The first in a series in which creative people in entertainment show us around their work spaces.
Enter the typical set of a network comedy, and you pass through studio gates before entering an airtight, sound-proofed, hermetically sealed soundstage, equipped not only with a fully constructed set of the show’s world, but dressing rooms, buffet tables, audience bleachers, and the rafters ringing with the shuffling of production assistants’ tennis shoes as they race off to refresh the artisanal lattes of the crew.
To get to the set of “Workaholics,” one must drive through the distant industrial end of the San Fernando Valley — an area which, if it's known for cinematic productions, are generally of the underground and adult variety. Amidst the sprawl, you’ll find a nondescript, single-story office, which if you walk in past the reception desk, looks like nothing more than — an office.
However, to the trained eye, one collection of cubicles might look familiar. They are the cubicles occupied by Blake, Adam, and Anders on Comedy Central’s cult favorite, ill-mannered show, which begins its fourth season Wednesday night.
Looking around the office, the lines between comedy and reality dissolve. The warren of cubicles is not only the makeshift set of the show’s workplace scenes, it also functions as the production’s own office, and what is set and what is “real office” space quickly blurs, particularly as the show’s stars seem only inches away from the characters, which are based on earlier versions of themselves.
"Tell them how much you love the crack, and the people f--king in the parking lot!” Adam DeVine beckons his co-stars Blake Anderson and Anders Holm, along with executive producer and on-screen regular Kyle Newacheck to talk about their luxurious showbiz quarters.
"The people f--king in the parking lot is amazing,” Holm nodded. "We sent our PA to buy binoculars.”
The show revolves around the deluded missteps of a trio of young entry-level salespeople as they stumble through life at a cookie-cutter post-modern telemarketing firm. I asked whether they found spending their days in an environment as unglamorous and generic as the one portrayed in the series to be creatively inspiring.
DeVine agreed that the environment had the effect of grounding them in the show’s reality. "It makes us feel like we’re at home. Back to those days when we did live together and we had rats.”
“We’re in a much cleaner time now. It’s the candles,” said Anderson, adding, “We’re surrounded by toys, so that helps."
Though they may have come up in the world, the clan’s respect for their creative space has changed little since they were young dreamers sharing a flophouse. As they prepare to shoot a basketball game for the fourth-season finale, DeVine glances around, wistfully. "We’ve really destroyed this place. We’ve done just about everything you can do to a space. It smells pretty good right now, because it's towards the end of the season and we’ve really gotten in here and the human smell is back.”
Thinking back to their last set, another office in another San Fernando Valley office park, DeVine remembered, “We just left it for three months, and there was nobody there to clean it up. It was disgusting. The AC went out, so it was leaking stuff everywhere. Obviously, some dead animals in the walls. What, I don’t know. Deer, if I had to guess.”
"Garbage everywhere,” Holm recalled. "We dressed the place with garbage, and that attracted a lot of rodents.”
Looking at their heavily adorned workstations dressed with toys, desks doodled on with crayons, and walls strewn with bizarre pictures, DeVine clarifies that we should not judge their characters entirely harshly.
"We sort of established that we’re not actually the worst salesmen," he explains. "They can sell some stuff. What’s cool is I did telemarketing for a long time, and you can be a total f--k-up and still sell stuff over the phone. It's just reading the scripts and just not saying no. Just saying, 'I understand that, and here’s why you need these meats.'"
Click below for the complete guided tour of the "Workaholics" spread:
Season 4 of "Workaholics" premieres Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central.