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Former multi-time WWE Champion and Superstar, musician, television host and star of the new web series “But I’m Chris Jericho” Chris Jericho joined “2012 Award Winning Best New Show” the Rack Thursday Night. In a nearly 15 minute interview, he discussed his new web series, his inspiration, what sets his web series apart from others, what can we expect in future episodes, what role/character he’d love to try in the future, how real life experiences helped to make the show, his thought on the current WWE product, what would he like to do in the future, who his dream match would be with and much more.
About his new web series “But I’m Chris Jericho”: “Well obviously, it’s kind of an extended universe for me and almost a kind of mockumentary, Christopher Guest kind of a vibe of this initial concept that I had from a nugget of truth of when I first moved out of wrestling and came out to Los Angeles to study acting and break into this world over here; I realized very early on that while I was a ‘superstar’ from another genre of entertainment, a lot of people out in Hollywood really didn’t care what I had accomplished in the past. So, I would come to do an audition with 10 other people who would look just like me for ‘Bachelor part #12’ to deliver one line, like ‘This telephone is not working’ and they’d say ‘Thanks, next!’ And I’d go ‘But I’m Chris Jericho, don’t I get a chance? A better shot?’
So, I started thinking: what would happen if (Chris) Jericho got kicked out of wrestling, got blackballed and had nowhere to go, nowhere to turn, so I had to get into acting, but I had to take what I could get and kind of start at the lowest level to survive. And so, that’s kind of the whole concept of the show, and it took us about 6 years to sell it. We worked long and hard in doing the pilot and writing the scripts and we tried to pitch it and no one was really interested. Then, about a year and a half ago, my partner called me and he’s like ‘I sold the show’. I was like ‘What show is that?’, he said ‘But I’m Chris Jericho’. I said ‘You’re still working on that?!’ and he told me yeah.
So that’s how it all got started and to come and do it as a web series was even smarter in this day and age because I think 3 or 4 years ago, doing a web series was like doing a direct-to-dvd movie or something, but now to do a web series, it’s the smartest way to have content in this day and age and it’s almost the way of the future as far as the way people will be watching tv shows from now on, I’d have to say.”
The reason for the length of episodes and his inspiration for it all: “The reason for that was, we had a great good budget on this, for a web series, but my schedule was super busy and packed; we had like 5 days to film the 10 episodes that we did and then, of course, we wrote more content, so when I left, we had some of our amazing cast members do some extra stuff. From my roommate, Christian Potenza, to Laurie Elliot, playing my crazy next door neighbor, to Scott Thompson, who is like my wacky acting coach; he was amazing doing some of the stuff he did. So, it adds to this whole universe and that’s’ something that’s really cool about the show and that is that some people expect because it ‘But I’m Chris Jericho’ that it’s going to be all about me, but in this universe I’m almost just the straight man and the sanest guy on the show and I like that aspect of it because it makes for a broader show and it’s almost like the way Seinfeld was; it was his name but he was almost the most normal guy on the whole program and that was kind of an element we wanted to focus on for our show as well.”
How is his show different from other web series: “Well, it’s about me, let’s be honest. (Laughter) Yeah, I think one of the things we really worked out and focused on was what you said earlier and that was each show is 8 minutes, 7 minutes long and we did that on purpose because you really have to focus when you’re doing a show like that, with a shorter amount of time and it’s almost like being in a jazz trio: everybody has to be good, every line has to make sense; there can’t be any filler. There can’t be any ‘oh well the first ten minutes were great and the last 10 minutes were great but the rest is just taking up time between commercials; we couldn’t do that. Everything had to be meticulously well written and all the characters had to be good. So, it made a better show for us with those clarifications on us for having a shorter timeframe.”
“When you’re doing a comedy, you have to have no inhibitions and have no second thoughts about going all the way. And that’s always something that I take great pride in; and that’s I don’t have any problem taking the piss out of myself. I’m my own easiest target, so when I can go in there and wear a French maid’s outfit or wrestle with a naked man or you’ll see in some of the more ridiculous stuff that I do as the series progresses. That’s the fun part of it because I think that a lot of times that because I worked in wrestling for so long that people have this misconception that I’m just having to play mr. macho all the time and that’s not what I’ve really ever felt comfortable playing. I like this, I like being kind of the butt of the jokes, I like doing things like putting on the French maid’s outfit and posting it on Twitter; where people are like ‘What the hell are you doing? Why would you do that?’ And then, when you watch the show, you realize why I’m doing it; it’s pretty funny circumstances as to why. So that’s another reason why I really enjoyed doing the show, is because it’s so outlandish in a lot of ways, it’s broad comedy and we have all sides of the coin, of the comedy spectrum involved in ‘But I’m Chris Jericho’ and it’s on purpose, you know? We wrote it that way.”
What part he’d love to possibly tackle in the future: “I don’t know; it’s funny because I’ve done a lot of work in Hollywood over the years but never really got, kind of, the part that I really fell like I could gel, like a comedic part or something. So, you know the saying, ‘When you don’t get invited to the party, start your own party and that’s why ‘But I’m Chris Jericho’ is the perfect outlet for me, because this is what I do best. And now I have the perfect calling card, to say ‘Here I am! Here’s my thing!’ If you think Chris Jericho can do comedy, well, there’s the perfect example of it.
And the fact that it’s loosely based on my own life made it that much more fun to do and if you saw the episode ‘Pirates’, that came out last week; that is a legitimate, honest-to-God, true story. 85% of that episode is exactly true and really happened to me about 6 years ago where I was doing this very serious audition for one of those Lifetime movies of the week, like ‘Jenny, Your Mother is Dying’ starring Mary Tyler Moore and I was doing this very serious read and next door they were auditioning pirates for a pirate movie and it just went completely ridiculous because all I could hear when I was delivering all these sad, heart-wrenching lines was pirates going ‘Arrrr! Walk the plank matey!’ and it was just like ‘What are you guys doing?! Can you not hear these pirate noises coming from the next room?’ and the casting director was mad at me and was saying ‘You’re blowing this audition! You’ve got to pay attention and drop in’ and I said ‘I can’t drop in when there are pirates next door!’ And so I thought this was one on the worst experiences ever but, man, is that ever going to make a funny episode of a TV show one day, and seven years, we got it and we did it.”
Does he follow the current WWE product: “I don’t watch a lot because of my schedule being super crazy, over-the-top busy, but I follow along with what’s going on online and stuff. I like what the Shield was doing. I like the Daniel Bryan character. I like some of the more underrated characters; I think Antonio Cesaro is a tremendous performer. You know, there’s a lot of different guys that I think are really coming into their own and a lot of guys that WILL come into their own over the next few years and that’s basically the most important thing when you’re in that business, playing character, is that you really have to get the confidence and the ability to know what it is that you’re doing and where it is you want to go with your character and once you can kind of stumble upon that, you’ll grow by leaps and bounds. Sometimes it just takes time to figure out ‘Who am I, as this character?’ and ‘What do I need to do to bring this guy forward?’ “
Is there anything he hasn’t done that he’d like to: “I’ve pretty much kept it, like it seems like I do a lot of stuff, and I do, but it’s all in the same realm of being creative and working on these things that I’ve always dreamed of doing: wrestling and music. But acting is definitely part of that. I just want to do more of what I’ve been doing; the band has been going great and Fozzy has really blowing up over the past few years. So, I want continue to grown with Fozzy and to do more acting. I love playing a character; I really enjoyed filming ‘But I’m Chris Jericho’. I love, obviously, watching it and seeing all of the feedback we’ve been getting, all the positive feedback.
I like surprising people; I don’t like being complacent and doing the same thing over and over and over again. I like changing it up and switching it up and broadening my creative themes; that’s very important. I think that’s you should never get sterile with what you’re doing in your life, or get bored; you’ve got to continue to grow and get better and try new things if you think you can accomplish them. That’s kind of what I’ve based my career on over the past 5 to 6 years.”