"Lions yawn all the time. If I'm in a safari, would seeing a lion yawn make me yawn?" asked Galifianakis, whose scruffy facial hair would surely make for a strong frame to such deep inhalation. "Like, does it translate over? And since we're so close to monkeys, would we yawn if we see them yawn? Do you think Hitler ever yawned? You don't ever imagine him yawning."
“Baskets,” which airs at 10 p.m. Thursdays ET/PT, is the first project under FX Productions’ overall deal with Louis C.K. and his production company, Pig Newton. Galifianakis, in addition to serving as an executive producer, stars as a clown with dashed dreams who is forced to get a job as a rodeo clown after undergoing expensive circus training in France.
The Times spoke to Galifianakis and Krisel — about more than just yawning. See what they had to say about the unusual premise for the show, the wonder of Martha Kelly and, well, the levels of Costco memberships.
When there are four hundred and something scripted shows out in the universe, things can start to look and feel the same. And then there's "Baskets," about a clown with failed dreams who turns in Paris for Bakersfield. League of its own.
JK: Yeah, I think we were just trying to make each other laugh. There was one time we were shooting a scene where ... a big pratfall was going to happen. And Zach goes, “You have to make sure that the camera is very far away.” And that’s sort of what the show is. We’re doing big things, but they’re hidden. So it’s like Louie Anderson in a wig — we’re not going, “Look at this! Look at this!” We’re trying to show restraint so it can feel a little more authentic.
How was it when you told FX CEO John Landgraf what the premise of the show would be?
This show evolved a bit from what you initially set out to do, which was a behind-the-scenes type show of "Between Two Ferns" (Galifianakis' "Funny or Die" talk show). What prompted the shift to this?
... It’s the dream, the hope, the beautiful version of it: Paris, versus Bakersfield. The wife that he has versus Martha. The dreams that you have, versus your own life. And the reality that you came into and this whole, “How can I make these two things work?” But if you don’t have the dream of “Oh, I can be this magical clown” — if you don’t have that, you kill yourself. But if you always have that thing, it keeps you going. Look, he’s a terrible clown, but he has that dream.
And you want him to get it. You want to loan him $40.
I'm obsessed with Martha Kelly.
Did it take much cajoling to get her to do it?
Jonathan, what's it like for you as a showrunner trying to run this ship full of funny people?
ZG: I would talk to Jonathan a lot about this — a lot. About how the tone and the balance is going to be the hardest thing. But these editors, they found it. They found it in the stuff we shot.
ZG: There’s an element of surprise in the show, which I think is such a great trick in comedy. It’s my favorite thing when I watch things — to not see something coming.
Zach, who do you like playing more: Chip or Dale?
Did you do a lot of clown research?
JK: That encapsulates it. That’s what the show is — it’s Kirkland. The show is about the background moments of life. And Kirkland is the background moments of life. And they didn’t give me money. Wait. Maybe they gave us free water?
What level membership do you have at Costco?
What about this notion of “Peak TV,” which has become the topic of the industry thanks to your boss? What do you think of it or how has it worked or not in your favor?