'Silicon Valley's Thomas Middleditch: "Improv on [This] Show Isn't About Rewriting a Scene"

"A guy like Zach Woods, who's an incredible improviser, it's all his little improvs that didn't even make it into the show that everyone was like, 'Oh, I know how to write for you now.' And now he's become this very weird guy with a lot of hidden secrets, which has pretty much just come out of him."

"I feel like I have a fair amount of contribution," Silicon Valley actor Thomas Middleditch told The Hollywood Reporter during its comedy actor  roundtable. He discussed how much influence the cast has on developing their characters, and the answer is quite a bit. "Either it's in the moment or pitched before we roll. I would say [Richard] is very much an amalgamation of my contribution, plus everybody else's, as well as all the little bits in between."

The cast of Silicon Valley routinely improvises (many of them have a strong background in sketch comedy), but Middleditch says, "Improv on that show isn't about rewriting a scene or creating a whole new story line. A tangent may evolve, but it's more about character color, or finding a little moment."

He points to actor Zach Woods, who plays Jared on the show. "[He's] an incredible improviser. It's all his little improvs that didn't even make it into the show" that enabled the writers to understand how to write for him. "And now [Jared] has become this very weird guy with a lot of hidden secrets, which has pretty much just come out of [Zach]."

Middleditch goes on to share about his experience auditioning for Saturday Night Live, saying, "[It] is so nerve-wracking. It was also an honor just to audition. The failed badge of honor," he said while acknowledging the two SNL alums, Fred Armisen and Will Forte, who also participated in the roundtable.

Middleditch joined fellow comedic actors Jordan Peele (Key & Peele), Ricky Gervais Derek), Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth), Fred Armisen (Portlandia), and Don Cheadle (House of Lies) in the roundtable, where they discussed how they developed their humor and how they use it today.

The full Comedy Actor Emmy Roundtable can be seen on Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter when it premieres Sunday, Aug. 23, at 11 a.m. ET/PT on Sundance TV and HollywoodReporter.com.

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