Laughter is the best medicine
Rob Corddry's Childrens Hospital pokes un-PC fun at hospital melodramas.
“I’m afraid I have some bad news,” says the attending physician to a bedridden boy’s anxious parents. “We’re going to have to slice off your son’s cock.” Pointing to a model of the male genitalia, he adds, “this part.”
The doctors and nurses in Childrens Hospital, a 2008 Web series that was picked up by Adult Swim, deliver their lines with utmost conviction, which makes their parody of heavy-handed television shows like ER and Grey’s Anatomy that much more gut-busting. “We’ve got a school bus crash off the 495,” screams Dr. Lola Spratt after slamming down the phone in one scene. “Fifty kids, badly injured, broken bones, some of them retarded, the whole deal!”
Childrens Hospital is the brainchild of former Daily Show correspondent Rob Corddry, who, in 2008, came up with the idea while visiting the children’s hospital in L.A. where his daughter was being treated for a dislocated arm. “It’s funny because there was a strike going on so I was really bored,” he says. “The studios all suddenly competed to produce Web content, which is basically free development. As most ideas [are], it was born out of tragedy.”
In truth, there aren’t that many youngsters present in Childrens Hospital. “None of us like kids at all, so we don’t want to have them around,” says Corddry of his cast and crew, which includes executive producer David Wain (The State, Wet Hot American Summer), Megan Mullally as the disabled chief physician, hapless docs Ken Marino (The State, Party Down), Ron Huebel (Human Giant) and horny female physicians Erinn Hayes (The Winner) and Lake Bell (How to Make It in America). Michael Cera, Jason Sudeikis and Corddry’s brother Nate round out the cast. It’s just as well that kids are largely out of the picture, because it allows for the R-rated and politically incorrect zingers to flow freely. “I would love to bang her and her clumsy vagina,” says one physician as he passes Mullally’s surgeon on crutches in the hallway.
Not everyone finds the jokes funny, says Corddry, who notes that the first season garnered some irate viewers on iTunes. “There’s a lot of negative comments,” he says, “but mostly from people who had gone there thinking they were actually going to see a documentary on the real Children’s Hospital. Not quite our demographic. I don’t think the people that will take this too seriously will actually come and try and seek us out. At the end of the day, I don’t give a shit.”
Corddry wrote, directed, produced and stars in the Web series, which was produced by the WB and will air in its entirety beginning Sunday 11 on Adult Swim, before the series begins airing new, longer episodes starting August 22. For the second season, he dropped directing duties—“I realized while directing the Web series that I had no interest in directing whatsoever,” he says—and focused instead on expanding the show from its original five-minute format. The Adult Swim episodes will run 11 minutes each, which, for a show that leans heavily on Airplane!-style sight gags and parody, is plenty. “I really believe this kind of comedy will not sustain itself past 11 minutes and one second,” Corddry says. “I have no interest in destroying comedy.”
The leap to television makes us wonder if it will be watered down to appease studio execs. Corddry says no. “We actually had to censor the Web series more than we had to the TV series,” he says. “That’s why I love Adult Swim; it’s like the Internet on television. After 10:30pm, anything goes there.”
Most important, perhaps, is the guiding vision of Corddry, who gives The Daily Show much credit. “I owe that show everything,” he says. “[It] definitely works out your satire muscles. I have this huge satire muscle and the rest of me is just flab. Parody, being the less important form of satire, I guess I tend to gravitate there.”
Childrens Hospital season one webisodes air on Adult Swim beginning Sunday 11.