by Ryan Meehan
“In 1975, the movie “Jaws” came out and I became obsessed with it. I drew about a hundred pictures of Great White sharks. Being in kindergarten, this was an odd thing. Nevertheless, Jaws is why I got into movies. It’s why I act. It’s why I ended up in this completely carnivorous industry. Because of “Jaws”, I fell in love with blood and guts. Even at that age, Knew this was weird. I didn’t care. Blood and guts led me to horror movies. So I stayed up late and watched everything HBO put on. In 1979 I saw “The Brood”. Those little monsters stole weeks of sleep from me. I was sold: Horror was the shit. That revelation led me to Stephen King. Stephen King is the reason I started writing. Then I got older and wanted to be cool. I discovered Bruce Lee, took tae kwon do, and wore acid washed jeans. An engraved vanity plate on my Mercury Zephyr let people know I was the Italian Stallion. Clearly this was when (unbeknownst to me) my knack for comedy was born.
Sometime later, Peckinpah Films showed up at my doorstep. Suddenly, blood, guts, and being cool all got rolled into one. Everything came full circle. I loved the guys Sam put in his movies – especially Oates. The Pat Garrett poster is on my wall, hanging over my head right now. There’s a line in it that I live by. Mainly because it’s true, but also because James Coburn sounds so fucking badass when he growls it. If you ever see the movie, you’ll know what I’m talking about. So those movies are the trifecta, the biggies for me. I figure if you’re here, you’re interested. But maybe you’re just here for the resume, in which case: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0516266/ Enjoy the site. You won’t need a bigger boat.”
You gotta love a guy that can crank out a bio like that with no credits. That guy is Joe Lo Truglio, and he’s our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: How did a guy that was so obsessed with blood and gore from such an early age end up getting into sketch comedy and television acting?
JLT: Comedy is about pain. So the love of a straight-up disembowelment or a vicious muppet-yawn of a throat slash, or a ballooning head that explodes- those I imagine are pretty painful. The connection’s obvious. It was only a matter of time. Actually, I was never into sketch or television really as a kid, just magazines and movies.
RM: What were you doing when you found out that “The State” had been picked up by MTV? Do you look back on that moment and view it as a pivotal point in your life?
JLT: Man, it was so long ago. I don’t remember specifically where I was. I remember it was pretty seamless, from pilot to series. We reshot a couple sketches from the pilot for the series, like “Hormones”. We were just kids psyched to have a job. We knew it was a big deal, but I don’t think we understood how rare it was, what was happening. And we knew it was a big opportunity, that we can’t fuck it up, so we never stopped working, even out of the office. I knew it was significant when I brought my dad to our MTV offices in Times Square, had to sign him in, and I saw how impressed he was with all these people working for us. He told me much, much later, that that was when he realized that the “silly college comedy stuff” I was doing actually might be a career. My folks were always supportive, but any parent can’t be completely confident if their kid is in this biz.
RM: You played Neil in “Wet Hot American Summer” which was directed by David Wain…What was that whole experience like for you?
JLT: We attacked it like hungry dogs. It was everyone’s first movie, in the middle of the woods, in cabins, away from the real world. They could’ve taken the plate away from us any second, so we scarfed every moment down. It was very muddy and wet but, you know, comedy is dirty sometimes. I remember the owner of the camp was crazy adamant about not chewing gum. As if that was the biggest thing he had to worry about with us. Camp Towanda in Honesdale, PA. I think Hank Azaria went there or performed there or something.
RM: You joined the cast of “RENO 911!” during the show’s final season in 2009…What is the one personality trait that you possess that would have made you a good police officer? And what is the one that would have made that a poor career choice?
JLT: I like puzzles, brainteaser stuff. I analyze pretty well, that might’ve made me a good detective. I can grow a pretty thick moustache too. That gives you immediate street cred as a cop, a moustache. But I have a temper. So ultimately I’d probably get pissed off at a drunk numbnut and smack him around. I also don’t like the smell of lockers.
RM: I’ve read a few things online suggesting a lot of the dialogue on that show was improvised…In your experience how much of script was done on the fly, and did it help that you started the same time as Ian Roberts who had such an intense background in improv because of his time in the Upright Citizens Brigade?
JLT: Not a lot. All. All of the dialogue was improvised. We got a paragraph explaining the conflict, the situation, then we just played it. Starting that show with Ian Roberts was a godsend. I was a bit nervous, he’s a genius, and told him so. He said I had nothing to worry about, calmed my insecure actor BS down. I’d known Ian for a while, since the mid 90s when Uprights moved to New York, so I was comfortable enough to just lay it out. Tom, Ben, and Kerri- they’d been doing the show for a while -so they were working on all cylinders. I was antsy about jumping into that machine. Besides the adlibbing in the films I’d done up to that point, I’d never really improvised in long-form. Never took a class, or knew ‘the rules’. The State avoided improv like the plague, so it was a bit intimidating. But all of them were incredibly supportive, and none were worried for me in the least. They knew I’d be fine.
RM: What’s the best part about working in the entertainment industry? The worst?
JLT: The schedule’s nice. Work your ass off, take a break. You meet an incredible amount of amazingly talented people. The bad part is the business and the petty reasons stuff doesn’t get made. The assholes and dicks that think it’s about something other than doing the work.
RM: This may seem like kind of a personal question…but why aren’t you on Twitter more?
JLT: I am on Twitter (@JoeLoTruglio) but I’m not really comfortable with it. I don’t tweet a lot. FOX urged us all to do it because of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which I understand. It’s a great promotional tool, especially with our audience. But it’s just too many strangers asking questions. Most seem nice, but you know, it’s weird. Still, I don’t want to give the ‘old man’ speech about how technology’s destroying human relationships. It’s here to stay. Adapt or die. Some people like to tweet when something bugs them. I’d be more impressed if they did it while they’re being completely humiliated, like being called terrible in bed by their spouse or getting caught talking shit about someone or being laughed at because they sat in cat poop.
RM: How has “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” been going so far? What’s it like working with Andy Samberg and Terry Crews? Any good stories from the set that you’d like to share with us?
JLT: What can I say, it’s incredible. I’m a grateful sonofabitch. Great, great people who don’t take their job for granted, know how lucky they are. Everyone in front and behind the camera’s been doing it a while, so they have a healthy mindset about the good reviews and awards. No one buys into it too much. It’s nice, but you know. Terry’s the most positive, energetic guy I know. It’s all real, it’s not an act. At first, you think it’s a show, an act. Nope. He loves what he does, loves his family. The guy’s reinvented himself throughout his football and acting career. Terry and I got all excited about Bono at the Golden Globes- we’re both big U2 fans -but we chickened out, didn’t introduce ourselves. Andy’s a sweet, down-to-earth guy, funny as hell. Lot of stories but one good one was when Joel McKinnon Miller, Scully, started singing opera during a ‘fun run’. We lost it. Caught us all by surprise. He’s actually a trained singer, and it killed. The writers put it in the show.
RM: What’s up next for Joe Lo Truglio in 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
JLT: Hopefully a second season of Brooklyn. I also created a web series called ‘BEEF’ with Michael Ian Black. It’s ‘The Sopranos’ meets ‘Judge Judy’. It’s about a family-owned butcher shop in Brooklyn that settles petty arguments from the idiots in the neighborhood. Chris Meloni plays “Lou”, our guy, and he’s brilliant. I’m really proud of it. They’ll be a sneak preview up in San Francisco at Sketchfest in a week or so. There’s a million familiar comedy faces in there, we were really lucky to get so much talent. We have about 15 episodes. Hopefully, that’ll be launched in a couple months. I’ll tweet about it, along with when I sit in cat poop.
Official Website: http://www.joelotruglio.com/
Joe’s profile on “Funny or Die”: www.funnyordie.com/joe_lo_truglio
Joe Lo Truglio on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Joe-Lo-Truglio/108450915846901
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