When Childrens Hospital first appeared online as a webseries back in 2008, no one could have predicted that the absurdist comedy would go on to earn two Emmys and host a revolving cast of television’s top comedic talent. But now, as the show enters its sixth season, it has become a flagship series on Adult Swim. The new season picks up after a six-year time jump with the doctors sent back to Brazil after their Japanese facilities are destroyed. Led by executive producers/writers Rob Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart), Jonathan Stern (Burning Love) and David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer, Role Models), Childrens Hospital stars Malin Akerman, Lake Bell, Michael Cera, Rob Corddry, Erinn Hayes, Rob Huebel, Ken Marino, Megan Mullally, and Henry Winkler.
While the sixth season was filming last year, I visited the set in San Fernando Valley, California. While there, I watched the medical staff of Childrens Hospital perform a precision operation to remove a ticking clock – not a plot device, an actual ticking clock – from a child’s butt. I knew things were going to get weird on the set of Childrens Hospital, and I was not disappointed. After the scene wrapped, I sat down for an exclusive interview with Malin Ackerman. We talked about what’s coming up this season, the critical success of the show, working with a cast that feels like family, and more.
MALIN AKERMAN: Did you see the last scene we just shot?
AKERMAN: It’s the stupidest scene. They all are. That’s why we love it [laughs].
So what are some stupid things your character gets up to this season?
AKERMAN: Well, what is she not up to? We find out that her and Blake are brother and sister, but they’ve already had sex, so it gets weird. Awkward. Well, we were just taking a ticking time bomb out of a child’s butt. Normal stuff.
I bore witness to that.
AKERMAN: Yeah, that kind of stuff. Of course any time someone asks you what your character does, you don’t remember a goddamn thing. But I remember those two things happen, for sure [laughs].
Is there anything that sets this season apart from the previous season? I know you guys are now back from Japan.
AKERMAN: Yes, we’re back. We’re no longer in Japan, we’re now back in Brazil. Of course. I got to say, I think the reason why I feel like the scripts are so elevated this season is because we actually have a writing team that has time to write the scripts. I know Rob was saying that earlier. This is amazing because it hasn’t been so stressed, there are people that were available. What we were shooting before was just always chaos, and you can really see a difference in the script writing this season. It’s hilarious.
Because this is the first time they were all complete in advance, right?
I imagine that’s really nice.
AKERMAN: Yeah! I think they’re really excited about it. I just feel like the difference really is in the writing. It just got elevated just a tad, which is hard to believe because I think the writing is always phenomenal on this show. That’s why I love doing it. It’s so much fun and it’s so out there. I can’t wait until people see this season. It’s pretty hilarious.
You guys just got a third Emmy nomination, you’ve one twice before. That’s pretty crazy.
AKERMAN: I know, it’s insane! Every time – every time, listen to that – every time that happens [laughs] – but really, truly there’s that element of surprise. We’re like, “Really? We did?” It’s crazy because it’s like hanging out with your best buddies, and people are actually watching it, which is pretty awesome, to be on our sixth season of craziness. You never know how people are going to take this kind of comedy, but we’ve really gotten a cult following. I love that. It’s so much fun to have your true, full-on Childrens Hospital fans that will never leave you.
[Megan Mullally interrupts to say goodbye to Malin. They’re very affectionate.]
AKERMAN: We hate each other.
AKERMAN: It’s just a show for you. She never even talks to me [laughs].
So tell me a little bit about the vibe on set, because from everything I’ve seen today, you guys have a lot of fun.
AKERMAN: It’s family. It really is family. That’s why we do it. The writing is incredible and then we just have this team of people that – we joke like, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we just do all of our movies together and keep the same crew?” Kind of like Judd Apatow does, which would be a dream come true. The vibe is pretty great. It’s really silly, and it’s really hard to have serious moments on this set. The challenge is not cracking up on everyone’s take.
Is there a particular person that makes you break the most?
AKERMAN: All of them. Every single one of them. The writing is just so funny that it’s silly. Even when you just read it – I’m laughing out loud as I’m just reading the script, and then you put these characters behind the words and you’re just screwed.
We’ve talked a lot about the quality of the writing, but you guys also have such a wealth of comedic talent on the show. Do you do a lot of improvising as well?
AKERMAN: There is, yeah. There is improving as well, but most of it is said the way it’s scripted. But of course throughout rehearsals as well there will be moments of someone just improvising something and “Oh yeah, that’s great, let’s keep that.” And then of course there are the moments where it just gets silly, and everyone starts riffing and it gets completely out of hand.
AKERMAN: It’s got to happen. But most of the improv comes in between the takes. Everyone just starts doing bits and we just continue until thy call action again. There should be a camera on in the in-betweens as well. It would be a whole different show.
I’m sure people would love to see that – be good for the Blu-ray.
AKERMAN; Yeah, I’m sure they would [laughs].
What are you most excited for fans of the show to see in this new season?
AKERMAN: We have this awesome sort of – well, it’s a movie clip within the show, it’s a post-apocalyptic world and it’s pretty incredible. So I think there are certain things like that that pop up that I always love about Children’s Hospital where it’s this zero budget TV show that just has these amazing, incredible sets that they somehow create. There’s some really fun stuff in that episode. It is sort of behind the scenes – we’re on a talk show and we let the world know that we’ve done a movie. It’s a post-apocalyptic movie, and it’s pretty rad. I can’t wait for that episode. I think fans are really going to love it.
Childrens Hospital airs Friday nights at midnight on Adult Swim.