Rob Riggle is not quite a household name – yet. But he’s on the verge. He’s had modest, but memorable, roles on films and TV shows such as “The Hangover,” “The Killers,” “Step Brothers” and “30 Rock.” Producers and viewers like him. He keeps getting work.
In between, he squeezes in stand-up gigs. The Punchline has tried to get him multiple times but he has had to postpone every time a film pops up. He is finally coming this week, Thursday through Saturday.
Riggle’s spent years doing sketch and improv. He’s relatively new to stand-up, starting three years ago. While at “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” fellow correspondent John Oliver encouraged him to do stand-up. It’s just another way to flex his comedic muscle.
Fortunately, thanks to his past comedy work on live stages, the learning curve wasn’t as steep as it might have been for true neophytes. “I felt comfortable quickly,” he said.
For folks who aren’t familiar with his stand-up, Riggle said it’s not political (though he was on “The Daily Show.”) Rather, he tells stories, some sourced from his life, some exaggerated for humor’s sake. He won’t be telling funny tidbits from his days with the U.S. Marines. “Those are two very separate worlds to me,” he said. “Two different halves. There are funny stories but I’m not sure how funny they’d be to the general public.”
Riggle did spend some time in 2009 in Atlanta when “The Killers” starring Ashton Kutcher and Katharine Heigl came into town. (He played Ashton’s best friend.) “Georgia is beautiful,” he said. “It was a good time. I got beat up a little bit. Ashton’s a big guy, a big strong guy. We were wrestling and throwing each other around. He wanted to make it look as real as possible. We were banging each other around pretty well. In the heat of the moment, he kicked me in the face. He kind of shaved the corner off my back teeth after hitting my lower jaw.”
He has a recurring role on a new Adult Swim “CSI” spoof called “NTSD: SD: SUV.” That’s “National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sports Utility Vehicle.” On the show, terrorists appear obsessed trying to destroy this lovely seaside city. The team drive fancy SUVs. And Riggle plays the president of the Navy. Sure, there’s no such title in the real world but this is a spoof. Run with it. “Some people think it’s fictional,” Riggle told me. “I sometimes think it’s real, so real I lose myself in the character. I’d be driving home and say to myself, ‘I’m Rob Riggle, president of the Navy.’ I went deep!”
Riggle worked with the main star of “NTSD,” Paul Scheer, for years with the Upright Citizens Brigade, the improv troupe, so this was a natural gig for him. The 15-minute show debuts Thursday night (or Friday morning, technically) at 12:15 a.m. on Adult Swim. He’s in seven of the episodes but not necessarily the first episode.
He almost made it onto the CBS lineup this fall in a pilot called “Home Game.” According to Deadline.com, the project, loosely based on the experiences of former NFL star Mark Schlereth, centers on Mark (Riggle), a retired NFL player who returns home to his wife Lisa (Constance Zimmer) and daughters. It didn’t make the cut. “There wasn’t a lot of real estate this year on CBS,” he noted. “It was tough. It was still a great experience.”
In the meantime, the films keep coming. He shot a feel-good movie with Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski called “Everybody Loves Whales.” He plays an industrialist in the next “Dr. Seuss” animated movie, which also features vocals from Taylor Swift, Zac Efron, Danny DeVito and Ed Helms. He was in the recent (not terribly successful) film “Larry Crowne” with Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks. And he’s in the film version of “21 Jump Street” starring Jonah Hill, which starts filming this fall.
“You got to keep working,” Riggle said. “I’m working and that means I’m happy. I get to work with fun people. I get to do comedy for the most part. That’s a great way to spend your days – making people laugh and hanging out with people who make you laugh.”
Punchline Comedy Club
280 Hilderbrand Dr., Atlanta
Thursday, 8 p.m. July 21
Friday, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. July 22
Saturday, 7 p.m., 9 p.m., 11 p.m. July 23
Buy tickets here at www.punchline.com
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog