David Wain Talks “Children’s Hospital,” Winning an Emmy, and Big Wheel Accidents

Plus, he answers the same 10 questions we always ask everyone.

At the end of Season 4 of Children’s Hospital, Dr. Blake Downs died, leaving viewers with something of a cliffhanger. Can you give a sense of where this season picks up?

I can tell you that we left with a definitive and clear killing of Dr. Blake Downs, played by Rob Corddry. We wanted to make sure that we left no possibility that the body could be resuscitated or brought back to life. And yet you’ll see what happens in the premiere. The character returns in a very clever and unexpected way, but you’ll see how. And the other big plot turn that takes the entire season is the fact that the home hospital where the series takes place in Brazil is infested with termites, causing all of our doctors to relocate themselves for 14 weeks to a U.S. Army base in Osaka, Japan to work as pediatric doctors.

What are some of the storylines the show will touch upon as this season progresses?

We have a really crazy season. Lake Bell’s character Dr. Cat Black has a wedding out in the country, and that episode has a lot of guest stars like Justin Kirk and Weird Al Yankovic. We have a Shakespeare-inspired episode this year. We have a European documentary-inspired episode. There’s a crazy USO show that has a ton of celebrity cameos. There is a spy thriller episode with Jordan Peele. There’s an episode where the hospital decides to have an old-fashioned day and things get out of hand. One more I’ll mention is an episode that involves a special unit at the children’s hospital that is designated for the patients’ imaginary friends.

Is no topic ever off limits when writing Children’s Hospital?

No topic is off limits when imagining and brainstorming, but we try to do a balance of being true to the world of our show and not caring at all about that.

Do you consider the show to be an actual parody of medical TV dramas?

Not really. I have never seen any of those shows, honestly. I have never seen Grey’s Anatomy or any of those shows. It just wasn’t so much my interest. If there was any parody element I think that went away after the first season because it just took on its own life and started to exist in its own weird world. The premise wasn’t spoofing those shows, it was more having a show about a children’s hospital, and then it’s just kooky and crazy.

What’s the benefit to making a show where each episode is less than 15 minutes?

I think most hour-long shows probably have the same amount of material story-wise as ours does. We just condense it and don’t have any filler. So especially for younger people, no one has the patience to sit through a half hour any more. And I don’t have the patience to make it anymore. 15 is the new 30.

What’s your favorite joke you’ve written for Children’s Hospital?

The joke that’s affected more of the series than any single joke was a one-off joke that we wrote for the web series. Someone said, “It’s the best hospital in all of Brazil. Which of course is where this hospital is located.” It was meant to be a weird, random thing someone said, but we decided after that to be totally faithful to that reality for the entire series.

Has winning an Emmy changed the show at all?

I mean, it’s different. Now I get driven to set in a Rolls Royce and I have bodyguards. We end the day in a hot tub with Champagne. My life’s a little different. I’ve got the Emmy and I usually carry it around with me. It’s generally in my front pocket and when people want to see it, I know where to get it.

Is it pretty heavy?

It’s very heavy. People are always saying, “Is that an Emmy or are you just happy to see me?”

Besides Children’s Hospital, what are you working on?

I’m completing this movie I made this year with Michael Showalter called They Came Together. That’s the main thing. I’m also working on the new season of Superjail!, which is also on Adult Swim. That’s in production now and will be on the air next year sometime.

What’s the status of the long-awaited sequel to Wet Hot American Summer?

Definitely still in development. We’re working on that. It’s a slow build because it’s a lot of moving parts to assemble. But I’m working on that as well as a lot of other projects that will come to fruition or be announced soon.

Photo: Gemma La Mana/ Everett Collection | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013


What is the last thing you had to apologize for?

The last thing I had to apologize for was that I made myself some sardines and I didn’t think to offer them to my writing partner, who I’m working with today. I said, “I should have made some sardines for you too, and I’m sorry.”

What is your favorite curse word?

Poo poo.

What’s the worst hangover you’ve ever had?

I’m such hardcore party animal that I don’t ever get hungover. Even when I go nuts like last New Year’s, when I had two, maybe even three beers.

What was your first car?

I had a Datsun Maxima blue station wagon that I inherited from my mother and I drove when I was 16-years-old until my license was taken away a year or two after that. I loved it because I could lay down all the way in the back seat while at a drive-in with my girlfriend and try to have sex with her. The key word is “try.”

Do you have a scar that tells a story?

I have a scar near my elbow, which is there because I was in a Big Wheel accident when I was about 15-years-old. Which, as you may recall, is way, way too old to be riding a Big Wheel. I thought it would be funny or cute to try to ride a Big Wheel and I went down a huge hill and took a serious fall.

Do you have a party trick?

I am an accomplished card manipulator. So I’m very good at card tricks. That’s my biggest party trick. I also know how to tie my penis in a knot if I’m very unexcited. I only do that at certain parties. And no, that one’s not true. But I do know quite a bit of origami, which really wows the ladies.

What is the biggest thing you’ve ever put in your mouth?

Once when I was trying to be goofy while playing pool with someone, I stole the white cue ball and tried to put it in my mouth to hide it. But I think I failed because I couldn’t fit it in there.

What is one thing to remember in a fist fight?

A fist fight for me is a two-step process. Which is 1) turn 180 degrees, and 2) run. That’s how I approach a fist fight.

Who was the last person to see you naked?

For sure that would be my son. Because I usually have to take care of making him breakfast in the morning. He makes me do things like make breakfast for him before I have a chance to put on my clothes.

Finish this sentence: If I ruled the world for a day, I would…

I would replace the world’s water supply with chocolate milk.

That’s going to suck for all the lactose intolerant people.

Well, some people are water intolerant, so let’s have some equal time.

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