Robert John "Bob" Odenkirk is an American actor, comedian, writer, director, and producer. He is best known for being the co-creator and co-star of the HBO sketch comedy series Mr. Show with Bob and David, and for his role as criminal lawyer Saul Goodman on the AMC crime drama series Breaking Bad and its upcoming spin-off series Better Call Saul. In the 1980s and 1990s, Odenkirk worked as a writer for such television shows as Saturday Night Live, Get a Life, The Ben Stiller Show, and The Dennis Miller Show. In the mid-1990s, Odenkirk and David Cross created the Emmy-nominated sketch comedy program Mr. Show with Bob and David, which ran for four seasons and ultimately became a cult success. In the early 2000s, Odenkirk discovered Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim and produced their television series Tom Goes to the Mayor and Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!. He has directed three films: Melvin Goes to Dinner, Let's Go to Prison, and The Brothers Solomon.
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I also helped with "Mr. Show with Bob and David" and acted in some TV shows and a movie or three…
Here's the book (tho I bequest you purchase it at your local indie store-)
Here's a tit-bit (tits!) of the book gussied up into anime'
You played Nixon on Drunk History. If you were on the other side, telling the story, what historical figure would you talk about?
GRANT! U.S. Grant (Hiram Ulysses Grant was his true name). I have been messing with an idea for a screenplay about the man. I quiet, unassuming fellow who was passed over for years by everyone around him (nickname "Useless") but in the end he drove it home and saved our beautiful republic.
Of the SNL sketches you wrote, which one should we celebrate the most?
Obviously, "Matt Foley, the Motivational Speaker". Farles…forever.
Can you tell us how much influence you had on Tenacious D? Did you help write any of the songs or anything?
No! Tenacious D writes all of Tenacious D's songs! I helped create the HBO tv episodes, and I oversaw the writing of the story segments, which I hope you liked. All music is from the D itself. Those guys are fucking fantastic. ALSO, if you like the D, there is an amazing bluegrass version of TD songs on Spotify, I believe…It's called "Dust Bowl Cavaliers Tribute: Bluegrass Wrecks the Music of Tenacious D"…I highly recommend!
Terra Delu!!! The Bob, my Lord!
My question is quite simple. You have a pretty good range of skills. You’re an actor, a director, a comedian, an author, a producer… Is there anything that you’ve never done that you would LOVE to do? An unachieved life goal? Professionally or Personally… Or both… Both is good…
I wish I could SING. Like, really sing. Like…people (including me) would actually WANT to hear it. But I cannot, so I just sing terribly and kind of revel in how reliably awful it sounds. Also, I have a dream of on day doing all the things you've given me credit for BUT BETTER than I've done them. Not that I'm ashamed, but…I'd just like to be better at stuff.
When you played the mall manager on The League and you had that interaction with Kroll's character, I laughed soooo hard. Was any of that improvised?
I cannot remember a bit of it. Glad you liked it though.
Simple question: how amped should I be for Better Call Saul?
Very. Having said that, I hope you'll allow us to have created our own unique show…it's not "more" Breaking Bad…it's a unique thing, and if you'll give us a few episodes, you'll really start to see the qualities that make it something altogether new.
Whats up, Bob? Can you tell us about your experience as a writer for Conan? Ive noticed that there were a lot of talented comedians there, such as Louis CK and Dino Stamatopoulos.
Conan O Brien and I shared an office at SNL for a year, we both came onto the show around the same time (I think I worked on 4 episodes before he joined) and we both left at the same time. Anyhow, I'd say we got along fantastically. I'm going to be on Conan's Show WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 29th, reading from my book!! Anyhoo…as to your question. I actually lived in LA while I wrote for Conan, just faxed in my bits. I did get to know Louis (and already knew Dino) during that stint. Great group of comedy writers...
Hi Bob! Is Better Call Saul supposed to be mostly comedy or drama?
Is there a Mr. Show sketch you never got to make but wish you had?
Yes. It's in "A LOAD OF HOOEY", my book. Not kidding here. It's called "Happy Ending", and it was the last thing I wrote for Mr. Show and it never got made.
What is your favourite tv/film programme you've worked on?
"The Ben Stiller Show" was a crazy ton of fun. In fact, when it ended I had the very conscious thought that it was the most fun I would or could ever have in showbiz and my goal from that point on would be to try to replicate it. "Mr. Show" could have been more fun if I hadn't been such a tight-ass, but we still had a ton of laughs.
If I saw you in a bar, what sort of drink should I send down your way?
Gin and Tonic, not too strong. I am a lightweight and drink sparingly. My Dad had a little (big) problem with the ol' bottle and it kind of put me off for life.
As a native Calgarian, firstly I want to thank you for coming to Calgary in one of our worst winter’s ever to film Fargo. We don’t usually have winters that bad, and I’m wondering if you had ever been to Calgary before and if you will ever come back? I saw a reporter grab you when you were walking down the street to ask you questions and I don’t even think he knew who you were. You seemed like such a good sport even in the freezing cold. If that had been my first winter in Calgary I would have run far and never returned but I hope you will come back one day, when the weather is nicer perhaps. I do think the horrible cold and snow though, lent an amazing backdrop to Fargo so again I thank you for braving the cold. Fargo TV was incredible. Also have you ever filmed in worse conditions?
In my first episode on Breaking Bad we shot near a make shift grave dug in the desert. It was 2 AM, very cold, and we were in the middle of a sandstorm…you can't see it, but every time we talked there was sand going into our mouths. Still, it was a crazy adventure and I loved being in it. I LOVED CALGARY! Beautiful place. And it was a harsh winter, but I'm from Chicago, dammit! I've seen worse! Loved it. Also, eat at MONKI, a great restaurant, when you're in Calgary.
Hi Mr. Odenkirk, I was one of the travel nurses you met at the bar the other night. It was so awesome chatting with you; thank you for being so kind and sharing some stories with my husband and I. We really enjoyed it!
I do have a couple questions that I didn't get to ask you over a beer. What is on your bucket list, career-wise and as far as life goals? Also, you are an amazing well known actor/comedian, so what is your escape to feel a sense of normalcy? Thanks again for your time! You're great :) Congrats on the book! That's quite an accomplishment.
Hey there! It was great to meet you and your wife and chat. Bucket-List? Uhhh…write something of more significance (and less ironic) than "A LOAD OF HOOEY" (which is the book that I am promoting by doing this AMA), maybe something that feels more substantial…uh, go to Scotland and do the Highland Walks with my kids, go to Ireland a couple more times…be a good dad to my kids. That's it. And going to bars and having a talk with come ER nurses who are working on Indian Reservations is a great thing for feeling a sense of normalcy. I don't find it hard to feel like a normal person, just go out in the world and walk around.
I know you have been around a lot of great comedians in your career. Who is the funniest?
Just naturally funny, kind of all-the-time…David Cross, Zach Galifianakis, Tim Heidecker
Do you still keep in contact with any of the SNL cast members you worked with?
Yes! In fact DANA CARVEY is guest starring in THE BIRTHDAY BOYS season 2 premiere (I exec produced and helped write this show) and that will be on tv on OCTOBER 17, tomorrow, 11:30 pm, IFC - great stuff.
Whats your favourite performance by your favourite actor?
Jack Nicholson in "THE LAST DETAIL" or Jeff Bridges in "TRUE GRIT"
Hey Bob, big fan. What was it like working on the office, even though you had a short role? DJANGOOOOOOOOOOO!
So very great. You know that I auditioned for the role of "Michael Scott", and I love doing that improvised acting, like on "Curb" as well. It's a joy to do. By the way, my favorite tv show, ever, is "THE ROYLE FAMILY"…check that out if you get a chance!
is there a problem?
My shoes hurt. But that's not a problem.
I seriously love Saul Goodman's character. My question is are you kind of like the character in your real life? I mean all the witty remarks and all he makes is simply amazing.
No. I am a sluggish person with a dim mind. I make no wise crackers.
Hey Bob! How do you like to pass time on a long flight?
Reading a book. Sorry if that answer isn't "sexy" enough for you. But the book might have some sex in it…or it might not. The book is called "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King".
Thank you for the AMA doctor. What are your thoughts on the recent Ebola epidemic?
No more Ebola! That's enough! Come on Obama, quit with the Ebola! What's with "President Barry"? Why's he so in love with "Ebola"?
How much fun was it making fun of Nick Kroll on The League and would you guest star for them again?
I'd do it again in a fart-hot second. But I really don't remember too much of it…it was like two hours of my life and about 4 years ago…sorry. Love those guys, though.
Do you consider a hamburger to be a type of sandwich, or an entity of its own?
It is a primitive "sandwich", unrefined...
I am actually a newer fan of yours. A friend of mine named Brie introduced me to Breaking Bad only a month ago, and you were by far my favorite character.
I have two questions.
Firstly, Since Brie is also a big fan and having a rough time right now, could you write her some word of encouragement?
Also, If you had the chance to work with anyone in the world, who would it be? and what kind of project would you want to do?
Thanks so much!
Brie! You having a rough time? Those happen! Sometimes you just gotta breathe out and take a long walk (if your legs are still working), then go to sleep and see what tomorrow brings. Things can and do get better. I would like to be in a Wes Anderson movie. Who wouldn't? I would like to drive a monster truck. I wrote a book - A LOAD OF HOOEY, it's filled with short comic pieces that MAY NOT be to your liking! It has nothing to do with the dramatical acting I've done on Breaking Bad or Fargo or anything. See, I used to be a comedy writer. Well, still am…anyhow, sorry I brought it up. Better Call Saul premieres in February!
Do you think better call Saul will have the same audience and appeal that breaking bad had? Also, what is your favorite coffee drink?
I think "Better Call Saul" will share a "shit-ton" of audience with "Breaking Bad" for obvious reasons, BUT ALSO, will have it's own audience, and I cannot tell you what would describe them. I think of CHEERS and FRASIER…same writers, totally different shows, somewhat shared audience but not exactly the same...
Hello Bob I'm a big fan and want to thank you for doing this AMA. I have watched Mr . Show and Run Ronnie Run and thought you were hilarious. Would you ever work with David Cross again? You both seem to have good chemistry together
David and I are working on doing a MR SHOW 20th Anniversary special for next year! We did a tour last year! We love working together, but David doesn't love living in Los Angeles, and I live here and have kids, so I haven't been able to travel for a long time. Anyhow, more Me and David to come!
When did you hatred of all things Beach Boys start?
I never liked anything from California when I was a kid because I am from Chicago and nothing in California ever was or could be "real". I know the Beach Boys did great stuff, but my childhood bias is hard to shake.
Your monologue in the last episode of Fargo about how times have changed was my favorite scene of the season. Did you agree with what you said and how did it feel to make such a passionate speech?
Man, I loved making that speech! To have a character reveal that kind of self-reflection is a gift and a rare one! I love that NOAH HAWLEY, the writer of Fargo, allowed these characters to have surprising sides to them, and I do believe that people often have a strong sense of their own blind-spots, they either wrestle with them or just give themselves a pass…but my feeling is that most people do know their own limitations and shortcomings.
Mr. Odenkirk, How was the transition from doing sketch comedy to working a drama like BB? Playing a humorous character in the show must have been a plus, but what kind of preparation did you take for your more dramatic scenes?
Can't wait for Better Caul Saul! I'm looking forward to it!
I feel like I always played characters with all the commitment I could muster. Doesn't feel like a different job in that way. What I have found is that in Dramatic performing I am rewarded by studying the character more particularly. Often times in Comedy we are taking broad swipes at character and hitting a certain side, enlarging it, being clowns…all well and good. But doing drama (and keep in mind I've been lucky enough to have some of the best writing ever to work with), there is more going on than most comedy characters. Speaking of comedy, I am doing this AMA to help promote my book of short comic pieces entitled "A LOAD OF HOOEY" on Mcsweeney's books. ALSO I am touring to promote the book. in bookstores I will be reading from the book and signing, and at evening "SHOWS" there will be thrilling extras (and you get a book with ticket price)…here's my tour sched...http://bobodenkirk.com
Hello Mr. Odenkirk,
I recently saw the nebraska and it reminded me of my dads side of the family that comes from there. How was it working with will Forte and overall experience making the film? the good and bad.
NEBRASKA was a joy to work on. We (Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb and me) got along with great warmth and joy…like a GOOD family. The best. Bruce was so very amazing, June, too…and Forte and I are great friends. What a magic experience. Nothing bad to say about it, honestly. Loved visiting Omaha and NORFOLK where we shot most of it. It's a quiet film, but beautiful in it's simplicity and truth. Check it out.
How do you prepare yourself to get into character?
"Sir Laurence Olivier's Acting Creme!" I apply a thick coat to my giblets.
What's something about yourself many fans might not know?
I have ten toes.
Hi Bob. I recently watched all of Fargo in one sitting, overnight in an amazing cinema here in London. My question is
What's your favourite show to binge-watch?
"Louis" of "Girls"…I like them both equally, and a lot. They aren't dramas, but I watch 3 or 4 episodes at a crack when I have the time. Great great stuff.
Hi, Bob! Long-time fan and & web-based annoyance. Love when you do these! I’ve enjoyed reading your pieces that were published or intermittently posted on the old bobanddavid site. I was super excited to get your pretty little book. Been reading 2-3 pages a night to make it last. “Odenkirk Memorial Library” implies that this might be a series. Do you see any more collections in the future? God, I hope so!
Also, have you ever considered travel guides? Last time you did one of these I found out about Screme gelato. So good!
Looking forward to the reading & show in New York! If you want a fancy cookie from Levain, let me know.
First of all, I want a fancy cookie. Yes. Bring me a fancy cookie. From Levain or anyone. Even Levar…Burton. Any "L" named person should make me that fancy cookie. Yes, Dave Eggers convinced me to publish my book from the Odenkirk Memorial Library and he wants me to do more. I was thinking about a parody of "Spoon River Anthology" (any of my Illinois peeps should know it), but based on Hollywood types.
Hi Bob! Thx for the AMA. How much of your own individual personality is reflected in your character Saul Goodman? Where there any particular instances where you think you could've performed differently? How do you think you would have portrayed Walter White?
None of my personality is reflected in Saul as you know him…but that changes in "Better Call Saul". No one could have touched Bryan Cranston's performance as Walter White, so I won't mess with that, not even in a daydream.
How excited were you to find out you were reprising your role as Saul Goodman, and does the character reflect how you are in real life at all? When Breaking Bad ended, was the spinoff already in the works?
One last thing, who is your favorite Ninja Turtle, and why?
Favorite Ninja Turtle: Turtle from Entourage!
I love all of your roles big and small, from Breaking Bad to Jon Benjamin Has a Van to Arrested Development and The Birthday Boys.
I would just like to say thank you for being a really funny guy and would like to ask you, where do you get your inspiration from?
I mix three parts anger, one part resentment, and 5 parts Silliness together and voila: comedy magic.
Hi Bob! What was it like working with Tenacious D? I know without you maybe the band would have never existed. Thanks!
NOT TRUE! Tenacious D existed before I did a thing with them! In fact, they guested on some fun shows that David and I put on at a club here in Hollywood. I only helped sell and write the HBO show, didn't write any songs with/for them, didn't help in any way with the feature film. I am a fan, like you. I got to help with the HBO stuff, and I worked on the story sides of those episodes. The D rocks.