PLAYBOY: You’ve played a lot of jackasses in movies including Hot Tub Time Machine and on TV shows such as Childrens Hospital. When you were a Daily Show correspondent you were referred to as a Masshole. Why are you so believable at pretending to be a dick?
CORDDRY: I think my take on the dick is nonthreatening. I’m the dick you tolerate because he’s harmless and he reminds you of somebody you hang out with. There’s a great line in Hot Tub that sums it up. They’re talking about my character and they admit, sure, he’s an asshole, “but he’s our asshole.” [laughs] It’s the truth. My manager used to call me “creepy but accessible.” He was like, “You can play a dick and people don’t hate you.” It’s the only thing I can do naturally, that I don’t have to think about.
PLAYBOY: You’ve done a lot of nude scenes, beginning with your major film debut in Old School. We’ve seen your naked butt way more often than seems necessary.
CORDDRY: I apologize for that. I have no problem showing my butt in a movie, but then when you see it on the big screen, it’s a little much. I didn’t realize this until recently, but apparently I have a terrible clenching problem when I’m nervous. It looks like garbage, my ass. But trust me, you’re lucky it’s not full frontal.
PLAYBOY: Why? Your penis is worse?
CORDDRY: I’ll be honest with you. My penis is beautiful when it’s fully presented. Gorgeous. But when it’s not, when it’s in its natural state, it’s…not pleasant. I can’t get my pubic-hair-trimming strategy down right. It looks like a little boy with a wig on his cock. And I have a very tight scrotum. I’m so glad you asked about this, because I don’t think there’s anything PLAYBOY readers are more interested in than the tightness of my scrotum.
PLAYBOY: In the movie Hell Baby, you and Riki Lindhome have a three-minute nude scene together that feels like the longest one ever filmed. Was it awkward or awesome?
CORDDRY: It was pretty amazing and surreal. My job was basically to look at a completely naked good friend and rub lotion on her back. I was naked too, but I got to put a towel on almost immediately. I was like, “Well, this is going to be embarrassing, but it’s also going to be kind of awesome.” I’m not opposed to seeing Riki naked. Literally the first thing that popped into my head was, She’s so sparkly. Her skin just glows. It’s lovely. That’s my biggest memory of the whole thing—her blinding, Twilight skin.
PLAYBOY: Your wife didn’t mind?
CORDDRY: I don’t know if my wife is the coolest woman in the world or if she just doesn’t think about it, but she does not give a shit. She really doesn’t. She’s like, “Oh, you’re getting naked with a friend today? That’s cool. Have fun.” Afterward she’ll be like, “What were her tits like?” When a woman says something like that to you, that’s how you know you need to marry her.
PLAYBOY: You have your wife’s name tattooed on your shoulder. Aren’t you setting yourself up for a divorce?
CORDDRY: Well, her name is Sandy, so I can always change it to “sandy beaches” or “Sandy Point” or “Sandy in my toesies” or something. My wife actually mentioned that too. I would put money on us sticking it out for the long haul, but she said to me, “What if we end up getting a divorce?” I said, “Sandy, if we get a divorce, the least of my worries will be a tattoo of a name on my shoulder.”
PLAYBOY: You created, write, produce and star in the Adult Swim series Childrens Hospital. You reportedly came up with the idea while taking your daughter to an actual children’s hospital. If that’s true, it’s horrible on many levels.
CORDDRY: It really is, isn’t it? It was the worst. But here’s the funny thing—and let me preface this by saying it’s not funny at all. The funny thing is that while we were in the waiting room, the doors burst open and a bunch of doctors and nurses came through with a gurney, calling out “stat” and stuff like that. My first thought was, Wow, this is just like one of those hospital TV shows. But then you realize the person on the gurney is child-size, because it’s a children’s hospital. It was such a weird thing to have one side of my brain saying, This is so cool, and the other side saying, Oh my God, this is unbearably sad. So obviously I thought it would be a good idea for a TV show.
PLAYBOY: For a while, Childrens Hospital was shot in an abandoned hospital. Was that as creepy as it sounds?
CORDDRY: It can be spooky. There’s one guy, Artie, an electrician on the show. He is sensitive, as he calls it, to ghosts and whatnot, but he doesn’t want to talk about it. That’s what struck me. He’s not like, “Oh yeah, I see ghosts.” He works around a lot of sensitive electrical equipment with meters. One time he took a meter up to the eighth floor, and I guess the meter was going crazy. He saw something up there that freaked him out, and now he won’t go back. Ghosts don’t bother me. I mean, they don’t even have a body; what am I worried about? But rats, fuck that.
PLAYBOY: The show can be borderline tasteless, with jokes about 9/11, abortion and AIDS. How have you escaped the wrath of the Twitter sensitivity police?
CORDDRY: I don’t know! I definitely provoke them, and I don’t really get any backlash. I guess there’s no confusion whatsoever about our intentions. We have no message, no nothing. We’re just taking the quickest route to the funniest joke. It could also be that it’s not on a lot of strident assholes’ radars, you know? They have other things to do, like write transcripts of Fox News broadcasts, things like that. They’re busy.
PLAYBOY: What about out in the real world? Has anyone ever taken a swing at you?
CORDDRY: I came close once. I was in Boston shooting Sex Tape, and it was the Bruins’ opening day. I left my hotel to get something at the store. It was kind of late, and the Bruins game was just getting out. I ran into three Boston townies—wasted Boston townies—and they were like, “You’re that guy!” One of them couldn’t even stand up he was so drunk, and he was just staring at me like he wanted to kill me. He was like, “I know who you are. I know who you are.” And then the other guys were like, “Hey, Lou”—they kept calling me Lou—“Lou, come do cocaine with us.” I thought, Even if I was in the business of doing cocaine with strangers, you would be the last ones I would ever do it with. As I was walking away, the really drunk one said, “Fuck ya face.” Then he paused and said, “I love you.”
PLAYBOY: You’re originally from Boston. What’s the most stereotypically Boston thing about you?
CORDDRY: There’s not much. I used to say I’m not very Boston because I’m neither Irish nor Catholic, but I recently found out I have a significant Irish heritage. My mother just never admitted it because she was prejudiced against the Boston Irish. She hated the Kennedys, hated everything having to do with the Boston Irish. Her great-grandmother was Scottish, so she told us we were 100 percent Scottish. But it turns out I have a large percentage of Irish in me.
PLAYBOY: Growing up in Boston, did you feel that not being Catholic or, as far as you knew at the time, Irish was something that hurt you?
CORDDRY: Oh yeah. I had a girlfriend named Maureen, and her father grilled me about it once. He was like, “Hey, Robert, you Irish?” I said, “No.” “Are you Catholic?” “No.” “You play hockey?” Like he was just grasping at straws. In my head I was thinking, I said I’m not Irish or Catholic; why would I play hockey? When I said no to hockey, it was basically three strikes and I was out. He was like, “Timmy, show him your defensive stance.” And all of a sudden this eight-year-old kid, her little brother, jumps into a hockey defensive stance. For no reason! Or maybe he thought the kid needed to defend him from me. I don’t know. I don’t know how those people live. People might always be slapping goals at them, I’m not sure.
PLAYBOY: Are you or have you ever been religious?
CORDDRY: My mother was very Protestant. I grew up Presbyterian and went to church every Sunday until I was 18. I was forced to, which is basically why I don’t now. My wife is Jewish, and she started bringing the kids to Sunday school. She’s not religious at all, but she wants them to have at least some understanding of their heritage. One day she said, “We’re going to synagogue for Yom Kippur.” My daughter said, “Is Daddy coming?” And I just blurted out, totally knee-jerk, “Nope.” Didn’t even think about it; it just came out of my mouth. It was this great revelation for me. I was like, I’m not? Okay, I’m not. I’m not going. I don’t have to do this! Ha-ha, ha-ha! Yay, I’m not going! Sundays, for the rest of my life, have become totally clear for me.
PLAYBOY: You’re an Eagle Scout. If we dropped you in the middle of a forest, how long would you survive?
CORDDRY: What month is it? If it’s summer, I’d do all right. I could probably make it out. If it’s January, I’m dead in three hours. In June, I’d be hungry, but I’d make it out. I’d find my way without a map or compass. I say that with confidence. I can build a fire without a match. I can find food. I wouldn’t be happy, and it wouldn’t be fun, but yeah, I can tie a knot or two.
PLAYBOY: You’re bald and proud. What advice can you offer the follicularly challenged?
CORDDRY: When it finally happens and you lose it all, it’s going to be a hell of a lot easier in the morning. You’re going to enjoy the time you don’t spend messing with the few strands you have left. I never miss having hair, though I do sometimes have dreams that I’m brushing my long, luxurious hair in the mirror, and I’ll be like, “There’s something wrong. What is wrong? I’m not quite able to place it. Something’s not right. It can’t be my beautiful hair. What is it?”
PLAYBOY: Before joining The Daily Show, you toured with the National Shakespeare Company. We’re having a hard time imagining you in tights, speaking in iambic pentameter.
CORDDRY: Imagine it, because it happened. I am a man who used to wear the tights. For about a year we traveled the country, doing two Shakespeare plays for bored college students. I think I’d probably still be doing it if I hadn’t randomly decided to go to a sketch-group audition. That led to doing improv, which led to The Daily Show. But it was fun while it lasted. We were 24, 25 years old, traveling the country in a van with chicks. It could get pretty wild.
PLAYBOY: Smokey Robinson once sang that there isn’t much sadder than the tears of a clown when there’s no one around. Is he right? Behind closed doors, are you an emotional wreck?
CORDDRY: I used to be. For most of my life, I was a worrier and an overthinker. I had pretty bad social anxiety. From the second I hit puberty, in the sixth or seventh grade, up until I turned 40, I was just kind of sad or anxiety-ridden for no reason. In your 20s and 30s you think everything is important and your ideas mean everything. I hate 20-year-olds. I just hate them. They never know what they’re talking about. When I think about myself in my 20s, it makes me cringe. I almost turn myself inside out cringing. When I turned 40, almost to the day, I calmed the fuck down. And now I don’t worry about anything anymore.
PLAYBOY: A lot of your Daily Show colleagues have gone on to have amazing careers. Do you keep up with them? Are there Daily Show reunions?
CORDDRY: It’s not a formal thing, but we keep in touch. Ed Helms and I are still good friends. We shared an office on the show for five years, so we became close. I just saw him, like, two weeks ago. Who else? Well, Jim Margolis—he was one of the executive producers—I stole him, and he’s now producing a Childrens Hospital spin-off, Newsreaders. Jon Stewart and I talk every once in a while, like when I have to ask for permission to steal one of his producers. Jason Jones is in Hot Tub Time Machine 2, so I got to see him. Who am I forgetting? Oh yeah, Stephen…Colbert? I think his last name is Colbert. What happened to him? So much potential, but it’s like he dropped off the face of the planet. I hope he’s doing okay.
PLAYBOY: You played a zombie in the zombie romance film Warm Bodies. What kind of research went into becoming undead?
CORDDRY: A lot, actually. My wife is a speech pathologist, and she used to work with patients who had traumatic brain injuries. She told me, “They can see the thing you’re pointing to, and in some abstract way they know it’s a spoon. They just can’t say it.” I asked her a lot of questions and built my character out of that. I thought it was more interesting to play a zombie who has a frustrating sense that there’s something he’s forgetting, and it’s really hard to speak but he’s trying. Rather than the whole [groans inarticulately] zombie thing where you’re lumbering forward and your mouth is open and you look dead-eyed. I tried to embody that zombie frustration.
PLAYBOY: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten from a director?
CORDDRY: It might have been from Oliver Stone. I’m not entirely sure. I was in his Bush biopic, W. I played White House press secretary Ari Fleischer. On the last day of shooting, he’d point to each actor, all these luminaries, and be like, “Richard Dreyfuss. That’s a wrap on Richard Dreyfuss.” Everybody would applaud, and he’d give them a hug. Then he got to me, and he’s like, “Rob Corddry,” and everybody applauded. He whispered something in my ear, but I couldn’t hear it because of all the noise. I almost said, “Oliver, can you do that one more time? That was my trick ear.” I have no idea what he said. It might have been something really profound, something that could have changed the course of my career. Or maybe it was just “I got shrooms in my van.”