Bob Clendenin [Interview]

Bob Clenendin

 

So, for avid readers, you will already know that Bob Clendenin will be the second brilliant character from the Hulu Original Series Quick Draw to appear here on Trainwreck’d Society.  We had the distinct pleasure of speaking with the lovely Alexia Dox, who portrays Pearl.  Well I will god damned if I’m not just a huge fan of this show, and desperately want to hear from more folks.  And what a wonderful addition Mr. Clendenin is.  I hate to pick favorites, but I will.  Bob’s portrayal of the kind hearted and sad faced mortician Vernon Shank is absolutely brilliant and without a doubt my favorite character on the show.

And along with being my favorite from the show, he was actually the only one on the show who I had known before the show debuted on Hulu last year.  I recognized, and you should as well, him from his regular showings on the sleeper comedy I enjoy so very much, Cougar Town, as well as constantly appearing in roles in television shows of several different varieties.  On a more personal level…..this cat was in Kazam!!  It wasn’t a large role mind you, but when I was 11 years old, there was nothing cooler than Shaq acting like a genie, and I watched that damn movie inside and out, wearing out my VHS tape beyond repair (right next to my copy of Jury Duty).  While I am sure Mr. Clendenin is more proud of just about every other bit of work he has done, this is a very memorable (I didn’t say “classic”) film for me.

So you can imagine how excited I am to have Bob Clendenin join the TWS family, and share a few words with us here.  We learn a bit more about Quick Draw, and just how amazing it is.  We learn about Cougar Town and more from one of the funniest men in the business today.  So enjoy!

 

So, you have a degree in Engineering of all things, but you decided to shift gears and move in to the world of acting.  What exactly sparked this change?

I felt, and Cornell certainly would have agreed, that the world would be a safer place if I were not building bridges. I have always been a bit of a clown and attention hog and it was around sophomore year when I was looking for a diversion from the Engineering curriculum that I auditioned for a campus production. Doing the play really energized me and I was drawn to all the extroverts and ‘artistic types’ in the theatre building. They were the antithesis of the engineers. Plus they threw great parties. I ended up finishing the engineering degree (someone needed to round out the bottom of the bell curve) but I decided to at least give this new passion a go and went into an MFA acting program immediately after.

Your involvement in the Hulu Original series Quick Draw is deifnitely a brilliant one.  What drew you in to the role as Vernon?

I’ve always been drawn to oddball characters and you can’t get much more oddball than the town’s undertaker. Because the show is improvised we have tremendous freedom to take our characters in all sorts of directions and I’ve had a wonderful time trying to flesh out this guy. And could there be a better name than “Vernon Shank”? It really says it all.

Alexia Dox & BobIs Quick Draw a very scripted show, or does it mirror the sort of style of improve we watched you do in 10 Items or Less?

John Lehr and Nancy Hower are the creative team behind both shows and I came to know and love them during 10 Items or Less. The shows are the same in that the narrative of each episode is written by them but there is no dialog. When we show up for a scene Nancy will give us the info we need to know and what needs to come out during the scene and then we’re let loose. Sometimes we take diversions that end up with real gold and sometimes we just get lost in the woods and she puts us back on track. We will repeat the scene several times and it will eventually take shape. Sometimes it can be frustrating and slightly frightening but it’s incredibly enjoyable. I also think that since 10 Items we’ve become much more efficient in the process. During that show we would be left with hours and hours of material that was very funny but completely unusable in telling a 22 minute story. With Quickdraw there is less wheel spinning.

What is the set life like on a show like Cougar Town?  Is there a lot of clowning around happening with such a hilarious cast of folks?

I adore that group. All incredibly funny people who genuinely like each other. Courteney is one of the most wonderful people I’ve had the pleasure of working with/for and all cast and crew just love going to work. We all need to work together to keep tight reins on Ian Gomez and if we don’t stroke Josh Hopkins ego regularly he gets really pouty. Other than that it’s a dream job. (Additional note from Bob – “I hope it’s clear here that I’m teasing my two dear friends. If not, feel free to delete”.  I hope you fine readers were smart enough to get that.)

Can you tell us a bit about Circle X Theatre Company?  How did it come to light, and what makes it special to you?

Circle X is essentially a child from a previous marriage. I was one of six founders who were all discouraged by some of the LA waiver theatre we were seeing and auditioning for. We wanted to get away from the showcase nature and back to the kinds of plays we were doing in grad school. Like most waiver theatres, we had no money but our productions were incredibly inventive. We did almost exclusively new plays from brilliant new play-writes and found extraordinary designers. Being part of that is still one of my proudest achievements. I still sit on their Board of Directors and try to participate in builds etc but I’m not nearly as involved as I would like.

An interesting side note is how we came by the name. If you visit the Ellis Island museum you will see they had a procedure for classifying potential immigrants. If someone had TB or some physical illness they would get an X on their lapel. If they were deemed deranged or unsuitable for society they got an X with a circle around it and generally sent back. We identified with this group.

What is the most embarassing moment you have experienced on set thus far in your career?

Don’t know if this counts, but I once had an audition for a sketch type show where the producers wanted actors to either come in with various characters or just tell an amusing story. I attempted the latter and told an anecdote about working on Star Trek: Voyager as an alien and how it related to a failed masturbation attempt in full Alien prosthetics. The story  completely flatlined. They were horrified. I could tell halfway through that I was in trouble but there was no turning back. Just a miserable time.

What else does the future hold for you?  Any projects in the work you can tell us about?

After Quick Draw I’ll just go back to the audition circuit and hope for the best. The thing I’m most excited about is coaching my son’s little league team which starts in a few weeks. Hope they don’t eat me alive.

Bob Clendenin 2What was the last thing that made you smile?

The macadamia nut cookie that disappeared about two sentences ago.

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About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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