The Emmy-winning short-form comedy series “Childrens Hospital” — created by Rob Corddry, televised on Adult Swim, and featuring an all-star cast — is based on the Webby Award–winning digital series that debuted on TheWB.com in 2008. The show is about a group of doctors and other hospital employees whose shenanigans often take a back seat to treating the sick kids at a hospital where they work. The Season 5 finale of “Childrens Hospital” aired on Oct. 24, 2013. Corddry and fellow cast member David Wain are among the show’s executive producers. Other “Childrens Hospital” cast members include Rob Huebel, Henry Winkler, Michael Cera, Lake Bell, Main Akerman, Ken Marino, Erinn Hayes, Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman.
During the fifth season of “Childrens Hospital,” an airborne virus threatened to destroy the hospital and perhaps society, a search for the mysterious announcer Sal Viscuso revealed an undercurrent of evil powering the hospital, the origins of Chief's handicaps were shown, and a beloved regular character died a couple of times. Jack McBrayer (“30 Rock”) guest starred in the Season 5 finale, in which the doctors’ trip to Japan came to a shocking climax involving birth, death, sex, war and opera. During a telephone conference call with journalists, Corddy reflected on the fifth season of “Childrens Hospital” and talked about what he has in mind for the future of the show.
Could you talk a little bit about the craziness we can expect in the “Children’s Hospital” Season 5 finale and the challenges or benefits that you found making a double-length episode?
Basically, the same challenges that would come with making any episode increased by 50 percent. We were really kind of under the gun, and we always are when we’re shooting. And this episode, in particular, we were writing right up until the minute it was shooting downstairs and sometimes even during because we got cocky after last season. We won an Emmy. It’s sort of like, “Oh, we got this. We can throw these three episodes away and just write some more as we go.”
And so we were just writing a lot. And I was literally writing a scene for two days in the future. I was looking over notes that David was rewriting for a scene that was going to be done next while I was writing a scene that was actually shooting downstairs with Erinn Hayes that was a complete circus.
Is everything pretty much scripted or does the cast also improvise?
Yes. I mean, we have some of the best improvisers working in comedy today, so it would be silly to have to say every word. And also, it’s not really the trend these days is that this is the idea. If I want something stressed, then say it that way, but for the most part it’s just an idea.
And usually, the common way to do it is, for all movies and TV shows, is to like you do it on the script and then you have your fun with it, but we’re just lucky that we have some of the best working right now who are making up … I mean, [Rob] Huebel is the Big Papi of Children’s Hospital — always hitting grand slams.
You just said Jon Hamm returned again. What do you think attracts so much talent to an 11-minute show?
Mostly, just because I think we have a good reputation for being a fun show to work on, which is the only reason we’re able to keep this all-star cast and also have the same crew for five years because nobody gets paid a lot and it doesn’t take a lot of time and proportionately. And it’s just a fun place to work.
And also, I’m like my philosophy in life is basically just do cool stuff with people who aren’t dicks. And then you end up just kind of conducting your whole life that way and not being a dick yourself … I find myself surrounded by wonderful people most of the time. And it just seems to like happen that way. Everybody is a bit pretty supportive community these days kind of blocking the reputation that comedy has for all being broken jerks.
The script and story lines can be just ridiculous. How much of it would you say is original and how much is really inspired by real things? That musical episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” sometimes was asking to be mocked.
Oh, God. Every year somebody is like you really have to do a musical episode. And over my dead body that will happen. It’s just too on the nose. You know what I mean? I think after the probably the first or second season we stopped drawing from that specific genre and just started basically using TV as parody in TV in general, TV shows and TV show conventions.
And most of the jokes are about like kind of messing with television conventions that the casual viewer will also understand or understand by watching it. And that’s also just being a 15-minute show helps that. But I agree, I can’t watch any of that crap, I really can’t. And don’t think David Wain has ever seen an episode.
Is there a specific scene that didn’t make it into the season that you really wanted to or any other storylines that you may be didn’t do this season that you would like to maybe move into next season?
Oh, my goodness gracious. These are the worst questions because I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday. But just looking over it right now like a document that I’ve got, no, not really. I mean, the only thing I can think of is that sometimes when we are writing or when we’re getting someone in to record the P.A. announcements, we’ll pour over. We have this master doc from years and years.
But really, I did this with my to-do list as well. If you have something on your to-do list for more than like a month or so, you’re not going to do it. Get rid of it.
And it’s the same with these jokes. This is a joke we’ve been on; it’s been on the joke sheet for three years. We’re not doing it. Let’s kill it.
And so there are those episodes that keep coming up. But it’s also interesting that I can’t even think of them right now. They’re that uninteresting.
How did winning an Emmy change everything for you? Did that put more pressure on you? Did you have more money to work with? And how far are you looking ahead to the next season?
It changed nothing, really, in terms of money. You know, there is that like sort of rumor and maybe this happens in network TV or something, where you get an Emmy, and immediately your price tag goes up. That does not happen on a show like this.
But purely, because also they are like, “Well, go to something else, man. We’re having as much fun as you are.” You know, like I said before, if you’re in this for the money, you’re doing the wrong show. But I think mostly…
Do they give you a piece of the party or something?
They give us very nice gifts like some really nice. I think what has changed the most is that in a larger sense, if the industry is now at least recognizing not just short-form comedy as a category, but also just like that whole idea of what our family of comedians are doing right now. You know what I mean?
It’s weird because you see us all over the place on TV, but no one can say, “Oh, that’s Adam Sandler’s group or that’s Will Ferrell’s group or that’s that sort of comedy family,” because there’s no real centerpiece of it. And so I think because now I think Emmys and articles start acting as a centerpiece for a group that people can go, “Oh, that is also an entity,” even though it’s more of a like community than it is spearheaded by someone. I think it’s drawn more attention to our comedy, but it went on time because [I’m in] my early 40’s. It’s almost over. It’s almost over for me.
Are you looking ahead already to next season of “Childrens Hospital”?
Yes, yes, in a very general way. We’re going to wait and usually we shoot it in December  and January . And we’re going to wait until the beginning of next summer or spring to start writing it just because I think if we cranked another one out right now right after we finish the first one, I mean, this last one that I really feel like maybe we’ll be tapped. And I’m just afraid of that. And so we’re going to wait a little bit and get excited. We’re going to get excited to do it again. And then the ideas really start coming.
Can you talk about both the real life set change for this past season and also the fictional venue change to Japan and what ways do you think that kind of helps in freshening up the show a little bit?
Well, it certainly did that. You know, the genesis of that was that we, of course, lost our second hospital. If you want your hospital torn down, let us shoot there because it will be torn down within the year after we wrapped. And so we found a hospital.
We could have easily rented and shot in a hospital, but there was always a catch and either they’re too expensive or the thing for me was they are often too far away. And if this, as I keep stressing, is a show where people do it every year to have fun, I don’t want to do anything consciously to take away from that like make some travel an hour-and-a-half before dark every morning.
I think it just is a luxury of doing something like that. Like we thought, “Well, why don’t we just do something different like this and like setting the show on an R.V. based in Japan? We’ll just get a different set.” So I don’t take care of that. But also this is like the only time in our career that we’ll have the freedom to do something this stupid.
And it’s also like the spirit of the show. I said this before the second season. I was going to just make it “Childrens Lawspital” and have the same characters, same names, but they’re lawyers and there’s no explanation and would do the law, if they’re to be a law-show parody. And thank God we didn’t do that. It just turned into like one episode in Season 4 or Season 3. But it’s just we have the freedom to see we can leap over those sharks.
The Season 4 finale of “Childrens Hospital” had a huge, a huge death with far-reaching implications. Do you expect some more major developments along those lines?
Yes, yes. One of the working titles of this episode was “They All Die.” However, we’re not necessarily going to do like do that. But definitely something we’ve never done before. It is shocking insert of every way. There are moments that embody the spirit of the show.
And there are moments where you’re like, “Why and how are they doing this?” And if you want to have any idea what [the Season 4 finale] might be like, go check out some of their stuff on YouTube.
Do you have any spinoffs or crossovers with other Adult Swim planned?
No, not really. We had a little thing this season with “NTSF,” where we both found ourselves with episodes that had to do with face swapping, so we are like, “Oh, we both can’t do that, can we?” Well, I guess, we can, but we have to connect them a little bit, so we put a fake commercial in between the two.
But there’s none planned. You know, “Robot Chicken,” every time I see those guys, met the staff like we’ll talk about it. But there really isn’t. There’s not even a lot of crossover with “Newsreaders” in “Childrens,” although it came up a lot this year in the writers’ room for “Newsreaders.”
So some of those characters, the actors who play the characters, “actors” who play the characters in the show “Childrens Hospital” might show up this season of “Newsreaders.” And also they’re going to show up on “Childrens Hospital.”
And do you have a favorite character that you like to write scenes for or are a certain character that you particularly like?
Oh, man. That’s a great question. I’m really, really hard-pressed to choose. And I have no problem picking favorites. Believe me. Let me see here. Any of them like have their like, “Oh, yay, I get to do a scene today with so and so.”
One thing stands out off the top of my head. Every year, every season, Huebel and I have a scene where it seems like we really like enjoy the fact that we’ve been improvising together since ’97 and really get into it.
And so that’s always kind of fun like, “Oh, this will probably be the theme.” To me, we just really like we improvise it and it’s really funny. And I would also have to say Chet is pretty funny to write because Brian Huskey is a maniac and so easy to channel. And I think I find it very hard to write for Reverend Jewy McJewJew that David does that almost exclusively. Who else? Erinn [Hayes] is such a great … I’m trying to pick the favorite here.
You were up against Ken Marino for an Emmy Award this year. Was that a friendly competition and was he angry that he didn’t win?
It was absolutely friendly. And I truly would have been just as happy if he had won. I think there’s something more satisfying to him winning because for one, I think it’s an amazing show and bring love, and the parody television like “Childrens” never did. It’s so funny and so specific.
It looks so good that that’s the kind of thing I was talking about before like that we’re being recognized. It’s sort of like a way you can do comedy. And for two of us to get an Emmy as well, that would have been awesome. So it was just kind of bittersweet.
We were all getting pictures taken as a cast in that big like sort of pic. And one of the photographers was like, “Oh, Ken, can you go stand near Rob?” And I was like, “No, that’s really lame. You just won; you’re trying to like get a picture of us together.” But I understand it. That bummed me out.
But, yes, I know he was definitely bummed out, and I would be, too, and I’m bummed out. And “Childrens” wouldn’t knew what it is if it weren’t for him. And I know that I’m one of his biggest influences. He idolizes me, so we’re good. I mean, I’m akin to him. Make sure you put that in there.
For more info: "Childrens Hospital" website