How can you play a likable dick? The master of creepiness explains all.



PLAYBOY: You’ve played a lot of jackasses, in movies like Hot Tub Time Machine and TV shows like Childrens Hospital. When you were a Daily Show correspondent, you were referred to as a “Masshole.” Why are you so believable at pretending to be a dick?

ROB CORDDRY: I think my take on the dick is unthreatening. I’m the dick you tolerate because he’s harmless and he reminds you of somebody you hang out with. There’s a great line in Hot Tub that sums it up. They’re talking about my character and they admit, sure, he’s an asshole “but he’s our asshole.” [Laughs.] It’s the truth. My manager used to call me “creepy but accessible.” He was like “You can play a dick and people don’t hate you.” That’s a bankable asset that I’ve been able to capitalize on. It’s the only thing I can do naturally that I don’t have to think about.

PLAYBOY: You’ve done a lot of nude scenes, beginning with your film debut in Old School. We’ve seen your naked butt way more than seems necessary.

ROB CORDDRY: I apologize for that. I have no problem showing my butt in a movie, but then when you see it on the big screen, it’s a little much. I didn’t realize this until recently, but apparently I have this terrible clenching problem when I’m nervous. It looks like garbage, my ass. But trust me, you’re lucky it’s not full-frontal.

PLAYBOY: Why? Your penis is worse?

ROB CORDDRY: I’ll be honest with you. My penis is beautiful when it’s fully presented. Gorgeous. But when it’s not, when it’s just in its natural state, it’s…. not pleasant. I can’t get my pubic hair trimming strategy down right. It looks like a little boy with a wig on his cock. And I have a very tight scrotum. I’m so glad you asked about this, because I don’t think there’s anything Playboy readers are more interested in than the tightness of my scrotum.

PLAYBOY: In the movie Hell Baby, you and Riki Lindhome have a three minute nude scene, which may be the longest one ever filmed. Was that awkward or awesome?

ROB CORDDRY: That was pretty amazing and surreal. My job was basically to look at a good friend completely naked and rub lotion on her back. I was naked too, but I got to put a towel on almost immediately. So I was like, “Well, this is going to be embarrassing, but it’s also going to be kinda awesome.” I’m not opposed to seeing Riki naked. Literally the first thing that popped into my head is “She’s so sparkly.” Her skin just glowed. It was lovely. That’s my biggest memory of the whole thing; her blinding, Twilight skin.

PLAYBOY: Your wife didn’t mind?

ROB CORDDRY: I don’t know whether my wife is just the coolest woman in the world or she doesn’t think about it, but she does not give a shit. She really doesn’t. She’s like, “Oh, you’re getting naked with a friend today? That’s cool. Have fun.” And afterwards she’ll be like, “What were her tits like?” When a woman says something like that to you, that’s how you know you need to marry her.

PLAYBOY: You have your wife’s name tattooed on your shoulder. Aren’t you setting yourself up for a divorce?

ROB CORDDRY: Well, her name is Sandy, so I can always change it to sandy beaches, or Sandy Point, or sandy in my toesies or something. My wife actually mentioned that too. I would put money on us sticking it out for the long-haul, but she said to me, “What if we end up getting a divorce?” And I said, “Sandy, if we get a divorce, the least of my worries will be a tattoo with a name on my shoulder.”

PLAYBOY: You created, write, produce and star in the Adult Swim series Childrens Hospital. You supposedly came up with the idea while taking your sick daughter to an actual children’s hospital. If that’s true, it’s horrible on so many levels.

ROB CORDDRY: It really is, isn’t it? It was the worst. But here’s the funny thing—and let me preface this by saying it’s not funny at all. The “funny thing” is that while we were in the waiting room, some doors burst open and a bunch of doctors and nurses came through with a gurney, and they’re calling out “stat” and stuff like that. And my first thought it, “Wow, this is just like one of those hospital TV shows.” But then you realize, the person on the gurney is child-sized. Because obviously, it’s a children’s hospital. It was just such a weird thing, to have one side of your brain saying “This is so cool,” and the other side saying “Oh my god, this is unbearably sad.” So obviously, I thought it’d be a good idea for a TV show.

PLAYBOY: Childrens Hospital is shot in an abandoned hospital. Is it as super creepy as it sounds?

ROB CORDDRY: It can be spooky. There’s one guy, Artie, an electrician on the show. He is “sensitive,” as he calls it, to ghosts and whatnot. But he doesn’t want to talk about it. That’s what struck me. He’s not like, “Oh yeah, I see ghosts.” He works around a lot of very sensitive electrical equipment with meters, and one time he took a meter up to the eighth floor, and I guess the meter was going crazy. He saw something up there that just freaked him out, and after that he won’t go back. We moved out of that hospital—not because it’s haunted or anything, it just stopped being available—and now we’re in a new place, a hospital that just closed down, so there aren’t as many ghosts or rats. Ghosts don’t bother me. I mean, they don’t even have a body. What am I worried about? But rats, fuck that.

PLAYBOY: The show can get borderline tasteless, with jokes about 9/11, abortion and AIDS. How have you escaped the wrath of the Twitter sensitivity police?

ROB CORDDRY: I don’t know! I definitely provoke them, and I don’t really get any backlash. I guess there’s just no confusion whatsoever about our intentions. We have no message, no nothing. We’re just taking the quickest route to the funniest joke. It could also be that it’s not on a lot of strident assholes’ radars, you know? They’ve got other things to do, like write transcripts of Fox News broadcasts, things like that. They’re busy.

PLAYBOY: What about out in the real world? Has anyone ever taken a swing at you?

ROB CORDDRY: I came close once. I was in Boston shooting Sex Tape, and it was the Bruins’ opening day. I left my hotel to get something at the store. It was kind of late, and the Bruins were just getting out. I ran into three Boston townies; wasted, wasted Boston townies. And they were like, “You’re that guy!” One of them couldn’t even stand up he was so drunk, and he was just staring at me like he wanted to kill me. He was like, “I know who you are. I know who you are.” And then the other guys were like, “Hey Lou”—they kept calling me Lou—“Lou, come do cocaine with us.” I was like, even if I was in the business of doing cocaine with strangers, you would be the last one I would ever do it with. As I was walking away, the really drunk one went, “Fuck ya face.” And then he paused and went, “I love you.”

PLAYBOY: You’re originally from Boston. What’s the most stereotypically Boston thing about you?

ROB CORDDRY: There’s not much. I used to say I’m not very Boston because I’m neither Irish nor Catholic, but I recently found out that I have a significant portion of Irish heritage. My mother just never admitted to it, because she was prejudiced against the Boston Irish. She hated the Kennedys, hated everything having to do with the Boston Irish. Her great-grandmother was Scottish, so she told us we were 100 percent Scottish. But now it turns out I have very, very large percentage of Irish in me.

PLAYBOY: Growing up in Boston, did you feel like not being Catholic or, as far as you knew at the time, Irish was something that hurt you?

ROB CORDDRY: Oh yeah. I had a girlfriend named Maureen, and her father grilled me about it once. He was like, “Hey Robert, you Irish?” I went, “No.” “Are you Catholic?” “No.” “You play hockey?” Like, he’s just grasping at straws. But in my head, I was thinking, “I said I’m not Irish or Catholic. Why would I play hockey?” When I said no to hockey, it was three strikes basically.  I was out. And he was like, “Timmy, show him your defensive stance.” And all of a sudden, this 8 year-old kid, her little brother, jumps into a hockey defensive stance. For no reason! Or maybe he thought the kid needed to defend him from me. I don’t know. I don’t know how those people live. People might always be slapping goals at them, I’m not sure.

PLAYBOY: Are you or have you ever been religious?

ROB CORDDRY: My mother was very, very Protestant. I grew up Presbyterian, and I went to church every Sunday until I was 18. I was forced to. Which is basically why I don’t now. My wife is Jewish and she started bringing the kids to Sunday School. She’s not religious at all, but she wants them to have at least some basis of their heritage. One day she was like, “We’re going to Synagogue for Yom Kippur.” And so my daughter went, “Is Daddy coming?” And I just blurted out, totally kneejerk, “Nope.” Didn’t even think about it, it just came out of my mouth. It was this great revelation for me. I was like, “I’m not? Okay, I’m not. I’m not coming. I don’t have to do this! Hahahaha! Yay, I’m not coming!” Sundays, for the rest of my life, have became totally clear for me.

PLAYBOY: You were an Eagle Scout. If we dropped you in the middle of a forest, how long would you survive?

ROB CORDDRY: What month is it? If it’s summer, I’d do all right. I could probably make it out. If it’s January, I’m dead in three hours. But in June, I’d be hungry, but I’d make it out. I’d find my way without a map or compass. I say that with confidence. I can build a fire without a match. I can find food. I wouldn’t be happy. It wouldn’t be fun, but yeah. I can tie a knot or two. My Eagle Scout troop was very tough. You couldn’t slide by. Like the lifesaving merit badges, we took that stuff very seriously. According to the Boy Scout Handbook, you could just take the emergency preparedness training instead, but that was frowned on in my troop. They would literally call you a faggot. So I had to get the lifesaving merit badges, and it was very hard for me. I was terrified of the swimming part, and so I did it four years in a row and almost drowned every time.

PLAYBOY: You’ve been a featured guest at more than a few comic book conventions, including ComiCon on both coasts. Just how nerdy are you?

ROB CORDDRY: I am working on a comic book podcast with my friend Merlin. Yeah, I have a friend named Merlin. That’s how nerdy it gets here, buddy. I’m nerdy about a lot of things. Even right down to collecting pocketknives. I know that’s Eagle Scout-y, but I’m very nerdy about it. I can discuss the different brands of knives, and say things like “Oh, this is only made by such and such.” Anything that you can do a tiny bit of research about, I’ll turn it into an obsession.

PLAYBOY: Before joining the Daily Show, you toured with the National Shakespeare Company. We’re having a hard time imagining you in tights, speaking in iambic pentameter.

ROB CORDDRY: Imagine it. Imagine it, because it happened. I am a man who used to wear the tights. We traveled the country doing two Shakespeare plays for bored college students for about a year. I think I’d probably still be doing it now if I hadn’t just randomly decided to go to a sketch group audition. That led to doing improv, which led to the Daily Show. But it was fun while it lasted. We were 24, 25 years old, traveling the country in a van with chicks. It could get pretty wild. I remember once, my buddy scored some Quaaludes, and we all tried them. This was around ’95, ’96.  I think I might’ve taken the last Quaalude ever. And I’ve missed them ever since. They’re super fantastic. And now they’re gone. They do not exist anymore. I’m not kidding, they don’t make Quaaludes anymore. I’ve looked, believe me.

PLAYBOY: One of your very first on-screen jobs was an AT&T commercial with Carrot Top. At the time, did it seem like career suicide?

ROB CORDDRY: No, are you kidding me? I was like, “Yes! National commercial with that buffoon!” But it did turn out to be bad for me, and not because of Carrot Top. In the commercial, Carrot Top commandeers a New York tour bus to teach people about the benefits about dialing down the center. It came out a week before 9/11. So they yanked the commercial almost immediately. It wasn’t really a time when people were appreciating the comedic possibilities of hijacking a mode of transportation.

PLAYBOY: You were a correspondent on the Daily Show, and a lot of your colleagues have gone on to have amazing careers. Do you keep up with them? Are there Daily Show reunions?

ROB CORDDRY: Not a formal thing, but we keep in touch. Ed Helms and I are still really good friends. We shared an office on the show for five years, so we got close. I just saw him, like, two weeks ago. Who else? Well, Jim Margolis—he was one of the executive producers—I stole him, and he’s now producing a Childrens Hospital spin-off, Newsreaders. Jon Stewart and I talk every once in a while, like when I have to ask him permission to steal one of his producers. Jason Jones was in Hot Tub, so I get to see him. Who am I forgetting? Oh yeah, Stephen…. Colbert? I think his last name is Colbert. What happened to him? So much potential, but it’s like he dropped off the face of the planet. I hope he’s doing okay.

PLAYBOY: You played a zombie in the zombie romance film Warm Bodies. What kind of research went into becoming undead?

ROB CORDDRY: A lot, actually. My wife is a speech pathologist, and she used to work with patients who had traumatic brain injuries. She was like, “They can see the thing you’re pointing to, and in some abstract way they know it’s a spoon, they just can’t say it.” I asked her a lot of questions, and built my character out of that. I thought that was more interesting, to play a zombie who has this frustrating sense that there’s something he’s forgetting, and it’s really hard to speak but he’s trying. Rather than the whole “Arrrrhhh” zombie thing, where your lumbering forward and your mouth is open and you look dead-eyed. I tried to embody that zombie frustration.

PLAYBOY: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten from a director?

ROB CORDDRY: It might have been from Oliver Stone. I’m not entirely sure. I was in his Bush biopic, W.—I played (White House Press Secretary) Ari Fleischer—and on the last day of shooting, he’d point to each actor, all these luminaries, and be like, “Richard Dreyfus. That’s a wrap on Richard Dreyfus.” And everybody would applaud, and he’d give them a hug. Then he got to me, and he’s like “Rob Corddry,” and everybody applauded, and he whispered something in my ear. But I couldn’t hear it because of all the noise. I almost said, “Oliver, can you do that one more time? That was my trick ear.” I have no idea what he said. It might have been something really profound, something that could’ve changed the course of my career. Or maybe it was just “I got ‘shrooms in my van.”

PLAYBOY: How many of the clothes in your home closet were stolen from film or TV sets?

ROB CORDDRY: Surprisingly few. I have a suit that I stole from Happy Endings, which I was a guest star on twice. And I have a pair of suede Red Wings boots—my favorite pair of boots—that I stole from Running Wilde, which was Will Arnett’s short-lived show. Both he and David Cross wanted to steal the boots too, but I was like, “They’re on my feet, man.” That’s about it. I don’t usually want any of the garbage they put me in. They’re movie clothes. They’re not anything designed to be comfortable or valuable. When you see Sex Tape, take a glance at my shoes. They’re basically the same shoes I wear in every movie. They are the shittiest, most uncomfortable, budget-buy Target shoes. Why would I steal them?

PLAYBOY: Smokey Robinson once sang that there isn’t much sadder than the tears of a clown when there’s no one around. Was he right? Behind closed doors, are you an emotional wreck?

ROB CORDDRY: I used to be. For most of my life, I was a worrier and an over-thinker. I had pretty bad social anxiety. From the second I hit puberty, in the sixth or seventh grade, up until I turned 40, I was just kind of sad or anxiety-ridden for no reason. In your 20s and 30s, you think everything is so important and your ideas mean everything. I hate 20 year olds. I just hate them. They never know what they’re talking about. When I think about myself in my 20s, it makes me cringe. I almost turn myself inside out cringing. When I turned 40, almost to the day, my eyesight went to shit and I calmed the fuck down. And now I don’t worry about anything anymore.

PLAYBOY: Why? What changed?

ROB CORDDRY: Nothing changed. That’s what makes it so bizarre. If anything, there’s more at stake when you’re older, and more responsibility and more legitimate things to worry about. I have a wife and two daughters; people who depend on me. Everything is more important than it was when I was 20. But now I’m like, “Eh, I made it this far.”

PLAYBOY: You’re bald and proud. What advice can you offer to the folically challenged?

ROB CORDDRY: When it finally happens and you lose it all, it’s going to be a hell of a lot easier in the morning. You’re going to really enjoy the time you don’t spend messing with the few strands you have left. I never miss having hair, although I do sometimes have dreams where I’ll be brushing my long, luxurious hair in the mirror and I’ll be like, “There’s something’s wrong. What is wrong?” And I’m not quire able to place it. I’m just “something’s not right. It can’t be my beautiful hair. What is it?”

PLAYBOY: You’re an ordained Internet minister. Why should we hire you to officiate our wedding vows?

ROB CORDDRY: You absolutely shouldn’t. For one thing, I’m only certified in New York and Louisiana, so unless you’re in those states, I can’t help you. But more importantly, I don’t even know you guys. I mean, this women you’re marrying sounds like a lovely person and I wouldn’t want to ruin the most important day of her life. But I’ve only done two weddings and it was so much work and responsibility, and I take it very, very, very seriously. This last wedding was a pretty tough crowd. It was (actress) Lake Bell and Scott Campbell, who’s a famous tattoo artist. Cameron Diaz did a reading, and Marc Jacobs was there. It was nuts. So yeah, I’d rather not put that kind of pressure on myself anymore.

(This story originally appeared, in a slightly different form, in the October 2014 issue of Playboy magazine.)