THE BLUNDER YEARS

Watch your back, Fred Savage! The Daily Show‘s Rob Corddry is coming of age

ith Stephen Colbert at the forefront of political satire and Steve Carell having reached A-list status in Hollywood, The Daily Show seems to have achieved peer status with Saturday Night Live as a finishing school for the nation’s leading comic talents. So why is Rob Corddry’s first post-correspondent project a lowbrow sitcom (The Winner —about a 32-year-old loser who lives with his parents—premiering Sunday, March 4 on Fox)? The answer has a lot to do with a distaste for Jon Stewart’s audience, reverence for Kevin Arnold’s fervent pursuit of Winnie Cooper’s rosebud, and a desire to do something that just doesn’t matter.

RADAR: What made you go from The Daily Show to doing a sitcom?
ROB CORDDRY: I wanted to do a show that no one would ever accuse of being important. But truthfully, with The Daily Show, at the end of the day all they want to do is take the shortest road to the funniest joke. And if a point is made along the way, so be it.

But that show has huge credibility, to the point that 20- and 30-year-olds trust it more than they do their senators.
Well, hopefully I can ride that.

So why do you want to do something that doesn’t matter?
I don’t really think any of it matters, to tell you the truth. I come from an acting background, and I wanted to do a play every week. I want to do a 22-minute play every week. And while The Daily Show is great and afforded me the opportunity to do this, the correspondent’s role is kind of limited. We stand in front of a green screen and make fun of Rumsfeld, or you know, go to Shit Hole, Indiana, and make fun of some poor guy who’s breeding mutant ostriches. So this is sort of getting back to what I like to do most.

I thought it was really interesting that with The Winner, you drew the main character, Glen Abbott, from the mold of the great peripheral sitcom characters. He’s a Skippy Handleman, a Vinny Delpino, a Boner Stabone.
You are a hundred percent correct. The wacky, next-door-neighbor character is the main character. I did not conceive of the character. I’m just a pretty face.

The one sitcom it reminds me of is Chris Elliott’s Get a Life.
Yeah, it’s very similar. Well, it’s similar in the sort of man-child aspect. But a little bit more realistic than that. There’s more to hang your hat on, but it’s in the same vein. I think of it as sort of a weird take on The Wonder Years. It’s a guy looking back wistfully on his adolescence, but it’s an adolescence that happened when he was 32 years old.

One scene I thought was interesting was where, as Glen Abbott, you’re sitting on a couch with your best friend, who’s in junior high school, and you say to him, “I really want to get in good with your mother.” And then, in this almost Godard-like moment, you say: “So she’ll let me touch her vagina.”
In that line alone, you understand the character. That he really is a 14-year-old kid. He’s a seventh grader. And that’s his frame of reference. That’s what he thinks about, and at the same time, he knows that it’s completely unattainable. Touching anyone’s vagina? You don’t do that until you’re in your 20s or 30s!

It’s like Big in a sense.
Exactly. Glen is sort of an ambassador to the adult world, of which he has no understanding whatsoever. So he’s constantly lying, constantly backtracking. He learns fast, that’s the thing. He really is like Kevin Arnold from The Wonder Years. And I keep referencing The Wonder Years, but I think that’s our major influence.

Now, to get back to vaginas—
Yes, please.

The Wonder Years really was about Winnie Cooper’s vagina, wasn’t it?
You know what? We were trying to climb in that thing every week.

If you could have any great sitcom flame from the annals of American TV, which would you pick?
You can’t do that to me!

Well, I just did.
Oh, come on.

Blair Warner? The girls of Eastland?
I was a Jo fan, to tell you the truth. I liked Jo. She’s not the end-all-be-all, but I choose Jo over Blair any day.

What about a Tootie Ramsey-Natalie Green sex-sandwich?
No, I don’t like Tootie, because I hate black people. And fat people. Black people and fat people are the only people I can’t stand. And you can put that in print.