Rob Corddry Interview: Gadgets Are No Laughing Matter

You might've recently caught Rob Corddry as the show-stealing jackass in Hot Tub Time Machine. But during our talk with him we learned two things: he's a perfectly nice fellow, and he probably owns more set-top boxes than we do.

So I don't know if you're familiar with Gizmodo, but we're a technology and gadget site...

Listen. Don't be a jerk. I'm a very technically inclined person, and I have a folder of bookmarks—hundreds of folders—and one of them is "check daily." And you are second on my check daily folder.

Oh, well thanks. That's quite an honor.

Next to—I don't know if it's quite your sister site, it might even be competition—Lifehacker.

They actually are our sister site. That's good, I thought you were going to say REDACTED or something, and then we would've had trouble.

I don't like REDACTED. I do like CNET. Whenever I buy a new gadget, I cross reference CNET and Gizmodo.

Well thank you, that really is fantastic to hear. That's great. What kind of gadgets are you into?

Well I'm mostly into...I'm really into productivity and how technology can make us more efficient. I'm one of those guys who likes shaving seconds off my typing time. I'm really into to-do lists. So mostly my tech stuff is applications that make my life better.

What to-do apps do you like?

I'm just transitioning from OmniFocus to Things. Things is great. It's all a gadget anyway, it supposedly makes your life more easy, but I definitely just enjoy playing with them as well.

Yeah, they make you feel more organized, but who knows if you're actually saving time.

In terms of gadgets I'm thinking about looking into a new camera. I got a Rebel three years ago for my birthday and it's amazing, but these DSLR cameras have now gone the way of any other gadget: completely disposable within a year or two. And the advances they've made in the last year are insane. I shot a little bit of my TV show on a Canon 5D, the one that's got the 1080p video—we shot some of my TV show on that. That's crazy.

Your TV show is one of the things I wanted to talk about. That's Childrens' Hospital, which you write, produce and direct?

I directed the first season, which they're gonna air on Adult Swim as well, to sort of introduce the series, but I didn't direct the second season. I left that up to the professionals.

It started as a web series, right?

Yeah, it started on TheWB.com.

How'd you find the experience of making content exclusively for the web? How'd that come about?

I really enjoyed it. It was really lucky. It was during the writer's strike, so we didn't have anything to do, and we could still write for the internet. It came at a time when all these studios were creating these online divisions in order to keep something going during the strike. And also, I think, starting to consider it really cheap development. So I got very lucky, also in that I think that my web series was the only one to actually make it to television. That's not to say that I wrote it to be picked up on TV, I never did, it was never an idea I thought was conducive to television, but I think Adult Swim is the only place that it would fit. So it's one of those 15 minute shows, no commercials, and it's one of their first live action endeavors.

Rob Corddry Interview: Gadgets Are No Laughing Matter

Do all web shows secretly aspire to be real TV shows? Or is there a place for internet content that's happy to be internet content.

I really don't know. I definitely think it pretty much remains a separate entity. What happens in the future, I think, depends largely on the technology. We haven't really got it right yet. Apple TV is just a novelty—I have it, I never use it. Boxee I really don't get, it's kinda hard to hook my computer and everything up to my television, and even then, I'm not sure that's the most efficient way to watch my media. The only thing I can think of, gadget wise, that I really enjoy and use is Netflix streaming, whether it be on my Roku or my PS3. That's the best I've seen. But there's been no real marriage of television and the internet, truly.

I think that's the consensus. Nobody's got it right yet. I don't know if you heard, but Google is working with Intel and Sony on a new thing, Google TV, to do just that.

Oh, too bad it wasn't Panasonic or Samsung. They make better TVs. They'll [Google will] be the company to do it. They're definitely the most forward thinking company I can think of. Next to Apple, maybe, but Apple's so protective.

Very protective. How do you feel about the iPad?

Really, really, really disappointed. I imagine it'll be something maybe, like, the fourth generation of it I'll be interested in. I have an iPhone, and I have a laptop, so I'm one of those people that probably doesn't really need it yet. I do have a Kindle, which I think is great—a little bit behind current technology, in terms of, like, crappy interface—but I don't think you can read a book on that iPad for any amount of time. It's backlit, there's too much of a strain.

Yeah, everyone was excited about a new screen or a new style of input, but there weren't really either of those things.

No, I mean, I know people were bitching about the lack of a camera and video conferencing possibilities. But I'd be more excited to see that on the iPhone, I'm not sure why we don't have that on the iPhone. That would truly be revolutionary. I can do it on my laptop, and that's great. I don't even see why I'd really need it on the iPad. It's not a tool yet, it's a toy.

Yeah, I sort of had the same reaction, but I'm warming up to it. But everyone who touched it, at the event in January, likes it. They said, "you don't get it until you touch it."

That's what Apple does really well. The weight of the iPhone is really significant. The way it feels your hand is almost as satisfying as the way it operates.

And that's what people say, is that this feels good in the hand. So, Hot Tub Time Machine. Something I noticed during the movie is that is seemed very knowing of its current moment. I think it's the first movie I've seen that referenced Twitter, and there's the big Google punchline at the end.

Usually people would shy away from things like Twitter or Google or Facebook in terms of a movie because they want the movie to have staying power. That could seriously date the movie in 10 years. But it won't. Because this is really stuff that we subconsciously know is gonna be here forever, at least in some form. Also, it's just so in the collective consciousness that it's a real easy target.

The movie was also very knowing of its place in the time travel movie lineage. There's a Back to the Future reference or two...

Yeah, it would be silly not to embrace that sort of postmodern part of it—it's just what we find funniest these days. People sort of enjoy that kind of referential thing, and they like making connections. It was definitely something that was fun for us, too, to embrace, because we grew up with all that stuff as well.

If you had the hot tub time machine, what would be a good Rob Corddry moment in history to visit?

I would go back... Um... I think I'm good. If I had to go back and experience it all, I wouldn't. If I could be a time traveling fly on the wall, I'd probably go back to a number of different embarrassing times in my life. Or maybe I'd take a haircut tour of Rob Corddry's life. That's what I'd do.

That's probably a good indication of how things were going.

It's definitely an ear mark for different times in your life. You live them through your haircut. And I don't have that pleasure anymore.