'Big Time in Hollywood, FL' Creators on Bringing 'Breaking Bad' Stakes to Comedy Central

Alex Anfanger and Dan Schimpf describe the network's first serialized comedy — about two talentless filmmakers — as a "slapstick drama."
Jesse Grant

These guys think they're ready for the big time — but they totally aren't. 

Comedy Central's Big Time in Hollywood, FL centers on aspiring filmmakers and brothers Jack (Alex Anfanger) and Ben (Lenny Jacobson) whose ideas are way bigger than their talent. They live at home with their parents (Kathy Baker and Stephen Tobolowsky), whom they mooch off while making mediocre films.

The show, which premieres Wednesday at 10:30 p.m., is Comedy Central's first serialized comedy, with one episode charging into the next in a way that's reminiscent of a high stakes drama like Breaking Bad. There's death, guns, money and drugs alongside the laughs as the brothers fall deeper into the crime world of their Florida town.

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In a chat with The Hollywood Reporter, co-creators Anfanger and Dan Schimpf  weigh in on advice from executive producer Ben Stiller, working with Cuba Gooding Jr. and why their characters are the self-obsessed guys that they are.

What's wrong with these guys?

Alex Anfanger: They are just oblivious. They so desperately want to be filmmakers. They just have a completely delusional perspective of themselves as artists. 

Dan Schimpf: It's a nod to our generation a little bit. We were kind of raised in a manner that you were told you could be what you wanted and handed a trophy no matter what outcome there was.

Big Time in Hollywood, FL
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What's the best advice Ben Stiller gave you?

Schimpf: The thing Ben gave us was confidence. Alex and I were just struggling, writing stuff on our own in Brooklyn, and you're always hopeful you might get a really great opportunity, but you're not sure. When he came in and said he liked our stuff, it was a tremendous amount of validation. It gives you the confidence to take risks.

How do you decide the rules of this universe? It's the real world, but outrageous stuff happens in it.

Schimpf: You never want it to feel absurdist.

Anfanger: In the later episodes, we try to just push it past reality, but keep it close enough to where it's exciting and make it feel like it all does exist in this world.

The pacing of this feels more like a drama long the lines of Breaking Bad. What were your influences?

Anfanger:  I just watch so many movies growing up, and I just love films in general, and we watch a lot of TV. Breaking Bad was influential because we were watching it as we were writing it.

Schimpf: Alex's term that I liked is slapstick drama. When we talk about the show, we are almost talking about it in dramatic structure terms. It boils down to the question of how we cleanly tell a story about characters. In theory, what we try to do is write a drama.

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How did you decide to set it in Florida?

Anfanger: Originally, we thought about setting it in Burbank or another city outside of L.A. or Hollywood, because we wanted them to exist on the outskirts. Then there was a joke about living in a different Hollywood.

Schimpf: From there, we just liked the idea of Florida. Stylistically, Florida just naturally has such bright and poppy colors and visually that's something we like to do with the show. The story gets progressively darker as the season goes on. Having that brightness softens that a little bit. 

Anfanger: The pivotal villain of the first season is this massive drug lord. She's supposed to be one of the biggest drug lords in Miami. Florida feels like a good setting for that kind of character.

What can you say about Cuba Gooding Jr.'s role?

Anfanger: Cuba is in six episodes. He's one of the cornerstones of season one, and we were so psyched to get him.

Big Time in Hollywood, FL premieres at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday on Comedy Central.

Email: Aaron.Couch@THR.com
Twitter: @AaronCouch