INTERVIEW: Scott Adsit and John Lutz

Hitting Your Mark in Hollywood


© John H. Abbott, Photographer of CIF

Thanks to Aren Zolninger from Chicago Improv Productions, I was able to sneak in a few minutes to interview Scott Adsit and John Lutz before they took the stage for their “Super Secret” midnight show at Stage 773. As we were waiting for the show ahead of us to clear out, Scott, John and I stepped into a back hallway with CIP staff and a couple photographers and shared a few words about working on 30Rock, life lessons and everyone’s favorite funny lady, Ms. Tina Fey.

If there’s one thing you wish someone would have told you starting out, what would it be and why?
John: Even if someone told me this, I probably wouldn’t have believed them, but to be a little bit more patient with my career knowing that things take longer than you expect them to. If you just keep going and working it will eventually come, just not as fast as you think it will. I know I wanted things to happen very fast and it takes a little while.

Well said, Scott?
Scott: Acting is not a competition, truly. Other people’s success is not your failure. That took me a little while to figure out.

Alright, who or what were the greatest influences that helped progress your careers in comedy?
Scott: Well, two – Martin de Maat who taught me everything I know about improv and Tina Fey who gave me a job that furthered my career like no one else has.

John: Liz Allen who was my improv coach for six years and taught me basically to focus on becoming a good improviser and a good performer and to not try and be funny all the time. Then Tina Fey and Lorne Michaels for giving me the jobs that I’ve worked at for the last nine years of my life.

What’s your favorite thing about Tina Fey?
Scott: We don’t like her very much…

Right? I heard she’s a real bitch…kidding, of course.
Scott: I like that she thinks she’s the smartest one…no, that’s not right. She IS the smartest one in the room, generally, and she understands things faster than anyone I’ve ever seen. She accesses out a situation and can see it from all angles and can make it funny or improve it in someway.

John: I would have to say what I really love about her is that she is very loyal to her friends and people that she works with and she tries to continue to work with them.

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned from working on 30Rock?
[Heavy thoughtful sighs]

It’s not meant to be a trick question…
John: I’ve learned how to say a line where the set up line is also a joke and how to get two jokes out of one joke.

Scott: I’ve learned how to…oh boy…

John: Will all of these pauses be in the interview?

Haha, it’ll be a really long series of ellipses.
Scott: It’ll be like reading a Pinter play.

Haha, which is exactly why I transcribe it.
John: Oh, and how to hit your mark without looking at it.

Ahhhh, good one.
Scott: Which many people in Hollywood have not learned to do yet. If you look, it happens all the time. Wait, what was the question?

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned from working on 30Rock?
Scott: Jack McBrayer can take a punch.

John: [chuckles] That’s backstage, offset, in the dressing rooms.

Alright, I have one more question for you guys. This is the one question I ask everyone I interview. What is the greatest insight that you’ve discovered about life and comedy?
Scott: There are some rules improv that apply to life really well, such as you’re better off saying “yes” to things and you are more interesting when you are interested and you look better when you make your partner look better.

John: And that the biggest laughs, in my opinion come from honesty and something that people can relate to where the audience sees a little bit of them in you.

Scott: This is a life lesson?

John: Was that a life lesson? Was that wrong?

The greatest insight you’ve discovered about life and comedy?
John: Oh. Ok, you are right in correcting me. The first thing I’ll say is that I’m not good at interviews at midnight.

Haha. Neither am I.
John: Secondly, I’ll say that everything that Scott said is right.

Scott: That’s a general rule.

Alright, any last shout out to people in Chicago? Any final comments?
Scott: I’ll shout out to my very first improv teach who did teach me quite a lot, Pat Murphy from Glenbrook North High School. I was lucky enough to have an improv program in high school.

That’s crazy.
John: And I’ll give a shout out to ImprovOlympic and Potbelly’s.

Scott: The one in the airport?

John: The one in the airport.

Great. I know you guys need to get set-up for your show here, so thank you for taking the time to talk to me.
Scott & John: Anytime, no problem!

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posted on by Kiley Peters posted in Chatter, Interviews