Hangin' with the State
The State invasion: David Wain, Joe Lo Truglio and Ken Marino bring their viralappeal to the Off-Centered Film Fest
David Wain, Joe Lo Truglio and Ken Marino, like the rest of their rapidly-expanding comedy family, are helping to redefine the face of comedy. As television, film and web stars, they are checking off every available media to effectively guarantee you don't forget their infectious brand of comedy.
Whether you fell in love with them for their groundbreaking MTV sketch comedy series, The State, or you joined up later for the now-cult classic Wet Hot American Summer, there's no denying the high-fiving appeal of these three beloved stooges, who are just a portion of the rapidly growing community of stooges that are shaping what America thinks is funny. Never cruel, rarely political and always personal, their humor has a lasting, universal appeal that has now spanned three decades.
In part to celebrate their antics and also to honor their long-standing friendships, the former members of The State met up this weekend with Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery for the 5th Annual Off-Centered Film Festival at the Alamo.
Dogfish flowed freely during a Rolling Roadshow screening of Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles, a paired feast of Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West and a special mish-mash of Wain's star-filled web series Wainy Days with a small appetizer of Marino's upcoming Batchelor-themed series, Burning Love.
Calagione is a college friend of The State, having met up with Lo Truglio during a study-abroad tour in Australia. When the two returned to New York, Calagione began home brewing his first batches, and the troupe was laying the groundwork for what would become MTV's The State. As he recalls it, "We would literally be brewing in one room, and they would be rehearsing in another room. The State even did the first commercials for Dogfish Head in '95."
"There was this friendly competition amongst us that really motivated us to keep creating stuff and getting stuff out there. And that's never gone away in the 20+ years we've been doing this."
Surprisingly, according to Marino, The State did not exactly feel like the kind of "making it" one might expect from one's first show on a major cable network like MTV.
"We did everything for the show, and still the eleven of us were making about $12.00 a week. We had an office just large enough to fit all eleven of us in it, with no windows. So I never felt like we got 'the call' from MTV. We were all just thinking, 'Oh, good, we got a job out of college. Now what do we do? Let's just keep going.' We were a pretty confident group of people, so we always saw bigger things happening."
"I think it helped that not everyone in the grouped liked every episode. The fact that there were some episodes that I don't like and everyone else does; in an aggregate, that makes me happy," explains Wain. "The State actually really benefited from that because it was never homogenized. There were little flavors for everybody in the group, and that carries over to outside the group as well. But what held it together, amazingly, was that all eleven of us were so much overlapping on the same page comedically."
"There was this friendly competition amongst us that really motivated us to keep creating stuff and getting stuff out there. And that's never gone away in the 20+ years we've been doing this," adds Marino.
With Wet Hot American Summer and The Ten and later with Wainy Days and the most recent, Wanderlust, Wain continues to grow his stable of like-minded regulars, including most of the members of The State and now-familiar faces like Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Justin Theroux, Adam Scott, Chris Meloni, Lizzy Caplan and more. With each new project, it seems like The State continues its gradual comedy takeover of Hollywood.
"When somebody's phone number gets into my phone, I want to use it," admits Wain.
"For me, when we shot Wet Hot, I was in L.A., I was doing work but it wasn't fun," says Marino. "Then when we did Wet Hot, it was like this magical, incredible experience of all these great people getting together and we all became friends. And that's what I want to do: work with the people I enjoy being around and who make me laugh. That's how I've approached work ever since then."
"We all know each other so well that there's such a developed short hand after so many decades that I don't have to worry about what anyone's going to do," Wain reports. "You come to appreciate that."
"Decades!" interjects Marino.
"Whoa, yeah, decades," Calagione follows up. "But, honestly, it's been neat getting to watch everyone stay close and get to make a living doing what they love."
By now, we've likely all been infected with the viral comedy of The State and its extended family. The only real option, like the Borg and now the Stooges, is assimilation.
The Wainy Days Collected Seasons 1-4 DVD is available for purchase and includes shorts, extras and outtakes. Wanderlust comes to DVD June 19th.