Anything Goes on Comedy Central: 7 Things We Learned From the Hilarious Paleyfest Panel

by Denny Directo 6:06 PM PST, March 07, 2015
Photo: Paley Center

PaletFest’s Salute to Comedy Central panel featured the stars of some of the network’s biggest and most outrageous shows including Workaholics, Broad City, Kroll Show, Key and Peele and Review. These comics know a thing or two about pushing boundaries for a good laugh and this panel discussion was no different. From behind-the-scenes stories to Comedy Central’s hands-off approach, here are seven things we learned from the hour-long banter.

1. No harm, no foul, no censorship
Comedy Central shows are known for pushing the boundaries and when asked whether anyone on the panel was told to dial it back by the network, you could tell wheels were turning. Whether it’s an orgy on Review, the Workaholics gang burning American flags, or Ilana Glazer jacking-off a tree in Broad City, everyone has pretty much gotten away with airing things that at some point may have made the network squeamish. More often than not, comedy and originality prevailed over censorship.

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2. Workaholics were actually roomies.
Adam DeVine, Blake Anderson and Kyle Newacheck all lived in the house they filmed in during the first season of Workaholics. Castmate Anders Holm did not. “Anders had a girl who loved him so he didn’t live with us,” DeVine explained. Unaware that they would last more than a season (“We were convinced we were going to get canceled because somebody made a mistake”), the boys stayed in the house for three years to “get the free rent.”

3. Key and Peele was almost Key vs. Peele?!
Key and Peele stars Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele revealed that during initial discussion about the pilot, the original name of the show was The Hypothetical World of Jordan and Keegan. Another title tossed around was Keegan and Jordan but that was a little too “Keenan and Kel.” The network also suggested Key vs. Peele but "we don't like to promote black on black violence,” Key joked.

4. Scripted > Improv
Holm explained that Workaholics is a lot more scripted than people would think. If it was all improv they would be clowning around for hours wasting tape. While shows like Workaholics, Key and Peele and Broad City, do leave room for improvisation (see Ilana and the tree above), they key to their seemingly off-the-cusp style of comedy has been to hire writers who know them. Broad’s Alana Jacobson and Glazer hired their friends from Upright Citizen’s Brigade who are "f**king geniuses" and understand their dynamic or how they talk to each other in real life.

5. Is Nick Kroll anti-Obama?
What began as a hilarious Obama outburst from Kroll early on during the panel quickly turned into a running gag throughout the afternoon. It paid off to the very end and got the biggest laugh when the entire group was asked who their comedy influences are. Kroll’s response? “Barack Obama, because his administration is a joke.”

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6. The Kroll Show swan song
Aside from the Obama jokes, Nick Kroll was able to pay tribute to his popular Comedy Central Show as The Kroll Show which comes to end this Tuesday after three seasons. Kroll revealed he is a big fan of many of the shows on the panel and that it is “a really good time to be a Comedy Central because there was a period time when it wasn't,” he joked. “But I do want to announce that I will be reviving Let’s Bowl,” he added, referencing a short-lived game show on Comedy Central. As for why he felt like it was time for Kroll Show to sign-off? “I felt like we had come to a natural conclusion with a lot of the stories we had done and pushed it to about where we wanted and felt like we were doing the best work and end there.”

7. Do what you want.
It was clear that Comedy Central has created a space where comics are free to some extent to do whatever they want. After developing Broad City and Workaholics for television, and bringing Key and Peele to fruition after their stint on MadTV, the network trusted the talent behind the shows to do what they do best: be funny by being themselves. “They were really helpful at expanding [the Broad City web series]," Jacobson said. "They were so collaborative and also really let us do our thing and really just use our own points of view."

Follow Denny on Twitter: @DDirecto.