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Austin Chronicle Interview

Rich Talarico

Key & Peele writer reveals how the comedy sausage is made


 As television comedy writers’ rooms go, few are as gregarious as Key & Peele‘s. Most of the writers have deep improvisational comedy backgrounds, among them Rich Talarico, who notes wryly, “We all have performance experience.” Emergency vehicles should probably be on-call.

Mix that creative insanity with two extremely talented comedy performers, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, and accolades ensue. The four 2014 Emmy nominations include variety series writing and original music and lyrics. The show won a vaunted Peabody Award in February.  (READ MORE)


2014 EWwy Awards – Key & Peele nominated for Best Variety Series

By EW Staff on Aug 11, 2014

Best Variety Series
Key & Peele

If the third season of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele’s sketch show had been nothing but East-West College Bowl names, that would’ve been enough to earn a spot on this list. But the endlessly inventive comedians aren’t content to rest on their laurels. Instead, they kept pushing onwards and upwards this year, presenting 13 creative half-hours bursting with new twists on old conceits (K&P play two enthusiastic fanboys…who live in the 17th century and have just seen Othello) and clever original ideas (”P—y on the Chainwax,” anyone?). —Hillary Busis





Back in Austin, this time for the Out Of Bounds Festival.  I’ll be performing with some of The K&P WRITERS:  Rich Talarico (MADtv, SNL, Second City, Dasariski), Colton Dunn (UCB, Boom Chicago, Burning Love, Parks & Rec), Becky Drysdale (Second City, Boom Chicago, Big Gay Sketch Show), Phil Jackson (UCB, Chris Gethard Show) and Charlie Sanders (UCB, Death Valley, Late Night with Conan O’Brien)

And, I’ll also be performing in MO & TELL with Mo Collins.

and don’t miss my improv class “The Way Of Improv”


Comedy Central Launches Improv Sketch Show Based on Viewer Tweets



Six-episode digital series hosted by comedian Paul Scheer

NY Digital Editor@xpangler site-logo_2x_v1Comedy Central is looping fans into a virtual nightclub with short-form digital series “CC: Social Scene,” in which comics perform skits based on suggestions submitted via Twitter.

The six-episode weekly series, hosted by comedian Paul Scheer and directed by Rich Talarico, debuted last week on the Viacom-owned cabler’s YouTube channel and also is distributed via the website, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter.

The “CC: Social Scene” ensemble cast includes Lee Newton, H. Michael Croner, Lilan Bowden, Jacob Womack, Jeff Sloniker and Barak Hardley. The first show revolved around the theme “worst breakup lines,” with others slated to include “what washes up on the beach,” “oddest combos at the BBQ” and “beach hogs,” inspired by beach horror stories.

The “CC: Social Scene” series is sponsored by Redd’s Apple Ale. Users must be 21 and older to participate in the show via Twitter, using the hashtag #CCSocialScene.

The sketch-comedy show is produced by the network’s CC:Studios group, created in January 2013 to develop original comedy content for digital distribution.








★  ★  ★  ★  ★  Good news for a Friday.  Next week I’ll join the writing staff of Comedy Central’s amazing and brilliant “Review.”   I’m really looking forward to working with Andy Daly again.  Also, working with Leo Allen again, H. Michael again, the Blitz Brothers for the first time, all the talented folks there and getting a chance to work with my long time improv and sketch buddy Kevin Dorff!   Kevin and I haven’t worked together since Second City back in 1999…

Psychopath SC

TJ Jagodowski, Stephnie Weir, Rich Talarico, Susan Messing, Kevin Dorff, Tami Sagher.

(1999 The Psychopath Not Taken, The Second City Chicago)


Ask RichHey, it’s another installment of “Ask Rich.”  This time I got a message from Ryan, a recent Columbia College Chicago graduate who just moved to LA looking to get into television.

On Jul 22, 2014, at 2:28 PM, Ryan **** <********> wrote:

Hey Rich,
I recently graduated from Columbia College, Chicago and moved out to LA to work in television. I was wondering if I could ask you just a few questions about your career path and what being a television writer and producer entails. 
First off, I saw Dasariski perform at IO West earlier this summer. You guys were hilarious!


I have quite a few questions, mostly about writing sketches.
OK, let’s do this.
          How did you become interested in writing sketch comedy?
Probably watching SNL as a kid and especially after learning about Second City in Chicago.
Any specific influences? 
I was always interested in comedy.  Growing up in Central New York State we got WPIX from NY and I would watch Abbot & Costello on Sunday mornings.  And, every night during the week we’d watch Honeymooners and The Odd Couple.   Watched a lot of TV growing up, though I don’t watch as much as an adult.  Film influences are Coen Brothers, Woody Allen, John Hughes.
Do a lot of your ideas come from improvising on stage?
No.  Most of the improv we do with Dasariski for example, the shows are completely made up on the spot and are just for the people in that room on that night.  Craig and Bob and I have written a few things as a group, based on our older improvs.  We wrote a sketch piece that we shot a few years ago called JAKARTA BOOM BOOM  we shot this with our friend Chicago director, Leroy Koetz.  The short was based on one of our improvs.
Improv CAN figure into the writing process however.  Like in the Key & Peele writer’s room, we have meetings where we pitch to each other and since most of the writing staff of that show are improvisers, sometimes improv breaks out of pitches.   But, usually to explore a sketch idea.  Improv on stage is an entirely different thing.
How many ideas do you come in with usually to the writer’s room–
I usually have a master list of ideas for the season (couple pages of ideas) and I keep that with me at every meeting. So, if I throw something out that is not sparking, I can just move down the list.  And, I have recommended this to my writing students in the past, to keep a list of ideas so that every time you return to the list to add a new idea, you can sweep through and punch up any of your older ideas and make them more pitch ready.
–and how much time do they give you to fully develop and write the sketch? 

Usually after you pitch something the producers will tell you to move forward.  At Key & Peele I wrote a minimum of one sketch a day and sometimes more.  We often wrote more sometimes 3 or 4 or more in a day.  The point was to push out as much material as we could.  Volume is part of the idea at KP.  We wrote over 500 sketches for Season 4 and only shot a fraction.

And finally, what advice do you have for baby comedy writers just starting out?
Babies shouldn’t write comedy.  Haha.  Okay, so my big 2 cents is…

Do the work on whatever level you can, as best you can.

You can make your own stuff (which is what I do all the time)
and from time to time you get a chance to work for money.
But, most of what you’ll be doing is on spec when you’re starting.
I kind of talk about all this stuff in much more depth in my IMPROV NERD
interview with Jimmy Carrane.
and also in the– ADD PODCAST with Dave Razowsky


           Lastly, what should we be pursuing, avoiding, and studying?
           Thanks again,
                   -Ryan ****
Thank you, Ryan.
  • Pursue:  Your bliss. 
  • Avoid:  Crowds. 
  • Study:   Everything.  Specifically people.



Dasariskiby Rachael Drummond Photos Kevin McShane

Dasariski is a 3 man improv comedy team. Bob Dassie is the “D-A-S” of the three-names-in-one team. He can be seen most recently in the webseries, “Eleven Year Itch” with Stephanie Weir and in the movie “The Spoils of Babylon” with Tobey MacGuire. Rich Talarico represents the “A-R-I” of the group. Rich is a writer and co-producer on Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele” which won the 20143 Peabody Award. Craig Cackowski is our “S-K-I” and can currently be seen playing many people throughout history on the Comedy Central show, “Drunk History.”