Adam Devine on showcasing stand-ups in his Comedy Central “House Party” and being a successful Workaholic

Adam Devine’s House Party debuted last week and airs late-late night on Thursday nights into Friday mornings on Comedy Central. It’s different from your typical stand-up showcase not only in its set-up — Devine invites young comedians over to his rented mansion for a big ol’ bash and films sketches inside the party in addition to the stand-up sets out back. But also: the host with his name in the title is still only 29 himself.

Devine (who turns 30 on Nov. 6) has enough credit in credits to boast to be the host. He co-created and co-stars in Comedy Central’s Workaholics, appears in the current season of Modern Family and may return to Community, and even sang on the big-screen with a supporting role in last year’s Pitch Perfect.

Tonight’s episode at 12:30/11:30c features stand-up sets from Liza Treyger, Josh Rabinowitz, and Sean Donnelly, as well as music from Palma Violets.

Still, when The Comic’s Comic had Devine on the phone the other day, I had to ask: Aren’t you a little young for a stand-up showcase host?

“Yeah man. I’m already in my golden era. I’m ready to retire,” he says, chuckling. “I think Comedy Central was looking to have a fun young comedy show…I’ve been looking to do it for a long time.”

Having Workaholics break out as a hit for the network made them more comfortable with the idea of him fronting a showcase series, he said.

“Well, I’ve done stand-up long before I did Workaholics or anything. I had so many really funny friends. When I popped off from Workaholics – after I popped off from Workaholics, it was like, I’m funny, but there’s so many other funny people out there. It could have happened to any one of my friends. It was just because Comedy Central saw me doing stand-up. We made 100 videos on YouTube, and it was just because we did that work and put it out there so we could see it.”

Here’s a newly-released bit from his House Party series, in which Devine tries to make nice with the neighbors. Roll it.

“They say, ‘Oh, you’re just giving your buddies a shot?! No. My buddies are really funny. And I’m not going to ask my mom to do a stand-up set. But if I get another season, maybe I will!”

Not that his mom would be invited to this kind of showcase, anyhow. It is, after all, his “House Party.” In an actual house, with the back porch serving as the stage, and the crowd sitting in the yard. Devine also wrote with Scotty Landes and shot interstitial scenes and sketches with the comedians and partiers to show off their offstage personalities.

For more examples:

And here Ron Funches brought Devine a housewarming foam party gift, sort of:

“We’re throwing this big party and having them come on and act alongside of me, do these different scene,” Devine said. “It’s more than just stand-up.”

That’s something Rodney Dangerfield did in some of his later stand-up showcases with younger comedians, too.

“I love Dangerfield, and I always thought it was so cool that Roseanne, Sam Kinison and others would say Rodney Dangerfield gave me a career,” Devine said. “Not that I’m at a Rodney Dangerfield level at all, or that anyone is going to pop of like Roseanne from my Comedy Central series.”

Especially at 12:30 a.m. Eastern/Pacific.

“Initially we wanted to be on at 10:30 (p.m.). We wanted to be on earlier so people could see it,” he said. But the network told him “we’re putting our ad dollars behind @midnight, so hopefully we’re putting you behind that. I think they’re really trying to compete with Adult Swim. As hard as it is, they’re going for it.”

Online, I see you credited sometimes as Adam DeVine, sometimes as Adam Devine and your Twitter handle is @ADAMDEVINE. Do you change up the punctuation depending upon your mood, or what?

“Absolutely not,” he said. “On Twitter, I somehow made my Twitter handle all caps, and I think it makes it impossible to search for me on Twitter. It probably hurts my marketing efforts so people can’t find me. But honestly, who cares? Who gives a shit? And then as far as the D-lowercase-e-uppercase-V, that is strictly because another Adam Devine was in SAG before me. I couldn’t just be Adam Devine. So I capitalized the V. Now, I’m like, ‘Fuck that guy!’ I’m not trying to be pretentious. It’s like someone who puts umlauts over the e. I feel like people are that way with me..’Oooh, DeVine. ‘That already sounds like a fake name.”

You have successful cable series, supporting roles in network TV and big-screen movies…what was your initial goal when you decided to pursue show business?

“Initially it was to get my photo on the wall at the Hollywood Improv. When I first moved out here, I got a job working the door and answering the phone at the Improv. I got to see a lot of great stand-ups working there,” he said. “I was awestruck.”

“I’d see their photos. I just wanted to get to the level that my face can get on that wall. That was such an honor when that happened.”

How’d it happen? “It was weird. I was performing there that night. They said, ‘Have you checked down the hall?’ It was right down the hall in front of the women’s bathroom. I was taking a selfie by my photo like a total douche. This girl came out and looked at me, shook her head. She was so disgusted.”

“I always looked up to guys who wrote their own stuff, produced their own stuff,” citing Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, and Seth Rogen as examples of comedians “able to make a career out of their brand of comedy, which in a perfect world would be what I try to do.”

He’s off to a good start. In 2006, Devine and his friends Blake Anderson, Anders Holm and Kyle Newacheck formed Mail Order Comedy, and it was their hundred or so videos on YouTube that got them noticed and eventually signed to the deal that landed them Workaholics.

Seven years later, there are so many more comedians and groups looking to duplicate their success with original webseries and vlogs. Any advice for them?

“I don’t know. We were never the best at marketing. When we got our show, the video that got us the show – we did a webseries where we were in an office working…those videos only had a few hundred hits each. So it was not like we were killing it in the Internet.”

A better answer: Consistency. And volume.

“Don’t make one video that you really love and really funny and then not do another video for two months. You have to make videos every week. It’s the wealth of material so an executive can find your stuff. Anyone can make one funny video. It takes a lot to have 50 funny videos. Don’t be afraid to do the work, have the consistency to make sure.”

Oh, and one other thing.

“If you can say I just farted really loudly that would be great. I made my armpit fart in hilarious fashion.”

But how do you spell that? Pppppfffffssssspppp.

Tonight is the second of Adam Devine’s House Party’s initial eight-episode run. Devine and his Workaholics crew are in the middle of shooting 13 new episodes of that series. “So I’m in the trenches now, fighting that comedy dick,” he said. “We wrote a movie that we’re producing with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and Scott Rudin. Hopefully we’ll get to do that next year.” Can you tell us about it? “It’s a big action comedy. It’s sort of Die Hard, but with us, a little bit. It’s not a Workaholics movie. But if you like Workaholics, you’re going to love this movie. That’s how I’m selling it. That’s my big pitch.”

Last week’s premiere of Adam Devine’s House Party featured Ahmed BharoochaAndrew Santino, and Barry Rothbart. Also part of this inaugural season: Asif Ali, Austin Anderson, Ron Babcock, Kevin Barnett, Byron Bowers, Matt Broussard, Pete Davidson, Drennon Davis, Sean DonnellyRon Funches, Matt Koff, Annie Lederman, the Lucas Brothers, Brent Morin, Esther Povitsky, Josh Rabinowitz, Adam Ray, Sam Simmons, Liza Treyger,Brooks Wheelan and Hampton Yount.

Betsy Sodaro and Jon Gabrus co-star in a companion webseries for CC: Studios, “House Party Crashers.”

Episodes are available the day after air in SD and HD for download-to-own on iTunes, Xbox Video, Amazon Instant Video, Sony Entertainment Network, Samsung and Vudu.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

View all posts by Sean L. McCarthy →