A Chat with Joe Lo Truglio (“The State,” “Role Models”)

If the words “rub a dub dub” conjure images of a bearded man in chain mail rather than three men in a tub, then you’re probably one of the people who saw and laughed at “Role Models.” The film was directed by (and features a cameo from) David Wain, late of The State, but he’s not the only alumnus of that particular comedic organization to be found within its frames. There are actually a couple, if you’re counting, but only one managed to spend the duration of the film dressed in Medevial garb and spouting laughably earnest comments using mock Elizabethan phrasing…and – what luck! – we actually had the opportunity to speak to the gentleman in question.

Stay tuned for…

Joe Lo Truglio: Hello there, Will.

Bullz-Eye: Hello, Joe. How are you?

JLT: I’m good, sir. How are you doing?

BE: I’m doing great. Pleasure to talk to you.

JLT: Pleasure to talk to you. Thanks for having some interest in talking to me.

BE: Definitely. I definitely dug the movie…and not just the movie, but the additional ad-libbing scenes that are in the special features of the DVD.

JLT: Oh, thanks very much. Yeah, we had quite a fun time there on that set. For some reason, nonsense Elizabethan came very easy to me.

BE: So how was it doing the live action role playing? It seemed like it would be fun, but…well, when I was talking to David (Wain), I said it looked like it was you guys were walking a tight rope by trying not to make fun of the people who really participate in such activities.

JLT: Yes, well, I think David Wain – the director – really wanted to not put the live action role players in a bad light. There is something endearing about their complete and utter insane commitment to the game. I think the most interesting part to me was having a stunt coordinator who did “The Bourne Supremacy”, and…of course I’m blanking on his name. Jeff…Imada! But having him choreograph these fights with foam swords and Styrofoam shields was quite funny to me, considering what he had worked with in the past.

BE: What was your favorite bit of attire you got to wear?

JLT: I think my favorite…although it was a little painful, I think it really kind of completed the character…was the chain nail hood that I was wearing. Although it was somewhat uncomfortable at times, I threw that on and, suddenly, the crazy, Elizabethan metaphors started flowing much easier after that.

BE: So how long did it take to film those scenes, all told?

JLT: Um, let’s see. You know, that sequence, they were shooting, I think, for about a week. I mean, it was spread apart. It was kind of split up by days, but I think all told, probably between like…probably around seven days, I think, for all of that to be shot. That sequence, anyway.

BE: What was the most challenging part of it for you?

JLT: The hardest part was not cracking up at Paul and Ken Jeong and Matt Walsh. The objective, I’ve found in these movies where I’ve been fortunate enough to work with so many people I know, is to try to crack the other person up while the camera is rolling. That is always a fun game to play and, usually, when you do that, you’re able to get some great ad-libs and some good moments. The biggest challenge was not laughing, I think.

BE: Who was the greatest accomplishment of the people in the cast when you made them laugh? Was there one in particular that was the hardest to get to break?

JLT: You know, Paul is pretty hard to break. He’s pretty poker-faced when he does his stuff. I would say Paul. I was going to say Matt and Ken…uh, Matt Walsh and Ken Jeong…but they’re suckers. I could break them pretty easy.

BE: Now how was it working with Christopher Mintz-Plasse? I mean, obviously, you had been on the set with him on “Superbad” as well.

JLT: Yeah, “Superbad,” that was great. I think Chris did a terrific job. I know he was in a tough spot coming out of “Superbad,” where he had to kind of break out of being McLovin, and I thought he did a great job of having a slightly different take on the “geek” teenager. It was great to work with him again. He’s very willing to ad-lib and improv with you. Like, he’s very open for trying different things. For someone as young as he is, it’s a great skill to have.

BE: Cool. Now obviously you’ve worked with David Wain as a director more than one time. In fact. you found your way into both “The Ten” and also “Hot Wet American Summer.”

JLT: Yes.

BE: Sorry, I meant “Wet Hot American Summer.” I always flip flop that.

JLT: Yeah, wet hot, hot wet…you can mix and match all the words. They all pretty much come out to the same type of porn name. (Laughs) Like I said, it’s been a blessing really to work not only with David so many times but also with Ken Marino. And Kerri Kenney, who was also in the movie. David is a terrific director, and I think what makes him a great director is that he’s very collaborative; he’s very calm in the midst of what could be a terrible production storm. “Role Models” was not the case, but certainly “Wet Hot” had its troubles. When you have someone who’s grounded and focused, you know, everyone takes their cue from the director. So I think that’s what makes him really great to work with: he stays calm and is always ready for actors to bring in ideas to him.

BE: David said that “The State” reunion for Sketchfest never would have happened without email.

JLT: The internet may have saved “The State” reunion… (Laughs) …and any future “State” collaborations, considering we’re about as big as the Waltons and half of us are on one side of the country and the other half is on the other. E-mail is really the only possible way for us to communicate…and it’s a little bit easier. because we’re not all in the same room.

BE: Has there always been enthusiasm at the idea of getting back together, or did it take some coercing?

JLT: It didn’t take coercing. I think the biggest problem wasn’t egos; it was really schedules. So many of us have been busy, and the entire group from the get-go wanted to do something. I think we knew even towards the end, way back in the day when we were kind of splitting apart, that we wanted to do something together again. We just needed our time away. So there was no coercing, it was really scheduling, and the group wanted to find the right opportunity and the right venue really to make that comeback. I think Sketchfest was a great opportunity for us to see what it’s like to be on stage together. We had done a smaller reunion show last March, at the UCB Theater in L.A. We had a great reception, and it was nice because it was a smaller theater and a more intimate setting, in a sense. It was kind of back to our roots. The Black Box Theater was around 100-150 seats, if that, and it was a good starting point. I think Sketchfest was the big coming-out party, and the group is certainly talking about doing a tour of some sort this year. So we’re excited. Again, the biggest challenge for us now is scheduling.

BE: And the DVD is very much in the works, I understand, even though it’s been forever on the schedule as TBD.

JLT: The DVD is an enigma wrapped in a riddle, wrapped in molasses, sunk at the bottom of a pit of quick sand. (Laughs) It’s amazing how long it has taken for the set to come out, and the group was discouraged with that. But we know that MTV is behind it now and pledges to us that it will be out, hopefully this summer. It’s a great set, and I think that our fans will really appreciate it. We have a lot of great or unreleased material. We have commentary on all the episodes, early promos, and…we’re excited about it. And, teah, we were told it’s going to come out in the summer .

BE: Now I know when you were doing comedy in New York, you also ended up finding your way onto an episode of “Law and Order” and an episode of “Third Watch”. Did you just throw your hat into the ring because you needed the work, or what?

JLT: That works like this: if you want to be taken seriously as an actor in New York, you must appear on one of the “Law and Order” shows. If you don’t, you have no right to be an actor. You’re not valid. You don’t count. It’s, like, you have to get on that show. Otherwise…I mean, come on, everyone and their mother has been on “Law and Order”! It was just one of those cases where I just went in, auditioned, and got the part. The actors of New York owe a lot to Dick Wolf.

BE: And you’ve also done quite a few video game voices as well.

JLT: Yeah, that was exciting for me. I had never done motion capture before and then…you know, after you have a sketch comedy show on cable, there is something humbling about being in a spandex one-piece suit with ping pong balls. You learn to kind of embrace what you have at the moment. It turns out I had a blast making those video games, in particular “The Warriors,” because “The Warriors” is one of my favorite films. So having the opportunity to play Vermin, the hairy chested Italian, was nothing less than a godsend.

BE: What’s your favorite film that you’ve appeared in that people might not have seen? Even if it’s just a small role.

JLT: You know, I have to say, I’m really proud of Artie Lange’s “Beer League.” Artie’s terrific, and Frank Sebastiano, they both wrote a great script that was completely unapologetic and really raunchy…and, I think, very loyal to the old school sports movies like “Slap Shot” and “Bad News Bears.” I’m certainly not saying it’s as good as those films, but I think it has that spirit of those films, definitely. I think more people should see the movie.

BE: You’ve also appeared in “The Baxter,” and you’ve turned up in “Reno 911” – both the show and the movie – as well. Of the films you’ve done within the “State” family, do you have a favorite?

JLT: Um, gosh. I would probably say “Wet Hot” was my favorite of all those, just because there are so many incredibly talented and, at the time, up and coming comedians that are in that movie. It was such a blast to shoot that movie; we had such a great time. So far as “Baxter” goes…well, I love working with everyone in “The State”. I mean, they’re good friends and people that I respect and look up to as comedians. But that also was a great experience for me working on “The Baxter” with (Michael) Showalter. I would just like to throw out that the upcoming “Reno” season is approaching, and that’s another great opportunity and I’m really happy with the work that we all did on this season. And aside from that, there’s a web series that I just recently produced with my partner A.D. Miles, who is now writing on the Jimmy Fallon show. And that web series is called “Hot Sluts Rated R”, which is basically “Flashdance” meets women-in-prison films meets 80’s soft core porn. It’s about a group of foul mouthed waitresses who try to achieve their dream in a terrible night club called Scenarios. And that will be launching on Atom.com in April.

BE: Okay. Awesome. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for it.

JLT: I appreciate that.

BE: All right. Well, pleasure talking to you. I’m going to see a screening of “I Love You, Man” next week, so I’ll keep an eye out for High Voiced Guy (Lo Truglio’s character in the film).

JLT: (Laughs) Fantastic. Thanks a lot, Will. It was a pleasure speaking to you.

BE: No problem. Thank you.

  

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