Adam DeVine on ‘Workaholics,’ Cameo on ‘Arrested Development’ & More
Jean Trinh talks to Adam DeVine about his ‘Workaholics’ fame and upcoming TV and feature film projects.
There was a media firestorm when Arrested Development’s Jason Bateman unwittingly tweeted a photo of his first day back on set for the show last August, revealing two-thirds of Comedy Central’s Workaholics co-stars and co-creators—Adam DeVine (Adam DeKamp) and Anders Holm (Anders “Ders” Holmvik)— in the background. Fans have been salivating for details on the popular show’s return to Netflix on May 26.
“Jason Bateman didn’t know we were on a TV show,” DeVine said in an interview with The Daily Beast. “He had no idea about Workaholics until then, and then he was like, ‘I guess these guys are really on a show,’ which is really cool. I’m such a huge Arrested Development fan.”
“Mitch Hurwitz [creator of Arrested Development] thought we were cool enough to have a cameo,” he added. “You usually consider a cameo for a real star, which I do not consider myself a real star quite yet.”
However, DeVine may just be reaching that stardom faster than he thinks. Workaholics gained so much popularity—especially with college students—since its inception in 2011 that Comedy Central ordered fourth and fifth seasons from the creative team earlier this year. On the heels of the 2012 film Pitch Perfect (a successful Glee-like hit), an upcoming Comedy Central stand-up series, and a completed action-comedy film script to be produced by Seth Rogen (Pineapple Express) and Scott Rudin (No Country For Old Men)—DeVine is hitting the bull’s eye on the comedic radar.
DeVine’s Funny or Die video, released today, is the first of a three-part series spoofing reality TV shows like Cops and The Real World. (The other two sketches will roll out in the coming month.) “Some celebrities like to get behind water conservation or helping the homeless get back on their feet,” DeVine said. “Me? Body grooming control: that’s what I like to step behind 100 percent.”
The raunchy humor of these Funny or Die clips run along the same comedic vein as Workaholics. The TV show has been described by the Boston Globe as “part Jay and Silent Bob, part Three Stooges, and part the gang from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” The show is a lowbrow jaunt through the lives of three recent college graduates who live and also work together at a telemarketing company. In their free time, they smoke weed, have adventures with psychedelic mushrooms, and drink beers on top of their roof. One of the biggest draws to the storyline is that their dysfunctional friendship is actually endearing.
“It was like a romantic comedy,” DeVine said, joking about how he met his co-creators of the show. “There was the meet-cute. We were all just walking down the hall carrying a bunch of papers and bumped into each other, bumped heads, and were like, ‘Oh, I’ll help you with that.’”
In actuality, when DeVine moved from his Nebraska hometown to Southern California when he was 18, he dove straight into improv, sketches, and stand-up. He met Blake Anderson (Blake Henderson) in an improv class in community college, who introduced DeVine to his elementary-school friend Kyle Newacheck. (Newacheck is the director for Workaholics and also plays the drug-dealer, Karl Hevacheck, in the show.) The team was complete when DeVine met Holm—whom he described as a “total weirdo”—at Second City’s Conservatory Program, and they made a series of YouTube video sketches that went viral. Comedy Central took notice of them and gave the crew free reign to direct, write, executive-produce, and act in their own show. Workaholics is based on Holm and DeVine’s once real-life jobs at a telemarketing company that was “soul-sucking” and “soul-crushing,” he said, and it’s filmed in the same house DeVine shared with Anderson and Newacheck while they were making their homegrown YouTube clips.
From Workaholics, DeVine moved on to a bigger role on the big screen as the hilariously arrogant leader of college a capella group, the Treblemakers, in Pitch Perfect. When he auditioned for the role, he was so busy with Workaholics that he only had time to read the sides, not the full script, and didn’t realize it was a film heavily involved with singing. On the fly, he auditioned with the theme song from seminal ‘90s TV sitcom, Family Matters.
“I have no idea how they heard me sing like an 80-year-old old jazz musician and were like, ‘He’ll be great singing Rihanna,’” he said. “But it worked out.”
His costar in the film, Australian comedian Rebel Wilson, not only guest starred in an episode of Workaholics locking lips with DeVine, but she also brought him on for a cameo in her upcoming ABC sitcom, Super Fun Night. “I’m hoping me and her just keep going down this path where once a year, we have a weird project together until we’re old people,” DeVine said. “It’s sort of a Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder situation where we just star in a 100 movies together.”
DeVine has been grateful for his many opportunities, and he’s now throwing a bone back to the stand-up world. In Comedy Central’s Adam DeVine’s House Party, airing this fall, DeVine hosts a stand-up comedy show in the backyard of a Hollywood mansion—the same one as Mike Tyson’s in The Hangover—and has a humorous narrative thread inside of the house that is interwoven with the stand-up routines outside. He hopes the series will shine a light on these up-and-coming comics, and show networks and agents that not only are these people funny, but they have acting chops as well.
“I always wanted to be a comedic actor—that’s what I wanted from the job—to do comedy and to create my own comedy,” said DeVine. “But I still love doing stand-up and will probably be doing it forever. I’d love to be an old guy who can’t really walk, can’t really stand-up, and I have to sit on the stool and tell jokes.”