.
Wain: I think that all of us in comedy probably were the ones who didn’t get the big parts in the high school musicals, so we have this chip on our shoulders our entire lives and we try to make up for it in our comedy careers. Of course, some of us were the stars of our high school musicals but then never could cut it in real life. So same idea. I remember that Thomas Lennon did the one-man Jurassic Park musical in The State. And I have a particular affection for rock opera for the seventies era. And that kind of stuff has been almost in everything I’ve done. Whether it’s “Day by Day” in Wet Hot American Summer or the “Rochelle” musical episodes of Wainy Days. Well, the whole season of CH this year takes place on an army base, and sometimes when we’re just sitting around trying to figure out what’s going to happen next in the story, for me an image came to mind that reminded me of that awesome last sequence in Hair, even though it had nothing to do with the story that we were telling in Childrens Hospital, but one thing led to another and we all decided that Nick Offerman’s character, Officer Briggs, unexpectedly gets put on a plane and sent off to war and then dies. And then we pull out to the Arlington Cemetery where he’s buried and have that Hair-esque song playing. Lake Bell directed that beautifully and had everybody giving their all.
The episode: “The C-Word”
The moment: James Adomian rocking out onstage with himself, playing Louis CK, Freddie Mercury, Madonna, Rihanna, and Kate Upton all at the same time.
Wain: We had written an episode that had a pop star in it last year, and we decided why not have James Adomian, who’s this great funny guy, who looks nothing like Madonna, play Madonna. And he was so funny we decided to quintuple down on that idea this year. We knew we wouldn’t get all these celebrities to do this scene so we decided to just have James play all of them. And on our crazy budgeted schedule, we spent all day shooting a few shots in that scene with all of his characters onstage together and shot the rest of the episode in between his costume changes.
The episode: “Country Weekend”
The moment: The wedding speech/accusation that Owen (Rob Huebel) gives that goes wrong.
Wain: For me, that’s kind of a quintessential Childrens Hospital thing, where somebody gets up and gives a big speech at a wedding, kind of revealing the big mystery, and it has the external veneer of something that makes some modicum of sense, but then when you break it down, it makes no sense whatsoever. And when somebody like Rob Huebel, who’s so brilliant, plays it with such conviction, it just cracks me up.
The episode: “The Gang Gets Sushi”
The moment: The vapidly meaningful facial expression Glenn (Ken Marino) does at the very end of the episode.
Wain: That was at the moment in “The Gang Gets Sushi” where Lola Spratt has left the nest and she’s gone off to follow her true mission, and Ken Marino gives this nauseating expression of happiness and approval and wistfulness and I’ll miss you and sort of says it all in this make-you-want-to-barf facial expression which only speaks to the inimmersible brilliance of my good friend and partner Ken Marino. I wish we could’ve made him hold it for another ten seconds.
The episode: “The Coming” [note: episode airs tonight]
The moment: Glenn’s soliloquy during the battle (“I don’t want to feel … I was young, I was wrong … just a snot-nosed little kid who knows nothin’ about nothin’.”)
Wain: That’s definitely in the same kind of category as the Rob Huebel speech at the wedding, where we are in this crazy war scene, and suddenly he goes into this monologue, and you think he has some idea of maybe what he’s talking about, but then he gets into how he was a snot-nosed kid who didn’t know nothin’ about nothin’ and you’re like, oh, okay … I guess that’s what this is about? Again, he’s actually he’s such a great dramatic actor, pulling out all the stops, and you almost forget that what he’s talking about has no relevance to the story whatsoever.
The episode: “A New Hope”
The moment: Chet (Brian Huskey) being flipped on his back by a sumo wrestler who didn’t realize you’re supposed to not actually hurt the other actor.
Wain: This was an incident on set that was sort of, kind of not funny. This sumo wrestler that we hired I guess didn’t quite understand that he wasn’t really in a wrestling match and he was on the mat with an actor who was quite skinny. So he picked up Brian and slammed him down on this mat, and it was pretty scary and awful on set, but of course the footage came out great. So we put it in multiple times and slowed it down.
Vulture: It is just hard to find good sumo wrestlers in L.A. these days?
Wain: It was just a time thing for me. I went out personally and had coffee with 60 or 70 different sumo wrestlers. We didn’t just want any sumo wrestler; I wanted someone who really had the Childrens Hospital vibe and the right look. I had to travel to Japan. I spent about six months on this project, so at a certain point we were over budget. We ended up erring up too much on authentic. We should’ve been a little clearer with him.
The episode: “The Coming” [note: episode airs tonight]
The moment: Rabbi Jewy McJewJew (Wain) having a three-way with Owen (Huebel) and Lola (Erinn Hayes)
Vulture: You were saying earlier there was something of you in the Rabbi, and in this scene there’s something of the Rabbi in Owen and Lola.
Wain: Isn’t there a little rabbi in everyone? And that’s why I had the Rabbi in Lola. Every actor, every artist, has different motivations for why they do what they do. And for me, I’m always looking for every opportunity I can to hump someone, or make out with them, or grope them in some way. So this was a truly fulfilling moment for me this year.
Vulture: So either lead role in Hair or make out with the cheerleader?
Wain: In a perfect world, both.
The episode: “Spoiler Alert: Owen Gets a Perm”
The moment: Blake (Rob Corddry) laughing heartily at something he doesn’t get [note: video embedded below].
Wain: I remember the story line in there is that he’s socially awkward and he’s trying to pretend he understands what people are talking about but he really doesn’t. So he laughs really hard. But what I thought was funny was just the way that Rob Corrdry did that. I remember when we were doing the sound mix review for that episode, I was listening to him do that laugh and it cracked me up so hard I had to stop and play it over and over and over again. It made me giggle.
Vulture: It speaks to his aloofness as a character, and when you talk to Rob he does have that mock “I’m a big shot” thing.
Wain: Oh yeah. There’s definitely a strong connection between many of the characters on the show and the actors who play them. Not the least of which is Jewy McJewJew.
The episode: “Wine Tasting”
The moment: Val (Malin Akerman) and Chief (Megan Mullally) going ballistic on Sy (Henry Winkler) about his attitude about their wine tasting [note: video embedded below].
Wain: It was a pairing and an energy that I had never seen between two of my favorite actresses, Malin and Megan. Who were just like totally going ballistic on Henry Winkler for no reason. For absolutely nothing. To the point where she ended up spitting on him. I remember everyone on set kept ruining the takes because they were laughing and everything. Just two of the sweetest women you ever knew just being completely horrid.
Vulture: What flipped the mean girl switch? The Fonz?
Wain: It might’ve been because it was late and they were tired and cold. When those three things coalesce on the set of Childrens Hospital, magic can happen.