168: Adam McKay

Adam McKay is a writer and director of such comedies as Anchorman, Taladega Nights, Step Brothers and more. He has just released his latest film, The Big Short. Jimmy sat down and talked to him about improvising in Chicago back in the ’90s, what he learned from being head writer on SNL, and how improvises when he directs his films.

4 replies
  1. Mark Ronhaar
    Mark Ronhaar says:

    Great episode! About halfway through the interview, Adam refers to something he calls the “frozen Harold.” I’ve never heard this term before, what does it mean?

    • Jimmy Carrane
      Jimmy Carrane says:

      Mark first of all thanks for listening, really appreciate it very much. My understanding of the term of “Frozen Harold” in the context that it was used in regards to The Second City revue Piñata Full of Bees back in the 90’s, it that they use the structure of Harold and the scenes are scripted. In what I can remember from that terrific show, Adam played a substitute teacher and that scene came back three times like in Harold.

  2. Sean Rivis
    Sean Rivis says:

    Such a great episode!

    Thought you should know that I was looking for a transcript of this episode because I really just wanted Adam’s advice in writing. I couldn’t find it, so I wrote it out –
    “Do as much as you possibly can. Improvise anywhere, crappiest stages – doesn’t matter – we used to do the weirdest shows. Get on stage get on stage make videos with your friends! Work, work, write, write sketches. Go take acting classes at weird acting schools cuz you’re gonna learn something from it. Go watch bizarre avant-garde theater companies you never know what you’re gonna pick up – that’s what we used to do here, we saw incredible theater. Never assume that all your work is about improv, it’s not. It’s about straight theater, it’s about, you know, bizarre movies, it’s about music you wouldn’t listen to, it’s about books you read. Make yourself a fully-formed person and then work as much as you can.”

    Truly invaluable advice. Thank you.


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