Talking with Kurt Metzger About His Emmy Nomination


kurt-metzger-interview

is so damn funny.  His comedy special “White Precious” aired last month on Comedy Central, to rave reviews, he killed at Montreal Just for Laughs in The Nasty Show, and you can see him performing in clubs all over New York City regularly.  And stand up is only part of the picture– he also records a hit podcast, “Race Wars” with Sherrod Small weekly, and he’s been writing his ass off for shows like Chappelle Show, and The Show on Vice.com, and he was recently nominated for an Emmy!   Metzger has been writing for Inside for both of its two seasons and the show is without a doubt the best written sketch show on tv today.  RJ Waldron talked with Kurt recently about writing for the show, and being nominated in this latest edition of “The Set.”  If you love stand-up, if you love sketch, if you love Inside , you’ll definitely want to read RJ’s Kurt Metzger interview.

The IBang:  So first of all, I feel like I should just say congratulations.  I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to an Emmy nominee.  Inside Amy Schumer [for which you received the Emmy nomination] was especially hilarious this year. 

Kurt Metzger:  Yeah, I was pretty happy with this season.

The IBang:  How does the writing room work?  You’re all kind of buddies, right?

Kurt Metzger:  Yeah, everyone gets along really well.  The way we do it is that we do pitches first.  So, on pitch day, you have your ideas and you make your pitches to Amy, with everyone in the room together.  Then we leave for lunch and Amy, the producer Dan Powell, and head writer Jessi Klein all get together and pick the ideas they like.  Then they call us all back into the room and tell us from our pitches what they liked and what they want you to write.  So, it’ll be like one or two sketches – like one week I had three in and I was pretty happy… the week before I only had one idea and was like, I better step it up (laughing).  So, then you write the sketch and hand it in.  They give you feedback and ask for revisions after you make your first pass at it. After you do the revisions, then we do table reads and everyone starts just throws in on the sketches.

The IBang:  So once it’s kind of green lit, per se, then it becomes everyone throwing out ideas.

Kurt Metzger:  Right.  So, aside from whether it’s your initial idea, everybody writes on pretty much everything.  I think we’ve only had one or two sketches that no one did anything to.

The IBang:  Writing for the comedy show is such a different process than writing for your stand-up.

Kurt Metzger:  Well yeah writing my stand-up is not by committee, that’s just all me.  But it’s really helpful for me, I’ve found that I write sketches a lot tighter from like the last two years of [writing on the show].  It’s so hard to end a goddamn sketch, but you get sharper from it.

The IBang:  It’s kind of hard for me to imagine you sitting down and writing funny bits as a kid, how did this start for you?

Kurt Metzger:  When I was a kid I was an artist.  I wanted to do comic books or something.  I dropped out of art school to do stand up.  So, I always liked writing, but that wasn’t really my goal.  Still now, I just want to do stand-up, I don’t even really want to do the writing jobs, but I need the money (laughing).  But working for Amy is a really cushy job.  The hours are really good and we have a lot of great writers.  We had more stuff than we needed this season, so we were in good shape pretty early on in the season.  I think we have a better idea what the show is, ya know.

The IBang:  Do you bank some of those ideas and look at them for the next season, or do you always start fresh?

I had this one that I wanted to do called “Amy Dates Hitler” it was set in the 1920’s in Germany but it just looked like hipster Brooklyn.

Kurt Metzger:  We did that with a couple from the first season.  I don’t think we banked them on purpose, but we just weren’t able to get to them.  I had this idea that I really liked, which just ended up not fitting with the show.  But, I had this one that I wanted to do called “Amy Dates Hitler” it was set in the 1920’s in Germany  but it just looked like hipster Brooklyn.  They wore what the wear on Girls, but we don’t tell you that, so Amy meets this artist and he’s sketching her, he’s this nice kind of shy guy, similar to Adam, from Girls and then it turns out he’s Hitler.  She keeps changing his clothes, like she makes him wear those stupid director pants that Hitler wore.  Then the final touch is that she has that mustache on him and then she decides that she doesn’t like him, so he goes crazy.  (laughing)  At the end, she’s in an attic hiding and she’s like, “Dear Diary, I really messed up, Adolf is super famous now…”  But, the idea just doesn’t really fit in the show.  Amy doesn’t want you to write in the voice of the show, she likes you to write in your own voice and then incorporate it into the show which is a really smart way to do it.

The IBang:  That’s funny because you’re all very different writers, but the show is pretty cohesive.

Kurt Metzger:  Well, that’s because by the time it’s on the show we’ve gone over them a lot and everyone has kind of pitched in on it.  It’s a lot of pretty diverse sensibilities in the room, which I think helps it not be a “chick” show.  We get a pretty even male / female viewership.

The IBang:  It’s funny to me that you say you don’t love the writing gigs, but you have picked up a few lately.  You’re writing for The Jim Norton Show on Vice.com, which is so hilarious.  The “Uncle Mingle” sketch was so inappropriately hilarious.

Kurt Metzger:  Yeah, that was my sketch.  I love working on that show.  All the sketches and initial stuff was just me and Jim which was actually pretty fun.  We have a pretty similar sensibility, so it was really easy to mesh together to make it… eh, that sounds weird (laughing).  But it was just super easy to work with him.  I really enjoyed it, I hope that it doesn’t conflict with Schumer’s show because I really like that job. .

The IBang:  Do you think that you’re headed more towards writing for your own show, is that a goal?

I like doing stand-up, man. It’s really my thing. Whatever I can do to make it out on the road.

Kurt Metzger:  It could be.  I’m working on something now.  I sold a script, well we haven’t written it yet, but me, Dan the producer from Amy’s show, this great comedian Monroe, and formerly Nikki Glaser, she had to back out of it.  But we sold a script to Comedy Central that we’re working on.  So, it could lead to that, sure.  But, I like doing stand-up, man.  It’s really my thing.  Whatever I can do to make it out on the road.  Being a writer is kind of a slow way to get to that, but I was always good at the writing part.  I wasn’t always good at the performing part.  In stand-up comedy that’s really what I had to work on the most, performing the jokes.  I kind of always knew how to write the joke.

The IBang:  You mentioned your art school background and that reminded me of your hilarious pamphlets that you handed out for your hour long Comedy Central Special, “White Precious.”

Kurt Metzger:  Oh yeah, I love how they put those together.  I wrote the copy and stuff for those.  Anne Harris at Comedy Central had someone take photos for me and put those together.  When they said they wanted to make brochures, I had this idea that I wanted to actually send them out to people and have them just leave them on the ground and stuff.  Just pamphlets that would be found.

The IBang:  I’m just imagining them floating around New York City right next to the “Jesus will save you.”

Kurt Metzger: Yeah, that’s exactly how I imagined it.  Having people actually handing them out makes me laugh.  I always collected those things, so I wanted to have my own.


Follow Kurt on Twitter @KurtMetzger

Get Info on Kurt’s Podcast, Race Wars

Watch a clip from White Precious


kurt-metzger-interview-short-set

Read more original interviews. And visit our home page for the latest comedy news, interviews, and more.