March 1, 2024

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Zach Woods talks about NPR's brutal and endearing parody 'In the Know'

Zach Woods talks about NPR's brutal and endearing parody 'In the Know'

When Zach Woods was first cast as Gabe in Season 6 of the desk, found a comment online where someone described his face as “a combination of sadness and food poisoning.” This was before he appeared in one of the episodes. “I was like, 'Fasten your seatbelt, here we go!' He remembers thinking at the time.

In this episode of The Last Laugh PodcastWoods explains how he went from the “abject terror” of joining one of his favorite comedy shows to mentoring some of the biggest eccentrics in the tech world as HBO's Jared. Silicon Valley. He also discusses co-creating and starring as NPR's extremely awkward fictional show host Lauren Caspian in his new animated show Peacock. In knowledge Versus live action celebrities like Mike Tyson, Hugh Laurie, Nicole Byer and others.

“The thing about Lauren is that he's very uncomfortably close to me in a way that I really wish wasn't true,” Woods told me of his character, which is a bit like Ira Glass on This American Life but also evokes podcast hosts like Malcolm Gladwell. Ezra Klein and Michael Barbaro of The Daily. (The series begins with Loren practicing active listening for shirtless “hmms” in the mirror.) If he weren't an actor, Woods says he'd like to be Fresh Air host Terry Gross.

So what exactly does he have in common with his character? “Smug moral complacency that is not supported by your actual life,” Woods answers. And also “bribed self-involvement.”

One of his early inspirations In knowledge This came shortly after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in 2020. Woods was walking in the affluent Larchmont neighborhood of Los Angeles when he spotted a “Defund the Police” sign on someone’s front lawn right next to an ADT Security sign warning of the presence of armed men. . guards.

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“I was like Jesus Christ!” He wonders now. “‘Defund the police… but we also have armed mercenaries protecting our Audi SUV.’ It’s just like, come on.

He found a kindred spirit in his old country Silicon Valley President Mike Judge, who co-created In knowledge With Woods and Brandon Gardner. When Judge does satire, “it's quite harsh and harsh, but also kind of warm,” Woods says. Instead of the view being “top down, it is lateral.”

“Instead of, ‘Aren’t these people assholes?’ It’s like, ‘Aren’t we all such assholes?’ “And that’s actually my view of the world,” Woods explains. “I don’t think I’m better than people who virtue signal. I'm probably one of them more often than not. So we wanted to try to understand the basic needs, wounds, and desires that motivate people to behave in this disturbing way.

Of course, the danger of making serious liberals the target of the show's rhetoric is that they'll end up with a show that appeals mostly to right-wing audiences. What if these self-serious progressives aren't willing to laugh at themselves?

“The purpose of the show certainly wasn't just to be like a workplace comedy for the January 6 revolutionaries,” Woods says with a laugh. “But I think because there are such factions, and people are so enmeshed politically and in terms of who they are, I feel like there's not a lot of self-mocking going on across the political divide.”

“What we wanted to do was show people who have many different contradictory sides,” he adds. “And I think the more we can experience ourselves and each other in that way, as not just one thing, but a lot of different things at once, my hope is that if we can do that more than we will have more appreciation for our own absurdity, and more compassion for others.

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At that moment, Woods stopped himself with another self-deprecating realization: “Now I'm starting to sound like Lauren, describing a utopia on the other side of a 20-minute stop-motion comedy.”

Listen to the episode now and Follow the last laugh on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Googleor wherever you get your podcasts to be the first to hear new episodes when they're released every Wednesday.