Sklar Brothers: "Focus on the Human Side of Sports"
The good kind of bros
You know what's better than one guy doing standup? Two guys. And when those guys are twins, it's kind of mind-blowing. Randy and Jason Sklar have been major players in the comedy scene since the late-1990s and have grown along with the trends to truly embrace new forms of comedy. If the Sklar Brothers don't look familiar to you, you haven't stared at a screen in years. They have made cameos in every show from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia to Grey's Anatomy to Entourage. They are Hollywood's go-to for funny twins, and while they take on big roles, they also take time to carve their own niche in comedy that specializes in sports humor -- not to mention their healthy obsession with indie rock.
With so much experience and such varied obsessions, the Sklar Brothers have seen a recent resurgence. Multiple appearances on Comedy Central's new smash @midnight and a chance to express themselves wholly through the Sklarbro Country podcast have meant freedom to be funny in their own way. Randy and Jason Sklar are walking sports and comedy encyclopedias, and when we got the opportunity to interview them, we were left with no choice but to pick their brains about the evolution of comedy, their current music passion, and why working in comedy is the best it's ever been.
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New Times: I first became familiar with you through The Oblongs. Was it a passion project, or are you interested in doing more animation?
Randy Sklar: We are interested in doing more animation, and we just did an episode of Phineas and Ferb which was really funny. We have done a few other things that are voice-animated. Some of our podcasts are animated. Which is so fun -- to see us just having regular conversations animated is fascinating. That being said, The Oblongs was so great, and it just came up again because we just had Will Ferrell on our podcast [Sklarbro Country] last week, and we reminisced about our time together and the time spent doing those episodes with him, because he was the dad on that show.
Jason Sklar: That's how we met Will Ferrell and became friendly with him. It was a really great project. We got lucky because the truth is a lot of times in animation when there are twins, they just have the same person play both voices. But the guys who were doing the show really liked how the two of us brought Chip and Biff Oblong to life and overlapped with each other. They didn't think they could get that with one voice actor, so they gave it to us, and we felt very, very lucky.
Speaking of podcasts, you have your own, [and] you go on other comics'. It seems to be a rampant form of comedy right now. Do you just find podcasts to be a more freeing way to express yourself?
Jason: Randy and I talk about this all the time as well as with other comedians. We think that the comedy podcast is the most revolutionary thing to come out in the comedy universe since the comedy album. When the comedy album came out in the 1960s, I think there was this feeling that if you lived in Springfield, Missouri, you probably weren't going to see Richard Pryor live. But if you bought his album, it was like you were seeing Richard Pryor live.
For so long, people have only experienced comedians through their material which is well worked out and really, really mapped out, and you don't often get inside the heads of comedians, let alone on a weekly basis. You can hear the conversations with other comedians or conversations with the listeners, and podcasts have totally revolutionized the comedy world. It's so amazing because it galvanizes our fans like nothing else.
Randy: Sklarbro Country is the type of show that we would do if no one was giving us any notes on the type of show we could do. Yes, it's about sports, but it's also about comedy and indie rock. It's got pop culture, at times political. It's everything we want it to be, and no one is telling us, "Hey, do less of this" or "Do more of this." And as a result, this is a very pure form of who we are comedically. So when people connect with it, it really feels like they connect with us.
Another way that comedy is growing now is through new forms of talk shows. You guys are on Chelsea Lately, and I have seen you on @midnight lately. Do you prefer this unpolished, snappy comedy or performing your standup set?
Randy: We were on @midnight last night, and I will just say it is one of our favorite things to do. You are writing jokes about something that is happening in that moment. It is all material that you won't ultimately use in standup, so you aren't burning it on television. For us, that show in particular, even more than Chelsea Lately, really makes the best use out of what we feel like are our best skills as comedians.
The ability to improvise in the moment and riff with Chris [Hardwick] and the other comedian we are with means some of the best stuff comes up out of the blue and out of whatever we are talking about in that moment. We love that challenge. I cant think of a better show. It's so joke-heavy, and it puts so much importance on telling a good joke. We love it.
Jason: I have to give Chris so much credit because he allows the comedians that come on the show to be as funny as they can be and he doesn't care if you are owning the stage in this particular moment because he knows that he will be funny in the next minute. Every minute, minute to minute, I think that @midnight is maybe the funniest show on TV right now.
You have carved out a sports comedy niche for years. Do you have any advice on what a nonsports fan can do to seem interested in a game?
Jason: Yes. Number one: Focus on the human side of sports. We like to provide a portal and an entry point for people that say, "I don't like sports." If we can create some sort of imagery or analogy, maybe we can bring in somebody that is not a sports fan. I think the human side of sports is a great way to get into it.
Besides sports, you are also super into indie rock. How do you discover new music?
Randy: For me, I go in each direction. My wife got me for my birthday this year, or half of the birthday that I share with Jason, a record player. That has changed my life as far as being the equivalent of a crack addiction.
But it's a wonderful thing. Now in every city that we got to, it's like we find the record store I have to check out. I have a master list of all the albums I want to get. And I always end up with a few others. In this crazy journey, as Jason and I go forward in music to try to figure out what is new and breaking, I am now peering back in and thinking, "What are the albums I really like from top to bottom that I can add to my collection?"
What can we expect from your standup show?
Randy: It's great two-man comedy like you have never seen before. Because we are twins, we are going to do the comedy team differently than others. It's a combination of standup and sketches but woven into the standup scene. Where a comedian would give examples to prove their point, some use characters to prove their point, Jay and I can just actually pop out and go into a two-person scene onstage. It comes out as more theatrical and performance-based as opposed to just standing up.
What's your favorite kind of sandwich?
Randy: There is a restaurant here in L.A. called Capriotti's, and it does Thanksgiving dinner on a roll. It is ridiculously amazing. That's one. Two, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where we went to college, there is Zingerman's, probably the best deli in the country. They do a sandwich called Pat and Dick's Honeymooner. I believe it's the number 27. It's challah bread with smoked turkey and cheese and honey cut mustard. The mustard is kind of spicy but also sweet, and it really is the best sandwich ever, ever, ever.
Sklar Brothers, live Friday, June 27, at 8 and 10:30 p.m. and Saturday, June 28, at 7 and 9:45 p.m. at the Palm Beach Improv, 550 S. Rosemary Ave., Suite 250, West Palm Beach. Tickets $20 plus fees. Two-drink minimum. Call 561-833-1812, or visit palmbeachimprov.com.
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