Hey reddit, it's...Bob. Bob Odenkirk here.

Adult Swim recently posted a pilot I made for them last year called "Let's Do This!" and I want everyone to see it. http://bit.ly/zqhB0l EDIT: fixed link - http://bit.ly/VCo6MS

While I find it hard to believe I am in showbiz, I guess my imdb page kind of tells me I am. Sort of. So, anyhow...want to ask me a question mark? Go nuts.

EDIT: It's really me! See my picture? http://i.imgur.com/ZBE8B.jpg

Okay guys, it's 2:30 and I started this at 11...I gotta go. I thank you for your kind compliments and thoughtful questions. I took half of them seriously. I hope you like my answers. All the best to all of you and always remember Winston Churchill's awesome words and my favorite quote of all time, "If you're going through hell...keep going!"

Comments: 1927 • Responses: 43  • Date: 

Soliuss974 karma

I don't have a question, I just wanted to say I think you're awesome on Breaking Bad. Every scene you're in is hilarious. Thank you for helping make the show what it is.

BobOdenkirk1161 karma

I am ridiculously lucky to be included in Breaking Bad, a truly amazing show. I'm just glad I'm not fucking it up for everyone. When people think my presence actually helps the show, well, that's just "honey on a walnut" to me...is that the phrase?...no, wait, now I got it, that's just "an altoid on a pretzel" to me. It's a good thing.

billypogrom403 karma

which of the mr show sketches were most contentious in the writers room? was there a sketch that you really disagreed with that aired, or alternatively, a sketch that you loved which was not well received by the rest of the gang?

BobOdenkirk570 karma

99% of the time, David and I agreed on what should go on, and why, and what was good. That's one reason the show was so great. I never just wrote off a sketch and thought "You don't like it, but I do..we'll put it on." However, the sketch about the waiter dropping food in the guy's lap and offering to pay for half the dry-cleaning never really worked and everyone agreed "Date With the Queen" was a huge clusterfuck of incomplete thinking. Those two sketches were real stinkers. Some writers hated "Hunger Strike," which i loved. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTdyMBtuDYI . I'm not sure everyone liked "The Story of Everest." That's a sketch that divides people. It's probably my favorite, though. EVERYONE hated Brian's first draft of the Titannica sketch, which did NOT have a puppet body and was extremely mean-spirited. A puppet changed everything, once again.

vorhees_BAR380 karma

Bob! Not really a question but I just wanted to let you know that Mr.Show brought me through some tough times when I was in Iraq.

BobOdenkirk467 karma

Holy cow! That is really nice to hear. Thank you for your service. I hope you're doing well and I wish you the best.

matunter308 karma


BobOdenkirk630 karma

I think the chances of David appearing in Breaking Bad are slim. I'm not sure David's ever done meth...he'd be honest if he had, I'm sure. In fact, he'd be proud of it...and you probably wouldn't be able to get him to shut up about it.

heinsmit304 karma

Have you read any of the Season 5 scripts yet for Breaking Bad? If so, are they suitably amazing?

BobOdenkirk742 karma

I have read one. It is mind-blowing. Seriously. Is that a spoiler? If so, SPOILER ALERT!

MrX16273 karma

I'm a big fan of your directorial work as well as your work with Breaking Bad and Mr. Show. Do you plan on getting back in the director's chair again for a feature film?

BobOdenkirk639 karma

You are so goddamn nice. You deserve a "Nicey" award. Too bad they don't exist. Yes, I hope I get to direct again. Thank you.

cssblondie266 karma

Hi! Awesome you're doing this, Bob. Huge fan.

Question: Which character/show/film are you most recognized for when a fan stops you on the street? With the rise of Breaking Bad, is it for Saul?

Also, please never let the writers kill your character. Your screen time brings tears to my eyes (in a good, laughter-induced way).

BobOdenkirk617 karma

I'd say it's even-steven between my comedy stuff and Breaking Bad. Which is pretty amazing because I've been doing comedy for 20+ years and BB for 3. But BB is the biggest thing I've been involved with, by far. The interesting thing to me is that there is often an either-or aspect to it, people who like me in BB have no idea I've ever done anything funny...but I guess that doesn't mean they haven't seen me doing comedy.

acepiloto235 karma

My shoes hurt.

BobOdenkirk324 karma


ArnaldoPalmer221 karma

in interviews I've heard you say that focusing on the 'core idea' of a sketch is the best way for people starting out to get better. meaning, focus on what's funny about the idea and explore and exploit that idea fully. That's been a big help to me as I learn to write sketches. Do you have any other advice for people who are fairly new to writing sketch and really driven to get better?

BobOdenkirk740 karma

I do have advice. Fill a page every day with notes on possible sketches. Don't write 'em up yet...just make notes and try to expand on them. Then, the next day, look back at your notes and take a run at one of the sketch ideas. That distance can help, and too often young writers just dive in to writing a sketch (or feature, or spec tv show, etc) without first picking their best idea or taking the time to find the best angle in.

Carninator193 karma

You're really cool. I'm currently sick in bed so this is cheering me up :)

BobOdenkirk642 karma

Get well. Signed, Joe Cool

bobbith00191 karma

Bob I'm less of a fan of your work (even though I am) as I am a fan of you yourself. You changed the way I think... One day I was listening to Marc Maron's podcast and I came across your episode, you shared something somewhat personal with Marc - some advice you gave to your daughter. You explained why something was funny to her and ultimately said "honesty is comedy". Nothing has ever ringed more true with me than that line of thinking. I follow that motto to this day as an aspiring comic. Speaking of the WTF pod, I am STOKED to see you and David on Marc's live show coming up.

I absolutely love what you've done with the character of Saul, and I love how often you take part in the work of Tim and Eric, very little has made me die laughing as hard as when you "Scared. Children. Safe!" I'm not sure I have much to ask as you as it would all pertain to "how do I do what you do?", and you've answered that dozens of times. I just wanted to share my appreciation for your wisdom and the work that you do. And for what it's worth I enjoyed the hell out of Let's go to Prison! I am very excited for "Let's Do This!" and look forward to any of your continued work (PLEASE NARRATE MORE THINGS! And not just Cinco Chairs!)

BobOdenkirk446 karma

Wow. I'm going to print your comment out and stick it in my pocket so I can find it and you can make my day on another day as well. Or show it to my kids and say, "See! Daddy's the shit! In Yo Face, Fool!"

SlamJansen176 karma

As a result of the Saul character, are you now getting a lot more inquiries about doing drama/non-comedic characters? If so, do you foresee the balance of your projects tipping in that direction?

BobOdenkirk365 karma

I wouldn't say "a lot". But Hollywood can work slowly in this regard. People notice, consider it, and eventually projects can some around. I do think I will be getting more consideration for dramatical ventures in the future. I just hope I get to play some people less slimy than Saul Goodman, see if I can stretch myself a bit.

thesithman126 karma

Where does Saul rank for you in terms of favorite/easiest/most difficult roles that you've done?

BobOdenkirk419 karma

It's a challenge. From the first time I played the role I was amazed at the amount of talking the character does, and in order to know those speeches I have learned about reading them over and over and deconstructing them a little, something most comic sketches do not require. But it's very rewarding. A character like Cal Mackenzie Goldberg who I play in "Let's Do This!" (please do check it out on Adult Swim.com) is a more heightened character who I can improvise in. Saul takes some contemplation.

billypogrom158 karma

Let's Do This is fucking sweet. I hope it gets picked up. Is your character based on Robert Evans? the kid stays in the picture, etc...

BobOdenkirk378 karma

I love it, too. YES, Cal Mackenzie-Goldberg is based loosely on Robert Evans, the iconic Hollywood film producer and studio chief who was behind such pictures as: The Godfather, The Godfather pt. II - Still Fatherin', and Chinatown. But I expanded on the character for "Let's Do This!" which you can see on Adult Swim's website for a limited time. (Also, read the book "The Kid Stays IN the Picture", trust me, you'll thank me. OH! I almost forgot, you should learn to read!)

ac91135 karma

How was the character of Saul Goodman developed? Did you or Vince Gilligan get inspiration from an actual "criminal lawyer" with cheesy TV commercials?

Thanks for doing the AMA, can't wait for Season 5!

BobOdenkirk285 karma

Yes, Saul is based on a kind of fast-buck loudmouth lawyer that every medium to large city has. In fact, I am told that the set designer Robb Wilson King visited the office of a lawyer of Saul's ilk before designing that amazing set. Now, I think he "blew it up" a bit, but still... I have also heard that some of these "Accidentes!" lawyers are part of a corporate chain, franchised in a way. Interesting. As for playing him, I just read the scripts very closely and think about the character based on clues in the script. I also draw some inspiration from the wardrobe which Vince picks out.

[deleted]126 karma

Hi Bob, thanks for doing this AMA. I read that Tim & Eric sent you some of their material unsolicited and that is how they got their big break. Do people send a lot of material to you? Do you actually look at it regularly?

BobOdenkirk277 karma

This is a terrible rumor to start. But yes, they sent me an unsolicited, but very funny, DVD of their short films. I do get sent material and I am sorry to say I have to throw it out. I just do not have time. They got lucky on a certain day, that I even opened it. I don't open stuff because I don't want anyone to sue me if I ever did anything remotely like anything they sent me - people are sue-crazy! Anyhow, I still work with young talent, and am currently developing a show with THE BIRTHDAY BOYS - check out their short films on the web. But now I stick to people I've met in the course of hanging out in LA. Again, sorry beginner people.

Palanius117 karma

Mr.Odenkirk I just want to say that you play my favorite CRIMINAL lawyer. Also, when/how do you think that breaking bad will end?

BobOdenkirk273 karma

Good question. I would never venture a guess at the specifics of how it will end, but Vince Gilligan has been very clear about the trajectory of the character of Walter White. I would PARAPHRASE is like this: The show is an exploration of a character who transforms from a mild-mannered, regular sort of fellow, to Tony Montana - a gushing fountain of evil. Certainly something to watch with awe from the safe distance of a TV screen. Hey, did you see "Let's Do This!" on the adult swim link yet? Go check it out...thanks

codythebeau108 karma

After your experiences with Run, Ronnie, Run and Let's Go To Prison, do you have any plans to make a film that you have almost complete control over? Side question, what was it like being interviewed for Space Ghost Coast to Coast? I always thought you and David played along better than anyone else on that show ever could. Thanks for the laughs Bob!

BobOdenkirk159 karma

YES I will direct again, and yes, I will only do it if I have more control over the material. That said, I am proud of everyone who helped me make those features and thankful to have gotten the chance. One of the things I learned from the directing I've done is that part of the Director's responsibility, especially with feature films, is to make sure they connect fully with the material and have a complete vision for it. Just because you "can" do it, doesn't mean you should.

lululaplap100 karma

When making the "Better call Saul" ads for BB, did you look into other cheap ads or did you just go with what the writers gave you? ( I can't stop laughing at those ads...)

BobOdenkirk219 karma

The writer's writ it! Those "Better Call Saul" ads and extras (Saul has his own website, did you know that? - great stuff, again, written by the Breaking Bad writers, PETER GOULD in particular!) I think I might have improvised a tiny bit for the website stuff, but on the show I just stick to the script verbatim. Seriously, every little thing Saul says is scripted. It's actually a neat change of pace for me!

krantzer97 karma

Hey Bob! I've been so excited about this AMA all week!!!

Do you prefer being in front of the camera and acting or do you prefer writing, considering you've had a pretty notable career doing both? Do you get any freedom to play around with your character at all on Breaking Bad? (I've heard it's not a set where there's not a lot of room to improvise)

Also, sorry about Tugboat, man! She was such a pretty girl.

BobOdenkirk457 karma

Too bad about Tugboat. The cast and writers of "How I Met Your Mother" are fucking fantastic. The nicest people ever. But why did they have to kill a dog for comedy? That's not funny, that's just mean. Anyhoo, NO I do not improvise on the set of Breaking Bad. I don't need to. I approach it as a classically trained actor. I watch James Lipton interview someone, then I read the script, then I memorize the script, then I watch more James Lipton, then I put my make-ups on, then I take them off, then I act my pants off. Then, in post, they put pants back on me. The expense of putting pants back on me in post is killing the show. Send me pants, save Breaking Bad!

Ruddiver88 karma

I have loved everything you ever have done. I am always impressed when someone in one arena (comedy) can do awesome in another (drama) Breaking Bad. Did you ever expect the career trajectory you have had? and for the record, The civil war reenactment and the cable access call in show are the best Mr Show sketches.

BobOdenkirk313 karma

You have obviously not seen everything I have ever done. I am a terrible violin player and I can't draw for shit. But thank you. I am amazed at my career trajectory. Very seriously. I am a midwestern guy from a family where television and showbiz were not valued in any way and the whole notion of being a part of this business was very strange and hard to conceive of. Having said all of that, I love sketch comedy but I always thought I might actually have more to offer as a performer, in a slightly dramatic context. My favorite sketch performers; Chris Farley, David Cross, Dana Carvey, have a simpler, more likable energy than I do. I can't believe anyone "likes" me. But please, keep putting up with me!

micbro76 karma

One of my favorite things you were in was the Bass Camp episode of Tom Goes to the Mayor. What was your inspiration for The Bass Wizard?

BobOdenkirk210 karma

First I had to learn to play the Bass. I learned from the great RUDY SARZO, bass player of Blue Oyster Cult, Yngwie Malmsteen and many others (seriously a cool, funny guy who Brian Posehn introduced me to). Then I had to learn how to be a Wizard, which I did by watching the Hairy Polder films. Much easier than playing bass. Just find a good wand and you can sit on your ass the rest of your life.

pickanotherusername71 karma

Terradaloo, Bob.

BobOdenkirk70 karma

Right back atya!

unknownfy2462 karma

What would your last meal be?

BobOdenkirk152 karma

A burger from "That's-A-Burger" on Chicago's south side. And gelato from Screme Gelato in New York.

filthfarmfilth61 karma

First off I just want to say that you are a comedic genius and I want to thank you for making me laugh my ass off for the last 20 years.

  1. What's your favorite SNL sketch that you got on air?
  2. Any possibility of another Mr. Show Live Tour? Still kicking myself for not attending Hooray for America! 3.What's more shocking to you: Tom Kenny's success as Spongebob, or the fact that David's been in three Alvin and the Chipmunks movies?
  3. Seriously, what the fuck happened with Run Ronnie Run? (think you already addressed this)
  4. What if Mandy Patinkin was a horse?
  5. What do you prefer most... Acting, Writing, Directing?

Also just want to say that when you play Philouza and you lick the strap from the hat, I lose it every time. Thank You for existing.

BobOdenkirk92 karma

  1. Again, I will go with "The Story of Everest"...but that's a tough one.
  2. Probably...ish. Seriously.
  3. Really? We all got in over our heads and everyone drowned.
  4. Might be good...love to see it and find out, wouldn't you?
  5. Acting is the best when you have a great script, not so good if the script is not so good. Writing is great when you're done with it and it's great, which is rare. Directing is the most fulfilling, but you have to start with something you really love in a deep way...so it's hard to get over that bar to start. Glad you like Philouza. Me three.

[deleted]56 karma


BobOdenkirk155 karma

No. But you can go to Dan Tana's without me and kiss Mr. Tana and talk about MRS. HOWE the detective series David and I have been trying to sell about a woman named Mrs. Wellesley Howe a retired teacher who solves crimes by reading crime novels until she "gets a clue".

Steve_Kind_Of49 karma

Do you plan to or.would like to work with some of the guys you worked with on Mr. Show, like Scott Aukerman or Paul F. Tompkins?

BobOdenkirk177 karma

YES. In fact I worked with Scott Aukerman on his "Comedy Bang Bang" show to premiere soon on IFC AND on a demo animated show for Comedy Central called "Think Tank". I also recorded a friggin'...here it comes...he's gonna say it...I just know he's gonna say it...FUCKING PODCAST. Yes...I broke down and recorded a podcast. Called, of all things, "MR. BLOW". It will feature people who appeared on, wrote for, or were in the LIVE AUDIENCE, of Mr. Show. It will be on the EARWOLF site, and we will do it...whenever we feel like it. The first episode features Jay, Me, David, Scott, Dave Rath (audience member), and Jill Talley. I know...it's so great.

redheadsrage43 karma

Fellow Napervillian here. What was life like for you growing up there?

BobOdenkirk143 karma

Sweet, gentle, and then, when I got to be 14 or so...boring as shit. I couldn't wait to get out of there and get to a city where I might get mugged or even murdered to death. But, now that I'm nearing 50, I like Naperville again. I really do. Centennial Beach is the best thing ever.

BadIdeaSociety36 karma

Watched "Let's Do This." Loved it. When are you doing more?

Q: I often noticed subtle to explicit references to Chicago-area television on Mr. Show. For example, Jay Johnston's news reporter character singing, "Rock-a-by your baby!" like Harry Schmerler (Your singing Ford dealer), the "Shake Your Stick" crime fighter character from the Chicago Crimestoppers presentations, or even references to places being near "Santa's Village." Do you have any plans to incorporate more odd references to old Chicago-area TV in "Let's Do This?"

BobOdenkirk53 karma

YOU ARE AWESOME! Yes, I used to watch TV on Sunday mornings in the Chicago-land area (the Cisco kid!) and so those things are stuck like bullets in the cheesecake of my brain. Is that the phrase? No...wait, I got it, Those things are stuck like peanuts in the elephant shnozz's of my mind. I will never hesitate to reference Harry Schmerler or do my impersonation of LINN BURTON (Burt Weinman Ford)!

iamadogforreal36 karma

What are some of your favorite Mr Show skits and do you have any amusing tales associated with writing/performing them. For some reason I'll never forget the Micronation Olympics and the "Life Is Precious and God and the Bible" sketches.

Also, as a comedy writer/comic artist any tips of how to get Important People to see my stuff? I'd love to pitch some items, but I'm embarrassingly poorly networked.

BobOdenkirk92 karma

My favorite Mr. Show skits, off the top of my head right now, are: The Story of Everest, Civil War Re-Enactors, Hunger Strike, the entire episode where Jay plays "Mediocrity", the entire "Grass Valley Greg" episode, the scene my brother BILL ODENKIRK wrote about the KIDNAPPER who cut off the wrong toe, and anything with David in it.

Sandwichmancer34 karma

Hi Bob. If I see you on the street, would it be cool if I hug you? I'd hate to invade your space, but I'd also like to surprise you.

BobOdenkirk93 karma

Please don't surprise me. I'm a scaredy-pants.

NathanWynn33 karma

What are the odds that the unaired HBO pilot you and David filmed will see the light of day? Thanks for sharing Mr. Show with the world. Truly inspired and is still heads and shoulders above any sketch show, in my opinion.

BobOdenkirk71 karma

Thanks, Nathan. I don't think that HBO pilot will ever be shown. It was an interesting project. A live, four-camera, sit-com (we used the actual set from "Everybody Loves Raymond" about David as David Cross, retired from comedy and living with a hippie (Matt Besser) and a tea-partyer (Eric Hoffman). The evening of the taping could not have gone better. Amazing energy in the studio, great responses. But when we cut it together it was just...flat. Kind of sat there. I think the parodic aspects of it didn't help. Sorry it didn't work out.

benifit31 karma

What will the format of Let's Do It! be? i.e. what will the breakdown of plot to fake movie footage/other programming be?

BobOdenkirk55 karma

It'll be a little different in each episode. The idea is that in every episode, they are making something, and we get to see a little story of what went into it; how the personalities clash, the ridiculousness of the effort, etc. We're not sure if Adult Swim wants us to make more yet...we hope they do.

SourceError27 karma


BobOdenkirk73 karma

I beg and beg. Please, send cards and telegrams to "Mr. Hollywood Movie Maker" c/o Hollywood Films Unlimited, ParamountBrothers StudioFilms. We can make this happen!

YouMad24 karma

What was the inspiration for your character Saul Goodman?

BobOdenkirk107 karma

A lawyer I knew named "Abraham Lincoln the 3rd". A huge dick.

SubcommanderShran21 karma

I was wondering what the inspiration was for the idea of the Mr. Show sketches flowing from one to another? Did you guys write the sketches out and then try to find ways to weave them together, or did you come up with a big idea for the theme of the episode and then write sketches? I'm thinking of "Oh, You Men" because that's probably my favorite episode and I never saw the ending coming. Still cracks me up.

BobOdenkirk43 karma

We put a lot of thought into this. The inspiration was, clearly, from Monty Python. But we wanted to do it in our own way. Both David and I had done sketch shows where we morphed one sketch into the next. And both of us had done shows that were thematic, though I think this is a dicey angle. Our rule was that the linking passages should work on their own and equally well with whatever sketch we were coming out of or going in to. Not easy to do. When we couldn't figure anything out we would just cut to a poster or sign. Mostly the audience didn't seem to care, they liked it just the same. Oh, and I think the shows that are TOO thematic are sort of boring. The best episodes have a mix of wildly different tones and approaches. One really good one is the one where Jay plays "Mediocrity".

ThomasBombadil20 karma

So, this was a situation in which I had actually been a fan of yours for years, while never knowing it, before appreciating your work on Breaking Bad. I've been quoting Matt Foley sketches with friends since 6th grade, and Tenacious D was a favorite of a cousin of mine, who turned me onto it. (I missed the boat on Mr. Show but will definitely check it out now that I've read all praise in this thread for it).

Breaking Bad has always had an element of comedy. I recall plenty of instances that made me laugh prior to Saul Goodman. It was always able to get the characters to a comedic point. Basically, the show was not void of laughter. But, that said, it was never a staple of the show. With Saul Goodman, the show, in a sense, formally added that comedic element. Of course, you play the character dramatically when it is called for and you do it very well. But Saul is marked most by his comedy and he is the only character in the show to have that distinction.

So, my question: how was it entering a gritty drama as a character who is meant to be comedic? How did you alter the normal styles of straight comedy (the sort you displayed on SNL, etc.) to fit into a dark drama?

BobOdenkirk44 karma

Thanks for the compliments, and if you have liked anything I've ever done then you should definitely check out "Mr. Show", which was my baby. Also David's baby. I pooped out the head and he crapped out the rest. Now, let's get serious.
Breaking Bad IS really funny. Like REALLY funny. Sometimes it's easy to miss that, sometimes the humorous undercurrent is all you can see! Amazing writing at work! It's "black" humor, with the characters often saying things that are, subtly, a commentary on their horrifying and horrible situations, or characters. I think Saul Goodman is (slightly) more overtly funny than the others. He is a bullshitter and he will actually crack a joke once in awhile. "Congratulations, you're the pretty one of the group, Paul - meet Ringo, Ringo - Paul" Like that.
But how I approach it is not totally unlike the comic characters in that I fully commit to the person I am playing and their reality in the moment. I think there are a few minor instances where stuff I did on Mr. Show stepped into that realm a bit. Like the Dad in "Pre-Natal Pageants". Basically, I just commit to the character completely and I get great assistance just playing scenes with actors like Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn. They are always tuned in.

bobecker19 karma

Love the "Let's Do This!" pilot. Why is this not happening right now?

BobOdenkirk49 karma

Good question. In the course of developing shows, there can be all kinds of slowdowns. I'm just thankful that adult swim was willing to put it on their website, share it with viewers, and consider making more. Cross your fingers-- if you believe in that kind of voodoo.

chodanutz17 karma

Pallies and Van Hammersly are two of the greatest/funniest sketches I've ever seen on Mr. Show or any other show. What was your favorite Mr. Show sketch?

BobOdenkirk41 karma

I already answered this...and I forgot my answer. I'll write to me on Reddit and get back to you.

callmeDeaconBooze16 karma

What's that crime stick?!

BobOdenkirk57 karma

The crime stick is just that, a stick that one can shake AT crime, or at the idea of crime, to shame the crime and make it go away. The fact that this magic totem never caught on is a testament to criminals and the seriousness with which they take magical totems with the power to ward them and their nefarious activities off. How come none of the Presidential Candidates are willing to speak about this? Who in the tea party will join me in fighting for more crime sticks and against the absence of crime sticks? Thank you, Mr. "Obama" for your islam-o-phobic socialist medicare!

KMFDM78115 karma

Loved the pilot, the LeBaron was bad ass too...wish I had it, lol

BobOdenkirk39 karma

They're very hard to find. It's especially hard to find a LeBaron that wants to be in a movie.

DarlingDont13 karma

How exactly did you end up working with Tim and Eric? Also, what is it like interacting with them on a person to person basis? Are they as bizarre as they seem in real life, or surprisingly normal considering?

BobOdenkirk34 karma

Tim and Eric are two of the most normal, hard-working, Christians I have ever met. They also look identical. How they fit into those suits I will never know, but god bless them, those suits are funny!