Wain first appeared in the public eye as a member of the comedy troupe
The State. That group produced a TV series that lasted three seasons
on MTV, a Halloween special on CBS, an unreleased comedy CD and a travel
guide called State By State With The State. Hes
had bit parts in Keeping the Faith and Bamboozled. In 1997, along
with former State members Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter, he
started STELLA. The NYC nightclub comedy show has met critical acclaim.
His directorial debut, Wet Hot American Summer, has met mixed reviews.
Mr. Wain was courteous enough to respond to some questions I had about
his body of work and his future plans.
Q: Let's get the hard-hitting question out of the way first.
What's the real story behind The State on CBS? What happened that
caused the network to not advertise the show? Was it John Pike's
doing? [NOTE: For those who do not know, CBS was planning on The
State to be their entrant into the late night Saturday sketch comedy field.
First, though, they signed the group to do a special. If that went
well, they got another special. If that did well, they got the series.
However, The CBS special was hardly advertised and was not even mentioned
in TV Guide. John Pike was the head honcho.]
A: The John Pike story broke after the CBS special aired, I believe.
It's all detailed in the story about us in DETAILS magazine. The
reason we were not advertised was because CBS had no idea what to do with
a weird one-off prime time special on a network that at the time was centered
around "Murder She Wrote" and other older-skewing shows.
Q: If you had been picked up by CBS, would the group have stuck
it out, or was the need to move on growing too intense?
A: Who knows? We thought we were going to go up against SNL
on Saturday Nights - that would have changed things so much that it's
almost impossible to speculate what might have happened. But The
State is made up of a number of very strong, always growing, evolving
personalities, and it's probable that the all-for-one, one-for-all group
mentality could only have lasted so long.
Q: With only Mad-TV, SNL, and reruns of Kids in the Hall to watch
on TV, do you see potential for a new group to come in and steal the spotlight
or is there a market for it?
A: Sure - there are attempts and sketch shows all the time on network
and cable. If there's a really great one, it makes a mark (e.g.
Mr. Show). Obviously Mad TV, SNL are one kind of show (network or
producer assembles an ever changing ensemble of actors, who may or may
not also be writers), whereas The State belongs to the kind of show that
is entirely conceived written and performed by a set group that existed
before the TV show (e.g. Kids In The Hall, Monty Python, The State, Mr.
Q: According to the STELLA website (http://members.aol.com/stellafez/),
there is a new STELLA short film every week. Is there any plan to
release these on video or DVD in the future for people who can't make
it to NYC for the show or don't want to or who don't want to pay to see
them on www.heavy.com?
A: Not at this time.
Q: Wet Hot American Summer is bound to become a cult classic,
thanks in part to The State. Is it worth it for the studios to make
cult films? Is the money there to be made?
A: Hard to say. WHAS so far is a financial disappointment
and money was lost on it. But perhaps it will find its audience
in video, cable, etc, maybe over the course of years. It certainly
isn't like it used to be, because the cost of marketing a film in this
crowded business is astronomical.
Q: Now that you've directed a critically acclaimed (by some)
feature, are you getting more offers and more scripts to look at?
A: A few - nothing great just yet. I was hired to do this
one great script called "Cap'n Ricky" and that project is up
in the air at the moment.
Q: I read in an article on www.sonic.net that you will be directing
a new movie starring Michael Showalter this April. Can you tell
us any more about this project?
A: I'm not aware of this - I think it's a mistake.
Q: Aside from this film, are there any other movies and shows
that you're involved in?
A: Mike Showalter and I wrote a movie called "They Came Together"
which is a spoof of NY Romantic Comedies that will hopefully be made by
Universal. We're also working on a series pilot for/with Janeane
Q: Your roots seem to be in short films, not only with "Aisle
Six" and "The Waiters," but also with The State being a
series of smaller sketchs put together into a show. Any plans to
go back to shorts?
A: We make shorts every week for STELLA - I've always enjoyed making
little shorts with my friends and I don't intend to stop. Wet Hot
was just a 90 minute short.
Q: "Aisle Six" played at Sundance, as did "WHAS."
How important are festivals to you and have they helped your career?
A: Sundance is just a great place for your work to be seen.
Not much more to say about it than that.
Q: Lastly, do you have any words of encouragement to give any
aspiring filmmakers or comedians?
A: Just work your ass off and if you're actually funny you'll be
in the minority.
If you would like to learn more about The State, visit http://www.the-state.com
If you would like to learn more about STELLA, visit http://memebers.aol.com/stellafez/
If you would like to learn more about or purchase Wet Hot American Summer,