Published on July 29th, 2011 | by Sharilyn Johnson


Just For Laughs Comedy Conference Highlights: New Shows with Real People

Who: The creators of Adult Swim programs Children’s Hospital and NTSF:SD:SUV

– Nick Weidenfeld, VP Comedy Development, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim (Moderator)
– Brandon Johnson, Actor
– David Wain, Director, Writer, Actor
– Jonathan Stern, EP
– Rob Corddry, Creator, EP, Writer, Actor

Weidenfeld noted that Children’s Hospital is the first narrative live action show that Adult Swim had done.

“As we’ve moved earlier and earlier, we’ve had to create content that’s broader and more primetime,” he said.

Wain: “So why is our show on at midnight?”

Weidenfeld: “We’re workin’ on it.”

The new spinoff series NTSF:SD:SUV was created when Paul Scheer was on set of Children’s Hospital.

“They’re very different, but come from a very similar place,” said Weidenfeld.

NTSF was born out of need to fill two minutes between episodes of the Children’s Hospital web series, so they filmed a two-minute trailer for a show that didn’t exist.

Said Weidenfeld, “I knew that we were probably going to develop it, but it generated all this interest…. And we moved forward to 14 episode without a pilot.”

The crowd’s painful hesitancy to ask questions ended with a great one: will the Adult Swim online content every be unlocked for Canada? Nobody had an answer.

“Maybe because we bailed your ass out of a war!” said Corddry.

Corddry on starting on the web vs. trying to pitch as a television show: “It was way more conducive to the web,” he said. “Now I’m swearing that we’ll never do it as a regular half hour show, but I’m standing by that, because you wouldn’t like it.”

Wain: “I do think that 15 minute format is going to get more and more popular, because it makes sense. If you want to watch a single thing, that 15 minute timeframe feels right.”

Answering the inevitable question from the audience on how to replicate their success Wain offered the advice to “never wait for anyone to give you permission to make anything.”

Said Corddry, “I would not discourage you from making an internet video, but the people that are going to eventually get paid to make things, stories for example, will eventually get paid to do it somehow or another. The internet is just a new place to do that. Millions of people are doing it on the internet, and most of those people are not the ones who will be paid to do it. But if you are, then you’ll float to the top.”

David Wain: “If any of you are huge boxoffice-draw movie stars, that’ll really get you in the door.”

Stern noted that “last night we finished the process of going through a 46 page document full of notes and ideas…. And then we try to turn that into 14 A, B, and C stories.”

A member of the audience asked about the Brazil episode, and noted that it looked like it was actually shot there. For good reason: it was! The panelists explained that Children’s Hospital is set in Brazil and serves expat Americans, but “there’s maybe a handful of jokes that allude to that through the lifespan of the show.”

Said Corddry, “we decided to go to Brazil to shoot one scene. It’s a 20-second scene… we didn’t even NEED the scene. The story was working. We spent 5 days in Brazil, had the best time, shot for like 8 hours.”

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About the Author

is the author of the book Bears & Balls: The Colbert Report A-Z. Called "one of the city’s most discriminating comedy critics” by NOW Magazine, Sharilyn has been covering comedy for longer than she cares to admit. She served as the comedy reporter for Winnipeg's Uptown Magazine for five years, and was the host of the radio show Laugh Tracks for three seasons. Her work has also appeared in the Toronto Star, the Winnipeg Free Press, The Apiary, and on CBC Radio's national comedy programs LOL and Definitely Not the Opera.

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