Craig Robinson on Why He Loves Blending Music With Comedy and How He Feels About Snakes

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The post Craig Robinson on Why He Loves Blending Music With Comedy and How He Feels About Snakes appeared first on Consequence.

Craig Robinson seems like he’s keeping pretty busy. The Office alumni, who always makes a point of incorporating music into his comedy and vice versa, recently wrapped production on the Peacock original comedy series Killing It, in which he stars as a man who gets involved in a Florida-wide snake hunt. And he’s been back on stage as well with his band The Nasty Delicious, which is set to perform as part of the epic lineup of the Netflix Is a Joke festival.

KIlling It was set in Miami, but shot in New Orleans. “I did a lot of music and comedy in New Orleans, and I’ve been loving it. There’s nothing like it — touching the people,” he tells Consequence.

Right now, he can be seen on Your Attention Please, the Hulu original series which showcases Black creators and artists and innovators through short films and wildly meta introductory segments hosted by Robinson.

Season 3 of Your Attention Please debuted in February for Black History Month, but on Friday (March 4th), Robinson is releasing It’s Time to Get Black, Y’all, an EP of songs from the series focused on a particular theme: Black History Month is too short, and should probably be moved to March. (Hence the release date.)

In the below interview, transcribed and edited for clarity, Robinson talks about working with Your Attention Please creator Brandon Pierce on the unconventional series, and why combining music and comedy together is something that comes naturally to him. He also gives an update on the status of Super High, his forthcoming superhero comedy collaboration with Andy Samberg and Common, and what it was like filming the final appearance of Doug Judy on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Oh, and how does Robinson feel about snakes? The answer to that question is also here.

Talk to me about Your Attention Please came together for you.

Brandon Pierce and I worked together many moons ago on a Nike ad. And I love his stuff, and back then he was a young writer, and I just loved him. And then we stayed in touch off and on over the years, and then he came up with this idea that he wanted me to host, and I couldn’t say no. First of all, I loved his stuff, but what he was doing with this idea was just like, mind-blowing. So I thought it was fantastic.

In terms of coming up with the segments that you’re hosting, what’s the creative process like? There’s a lot of imagination there.

That’s all Brandon. That’s what I’m saying. He’s amazing at that stuff. He says it, and then I laugh and then we do it and we all laugh, and then we send it out to the world.

Wonderful. How did the idea of putting together the EP come about?

It’s Brandon’s brain-child, and I’m pretty much going along with what he’s doing. The lyrics he wrote, it was all me going, “Okay,” even before I saw it. “Okay, let’s hop in, what do we gotta do? Let’s rock it.”

Does that mean he wrote the lyric “Let’s make this Craig-y”?

Yeah. That was him. [Laughs] I don’t know if I would’ve thought of “let’s make this Craig-y.” Out of all of the years I’ve been Craig, I don’t think I’ve ever said, “Let’s make this Craig-y.”

Do you have a concept in your head of what making something Craig-y might be?

I gotta imagine that it means to assemble things: sexy, spontaneous, uplifting. All things that I am.

That’s lovely. In general, there’s such an interesting through-line to your career of trying to bring together music and comedy. What have you discovered about trying to do that?

I grew up in a musical household. We had two or three sets of drums in the basement, organs, pianos up and downstairs, guitars, trumpets, saxophones, clarinets — you name it, it was at our house. We sang in the choirs. My mother was a minister of music at church. She taught music at school. She was always singing to me and playing the organ, playing piano. It’s in my blood.

So when I got into comedy, very early on I did one show that was just me standing up, and the next show I sat down and brought my keyboard. I’ve always married the two, comedy and music. So when I went over to acting, music was my partner.

No matter what I was doing, whether it was The Office or Hot Tub Time Machine — I remember in Hot Tub Time Machine, my character was a musician and a music producer, and I was like, okay. So music always finds a way into my projects. I think there are only a few that I haven’t played or sung in.

When you combine the two things, what comes out of that?

For me, music is also a listen and response, and then humor, of course, is humor. So yeah, one person was once like, “You created a new talent.” So I don’t know what comes out of it, but it’s certainly joy when I’m done.

So you and your band are going to be doing a show as part of Netflix Is a Joke: The Festival — is that going to be a straight-up Nasty Delicious show? Or are you doing something special for the Netflix of it all?

Oh, it’s gonna be a Nasty Delicious show. You’re welcome, Netflix. It’ll be a Nasty Delicious show, which, you know, anything can happen. But there’ll be some nice things going on, and it’ll be a Nasty Delicious show that the world will see us do, instead of just a club somewhere.

Also, you’ve got the show Killing It coming out soon — where does that currently stand?

Killing It is coming out on Peacock in April. We just wrapped in January. Or this month, February. We just wrapped. It’s set in Miami, and we were in New Orleans for four months shooting. It was a huge undertaking. We dealt with snakes, we had a pig, we had a dog, we had to fight COVID, we had a real hurricane, we had a fake hurricane. It was the hardest job I’ve ever had, easily. And it might have been the most fun, at the same time.

Excellent. I mean, I’m sure this is not the first or last time you’re going to be asked this question, but how do you feel about snakes?

I think snakes get a bad rap. Between the Bible and Indiana Jones movies, we’re taught to hate snakes. But about five years ago, I was in Australia, and we went to an animal sanctuary, and I didn’t like snakes. And then a couple of my band members were taking pictures with snakes, and I stood behind them and tried to be funny, like I was gonna get in the picture, but I wouldn’t touch the snakes.

I put my finger toward the snake, and finally, I actually did touch it, and I couldn’t believe how nice snakes feel. And then I ended up taking pictures with the snakes, and that just kinda cured my fear of them. So we’re not actually going to hurt the snakes, we deal with them there. They’re very nice. So I like them now.

Talk to me about the status of Super High, because that sounded like a really fun project when it was announced.

Super High, I think they’re doing a re-write on it now, as far as boosting up the action and things like that. Just doing another pass. Not changing it too much, but it is an action hero movie.

But it’s definitely still going. We’re gonna do that this year. Later on this year. There are three of us, Andy Samberg, Common, and myself — we’re three friends that grew up making music together. And we had a hit back in the day, and here we are in the present day, where we find this mysterious kind of weed that gives you superpowers. So we connect all that, the best way we can.

Before I let you go, we said goodbye to Brooklyn Nine-Nine last year, which was, of course, very sad. But your final episode was fantastic, and I was wondering what the experience of making that was like.

I couldn’t be happier that I was chosen to be Doug Judy. Every year I looked forward to it. Every year, they told me, we’re bringing him back this year. And you hear that stuff and you never know, but then it happened. And we had the best time. And working with Andy is like… have you ever seen five-year-olds just start playing? First they’re really shy, and then they run off and just start playing together. It’s like that.

So I’m looking forward to Super High. But shooting the episode, they had a couple of episodes left, but Doug Judy, it was my last, and we just wanted to make it like he was: always fun, always special, always silly. So it was a little bit of bittersweet, but it was more sweet than bitter.

Last question: Having gone through the experience of The Office, what do you feel you’ve taken away from it over the years?

The Office is like everybody’s friend. Everywhere I go, I know I’m good. I can go to any bar and, you know, somebody’s going to buy me a drink. Some people will be like, this is my third time doing the whole series.

People will have different numbers of how many times they’ve watched it, or they’ll be like, my mother was sick, or my family we don’t even talk, but we come together and watch The Office. So it means all these different things to all these different people. So if I enjoy being Doug Judy, imagine how it feels being Darryl.

Your Attention Please is streaming now on Hulu.

Craig Robinson on Why He Loves Blending Music With Comedy and How He Feels About Snakes
Liz Shannon Miller

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