• Nick Kroll tells Laughspin what it took to make ‘Cake Train’ a reality

    If you watched the season two premiere of Kroll Show last night on Comedy Central, then you know exactly what the Cake Train is. You also wish the Cake Train was real. If you didn’t watch, please do yourself a favor and watch it– hopefully you or a friend DVR’d it because as of this writing, the clip isn’t on Comedy Central’s site. Suffice it to say Cake Train is proof that a very simple concept can yield great laughs. Also, Zach Galifiankis is in it. The entire episode is packed with laughs thanks to Nick Kroll’s ever-evolving sketch characters. The second episode, which premieres next Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 10:30 pm ET, is even better. But before then, I wanted to share the backstory of Cake Train, which I asked Kroll about during a recent conversation. I found it hilarious and fascinating, so I wanted to have it. Here’s what Kroll said:

    That’s a bizarre one. Cake Train is an idea that came out when we were writing the pilot. And Chelsea Peretti, who was writing on the pilot, had the idea. She was like, ‘I just want to see people chasing after a train that some guy throws cakes off of.’ So it started there. We decided to do it for the pilot, but it was impossible. It was way too expensive. So we thought, OK, if the show gets picked up to series, we’ll do it. So the show gets picked up. Our producer Inman Young, who’s just an amazingly efficient and easy-going guy, was just like, ‘It costs so much money to rent a moving train.’ So we didn’t shoot it in season one.

    And then when we came in for season two, we were like, ‘Alright, priority number one is Cake Train, and then let’s figure out the rest of the show.’ So the way it worked was like this: As we were going to locations – if we were shooting a ‘Rich Dicks’ sketch in a house that had a shower, we would shoot the girl running out of the shower. Or if we were shooting a hippie fight in a park— well, there’s a track there, so we’ll have a woman stretching and then hearing the Cake Train and then she runs off. Or we’re shooting ‘Oh Hello,’ we’ll have a guy underneath a staircase smoking weed, and then he runs off when he hears the Cake Train. So, we were shooting bits all throughout the season all towards the end goal of getting this moving train— which was probably the most expensive thing we shot. And to Comedy Central’s credit, they were like, ‘We really don’t get Cake Train. But if you guys want to make it, we’re not going to stop you.’ And that was the greenlight we needed.

    So to justify the train – it required a full day because we had to drive an hour away to get to a moving train – we then added another sketch. There’s a ‘Wheels Ontario’ sketch that turns into ‘Show Us Your Songs: Toronto.’ Part of episode two is about the actor who plays Legs in ‘Wheels Ontario,’ who wants to launch his music career just like Drake did out of [Canadian teen drama series] DeGrassi. So, we wanted to make a music video for him. So we were like, ‘Why don’t we just shoot the video on the train so we can justify using the entire day?’ And we did. It was great for the music video because it added production value; it made it look like a legitimate, high-end music video. And all of this was in service of the idea of Zach Galifianakis in a pink, leather baker’s outfit tossing cakes off of a train onto people’s heads.

    Cake Train is an anomaly within our show in that it’s absurdist and it’s not terribly character driven. But it’s in the spirit of our show in that if we find something funny we’ll play it as hard as we can. And Chelsea was the driver of the sketch. She’s someone I’ve known since I started doing comedy. Seeing her face that day, catching cake – there’s that slow motion shot of her catching a cake and eating it – she was so happy and I was so happy. It was such a fun day. It was one of the crew’s favorite days too because they were just like, ‘What are we doing. This is so crazy.’ It’s one of those days where I thought that I can’t believe I have my own TV show and I get to do this.

    Kroll Show airs Tuesdays at 10:30 pm ET on Comedy Central. You check out show clips here.

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    Dylan P. Gadino

    Dylan is the founder and editor emeritus of Laughspin.

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