‘Corporate’ creators talk season finale (watch an uncensored clip) & more in BV interview
Comedy Central’s Corporate continuously proves the old adage its funny ’cause it’s true. With dialogue so depressing that fans have accused the show of miking their cubicles at work, the show’s bleak outlook on modern capitalism has provided America with the hopeless ennui so desperately missing from modern U.S. workplace sitcoms. (It’s very dark, but very funny too.) Tonight (3/14) is the Season 1 finale, which co-creator and star Jake Weisman calls “Our 9/11 Christmas Special.” We’ve got an exclusive, uncensored clip from the show which you can watch below, and watch the whole episode tonight at 10 PM on Comedy Central.
Weisman and his Corporate co-creator and co-star Matt Ingebretson, along with co-creator and show director Pat Bishop, were at SXSW over the weekend to host a “Corporate Retreat,” and they took time out of day party-attending and taco-eating to talk about the first season, their hopes for season two, and what viewers can expect in tonight’s climactic finale. Read that below.
Exclusive ‘Corporate’ Season Finale clip…
Were there any companies or experiences that explicitly inspired Hampton Deville?
Jake Weisman: GE.
Matt Ingebretson: We based it on companies like GE or Berkshire Hathaway or Honeywell, these sort of multi conglomerate companies that seemingly have their hands in every facet of society. A lot of the tone and feel of the show came from jobs I had in Los Angeles right after college where I was trying to pay the bills doing comedy by doing digital marketing and social media in these really crazy, suffocating environments that made me want to die. And so I thankfully was able to monetize that and make a TV show out of it.
Were there any workplace sitcoms that served as influences for the show?
Weisman: I think that more than a direct influence, I think they were counter influences a little bit. There are a lot of workplace comedies that are really good – The Office is a great comedy – but we kind of felt like none of them were that accurate. They were more escapist fantasies about what an office experience was like. We wanted to make an office comedy where it actually felt like you were at work, which is the nightmare. So I think we were trying to go in the complete other direction. So they were inspirational in the sense that it had already been done, so we wanted to go a completely different route and talk about how devastating it is in 2018.
BV: A lot of the show deal with themes like surveillance or Big Brother. What’s the political viewpoint of the show?
Ingebretson: I think we were just trying to portray how the entire world is a business, and that capitalism is inescapable and it’s the best solution we have so far but it kind of swallows everything inside of it in this kind of machine-like way.
Weisman: I think rather than landing somewhere on the left-right political spectrum, it’s trying to examine how we’re all unwitting actors in perpetuating – rather than making the point of “these people are wrong and these people are right,” it’s kind of like, we’re all just victims of the world that has unfolded.
Pat, you really wore the director hat this season. But Matt and Jake, you’ve mentioned a lot of filmic influences that inspired your visions of the show as well – I was wondering if either of you were going to direct any episodes in season two, or Pat, if you were going to explore being in it more than just one bit role?
Ingebretson: There’s actually a second shot of Pat, but it’s in the finale, actually. You can see Pat secretly one more time.
Weisman: He’s in the band in Episode 2. Pat is too good of an actor, so if he’s in it, it makes Matt and I look like frauds, so we don’t like to let him in front of the camera too much because it’s distracting.
Pat Bishop: I embarrass Lance Reddick after acting school. But Matt’s going to direct an episode in the second season.
Ingebretson: Oh yeah, that’s right.
Pat Bishop: Remember?
Ingebretson: Oh yeah, I gotta do that.
Weisman: In general we like it to be all in-house, because it’s a very specific vision, and part of the creativity is the way that we all make it together.
Pat Bishop: We think about the visual style and the editing as we’re writing and conceiving together. We try to think visually, which makes the style ingrained in its conception instead of just a painted-on style on top of stories that don’t call for it. So we’ve always collectively tried to approach it from a three-dimensional cinematic place.
Ingebretson: I think thankfully because we write it and direct it, act it, and edit it, we get to be control freaks about every aspect of it and do more with it than I think other TV shows or some other TV shows do where it kind of gets passed around to different people and you just hope that somebody has control of the ship the whole way, but they aren’t always able to do that. But thankfully Comedy Central handed us the keys to this thing.
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How has this been different for you guys than directing the web videos that you were doing before Corporate?
Pat Bishop: In some ways it’s good because there are all these talented professionals who are way more experienced than us who can do their jobs, and things that we had to do ourselves when we were just shooting on our own.
Ingebretson: Pat used to have to hold the camera and the boom mic at the same time. It’s allowed us to be a little more precise with what we do.
Pat Bishop: it’s nice to have a team of people behind you, but then doing anything becomes complicated. Like just getting the shot of Matt and Jake sitting at their desk is a nightmare because it has to look so good and so many people are involved in it. We can’t be as spontaneous as we were when it was just us, because then a chain reaction of 100 people’s days are ruined if we have a new fun idea.
Ingebretson: I think for the most part it’s been great, because when it’s just the three of us, or the three of us and a couple friends, there’s only so much we can do, and we love collaborating with people, and we’re really able to elevate what we do by collaborating with people more talented than us. Our director of photography Christophe Lanzenberg is incredible, and he’s largely responsible for how good the show looks. So mostly it’s just been allowing us to up our game.
Is there any favorite prop you have from season one?
Weisman: All the Society Tomorrow stuff was hilarious. The costume designer Liz Botes is so talented and allowed us to be so European and fun with everything. Plus the wrist guards and the obelisk – those are things you just create in the room and then people have to go make them and figure out what the fuck we’re talking about, which is always hilarious. So all the props we created that are just oversized versions of what’s going on now are just so fun to see people create.
Ingebretson: Yeah, the obelisk. And our production designer Melanie Paizis Jones, who made all that stuff, was awesome, and the obelisk was an insane thing. A huge pain in the ass to shoot with, because it’s huge and it weighs forty pounds. So anytime we shot with it, it was a huge hassle, but I think it looks funny on camera. Also, in the background of a lot of shots, there are like inspirational posters on the wall. I think my favorite is just one that says “Be the Cog!” with an exclamation point, which I like, because it was inspirational but just in this really weird way where like, “You can be the cog!” But I don’t want to be a cog.
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Has the response to the show been surprising to you in any way?
Weisman: I think we’re surprised how positive the response has been, because it is a really dark show, and it’s on a network not known for darkness, so I think we’re happy and feeling good that the network sees that it is good. People seem to like it. A million people haven’t seen it yet, so we’re just pretty happy that the people who see it like it, and we just hope that even more people see it.
Pat Bishop: Luckily, people’s lives in the world are just as bad as we thought. We were worried we were wrong, but it turns out we were right.
Weisman: People think we were miking their cubicles because of how accurate the show is, so I think it’s really good and hopefully the fanbase just continues to grow.
What can readers expect in tonight’s Season 1 finale?
Weisman: Let’s just say it’s our 9/11 Christmas special, and to really enjoy it. It’s probably the only one of its kind that will ever be made.
Ingebretson: It’s about the corporate commercialization of holidays.
Did you guys have a specific age or demographic in mind for the show? Because the season finale is all 9/11 humor, and I think that hits hard with a specific demographic, and not really hard with people slightly outside of that. Was that something you guys thought about?
Weisman: Not really, but we’d love the 70 to 90 market. We’re writing for them, they just have to tune in. I don’t think they know about it yet, but yeah, 70 to 90, we’re looking for.
Ingebretson: I think we hope that many generations of people can get into it. I feel like we’re probably not for tweens, although if there are any tweens out there reading this interview, we’d love to have you watch our show as well, and you can read about 9/11 on Wikipedia.
Weisman: I have tween cousins, and they like the show.
Ingebretson: Okay, so we’re in that market already. I think with the 9/11 stuff, we just felt like everything in our society right now is a reaction to that in a lot of ways, and so we like putting it in there a lot to remind people why things are the way they are right now.
You’ve been renewed for a second season, have you started on that?
Ingebretson: We are going to start shooting it in like a month and a half or so. So we’ll shoot it for two months or so and then edit it after that. It’ll be finished by the end of the year, so if it doesn’t come out early next year, you can start shouting at Comedy Central and be mad at them about it, because we’ll be done with it in like six months or so.
You guys have an awesome ensemble cast – do you guys want to explore that more in season two?
Ingebretson: We definitely do. I think Comedy Central, for whatever reason, typically launches shows that strongly feature one or two people, but we’re most interested in making an ensemble comedy. We’ve already written season two, and we have a more well-rounded show in season two, where we’re able to explore all the characters a little more and dig into all the aspects of their lives and what they’re like. So you can look forward to that in the next season.