When it comes to comedians, there aren’t too many faces more familiar than that of Rob Riggle’s. After getting his start on Saturday Night Live and appearing in box office hits such as The Hangover, Step Brothers, 21 Jump Street, and plenty more since, you could say that the 22-year Marine Corps veteran has been flexing his comedic muscles for quite some time now (just about 15 years, to be exact). But believe it or not, the resident funny man that has been crafting sketches on ‘Fox NFL Sunday’ for the past two seasons didn’t always use his jokes for the sole purpose of getting a good laugh.
So as Super Sunday approaches, we sat down with the Kansas City native to discuss everything from his comedic flair, to the first cold weather big game and its festivities, to what we can look forward to seeing from him in the near future. Check out our chat below:
What were like in High School? How did your comedy come to devlop?
I was a late bloomer, like crazy late. It was pathetic. But I rember in 9th grade, the summer before I went to High School, I was so small while all my friends had turned into men. Their voices dropped, their muscles got bigger, and they got bigger, and I was pre-pubescnet. I was just like I was in 5th grade, there was no difference. My 8th and 9th grade year, that’s when I started to develop humor and comedy as a defense mechanisim. I could run my mouth and keep people laughing -- or at least keep them away from me -- becuase I had no defense, I couldn’t defend myself with my hands.
What influenced you to join the Marines?
I was in college. I was an undergrad and was a theatre and film major at the University of Kansas. I loved it, but I had my pilots license. My grandfather he was in the Army Air Corps in WWII, but he couldn’t get into flight school. He wanted that for me, though. So he offered to pay for my pilots license. But I remember I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I didn’t think I could ever be an actor or be a comedian, I just knew I loved it and had a passion for it. Then, a buddy of mine was in the Marine Corps Officer Program and everything he said to me made sense. I got a guaranteed flight contract with the Marines, graduated from University of Kansas, I took my commission, went into the Marines, started flying for them, and realized that when I pin those wings on, they own me for 8 years. But Something deep insed me knew I wanted to try acting and comedy. Whether I failed or succeeded was almost irrelevant. It was just the fact that if I never tried Id never know and I think I had enough for sight back then to realize that I would laways regret that.
So how did you make that transition into comedy?
I eventually stopped flying for the Marines and fulfilled my ground contract. I was in North Carolina when I had finished my contract with them. I had just got promoted to Captian, but still, I was like I’m going to go to Chicago and give this comedian thing a shot. My boss in the Marines asked me what it would take for me to stay and offered to get me to stationed in NYC or LA. The next morning he had orders to send me ot NYC. I moved up there, extended my enrollment for another three three years. I did Marine Corps during the day and at night, I’d go down to the UCB Theatre and I would do comedy in any way, shape, or form. I just had to be around the theatre. About 7 years into it I got on Saturday Night Live. That was my first gig ever! It was probably a bad thing in retrospect, because I didn’t know. You go straight from the Marines to SNL, and I don’t know, it was too much for me.
How is it now that you’re on the big screen? And I have to say, one of my favorite scenes is in 21 Jump Street where Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are tripping.
(Laughs) That was a super fun scene. Most of those scenes are impriovised and that’s what makes them so fun. It feels real because we’re messsing with each other. But you don’t just do it to get a laugh, you do in character. How would he respond to these two?
Then in ‘Step Brothers,’ we were literally just havin a blast and doin weird things to make each other laugh. And I started yelling “Pow.” I did it once, and twice, and then Will is like “why are you doing that?” We went back and kept doing it because it worked, and nect thing you know it ends up in the movie.
You took over for Frank Caliendo on Fox. Is that something you were you expecting?
No, I didn’t expect it at all. I had just hosted the ESPYS and I was just kind of planning whatever was next after that. I got a call from FOX asking if I would do it. I had seen it before and thought yeah, that’s fun, you get to write a sketch and do a sketch every week. And I was very fortunate they asked. It’s fun and its challenging, because for 22 weeks in a row, my team and I have to come up with stuff every week. Its got to be be G-rated and its got to be football centric and we try to pick whatever the issue of the day is.
How do you feel about a Super Bowl being in New York?
I’m excited the NFL decided to have a cold weather Super Bowl. It has never been done before. I think it’s goning to be amazing, and I’m going to be out there because I want be a part of history.
Are you excited for the Bud Light Hotel and all the Super Bowl related festivities?
Yeah, defiinitley! That’s going to be blast. Bud Light brought their own hotel with them…it’s a freakin cruise ship! Its brand new, no one’s even done anything on it. It’s up on Pier 88 right next to the intrepid. There will be parties, concerts, everything.
Are you looking forward to anyone in specific?
All of ‘em! I haven’t seen any of them live concert and I love all of them. I’m acclectic with my music. If I’m in a reggae mood, I listen to reggae. If I’m in a country mood, I’’ll listen to country. If Im in in an only AC/DC today, that’s all I’ll listen to (and I do that more often than not). But they have Run DMC, Bust Rhymes and The Roots -- that’s going to be a fun night. Plus I think the parties are going to be great. Pier 88 is going to be rocking, so I’m looking forward to it.
What can we expect from you post-NFL season? Anything in the works?
I got five movies that I’m in coming out this year. Dumb & Dumber 2, 22 Jump Street, a movie called Let’s be Cops with Jake Johnson and David Wayans Jr., Just Before I Go, wich stars Sean William Scott and was directed by Courtney Cox (her first feature film). And lastly, an R-rated clay mation movie called Hell and Back. That has a killer comedy line up.
Cool man, we’re looking forward to it. Thanks for chatting.