It’s a little bewildering that the meager, cult hit that premiered on Comedy Central eight years ago, Workaholics, has ended up turning into one of the network’s longest running programs. The series has transformed into a barometer for fresh talent and its strong point of view jives with the network’s mission statement.
With the series’ final season underway, it only felt appropriate to check in with one of the core dudes from TelAmeriCorp, Blake Anderson. Anderson’s performance as the precociously naïve Blake has been a consistent highlight through the program’s seven years.
The idea of closure and wrapping up such a passion project is evident in speaking with Anderson as we hashed out his favorite moments from the series, the way in which the program has evolved, finding and fostering new talent, and how the series’ drug-fueled installments often carry the most poignancy behind them. Gotta’ be fresh.
DEN OF GEEK: When you guys began working on this series, did you have any idea that it would explode and resonate in the way that it did?
BLAKE ANDERSON: Shoot man, I don’t think you can ever anticipate such a thing—I guess I never thought this far into the picture. I don’t think we ever set out to fail, like “This is it,” but in season one we were definitely like, “Oh yeah, this is just a short dream.” That’s why when we were filming season one we were still living in that house. We were pretty sure we were just getting our rent checks paid by Comedy Central for however long the season went. We were by no means certain that any of this would last longer than one season.
Has it continued to feel like this personal production the entire time, or has it shifted into a more corporate feel at any point?
It’s always had the same feel because it’s always had the same nucleus of me and the dudes. It’s very much a baby of our brains and our brand. We’ve always worked very closely together in all parts of the show. It’s definitely changed in the way that anything that you do over eight years is going to change—you yourself change as a human—but yeah, it’s still just friends making a TV show.
I suppose then on the topic of this final season, were you trying to say anything special here? Judging by the first episode, it seems like you have the concept of wrapping things up and closure on your mind at least to some degree.
Yeah, I feel like this is the first season that we toy with the idea that we’re not these characters that are trapped in time where we don’t age. We definitely have Alice call us out and go, “Yo, seven or eight years ago this was funny and cute, but you’re getting older…” So time definitely creeps into our minds a bit. By the final episode we do manage to make a statement about what the show has meant to us as a group of friends. I think overall this season is just like all the others. We really didn’t want to rob our fans by totally derailing the show in order to make some sort of statement. The episodes are pretty much standalone, stupid, fun episodes.
On that note, did you have a lot of deliberation over what you were going to do for the final episode, or did you approach it more casually like any other one?
Well I think what we did in approaching it which was maybe different than what we had done for the others is that in the writers room we really tried to nail that one down. With the nature of our show where we’re also acting and writing in it, in past seasons when we’d reach the final episode it wouldn’t be a finished script yet. So we’d sometimes be scrambling during the final two episodes to pull things together while also still filming. Filming a TV show takes so much out of you that sometimes those final few episodes wouldn’t be as well thought out. They’d still always turn out funny, but we just wanted to make sure that the story for that one was on track and ready to go.
This season sees you playing along with guest stars like Dennis Quaid. That must have been a real thrill. Through the run of the series do you have any favorite guest star appearances, or anyone that you really would have loved to have had on?
We’ve had a lot of great guests. Some of the favorites that come to mind—Daniel Stern was just such a cool person to have. He’s such a cool dude. Often we would have these vets of Hollywood come on set and just kind of tell us, “What you guys have here is really special and this opportunity does not come along for everyone in this business.” So people like that were just really cool about making us feel like this was something awesome.
Of course you know, but you can get caught up going through the motions. It can start to feel like a job, of course. But what we got to do and what we got to accomplish really was special. We really got to live out a dream. I’ll be forever grateful. Like, this was my jump into this business and it’ll be one of the greatest jobs I’ll ever have. It’ll be hard to compare.
On that note then, what are you guys interested in doing next? The three of you have all gotten so busy, but would you be interested in doing another show? I’ve heard you’re working on a movie?
The train isn’t going to stop. I think we all kind of want to pursue all of our individual brands, but also yeah, we definitely want to make a point of producing and staring in stuff together, too. We have a movie that we’re doing for Netflix and we begin shooting it in April, so we’re looking forward to that. Just doing that Hollywood shuffle, baby!
Can you say anything more about the Netflix film, like what sort of story it is?
For sure. It’s very much in the vein of Workaholics wherein we play these friends that work together in this hotel. But then it’s just a crazy night that turns into an epic action-adventure.
Throughout the show’s run I’ve noticed that you guys have gotten to share the wealth when it comes to new writers and directors and really get to foster some new talent. Even just seeing Kyle’s brother directing is really cool. Is it exciting to get to provide such opportunities?
Dude, to me that’s the best part about it. Even when you asked before, “What’s next?” I know that myself, Adam, Ders, have all been reaching out and looking for people that don’t exactly have the platforms to share their products. Just searching YouTube and finding those guys that are trying to come out. I’ve got an upcoming animated show on Adult Swim that I’m developing with these guys that I just found on YouTube where I was like, “Woah, this is just a really unique product.” We’re turning in the animatics right now, actually. It’s basically about this adventurer that can refuse no quest. It’s really just a cool, unique fantasy show that isn’t taking from anything that’s been established. So it’s a whole new fantasy realm. I’m excited to jump into that!
It’s just so cool to be in this position of power, or whatever—having a voice in this industry—and being able to help people out. Somebody’s got to believe in them and put them in the spotlight, too. That’s what this is all about!
Even the fact that off of Workaholics Jillian [Bell] was able to find success and get her own show in time is really beautiful.
Yeah, like when you look back at our main cast of performers it just makes me feel proud. I think it’ll only feel crazier when we get older, look back, and are like, “Damn, that’s where it all started!” There are just so many talented people on the show that I think will go as far as they want to take themselves.
Both Adam and Ders have directed episodes of Workaholics over time. Is that something that you’re at all interested in, or do you see other priorities for yourself?
I could see myself eventually venturing that way. I have mad respect for directors. I kind of hold that above—sort of like stand-up—it’s something that really takes a dedication. You really need to come with your point of view. I could see myself dabbling in that. I guess what’s steered me off with Workaholics is that when I saw Adam and Ders do it, I realized that it can be such a burden. Being in front of the camera so much on this show, and then also needing to get involved with all of that smaller stuff can end up cheating your experience. I just feel like they didn’t get the chance to truly spread their director wings because you’re also just so focused on the acting. It’d be cool to just be behind the camera on something.
I’ve always been very impressed with the various drug episodes that you do. They’re always so fun and seem like they ring true. Talk a little about falling into this tradition and if you ever wanted to go further with any of these ideas but weren’t allowed?
I think when you look back on all of those, it was kind of a cool way of not exploiting our stoner audience, but also a tool to make cool creative episodes. Coming from a sketch background on the Internet, nothing had rules. Every sketch can have a different vibe. We kind of used that to get those weird feelings out of us. At times it could feel like we were always writing the same sort of show so it can be useful to go, “Okay, in this one we’re doing peyote and it almost feels like a Jim Henson movie.” It helped get that creative side out of us.
If you could have played any other character on the show for its run of seven years, who would it be?
Waymond. To speak such volume without ever having to use words…every actor strives for that.
You got to voice Michelangelo in a Ninja Turtles short. That’s kind of bonkers. Was that sort of like a dream come true and something you’d like to continue to get the opportunity to do?
Oh absolutely. Like holy shit! In that moment I just had to step back and be like, “What the hell is life?” Michelangelo was like my older brother growing up. To tell me that I would be the voice of him, I don’t think I could ever dream of such a thing. But then when I saw the little product come together I was like, “Dude, this actually works!” To me I’m like, come on studios! it’s right in front of you. Give us the keys. I feel like our minds in the Ninja Turtles world could result in something really special. We’ve got mad knowledge. We were raised in the ooze, baby!
You said that some of the drug episodes were your favorite Workaholics installments, but do you have a particular favorite Blake storyline?
Yeah, I think the business trip one where we do acid. I really think back on that one fondly because it has all the things that make Workaholics work for me. It has the drugs, it has the creativity of the effects, and then it just has this driven story. Those episodes where we have a clear mission and just go forward always work for me. That one for me is the perfect contextualization of our show.
Last question, and it’s a tough one. Fuck, Marry, Kill: Alice, Jillian, Montez’ Wife?
Okay well I marry Jillian obviously because the love is so real. I know that we would just take care of each other. I think you’d fuck Pauline, Montez’ wife, because she’s a freak. You don’t know what she’s all about. She’s no holds barred. And then you’ve got to kill Alice! Kill the boss! Stick it to the man and take it down from the top.
Workaholics’ seventh, final season can be seen on Wednesdays at 10pm on Comedy Central.