This week Adult Swim premieres the new special Dinner with Friends with Brett Gelman and Friends, co-written by Gelman with director Jason Woliner. In the 30-minute special, Gelman invites his Hollywood friends for a lively night of dining, tasty showbiz chit-chat, and psychological torture, because, sure. Nerdist had a chat with the actor and writer and discussed the inspiration for the special, what it was like working with his awesome cast, and if the funny man thought he’d go down the horror/psychological thriller rabbit hole again.
While the trailer for Dinner with Friends with Brett Gelman and Friends is somewhat vague and a bit ominous, I couldn’t help but notice some similarities between the basic premise of the special and Jon Favreau’s conversational favorite Dinner for Five. Was that, in fact, intentional? Gelman told us, “Yes. In a way. It starts there for a second and then quickly – it starts off being a Dinner for Five talk show and then immediately starts descending into a hellish nightmare of psychological torture where I completely ruin my six lovely guests.” So, a little Dinner for Five with a little Saw thrown in for good measure? Said Gelman, “Oh yeah, I’d say a lot of Saw and a little Dinner for Five!”
Speaking of Gelman’s guests, the cast includes Dale Dickey (Justified), Gilbert Gottfried, Fred Melamed (The Crazy Ones), Alison Pill (The Newsroom), Lance Reddick (American Horror Story, Fringe), Anthony Atamanuik (30 Rock), and Alex Karpovsky (Girls). Gelman sang the praises of the actors, telling Nerdist, “[N]ot only are they all incredibly funny, they are all incredible actors, some of the best actors there are. So they really commit to the reality of what’s going on. And so the whole idea that this is being committed to in such an intense way and in such a real way is, in itself, funny. So it’s pretty remarkable and I will say that the one person who is a comedian in it, the great Gilbert Gottfried, gives a pretty heartbreaking dramatic performance and by ‘pretty’ I mean ‘very’ heartbreaking.”
It would seem like Dinner with Friends with Brett Gelman and Friends is in a way breaking new ground for Adult Swim in that there hasn’t really been anything like this on the network yet. What were Gelman’s thoughts on taking things to a darker place? “I would say that is the beauty of Adult Swim is that they’re always pushing forward from what they’ve done in the past and they’re always just trying different styles. What Tim and Eric do is different from what Jon Glaser does, but you know it is all in this family of take-it-to-the-limit, which I feel we do with this. But it is very different, because there is nothing – it’s just different. It’s maybe their most dramatic piece, but Mike Lazzo at Adult Swim is a very brilliant man who — he likes to push it. He likes to push all of his people to take it beyond what anybody was originally thinking about.”
Now that Gelman and co-writer and director Jason Woliner have gone down the dark, twisted horror/thriller rabbit hole, would he like to do something like this again? “Oh, definitely. Definitely. It is so fun. And it is surreal. There is a lot of surreal stuff to it, and I would love to make more of these, you know, Jason would, too, and I hope Adult Swim does too.”
Dinner with Friends with Brett Gelman and Friends premieres tonight, Thursday, April 24th at Midnight on Adult Swim.