Detroiters

Comedy Nerd: Detroiters' Tim Robinson definitely didn't beat up geeks like co-star Sam Richardson growing up

Contributed by
Jul 11, 2018

There is no funnier show on TV right now than Comedy Central's Detroiters. Created by and starring Veep co-star Sam Richardson and SNL vet Tim Robinson, the sitcom focuses on the cheerful misadventures of Detroit's very fictional advertising agency Cramblin-Duvet. As the city's bargain basement ad firm, it services the Motor City's more unconventional businesses, entangling Sam and Tim, childhood best friends who exist in a kind of extended joyful adolescence, with characters whose eccentricities are surpassed only by the lead characters themselves.

Eccentric is not code for escapist; the Detroit of Detroiters still has all of the problems of the real world, it's just that the sun shines a little brighter there.

With the show midway through its second season, Richardson and Robinson hopped on the phone with SYFY WIRE to talk about their geekier interests, as part of our growing Comedy Nerd series. The following has been lightly edited and condensed, mostly because Richardson and Robinson make each other laugh non-stop.

Did you grow up geeky?

Sam: I did.

Tim: I did too, but about skateboarding.

So instead of comics, you read Thrasher magazine.

Tim: Yeah, Thrasher magazine and Trans World.

So you were the kind of nerd that beat up the other nerds. The real nerds.

Sam: Yep, he was.

Tim: No! Sam's lying. He's telling a fake narrative about me.

Sam: I'm gonna get that narrative going. I'm gonna get that narrative flowing out there.

Tim: I was a cool skateboard fan, who didn't like the system.

That's fair. So Sam, what were you into?

Sam: You know, comics, sci-fi, SYFY channel, just pandering. I was really good at pandering.

Tim: Lay off the gas dude. He already likes you.

What were your 10 favorite SYFY network shows back then?

Sam: 10? You didn’t have 10 shows. [Laughs]

Tim: You can't say Swamp Thing.

Sam: Those reruns are great! The Incredible Hulk reruns.

That just about covers that. What comic books did you read?

Sam: Spider-Man and X-Men were pretty big comics for me, and especially right then the Fox cartoon was coming out so that made everybody in the world an X-Men fan. I was no exception. Along with everybody, Gambit was my guy. Remy Lebeau.

It's funny because I always thought everyone loved Wolverine, but you're like a second person to be like, "Gambit's my dude."

Sam: And that was the thing, yes, everyone loves Wolverine. But it's the same way everyone loved Jason the Power Ranger, you know what I mean? They make all the merchandise for one guy, but Gambit was the coolest.

See, you were the kind of kid that Tim definitely beat up.

Tim: No, I didn't beat anybody up!!!

Sam: Oh, don't you scream at us.

Tim: I'm not! Stop!!

Sam: You’re gaslighting.

Tim: You've done it. You've done it, Sam. It's freaking… I'm nice! And I watched the X-Men cartoon, too! I knew Beast was in jail. In the pilot, throughout the first season. Yeah, I stopped watching at the pilot, but I watched it!

I like to think we're gonna get the geeky stuff out. It's gonna reveal itself. All of a sudden, a groundswell of nerdiness is gonna come out of you. So, were you guys into Star Wars? Or just Sam.

Tim: I definitely was not.

Sam: I was. I was into Star Wars. But Tim loves old Star Trek. Didn't you just get into Star Trek a couple years ago?

Tim: Yeah, I got into the old one.

So what inspired that?

Tim: Here's where the nerdiness creeps in. I'm crazy into Twilight Zone. I got through every Twilight Zone. I would watch them at night, and it was my relaxing thing to do. When I got through them, I didn't know what to do so I just went "Maybe I could give the original Star Trek a try." And I did, and I don't like it as much as Twilight Zone. Obviously, they're not the same show, but I tried it.

How much did you get through?

Tim: I got about halfway through it. It shouldn't be an hour. It should be a half hour.

Sam: I agree. However, Next Generation needs to be an hour because they deal with the topics, you need to set up the moral dilemma and how the show would affect everybody and how would they come through it. The original Star Trek, it was always aliens and then Shatner would go beat them up and have sex with their women then come back. You can do that in a half hour. You can do that in 15 minutes.

So I take it you’re a Next Generation fan? Any others?

Sam: Next Generation is the one that I watched the most. I remember when Voyager came out, I was like "cool" and then Deep Space Nine, but those were, to be honest, kind of boring. Voyager was fun, but Deep Space Nine was just like an apartment complex in space. I didn't love it.

When you were watching Next Generation, which character did you identify most strongly with?

Sam: My favorite was always Data, because I don't understand emotion, so I was trying to map that. I'm totally a sociopath.

OK, Tim, you were a skateboarder. I bet you played a lot of video games.

Tim: Oh man. Every question is a dead end. No. I didn't.

No? What did you do with your time, then?

Tim: I just skateboarded, and I...

Sam: Wore leather jackets and just flipped a coin around the place.

Tim: I didn't wear a leather jacket, man. I didn't grow up in the '50s.

Sam: He had a pack of cigarettes rolled up under his white t-shirt sleeve.

Tim: You know, one time when I worked at SNL, me and my friend Zach Kanin, wrote a sketch and we had Worf in it. Worf, what's he on? Next Generation?

Sam: Yes.

Tim: OK, Next Generation. We wrote and we realized that we just like the name Worf, and we put him in it, and we didn't know anything about him. So, we just made the character in the sketch be like, "I’m actually not a big Star Trek fan, so I don't know a lot about him either." We did put him in there, but we didn't know anything about him so we just made a character who was dressed as Worf also know nothing about him.

Did you hear from fans at all?

Sam: I still have the letter that I had written. I still haven't sent it yet. It’s strongly worded. It’s gonna boil over.

NOTE: At this point, the phone connection got fuzzy, and Sam dropped off the call. So for a while, it was just Tim and me. We decided to talk about skateboarding. He had a World Industries board, which I correctly identified as "the one with the little flame and water droplet guys." Then we segued to talking about Tony Hawk Pro Skater — he was excited that a local Detroit punk band, Suicide Machines, was on the soundtrack. His favorite skater to use in the game was Kareem Campbell.

Eventually, Tim asked to get Sam back on the phone. And eventually, Sam returned to the conversation.

Sam: I'm going through some wacky space zone, I guess.

The quantum realm.

Sam: Quantum realm, exactly. Hello, I saw that last night.

Ant-Man and the Wasp? What’d you think?

Sam: I thought it was okay. I think it's just connective tissue for the Marvel universe, you know? I appreciate the idea of Ant-Man literally being small stories within it.

What are your favorite Marvel movies?

Sam: Black Panther, 100 percent. Captain America: The Winter Soldier may be my top out of all of them. It's a tie between that and Black Panther. I enjoyed Civil War and Infinity War, I like a lot of these movies. Iron Man 1 and Iron Man 2, I enjoy a lot. Didn't love Iron Man Three, didn't love the first Thor, loved Ragnarok. The first Spider-Man, too.

Spider-Man: Homecoming?

Sam: Yeah, none of the others. Well, the first two Tobey Maguire movies. Both those Andrew Garfield movies, I watched them with gritted teeth.

If you could write any superhero movie, who would it be?

Sam: I think an Elongated Man and Blue Beetle movie would be fun. A comedy, I think it’d be funny.

Tim: I don't know who Blue Beetle is, but if you went and did something gritty with Blue Beetle, I think that sounds good.

Who wins in a fight: Godzilla or King Kong?

Sam: Godzilla. He's got like a million superpowers.

Tim: Yeah, Godzilla.

Sam: It's unfair. King Kong is just a big ape, whereas Godzilla has laser breath and he's aquatic and also a land monster.

Tim: If he gets tired, he can go under the ocean and chill for a little bit.

Sam: He's got a lot of stuff. He's got Gadzooky running around.

You think that's helpful?

Sam: Oh yeah. If ever Godzooky gets hurt a little bit, it gets Godzilla so much angrier and stronger. So Godzilla all day.

So he puts his kid in harm’s way to get himself real pissed off.

Sam: Exactly!

Detroiters airs Thursdays at 10:30PM on Comedy Central.