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‘Corporate’ creators Jake Weisman & Matt Ingebretson talk concerts, Ty Segall, masturbation & more in BV interview

Corporate stars and co-creators Matt Ingebretson and Jake Weisman
Corporate stars and co-creators Jake Weisman and Matt Ingebretson

Comedy Central’s Corporate derives much of its biting, dark humor from the frustrations, compromises and humiliations of having a soul-sucking job at a mega corporation, but it offers other diversions, too. Having just started its second season, this week’s episode, “The Concert,” deals with the struggles of being an adult and going out on a weeknight. Specifically, co-creator and star Matt Ingebretson‘s character is determined to make it out to see hyped noise rock band Honeyscratch despite being super hungover, a 1 AM set time and a forecast for rain. “Concerts being fun is one of the greatest lies being perpetuated by American media,” says his cynical, cat-loving coworker Jake (co-creator Jake Weisman). “Living life to the fullest is a con. It’s like having a second job you waste all of the money from your first job on.”

“The Concert” also pokes fun at music blog / Pitchfork culture and has some great moments with series regulars Aparna Nancherla, as Human Resources manager Grace, and The Wire‘s Lance Reddick as the imposing CEO of their company, Hampton DeVille. Providing the music for Honeyscratch is Ty Segall, who also wrote the show’s theme song and provides incidental music for the series. He also wrote a brand new song, “Just Give Up,” which plays over the closing montage of the episode and is one of his catchiest songs, in addition to tying in with the episode’s themes. You can listen to the song, and watch that montage (spoilers within), below.

I talked with Matt and Jake, who co-created the show with Pat Bishop (who directs “The Concert”), about going to shows over the age of 30, working with Ty Segall, directing masturbation scenes, and more. Read the somewhat spoiler-y conversation, and watch Corporate‘s S2 trailer, below.

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Thanks for talking to me — I must say, just judging by me typing the words  “Corporate Comedy Central” into Google, we have to be one of the last media outlets or podcasts that hasn’t interviewed you for Season 2.

Matt Ingebretson: Yeah, we are really whoring ourselves out right now.

Jake Weisman: Yeah, we’re whores. But being a whore is underrated.

It was down to just us and Cat Fancy.

Jake: Do you know how hard I tried to get on the cover of Cat Fancy only to find out that it’s not operating anymore?  It’s so devastating. I tried to get on there because it’s like how many people are trying to get on that, but I think it’s down now. I believe it’s down, which is devastating, and just a sign of media becoming more scarce and cats not being loved as much as they should be.

Themes that are prevalent in season two of Corporate.

Matt: Yeah, that’s right, very true.

So with a second season of the show, did you find things easier or harder?

Jake: Well, I think that this is kind of maybe a cliché answer, but there are certain things that are definitely easier when you have experience because the first season of a show you’re learning how to make the show while you’re making it, so you have confidence. They’re letting you do a show for a reason. They’re spending a lot of money, so they definitely vetted you correctly. But, you can’t possibly know all the millions of things that go into making a show and especially a show that you want to be good. However, if you’re making something good, and this applies to anything artistic, it’s always going to be hard. Nothing good comes out of, “Alright let’s just do it.” It’s all just pain and torture and then eventually you end up with something good, but it’s always going to be difficult. Otherwise, it probably isn’t that good.

Matt: I think, too, in the second season, yeah, we were a lot more ctonfident going into it, but it’s always challenging to … You know, the first season was kind of what we planned out when we pitched the show and so how do we expand this universe and tell new stories without betraying the central themes of the show. And so, it was challenging to find the right stories for season two.

Jake: You never want to rest back on your laurels and do what you’ve already done. Otherwise, there’s no point in doing it. We don’t just want to make a show for the sake of making money or telling the same thing.

Jake: You treat each new season as kind of a new treatise on life, essentially, and you kind of have to challenge yourself to figure out what that is.

I feel, as a television viewer, that comedies tend to get better especially after the initial episodes, once the setup is out of the way and everybody knows the characters more. 

Matt: Yeah, I think we feel similarly. I mean, it’s the reason the pilot of a TV show is usually the worst episode of the entire show and then it gets better for a few seasons. And then, around season five, they run out of ideas and get lazy and start working on other projects and then it gets worse for a while. And maybe they pull it out for the final couple seasons.

Jake: Yeah, but the funny thing is that when you’re making a show, especially a comedy, you’re making a show because you have a point of view about the world and you want to say something. But, really, you learn that most people just want to feel hugged by the characters. They just love certain characters and they come back and want to see them in new situations. Even though it’s not the reason you start making a show, the reason you end up continuing to make the show is just to see where the characters go. They kind of tug you where the show goes.

I guess also with Corporate — I don’t know exactly what your background in having soul-sucking day jobs is — after the first season you must’ve gotten flooded with other people’s examples of office nightmares.

Matt: That is correct. We also seek that out to some extent. Before we’ve written each season, we’ve reached out to various people who work at big corporations like these and interviewed them on their experiences and stories that they’ve had from their jobs and base various episodes on those. So, we’re trying to continue to do the work to, like … Yeah, I had years of working at jobs like this, but we also want to just continue to ground it in what people are experiencing currently at jobs like this.

So as we’re mostly a music blog, I really want to talk about this week’s episode, “The Concert,” which is about the very real struggle of going out to see a show on weeknights. Though that’s actually my job to do that…

Matt: We know. How do you feel about what we said?

Jake: Yeah, how do you feel about it. Don’t you kind of see yourself in it a little?

I’m older than you guys but I still go see a lot of shows, but not as many as I used to. 

Jake: Well, I would bet you see way less opening bands than you used to as well.

That’s definitely true.

Jake: Yeah, it’s funny because Matt, Pat, and I are enormous music fans and music nerds. And that’s mostly what we talk about more than even talking about comedy. We are constantly sending each other new music. We love music and we want to make the show really musical because that’s part of what makes filmmaking great is it’s sort of pairing with music. And so, we love music so much, but we just are tired… I used to go to four or five shows a week. In college, I was a college radio DJ. I still look up bands all the time and am finding new bands all the time, but I’m just listening on my headphones at home. Music seems to be a young person’s game, and it is devastating to me that I don’t want to go to concerts anymore because I love music so much and, to me, it’s one of the best parts of life. But, it’s not worth standing for 90 minutes and having back strain when I could just get home and be sort of horizontal.

I hear that.

Jake: I think to us “The Concert,” it’s specific to music, but it’s also just a story of sort of maturing and accepting life for what it is. You know, you get older and — this is the truth — as much as I wish I could still be young and go enjoy … because music, to me, it’s almost like a symbol of youth. It’s, like, this is youth. This is vitality. This is the vibrant part of life. And I’m just tired now.  I’ve bought so many concert tickets and not gone in the last five years. I’ve bought 30 tickets to 30 concerts because I wanted to believe I was gonna go, but didn’t go and realized I’m not that person anymore.

Matt: And so, Jake is broke now.

Jake: I think it was just funny to us, the idea of celebrating this feeling that is often talked about with derision, which is, “It’s okay to not to buy into the idea that you must live life to the fullest every second of the day.” That’s just not true to my experience, at least. And living life to the fullest often means doing nothing, and that’s totally fine, too.

Matt: I want to give permission to people to do nothing and feel good about that.

Jake: It gets to a certain point where just having fun becomes a burden and then you feel bad about wanting to feel good. And so, it’s just this weird sort of loop of entering into sort of middle age.

So, Jake, you don’t completely believe, as you say in the show, that “concerts being fun is a myth.”

Jake: [Laughs} No, I think my character is a little bit ridiculous. No, concerts are probably the best experiences I’ve ever had. But, also, not going to a concert when I don’t want to go is also equally good. And I think that we need to remember that staying in is wonderful and you’re lucky to have a place to sleep in, and staying in and masturbating is as joyous as LCD Soundsystem is the many times I’ve seen them.

Speaking of, I very much enjoyed the little LCD Soundsystem dig in the “Protest Fest” episode from season one where LCD were playing their final show on Friday of the festival, and then their comeback show on the Sunday of the festival.

Jake: Yeah, they’re like the Brett Favre of bands.

So, what was the last show that either of you saw, you actually went out and used the ticket that you bought?

Matt: I went and saw Thom Yorke at the Ace Hotel recently, which was really cool. I was a big Radiohead fan in high school and listened to them obsessively, and then essentially stopped listening to them for a decade just because I think I overdid it. But, I went and saw Thom Yorke and it turns out he’s really good at music and putting on a really cool show. So, I felt like I was 17 again, which was fun.

Jake: I’m pretty obsessed with this band The Weather Station. I’ve seen her twice in the last year, which means I really like her because I can’t imagine I will ever see another band twice in a year. She’s not that famous in America yet, and when she comes she only plays to, like, 15 people and it was the same 15 people at both shows. But it was perfect because it was very quiet and there was a lot of room to stand. No one was bumping into me, and she played lovely songs and it was a reasonable evening. And I could go home at a reasonable hour and I loved it.

Matt: Um..Thom Yorke. I want to change my answer. I feel like Thom Yorke isn’t a cool enough answer. I feel like BrooklynVegan has moved on from Thom Yorke. Let me think of someone else I saw.

No we still love him!

Matt: I actually don’t know who’s cooler to BrooklynVegan. I saw Sheer Mag recently. I don’t know if this is cool either, John Prine, is probably the best concert I’ve been to in the last year.

Jake: Also, I’m 35, so I’m five years older than Matt, and much more tired than Matt is. So, he still wants to feel cool. If you’ve noticed, he still wants to feel like he goes to a lot of concerts and he wants his answers to be cool. I’m very okay with not being cool because I’m older and more mature than he is.

Matt: Actually, if you wouldn’t mind, just don’t put any of what I’ve said in there and you insert the coolest band I should have said and just have that be my answer. [Laughter]

In the episode, the band Matt’s trying to go see, Honeyscratch, they’re not going on till 1 AM. Does that happen in L.A. these days? Shows seem to be getting a little earlier in NYC, at least on weekdays.

Jake: What sucks about L.A. — and we perform comedy so we also deal with it from a performer angle — is that they sort of encourage laziness or lateness amongst the audience. It’s cool to be an hour late.

That happens here too.

Jake: If you show up on time to something, it’s like what the fuck are you doing here?

Jake: And so, a lot of times the shows called for 8:00, you end up going on at 9:30. And you’re, like, “Dude, if I called for 8:00, I have a life.” All I want is for set times to be accurate. Just tell me when something’s happening. Don’t make me show up and wait three hours. Just let me know when I should show up. All I want to know is when. I just don’t want to be there and not know what’s going on. You know what I mean? I don’t want my time wasted. I’m 35, close to dying!

Matt: I don’t think I’ve been to a show where anything starts at 1 AM, but it’s more just that feeling of “Oh, the show starts at 8. Okay, cool. I’ll get there at 8.” Oh fuck, I’m gonna be here until midnight

Jake: With three openers I don’t like.

Matt: Yeah.

Jake: It’s just don’t waste my time. Please let me know. I’m so tired.

Ty Segall, he does the Corporate theme song and he does some incidental music for the show. But, in this episode, you had him provide the music for Honeyscratch, the band that Matt’s trying to see. What sort of instructions did you give to Ty about what Honeyscratch was?

Matt: Well, Pat Bishop, our co-creator and director, got in. We went and saw Ty and his wife and another musician do a show at Zebulon. How cool does that sound by the way? I feel like I’m turning the corner on sounding cool.

Zebulon was a venue in Brooklyn first and moved to Los Angeles

Matt: That’s right. Are they no longer in Brooklyn?

No, they got priced out by the real estate market,  left Williamsburg and moved to L.A.

Matt: Well, I’m sorry about that, but also thank you. So, I saw Ty play this set that was really fucking cool and interesting, but it was extremely noisy and sort of the set where your body is shaking from the bass. And it was very screamy and just sort of just like an insane musical experience that was in some ways incredible to witness and in other ways very abrasive. I had to take breaks to, like, walk out of the room and then come back in because it was almost jarring to listen to. So, we heard that and tried to imagine a character who’s not as open-minded to that type of music. Or imagining just sort of, for lack of a better word, like a normal person going to a show like that. They would probably be shocked and upset by what they were witnessing. So, we kind of told him to do something like that.

Jake: It’s just, basically, it’s supposed to be one of those bands that gets reviewed well and when you’re young and don’t really have discerning taste and can’t stand up for yourself anymore you pretend to like. We’ve all done it. You pretend to like the band because everyone likes them and you know you don’t really like them, but you’re just sort of, like, “Well, but they’re cool. The reviewers said it was cool, so I have to like them.” And we’ve all been guilty of this. We’ve all been false in our life and there’re so many bands like that. They’re, like, “No, this is what’s cool now” and you just don’t like it, but you’re pretending to like it because you feel you should.

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In addition to that, he wrote the montage song at the end, “Just Give Up,” which ties in with the episode’s theme of, like you said, sometimes living life to the fullest is just staying home and doing nothing.

Jake: When we pitched that idea to the songs, we kind of wrote it together to some degree, or the lyrics and concept of the song. And we knew we wanted to do a musical ending. He said, “Just so you guys know, even though I’m relatively young and on the road and playing concerts, when I’m not on the road I’m at home and on the couch. I relate to this song. And I’m a young rocker,” so even he relates to just wanting to do nothing.

Wanting to do nothing…though he released five albums last year.

Jake: I know. He releases six or seven. He doesn’t want to do anything except work. After he works, he wants to be on the couch. And I think that’s really funny because he’s out all the time and he’s as cool as it gets, really. But, he just wants to work and then stay at home with his animals and wife.

How many names did you pitch before you decided on Honeyscratch, and what were some of the alternate band names?

Jake: You know what? It was the first pitch. I came up with it. We couldn’t believe it cleared. No one has ever had that band name. I wish we could say we did that whole hilarious fake list, but it was the first one and it just stuck. We couldn’t beat it. We hope a Honeyscratch tribute band pops up somewhere. Hopefully if someone wants to start that, we will promote the shit out of it.

Matt: Yeah, and they can play cruise ships.

“Just Give Up” is such a good song, too, one of Ty’s catchiest, really. You just shared the video of it [if you missed it, see above] but are there plans to release it officially?

Jake: Isn’t it so good? We’re hoping that we can get it out somewhere because I think people are going to really want it, because he’s one of the best musicians and it’s a great song by him. So, hopefully there’s enough of a demand where we can release it as a single. If you want to tell your readers to Tweet at Comedy Central and Corporate for the song, that might help.

Will do. The montage that “Just Give Up” soundtracks is basically every major character on the show masturbating in their bed, including Hampton DeVille CEO Christian DeVille, who’s played by Lance Reddick. I have to imagine that you guys are probably TV fans, probably fans of The Wire. How do you give notes or direct Lt. Daniels to do that scene. Are you, like, “No, go broader!” or anything like that?

Jake: Luckily, everyone has masturbated. So, luckily, that’s just a universal thing. So, most people understand this is what you do and the joy you feel from it.

Matt: Thankfully, everybody was like down to have a fun time and do it. But it is onset extremely strange to suddenly be looking at the monitor …

Jake: “Can you masturbate better?” [Laughter]

Matt: Yeah, and it’s like I’m about to watch Aparna Nancherla and Lance Reddick “faux” masturbate and then have an orgasm. We did give the note once to Aparna that she needed to have an orgasm for longer, that she was coming too quickly. So, that was a strange experience.

Lance really went for it.

Matt: Yeah, he does. And that was all … We didn’t have to give him any notes. That was all his own additions. He can take credit for that.

The other thing I was going to mention was Jake, your character, the cat was on the bed.

Jake: You know what? You may find it disturbing, but I bet a lot of people who have animals will find that situation as relatable as possible if they’re being honest with themselves. Sometimes the cat or dog is on the bed and you don’t want to kick him out, but you gotta do what you gotta do and that’s just what a family is. {Laughter]

Matt: I refuse to speak or corroborate Jake’s story. He’s on his own in this situation.

Jake: You know what? If everyone’s being honest, that’s what they do, too.

So it was a conscious decision to have Pebbles there?

Jake: Yes it was, and I stand behind it. We wanted as gritty realism as The Wire. And if masturbating on your bed where your cat is on the bed, too, is that, then that’s what it is.

Ok, moving on…in addition to Ty’s score, there are some great music cues this season, like the use of Lee Hazlewood’s “Trouble Maker” in the scene with Matt’s college buddy, Todd.

Jake: We’re huge fans of Lee.

Matt: Our music supervisor, Hilary Staff, made a lot of selections for us in this season including that one. She’s into old, archival stuff. So, a lot of that stuff kind of comes from her back catalog knowledge of … Not that Lee Hazlewood is undiscovered, but sort of a little more below under the radar, back catalog stuff.

Jake, Matt and Todd (Chris Fleming) in "The Concert" episode
Jake, Matt and Todd (Chris Fleming) in “The Concert” episode

Also, as to that scene, I thought that Chris Fleming just killed it as Todd.

Matt: Oh my God.

Jake: Isn’t he such a genius? We’re kind of lucky. He’s famous to a certain type of person, but a lot of people don’t know who he is yet. And he is maybe the smartest, most funniest, most talented person we know. So, we’re very lucky. No one’s ever used him also as a bro.

Matt: Yeah, he’s just like just one of the funniest performers and, also, his mind is just sort of exploding. At various points, and we luckily knew this going in, that we could just sort of let him go, like give him a prompt and let him rip for a while. And he wrote probably one-third of the lines that ended up in the final cut. He just kind of did off the cuff, so …

I’ll admit I’d never heard of him before. I had to look him up.

Jake: Oh, he’s the best. Everyone should check out his Web series Gayle.

Matt: Yeah.

Both said how much you’re into music, have either of you ever been in a band?

Matt: No. I was in the band in high school. I was on the drum line, which is … You know what? Don’t tell your readers that, actually. I want to maintain my cool, so don’t tell them I was in the marching band.

Jake: I have always been so bad at music and that’s why I can enjoy it. Because I can’t play a lick of it, so I think it’s all great. I don’t feel any anxiety about my failures … I’m not insecure at all when it comes to music, I just think it’s all wonderful and that’s because I can’t do it at all.

Matt: Jake is a little tone-deaf.

What are you guys into these days music-wise? New or old.

Matt: I’ve been listening to Suzanne Ciani, electronic New Age musician. I’ve been listening to a lot of her stuff.

Jake: I like Christine and the Queens. I like Ezra Furman. I like Vince Staples, and. I love Robyn.

Matt: Let’s see. I’m looking at my Spotify right now. I’ve been listening to Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks” a lot lately.

A classic.

Matt: I must be depressed or something because I’ve been listening to that a lot. And I’ve also been listening to a lot of Sister Sledge. I feel like I don’t have too many new bands, but I’ve been listening to a lot of Sister Sledge and Suzanne Ciani, whatever that says about me.

Matt, you directed that Lars Finberg video last year. Have you done any other music videos?

Matt: No, I haven’t. Yeah, I would like to. We’ve just been so wrapped up doing Corporate, but I’d love to,they’re fun. They’re a way to explore concepts that don’t have the legs to be like a half-hour or longer thing, but it’s still funny. Yeah, I’d love to do more music videos.

You had Aimee Mann in an episode in the first season. Are there any other music cameos coming up that we should keep our eyes out for?

Matt: Not this season, but we like working with musicians. We found Aimee to be a very naturalistic, funny actor, so it’d be cool to keep doing that.

Jake: Yeah, often they’re just very much themselves and they have an energy that is very good for acting because they’re so unique and just are vibrant people.

Anything else we should know?

Jake: No, thank you so much. Again, we’re fans of BrooklynVegan, so it’s awesome that you’re writing about us. We really appreciate you taking the time.

The feeling’s mutual.

Corporate airs Tuesday nights at 10:30 PM Eastern/Pacific on Comedy Central. Guest stars this season include Andy Richter, Elizabeth Perkins, Kyra Sedgwick and Sasheer Zamata.

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