NTSF:SD:SUV:: star Martin Starr talks Season 2, Guest Stars, and Bluegrass-Rap!

Martin Starr is someone you all recognize – what started as an iconic role on NBC’s too-short-lived FREAKS & GEEKS has turned into guest spots and regular roles on some of our favorites (NEW GIRL, Fancyman Part 2, anyone?), plus memorable roles in just about every funny movie of the past 10 years. He’s currently starring in Adult Swim’s Thursday late night comedy NTSF:SD:SUV:: (created by Paul Scheer), and to celebrate an absurd (in the perfect way) second season, Martin and I spent some time chatting about what’s coming up, who is coming up, and some future plans!

We want talk about NTSF – this show. I love this leaves you wanting more, with the 15 minute sample every week. I know we’re well into Season 2 at this point, but what was it that drew you to the show, or keeps you coming back?
They showed me the 30 second promo and the one minute promo that they had made prior to thinking about me, I guess, and that was an opportunity that came up for them during CHILDRENS HOSPITAL, and then Paul Scheer brought it to me, and asked if it was something that I might want to be a part of, and I said, “F Yeah” and the next thing we know, we’re actually making it.

Tonight’s episode that’s airing, Sam get to sort of take the reins a bit, gets involved in the case. We get to see him try to stop this kidnapper.
It’s a very personal case for me, whether I know it or not. The villain picks me out to take care of things. It was fun. It was really fun. I think this was the episode with Alison Brie if I’m not mistaken. It was fun to work with her again. They keep getting more inventive and creative with the episode ideas. I have one for next season, if we get that opportunity. I’d like to make a body swap episode.

It’s not a show that’s doing anything “normal” so to speak – it’s not typical, and so a body swap episode would be classic. What kind of research or background goes into a show like this, from a creative standpoint – watching procedurals, nailing that kind of idea?
I think everyone that created this show, they love, in general, those procedural shows, it so well mirrors that kind of formula, just in a shortened amount of time. They make it pretty easy. Everybody’s seen a procedural. It’s impossible not to watch TV, or it’s impossible to watch TV and not see a procedural show on a regular basis. They are always on. I don’t think there’s a network that doesn’t have a procedural show.

And then there are those networks who say they don’t but totally do!
[laughs] I think Animal Planet. They even have a procedural, it’s just more documentary.

How much input do you have as an actor on the show with the writing team?
As much as I want. I think everybody, it’s a very dynamic, everyone’s very free to add input. Certainly, Paul and Curtis, and Jon, all guide the show’s direction, but everybody is pushed and guided to give as much input as I want. I certainly was as involved as I could be in this last season. They have a meeting of the minds, so to speak, before writing the episode, and everybody just pitching ideas, and I got to make it to one of those gatherings of the writers, and I guess we’ll see what happens this next year. If I have time, and it all works out, I would like to write one of the episodes. But that’s all up in the air at the moment.

You mentioned Allison of course, and the guest stars on the show have been incredible. I think it was Jon that I saw say at Comic Con that in season 1, it’s like you’re asking people to do the show, and now in Season 2, people are asking to be a part of it.

Who are some people that we might see this season, or who would you love for next season?
There are a lot of friends, of the group, that we haven’t had the chance to bring in, so for next season, there’s a giant cache of individuals. But for this season, I think my favorite is Ray Liotta. Aziz Ansari was in that same episode. We’ve had a tremendous guest cast. It feels a lot like PARTY DOWN in the way that like the first season of PARTY DOWN, we were trying to convince people to come on the show, and the second season, everybody really wanted to be a part of the things they were getting into, and I think that’s a similar vibe to NTSF that people see it, and respect it, and want to be a part of it.

You mentioned the group – you see you, Paul, etc., interacting with the same comedians and actors in different settings – I’d imagine that’s by choice, you all going after the same scripts or writers, enjoying working together.
Absolutely! One of the beautiful things about what I get to do, what I’m lucky enough to be able to have financial stability in doing is that I get work with people that I love and respect, who I am friends with or want to be friends with. To find someone who fits into that group, into that circle, that I want to spend more time with, and be around more, and then we really get paid to play and have fun, and be creative and make art together is an amazing luxury that I don’t take for granted one day.

I saw that you’re getting more involved in writing and you had sold some pilots – what style do you tend to gravitate towards, or is it all over the map right now?
It’s kind of all over the map. It’s whatever inspires me in that day. [laughs] My friend Charlene and I wrote a script a long time ago that feels very serious in its tone, but it’s just like a very dark comedy. And then there’s an idea that I haven’t yet sat down to write, a feature that would be very broad. They’re all comedies I would say. But it’s fun to try to write everything, like the style of NTSF being 15 minutes, it’s fun to figure out a plot that fits into that 15 minutes, and then using that plot to create as much comedy as you can, and that’s certainly one particular style of writing that’s different than most.

You’re doing some shows around LA with the band (Common Rotation) when you can – can you compare the band’s music to something?
I don’t know how to compare it to anything to be honest. It’s different than everything! It’s like, Bluegrass and it’s rap. I don’t know [laughs]. I don’t think there is another bluegrass rap band! I certainly enjoy being a part of it. They’re just incredible bluegrass musicians that I came across, and one of them happened to be performing with De La Soul, and he still is, they’re recording an album together, him and a few musicians. I immediately hit it off with them, and we started working on beats and stuff, and the next thing I knew, we had a set that we can play, and we’re performing around town. The only hard thing is finding the time with them touring, and me working in and out of state. It’s hard to find time to get to perform, but that’s certainly one of my dreams, is to go on tour for a month or two, open for other bands, and just have fun doing this.

What else do you have going on, what’s coming next?
I’m about to, I’m in, maybe I shouldn’t say it until it actually happens, but I’m about to go back on HAWAII FIVE-0, which I’m excited to do. I had a great time on it before, and I’m getting ready to go do that, and I just finished a movie in Pittsburgh with Kristen Bell, that I had an incredible time on, and I got to go back to Pittsburgh where we shot ADVENTURELAND, and weave into that old stomping ground. So yeah, that, and much much more! I’ve sold shows the last two years, and hopefully, I have another one that I’m taking out this year, so hopefully, in the not too distant future, I’ll be able to create the same kind of wonderful environment that Paul, Jon and Curtis created on NTSF!

NTSF:SD:SUV:: airs Thursdays in late (or technically, VERY early Fridays) at 12:15/11:15c on Adult Swim.