Funny friends riff on the search for stature in Nobodies.
The 2012 Oscars was a big night for Groundlings alumni.
The L.A.–based improv and sketch-comedy school is alma mater to Melissa McCarthy, a nominee that year for her star-making turn in Bridesmaids; Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, nominees or writing the original screenplay for Bridesmaids; and Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, the winners of the night for best writing, adapted screenplay, for The Descendants.
“It seemed like all of our friends were at the Oscars,” Rachel Ramras recalls, “and we were at home in our pajamas, watching.”
That experience could have gone one of two ways. Luckily, Ramras, Hugh Davidson and Larry Dorf — all Groundlings alumni themselves — chose to see the comedy in the situation.
As the executive producers, stars and sole writers of the TV Land series Nobodies — which scored a second-season order prior to its March 29 premiere — the trio continues to find the funny in the everyday embarrassments of being the unknowns among very famous friends, as well as the cringe-worthy experiences that come with clawing one’s way up in Hollywood.
“We had to go to work the next day, writing on our children’s animated show that no one was watching,” Dorf says of the Oscar aftermath. “Including our own children,” Ramras quips. “We don’t have to look very far from our real lives for comedy content.”
Indeed, for the pilot alone, they found inspiration in their jobs writing for Cartoon Network’s The Looney Tunes Show, and in their excruciating meetings at big studios where they attempted to pitch a movie called Mr. First Lady. In both real life and on the show, they tried and failed to attach McCarthy.
McCarthy is, however, an executive producer on Nobodies, along with her husband Ben Falcone and showrunner-director Michael McDonald — all of whom also guest-starred — as have Wiig, Bob Odenkirk, Cheryl Hines, Kristen Bell, Jason Bateman and a slew of other comedic talent.
“Hopefully we tricked people in the pilot,” Dorf says. “You see the three of us, and you’re getting ready to change the channel, then you see Maya Rudolph in the next scene.”
“And you’re like, ‘Thank God!’” Davidson says, finishing the thought.
Dorf appreciates the freedom granted by TV Land for the trio to star as unknowns in their own show. If it had gone to another network, he suggests, “There’s no way the three of us would have been allowed anywhere near it.”
“Better-looking people would have been cast,” Ramras says.
But for a show called Nobodies … “Inherently you cannot have a somebody saying they’re a nobody,” Ramras points out. “We feel like we hit the jackpot. And it was a fun set.”
“Nothing to compare it with, though,” Davidson says.
“Yeah,” Ramras agrees. “Never been on another set.”
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 4, 2017