Rogue visited the set of IFC’s Emmy-nominated series Documentary Now!, co-created and co-starring Saturday Night Live alums Bill Hader and Fred Armison, alongside their former castmate Seth Meyer. The comedic trio created the critically acclaimed series of mokumentaries last Summer. The show is returning for its second season later this year with seven episodes ranging from inspired parodies on Jiro Dreams of Sushi, War Room, The Kid Stays in the Picture and Stop Making Sense. Season Two boasts an impressive list of guest stars including Anne Hathaway, Mia Farrow, Peter Fonda and Maya Rudolph.
We met up with Rudolph, Armison and Hader on set (San Gabriel Mission Playhouse) during their taping of ‘Final Transmission’, an homage to the 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary Stop Making Sense. The episode features an eponymous band consisting of Armisen, Hader and Rudolph performing an original set-list of eight songs written by Armison himself, to an eager live audience of fans.
“When we discussed doing a real concert movie, I knew we’d gotten a little more ambitious than last season. I said to Fred [Armison] on our first day of rehearsal, what did we do, what did we get ourselves into?!” Hader says, busting out his signature laugh. “I arrived here and it was a full blown concert venue, with trucks and all this gear and this whole audience of fans wrapped around the block waiting! It’s truly exciting!”
Even after eight years playing in front of a live audience at SNL, this is the first time he’s being a live musician in front of a live audience, so does he still get kind of nervous? “I still get a little nerves, but it’s a good nervous, nothing like with live television. When the whole nation is seeing you live, it’s whole different animal of nerves.”
Excited to reunite with his SNL castmate Rudolph, “It’s just like old times, only with a lot more instruments and a lot less rehearsal,” he jokes.
How does the trio go about selecting the docs they decide to mimic on the show? “The criteria is usually a doc that will have at least two characters that Fred and I can play and if it has an interesting look. That’s what is so much fun about doing these, we keep going back to the source from where it came and recreate this faux-documentary look that you see so much in comedy now, like The Office. Or Larry Sanders which was copying the style of the War Room. In doing our research we pay close attention to detail. So much of the credit of how it ends up looking goes to the directors, cinematographers and the product designers, the whole team are geniuses, everyone's on top of their game and works so hard to make these things look as close to the vision as possible.”
Even if viewers aren’t familiar with the original works being parodied, they will still have plenty to enjoy, with or without having knowledge of the source material being imitated.
Watch Documentary Now!'s 'Final Transmission' episode, airing tonight, Oct 12th on IFC. You can also catch up on Season 1 of Documentary Now! available on Netflix and iTunes.