No Need of a Laugh Track: An Interview with Hal Lublin, Mark Gagliardi, and Timothy Omundson from The Thrilling Adventure Hour at C2E2

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I got to sit down with Mark Gagliardi, Tim Omundson, and Hal Lublin from Thrilling Adventure Hour early Friday afternoon in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency at McCormick Place. If you aren’t familiar with TAH, then you are missing out. After commenting on my Hulk strength handshake (Hal: “We better give her a good interview, or she’ll beat us up!”) and a compliment to my SMEG green refrigerator nail polish from Tim, we started talking. Though please be advised, there was a lot of laughter during this interview – mostly my own. I didn’t include all the breaks, but it was non-stop fun.

Bandit: “First of all, I love The Thrilling Adventure Hour. I haven’t listened to the most recent episode of Sparks Nevada: Marshall on Mars, but I finished listening to Phillip Fathom: Deep Sea Detective last night.”

Mark & Tim: “Boo!”

Hal: “That’s all you need. You can stop listening now.”

Mark: “Onus!”

Tim: “What’s this character? I’m not familiar.”

Mark: “Phllip Fathmomless.”

Hal: “Stop it. I know there’s a twinkle in your eye.”

Bandit: “But I have to admit, my absolute favourite is The Algonquin Four.”

Mark: “Oh, The Algonquin Four was so fun.”

Hal: “That was fantastic.”

Mark: (to Tim) “Did you ever do one of those? It was a real short lived one.”

Bandit: “It was ridiculously random.”

Mark: “That’s where ‘Dorothy Parker SMASH’ came from.”

Tim: “I don’t even know that.”

Mark: “Okay, so you know who The Algonquin Roundtable are —“

Tim: “I’m not an idiot!”

[A/N: Everyone is now laughing. Give it a minute.]

Mark: “Our Fantastic Four is the Algonquin Four. So it’s Robert Benchley as the Human Torch. The Invisible Woman, or rather Man, is Woodrow Wilson. Harry Houdini as the kvetching Mr. Fantastic. And Annie (Savage) as Dorothy Parker is playing as the Thing meets Incredible Hulk.”

Tim: “That’s awesome.”

Hal: “The dumbest.”

Mark: “ ‘(imitating) Dorothy Parker Smash!’ It was a really fun day. In New York, every time I walk past the Algonquin Hotel I think ‘Dorothy Parker Smash’.”

Tim: (laughing) “Dorothy Parker Smash.”

Bandit: “So what got you guys originally involved with The Thrilling Adventure Hour?”

Mark: “We started (pointing to him and Hal) near the beginning. I started at the very beginning. You started toward the very beginning. Like a month later. Ten years and he’s a month later. It’s like the twins, one was born first and claims to be older. It began as a screenplay that (Ben) Acker and (Ben) Blacker wrote for a movie called Sparks Nevada: Marshall on Mars and had a table read at Blacker’s house, and we all just realized that it was really fun to do. Acker and Blacker liked that vibe of just getting a bunch of people and handing them scripts, feeding them, giving them booze, and having them make each other laugh. So the show was born out of that. And the only reason it’s a radio show is because that’s the medium if you want to hold the scripts in your hands. So that’s how it stayed. It was a different Sparks Nevada at that point; Holmes Osborne read Sparks Nevada. Killer actor. He’s the dad in everything. But then I introduced Acker to (Marc Evan) Jackson at Second City one night, and that’s how that sort of Sparks Nevada marriage began. And then it snowballed from there.”

Hal: “I got to know Acker a few month before the show started, then we were all in a sketch group together. The three of us and Annie as well. And you (Mark) had to drop out of a four person sketch show that he was writing, and I filled in for you. Because of that Blacker Dave Gruber Allen came to see me, and it went from ‘maybe we can get you to come do the show sometime’ to ‘will you come do the show next month’. I stuck around because I love to do narration, and they needed someone for that.”

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Tim: “They did need someone for that, but you’re still junior.”

Hal: “But still junior. I still have to shine Mark’s shoes and shirt, which is weird. Who shines a shirt?”

Mark: “Shirt shiners.”

Bandit: “You can de-lint a shirt.”

Mark: “Yeah, that makes more sense.”

Tim: “I always feel like I’m an interloper here. I guess I’ve been guesting for—“

Mark: “Like five years, haven’t you?”

Tim: “No, like two years. I like to feel like I’m the utility-bench-guest star… (cups mouth and does baseball announcer voice) ‘He’s coming in. Oh, he’s warming up in the back there, and he’s a lefty!’ So, someone reached out to me on Twitter. I think Janet (Varney) might have told Ben (Blacker) about it and the Thrilling Adventure Hour Twitter reached out to me and said ‘come to our show’. I’m pretty much the guy who always says ‘yes’. Loose.”

Bandit: “Easy?”

Tim: “Easy.”

Mark: “Undiscerning gentleman?”

Tim: “Yes. So I looked it up online and went ‘this looks like the most fun I could possibly have for free’. And I went and did it, and after the first time, I told the boys ‘anytime anywhere and I’m in’. And then I emailed them. I actually thought I screwed it up and I thought did something wrong because I hadn’t heard from them for a couple of months. So I would sort of put in emails ‘are you mad at me?” I would literally send emails saying: ‘put me in coach’, ‘what are we doing?’, ‘put me in your damned show’.

Hal: “That’s always the best way to do it.”

Tim: “They like me, though. They really like me.”

Hal: “In truth, we’ve been fortunate to have a lot of great guests, and in that group of great guests there are a handful who come in right away and go ‘oh, they completely get this [and] they can be in every show’ and Tim was one of those people. In addition to his body of work, like you could have a great body of work in film and television and do our little stage show and it might not be a fit right away. Everybody gets it at some point, but there are people who come in and we are like ‘oh, if you had been here in 2005, you could have been here with us every month’. Tim is one of those guys.

Tim: “Well that’s a high compliment. Thank you.”

Bandit: “Well, my next question is who is your favourite guest star, and no kissing up to Tim.”

Tim: “Yeah, so who in addition to me is your favourite?”

Hal: “Richard Speight Jr.”

Tim: “Who, by the way, you got from me.”

Hal: “Mine was Billy West. I am a huge fan of his. In addition of working in voice over, I’m a huge fan of it. And I’ve been a fan of his since I was 10. So the first time he did our show was a thrill; he was at our final show at Largo, that again was a thrill. And I feel that the more I run into him, the more chance he’ll remember who I am.”

Tim: “I’m not sure he will ever know who anyone is, just meeting him one time. I was like ‘who is this fascinating man?’”

Mark: “It’s like meeting an Elven immigrant from 1912 who has just arrived on our shores.”

Tim: “He was in a bowler hat and he looked like he walked out of a time machine.”

Mark: “He went from Ellis Island to Largo.”

Hal: “He passed the stair test for the infirm.”

Mark: “It was clown Ellis Island, so they were like ‘make this trunk look like a spiral staircase and then you can stay in our country’.

Hal: “Does the bib of your shirt flip up into your face? Great, you’re through.”

Mark: “He was pretty much dressed like Bill Irwin. Mine was Weird Al. That was…come on, I’ve had every album of his since I was a little kid. He’s done the show a couple of times, and he loves doing the show. That was awesome.”

Bandit: “Well, as kind of a resident guest, Tim?”

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Tim: “Well, there was a day I was sitting in the little room where we rehearse, and looked across the bar and went ‘That’s Michael Sheen!’ And then…he’s… he’s one of England’s greatest actors right now. I really admire his work, and I get to play a Brit off of him?! We were competing Brits, which made me so happy. It was great seeing Gary Dillahunt on the show. I’ve sort of known him over the years, but I don’t think we’ve ever acted together. We’ve been on shows on the same time, but never did a scene together. That’s what’s nice about the show, because I don’t know who is going to be here this week. I think it’s fun for the audience that way. Although I used to announce on Twitter when I was going to come play, and people would be like ‘Would you shut up! Shh! It’s a secret’. I’ve been doing this for a year and a half and you’re just now telling me it’s a secret?! So Richard Speight and I are on Twitter like ‘Come on down to Largo!’ And everyone is like ‘Dude.’ But you would just show up and go ‘who do I get to play with today?’ That’s the really fun aspect of it.”

Bandit: “Speaking of Largo, the 10-year run there has finished with the final show. How was it? Emotional?”

Mark: “Oh yeah, there were a lot of moments. When Marc Evan Jackson delivered the lyrics to the Sparks Nevada theme as a heartfelt monologue in the middle of the episode. So… oh spoiler alert, sorry. “

Bandit: “It’s all right. I’ll allow it.”

Hal: “And then everyone dies.”

Mark: “ Yes, everyones dies. That’s why we’re doing this interview, right? It’s us telling you how every character gets killed.”

Tim: “Which I thought was harsh.”

Mark: “Especially killing after he said ‘I’m from’, but not letting him get to ‘Earth’.”

Tim: “I really feel like that’s going to leave people hanging.”

Hal: “It’s the poetry of the moment.”

Mark: “Well they left him hanging.”

Bandit: “Well, there are a lot of cliffhangers Quantum Leap.”

Tim: “True. Sopranos.”

Bandit: “SeaQuest.”

Tim: “Wow. Way to pull that one out. Oh my God. Where I looked like this with a pointier and darker beard.”

Mark: “Were you a villain?”

Tim: “No, I was a bearded hippie scientist.”

Mark: “All bearded people are villains.”

Hal: “What?”

Tim: “If they have English accents.”

Mark: “Oh right.”

Tim: “Otherwise they do a country accent, and then they are just simple folk.”

Mark: “By the way, before I came down here for this session, I had a voiceover audition. That I just had to send off and I just did you (pointing to Tim).”

Tim: “What was it, because now I want to know what I have to go up to my room and knock out?”

Mark: “It was like ‘think Chris Sarandon from The Princess Bride but a little goofier’. I was like ‘oh, you mean Tim on Galavant?”

Tim: “Why am I not—”

Mark: “Yeah, thanks for my auditions.”

Hal: “Yeah, he auditioned and you’re going to get an offer.”

Mark: “You know can you just record into my phone ‘This is Mark Gagliardi reading…’”

Tim: “Yeah, I and I’ve gone into a couple of auditions and I was like, ‘oh this is nothing’.”

Hal: “Cakewalk.”

Mark: “Nothing.”

Hal: “We’re looking for a Timothy Omundson type. Just like him, not exactly him because we don’t want to be on the nose.”

Tim: “No because that’s just, it’s not that guy.”

Hal: “It pays a million dollars a minute.”

Mark: “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to derail…”

Bandit: “Oh no, that’s perfectly fine. I’m having so much fun.”

Mark: “Good.”

Hal: “It was an emotional night. But also it’s weird, but that’s over and we’re here now, just kicking off three days in Chicago, and then we have the tour coming up. And then they just announced Beyond Belief in Brooklyn that Mark and I are going to be a part of.”

Bandit: “Yes, I’m going to be there.”

Hal: “Awesome. It feels like that part is over but the show isn’t over. Even though we aren’t going to be doing that every month, we are still very much in each other’s lives.”

Bandit: “Speaking of the tour to Australia and New Zealand, if you need any tips, I used to live there.”

Mark: “Where?”

Bandit: “Wellington.”

Mark: “We are going to do that glow worm thing.”

Bandit: “Oh, the Waitomo Caves. There’s this one section where it’s a really dark tunnel and you crawl though on your knees. It’s optional. They call it ‘The Birth Canal’.”

Hal: “I can’t wait for my wife to be terrified by that.”

Mark: “For Jen to be trapped in an enclosed space crawling…”

Bandit: “You put on a wetsuit, gumboots, a miner’s hat with a lamp and everything.”

Mark: “Awesome.”

Bandit: “So, 10 years at Largo, what’s been your favourite moment?”

Mark: “On stage or off?”

Bandit: “Both.”

Mark: “I knew that was coming. I just made our homework harder. “

Bandit: “Exactly, and you’ll be graded and tested as well.”

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Hal: “One of the best parts of the show is seeing everyone every month. That’s an ongoing thing. It’s a family reunion. It was very special to do the 10th anniversary show in March. I think it’s the first time we ever did just the Workjuice players in the show. My first show, Tom F. Wilson was the special guest. Which is great for me because I’m a big Back to the Future fan. That was a special experience to do that once. It felt like those first couple of months, just all of those first couple of months with all of us filling stuff in and going everywhere. So those were the two that stand out to me.”

Mark: “Singing ‘The Rainbow Connection’ at the end of that episode was really special. On stage moments, this wasn’t in one of our monthly shows, but there is so much fandom amongst the cast for each other’s stuff and for our guest stars’ stuff. There was a time when Bob Odenkirk came onto the show and did a play version of Tales from the Black Lagoon. And Bob played the head of Universal Pictures, and I delivered a monologue while holding an actual (prop) gun on Bob Odenkirk. I’m standing there delivering these lines, talking to Bob with a gun on him, and all I’m thinking of is “Holy Fuck! I have a gun aimed at the dude who created my favourite sketch comedy show.’ That was pretty awesome.”

Tim: I don’t have a favourite one on stage. They are all special little babies that I love. For me it’s the moments backstage, I mean, that’s why I do the show. Yes, getting on stage and doing a silly voice is incredibly fun and satisfying, but really it’s hanging out with all these guys backstage. There may be alcohol involved in the show, maybe. It’s really just coming in and seeing everybody, having a drink, and going ‘what are you playing?’ and figuring it out; then going outside and shooting the breeze. There was a particular evening after a show where myself, Paget (Brewster), and a few other people, and Keegan Michael Key, just stayed in the theater drinking until 1:30am. I think it was awesome, because I’m just a huge fan of his. It’s just great because you get to meet these people, and work and play, and everyone is nice and mellow, and this is just awesome. It was a great day.”

Hal: “It’s cool because getting to know Tim last year at C2E2 and getting to do a signing with you and Speight, which I requested. I was like ‘please put me with them’. Because we were at the show, and we hung out at the Egyptian for Beyond Belief, the three of us. And when Galavant started, I was like ‘That’s my friend! He’s great! Jennifer, look how great he is!’ It’s exciting, it’s more exciting to have all these friends who are doing things you can watch and support. It’s cool to be able to watch someone on TV doing something cool that you like, and then being able to send them a message telling them how great they were. That’s special. It’s cool to have friends like that that you can support.”

Bandit: “You mentioned last year’s C2E2, you’ve been to SDCC, ECCC, NYCC, so at what other comic cons would you guys want to be a fixture? Just the larger ones?”

Mark: “Seattle was great. SDCC, C2E2, NYCC, all of them.”

Hal: “Mark and I will be at DragonCon this year.”

Bandit: “So will I!”

Hal: “That’s great! We should meet up there again. We’ll be recording our new podcast.”

Tim: “Tell us about your new podcast, won’t you?”

Hal: “Mark, sell it. Let’s hear the elevator pitch.”

Mark: “The elevator pitch, oh sorry could you press 4 please. Say, while I have you here, you should listen to a new podcast called We Got This.”

Hal: “Really? Why?”

Mark: “Yeah, it’s two really funny guys—“

Hal: “I like funny guys.”

Mark: “Hal Lublin and Mark Gagliardi, I believe are their names.”

Hal: “I don’t know the first one, but go ahead.”

Mark: “And they provide definitive answers to pointless debates.”

Hal: “Like what?”

Mark: “Like ‘should you put ketchup on a hot dog?’ and the answer is no. Sorry for the people that do, we will find you.”

Hal: “I’m going to quadruple subscribe to that. Can’t wait.”

Bandit: “In Brazil, people but ketchup on their pizza.”

Mark: “Those people are monsters.”

Hal: “What kind of world is that?”

Bandit: “It’s because that’s how the pizza is made that—“

Mark: “Terribly?”

Tim: “It doesn’t make it right.”

Hal: “That’s right.”

Mark: “You know that’s how slavery happened in the United States. This is just what we do.”

Hal: “They used to burn suspected witches at the stake, we shouldn’t keep doing that.”

Mark: “Let’s burn this witch and then have some of this ketchup pizza. There’s nothing good about this.”

Hal: “They started at the same time, I don’t know how the other one survived.”

Bandit: “So, another thing I wanted to ask is, if you could have any celebrity or voice on, alive or dead…”

Mark: “Alive or dead? John Wilkes Booth.”

Tim: “Dude, that’s not going to end well and you know it.”

Bandit: “I know the Booth family.”

Mark: “Really? Are they still pissed?”

Bandit: “They are decedents of Junius.”

Tim: “The father.”

Bandit: “I mean Edwin, sorry.”

Tim: “Edwin, the brother. So they are all decedents of Junius. So there.”

Hal: “Yeah, Tim, you’re right.”

Tim: “I know how family trees work.”

Mark: “Hi, I’m Tim Omundson for Ancestry.com.”

Tim: “Have you ever wondered if you were related to a famous assassin?”

Hal: “Can you do that, but make it more like a ‘Tim Omundson-type’.”

Tim: “Sure. Hi, I’m Tim Omundson for—“

Mark: “No, not exactly like Tim Omundson.”

Tim: (talking out of the side of his mouth) “Hi, I’m Tim Omundson for Ancestry.com.”

Hal: “You know, that’s perfect. You know who we should get for this? Richard Speight.”

[A/N: Again, more laughter.]

Hal: “Jeez, if we’re going living or dead, I gotta go Mel Blanc. But if we go living, when we were nearing the last show, the Bens were like ‘if you know any people you’d like to do the show that have not done it, we’re going to have everyone back’. And my answer was The Rock. Really. I’m a huge wrestling fan. I really wanted Dwayne Johnson to do the show, because I’m a huge fan, and I think he’d be great.”

Mark: “I’ve always wanted, well sort of living sort of dead if you think about the creator, but I’ve always pitched to the Bens that I’d love for Kermit and Miss Piggy to be on the show.”

Tim: “I would say Bill Murray.”

[A/N: Suddenly a group of cosplayers doing Guardians of the Galaxy walk by, which included a giant Groot with Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love” playing. We all turn and start laughing.]

Bandit: “Holy Chuck!”

Hal: “Why isn’t he dancing?”

Mark: “I feel bad for that guy because he got stuck playing Groot covered in gift wrap tubes. It looks great, it’s an amazing costume. But one guy got to be, well I’m just wearing clothes, and he’s like ‘I gotta be the tree’.”

Tim: “And then there’s the dude with all the makeup on that takes like four hours, and at night he’s like ‘are we done?’”

Hal: “Who did you say, Tim?”

Tim: “Bill Murray.”

Hal: “Oh, of course.”

Tim: “Hal, you’re so stupid, why didn’t you think of that. Dummy.”

Mark: “Listen, I think we came up with a really good list. Mel Blanc, Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Bill Murray.”

Bandit: “And John Wilkes Booth.”

Tim: “And John Wilkes Booth, featuring The Rock.”

Bandit: “Ha! Yes, well, thank you guys for taking the time. I’ll see you guys at tonight’s show, because I’d be stupid not to go.”

Tim: “Well, you’re very welcome.”

Hal: “Yeah, it was great.”

Mark: “Awesome, see you then!”

Author: Bandit

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