On “Baskets,” the first-year comedy he created with Louis C.K. and Jonathan Krisel, Zach Galifianakis plays twin brothers — Chip, a heartbroken, angry clown who finds himself working a rodeo in Bakersfield, and his condescending, loudmouth nemesis Dale.
The series, renewed by FX for a second season, mixes slapstick and seriousness in a way unlike anything else on TV. Galifianakis admits it’s a tough tone to create and maintain.
One critic wrote that “Baskets” felt like “The Jerk” done in the style of a realistic indie drama.
(Laughs) I like that. It’s “The Jerk” with tone problems. I like that the tone is off-kilter in our show. A lot of American comedies are loud, and there’s a lot of cursing.
I’ve been very guilty. But I’ve tried not to curse in movies. It’s such a crutch. There’s a lot of ways to tell stories. I’ve cast wide nets before. I just wanted to get back to the roots I was more comfortable with, the esoteric stuff that’s more weird than funny.
What TV comedies did you watch growing up?
With my dad, I watched “All in the Family” and “Cheers.” We watched a lot of Redd Foxx. And I would watch my dad watch “Benny Hill.” I loved watching my dad laugh at that show.
Then Shields and Yarnell, this weird mime couple. I got really obsessed with them and, in fact, started doing a very similar act with my friend [Jackson] Dunn for my school talent shows from about second grade to seventh grade.
That’s a pretty good run. What ended it?
The school bully made fun of me for participating in it. That was enough.
We’d do these little sketches and be robots, just like Shields and Yarnell. That was my first entrance into this glorious business.
I also liked “The Andy Griffith Show.” That still holds up. Though I never understood Aunt Bee’s accent. It was very proper and didn’t match the Southern setting.
Dale has a Southern accent, while Chip doesn’t. That might throw people.
I don’t know why he has a Southern accent. Dale’s so over-the-top. Being from North Carolina, I have met many people from the South like that. Not so much Louisiana. There’s something about the French influence. They have wit.
And great food.
I have been to the Po-Boy Festival. That’s a good day. I have a poster of it in our house.
What do you do all day at a po-boy festival? Go from booth to booth, eating po-boys?
Yeah. Why not? Though I’m not a big seafood person. I don’t trust it.
No shrimp or catfish po-boys for you?
Or lobster. Lobster used to be fed to prisoners. It’s prison food. Do you know that a female lobster urinates out her eye? Or urinates into a male lobster’s eye to calm him down so they can have sex? One or the other. That might be one of the reasons I don’t like seafood. I know those kinds of animal secrets.
Mama Baskets revealed her bucket list in the season finale. It had three items: Look through a telescope. Visit Pixar. Have some shark fin soup. What’s on your list?
Looking through a telescope would be one of mine. Mine are not big. I need to arrange my tool set before I die. I’ve been wanting to do that all my life. So that’s two. And then win the Nobel Peace Prize. How do you get that ball rolling?
There’s probably some paperwork involved. It might be tricky. That’s why Prince doesn’t have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Someone needs to file the papers.
Speaking of Prince, I am almost positive he wrote country music for Kenny Rogers and Tammy Wynette under the name Joey Coco. Why do I know this?
Why do you know about the lobster urination? You are a treasury of ...
... dumb information? Though the lobster one is not dumb. That’s a great ice-breaker. Just not at the Red Lobster.
There was a time in my life in college that I was so obsessed with Prince. I used to perform the “Sign o’ the Times” concert to my roommate almost nightly. I almost started dressing like Prince. Then I realized, “I don’t have the budget.”
We’ve moved pretty far afield from “Baskets.”
Well, no one wants to talk about “Baskets.” Or “Buckets” as everyone calls it. “Mom, it’s called ‘Baskets’ not ‘Buckets!’”