Ken Marino: 'Burning' Up For Your 'Love'
Reality dating shows have become a parody of themselves, so you might imagine that an actual parody of The Bachelor might come across like kicking a "whorse" when it's down. But Ken Marino's new webseries, Burning Love, not only delivers an ingenious smackdown to the genre, but also, impressively, comes across like a love letter to the franchise.
A fact that became less surprising once Ken told me that he and his wife Erica Oyama (who wrote Burning Love) are big reality TV fans. In addition to finding out how awkward it was directing women to fawn all over him, Ken explained why he loves working on the Internet and when fans can expect to see further adventures in the life of Ron Donald.
But first watch an Insider.com exclusive clip from the fourth episode of Burning Love (new installments are released every Monday and Thursday on Yahoo!)
Insider.com: How did you get involved with Burning Love?
Ken Marino: The idea actually came from my wife – as soon as she started talking about it, I just happened to be in bed with her, so I got the info right away. My wife and I do watch a lot of reality TV – from House Hunters to Sweet Genius to Top Chef and Bachelor. We were watching one night and my wife had the idea for this short, so she wrote a sizzle reel for myself and Adam Scott to do. Adam and Naomi [his wife] are fans of reality TV as well, so she wrote the script, we got some money and shot the trailer as kind of a calling card. Then Yahoo got on board.
Insider: Was it weird to have your wife write a role that involved you to mack on so many women?
Ken: In a vacuum, I like it. But it was actually super uncomfortable and weird. And then I directed it as well and telling a bunch of women, "I'm going to walk out now, so scream when you see me like you just can’t stand it," is very uncomfortable. That's a strange direction to give somebody.
Insider: It couldn't have been more incestuous.
Ken: It's so weird. Because you want it to ape the tone of those shows, you want it to be a little bit too much, but to direct someone to do that is a very odd position to be in.
Insider: Fans of Children's Hospital and Party Down will be excited to see some familiar faces in the cast -- was it a situation where you just pulled up your Rolodex and started dialing?
Ken: For me, it's always about working with people you think are funny, you trust, have a shorthand with and want to spend time with in between scenes. That pool of people has grown over the years and I'm lucky to know these super talented people, so the idea of being able to pick up the phone and have the person say "Hell yea" nine out of ten times is incredible. That's ultimately what it's all about for me.
Insider: Burning brings you back to the internet, what is it about this platform that you enjoy?
Ken: Simply that you're so under the radar – it's such a developing format. You have the freedom to do what you want and to have a unique voice. You get to create something, see it through and know, for better or worse, that it was your vision. You rarely get to do that on larger projects where it's all about navigating through all the people with different interests thank you. On the internet, it's all about figuring out what the thing is, so there's a freedom which usually helps churn out original stuff.
Insider: What are you excited for people to see as the season wears on?
Ken: What I didn't realize while shooting was that you actually get very invested in these characters. That was the goal; I just didn't know we were accomplishing it during shooting [laughs]. Not only is it pretty funny, but you actually start rooting for different women to win. I think by the end, you're pleasantly surprised by where the story takes you. Erica created a really original arc while embracing the tropes and tones of a show like this.
Insider: Speaking of, fans have become very invested in a few of your characters to such a degree they become obsessed with the idea of sequels. Any updates you can give on the Party Down movie or Wet Hot American Summer sequel?
Ken: It's very flattering, and I feel very lucky to be a part of all those projects. As far as a "when," I think the Wet Hot movie is happening and I know the Party Down guys are writing a script. We were hoping to get that one done soon because I know that every actor is excited about it. It's just a matter of time until it happens.
Insider: Aside from those two, are there any other characters you'd love to revisit?
Ken: On Veronica Mars, I got a chance to play a character that was so fun. He was at times a good guy, at times a bad guy and you never knew which one he’d be at any given moment. I loved that character too.
Insider: Oh man, I would totally watch a Vinny Van Lowe spin-off!
Ken: I don't know about that ... a little Vinny goes a long way [laughs].
Burning Love episodes 1-3 are now available on Yahoo.com!