The First Time: Jake Johnson and Rob Riggle - Rolling Stone
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‘The First Time’ With Jake Johnson and Rob Riggle

Comedians talk new animated show Hoops, early improv jitters and more

Jake Johnson and Rob Riggle discuss their upcoming Netflix animated show Hoops, the first albums they ever bought, improv jitters and more in the latest installment of The First Time.

Hoops, created by Ben Hoffman, is centered around a delusional, foul-mouthed high school basketball coach, voiced by Johnson. Johnson says the show was originally pitched to MTV with the idea of making “something that was so loud and ridiculous that MTV had to pass on it but to not water it down at all.”

MTV did indeed pass on the show, but years later Netflix picked it up, and Johnson says of the show’s arrival: “In this unbelievably strange time in the world, hopefully, everybody could just get a laugh because there’s nothing deeper about this, there’s no message, we’re not teaching, we don’t have any agenda here, besides sophomoric humor for anybody who likes it.”

Elsewhere, Riggle and Johnson reveal the first albums they ever bought — Mötley Crüe’s Shout at the Devil for the former, N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton for the latter — and recount their early days doing improv and how absolutely horrifying it was. Riggle remembers arriving at his second improv class, getting so nervous that he left the building, went back to his apartment, then managed to psych himself up enough to go all the way back. Similarly, Johnson says he used to constantly be on the verge of puking before his early improv classes and would take long walks where he just yelled at himself for being a coward and a baby.

Johnson and Riggle went on to talk about their first on-camera gigs, as well as some of the jobs they had before entering show business. Johnson says he once got rightfully fired from a burrito truck after he got drunk the night before and showed up hours late, joking, “That was one of probably 50 times where I probably realized, ‘Man, I gotta do some growing up.’” And Riggle remembers a mortifying early gig as a DJ in a Fifties-themed diner where he was required to play certain songs that prompted the entire staff to stop whatever they were doing and start dancing.

“They would jump up on tables and it was like a sock-hop,” Riggle says. “But these dances were rehearsed, like you had to learn the dances. And the staff would always look at me and go, ‘Dude, don’t play that song, don’t play the song, I got four four-tops going, the last thing I need to do is jump up and dance!’ And I’m like, ‘I gotta, man, I don’t want to do it either.’ The managers would always come over and be like, ‘Hey, c’mon, it’s time, buster! No one’s been dancing here!’”


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