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Goodnight Burbank – Hayden Black

Hayden Black

Hayden Black, is a multi-talented actor, writer and internet star, best known for critical and commercial comedy Internet/TV hit Goodnight Burbank and BBC America’s “The Brit List.” He is also known for his work on The Colbert Report and The Cabonauts. The Guardian calls him “one of Internet comedy’s brightest stars.” Black is a prolific tweeter and his Tweets have also been featured in a variety of prestigious publications including Time Magazine.

Interview by Stephen Thompson, Ph.D.

Welcome to OpenBeast. Tell us about yourself.

Hello! Let’s see. I’m English – and I’ve got the accent to prove it. But I’ve lived in the US since I was a kid so I have a rather unique look at both cultures. I’m a fan of music – lots of 80’s stuff like the Human League and Tears For Fears – as well as contemporary stuff too like Chvrches, Violens, Summer Camp, Father John Misty, etc. And I’m also a sci-fi and comic book nerd. I’m a massive Dr. Who fan for as long as I can remember and a devout 2000AD comic reader. At the moment, I’m loving “The Strain.” Who else is? And what are we called collectively? “Strainers”? No, scratch that – it sounds like we’ve all got constipation.

How did “Goodnight Burbank” happen?

The original idea came from watching my parents watch the news and seeing how my mother in particular gave the news anchors such instant respect. And I thought “why?” You know, who are these people we’re trusting to come into our living rooms and bedrooms and telling us who to be scared of just before we go to bed – and why should we trust them? They’re just people. And people are brilliant, wonderful flesh-bags of love and hate and good and bad and so should be treated with slightly less reverence than, say, a beloved pet. So I wanted to prick that bubble.

Anyway, from there, I was taking an improv class at UCB here in LA and we decided to shoot something for the hell of it. This was back in ’06 when there was very little to watch on the web and a very rickety Goodnight Burbank was the end product. That was the original version of the show that was about 5 minutes or so. In 2011, I re-imagined the show as a proper half-hour thing and cast it with different talented and amazing people  – some of whom had already gotten some major fame for being talented and amazing in other things. We had Laura Silverman, Dominic Monaghan, Jim Rash, John Barrowman, Juliet Landau, Parvesh Cheena, Fran Kranz and we all just had the best time ever shooting it in my garage.

What’s you one best gig or achievement thus far?

Well that would have to be creating/producing the first half-hour comedy made for the web – Goodnight Burbank. And tying for that position is that the day it debuted on Hulu, Mark Cuban saw it and licensed the series to run on his cable network, HDNet. I think that to date, we’re both the first and only half-hour series to go from the web to TV. I’m so proud of that, I can’t tell you, even though here I am, telling you.

It’s weird to think I spent a couple months in a bagel shop writing six half-hour scripts then a few more months shooting and editing them, and voila, we had a TV show on our hands. Utterly surreal. But really fucking cool!

Oh, and contributing an essay to a book for charity called “Behind the Sofa: Celebrity Memories of Dr Who” was a huge honor – and it was alongside luminaries like Neil Gaiman who I’m a huge fan of. Another surreal moment.

Any upcoming projects or initiatives you could like to discuss?

I’m working on a sci-fi comedy at the moment. I can’t say what it’s about but it’s at once nostalgic and at the same time completely different to anything else that’s been before. It’s my love letter to the sci-fi shows of my youth. I also write daft jokes all day long on Twitter, some of which are even funny. Come follow me if you want a steady stream of silliness to liven up your feed.

How do you get inspired?

Walking. That’s my main way to get the juices flowing. I strap on my iPod and let the endorphins do the thinking. In fact, the inspiration for the sci-fi comedy came directly from a walk – a song popped on my iPod that was so over the top and cheesy that it gave me an idea for an entire TV series. That’s never happened before. I’ve never been inspired by a piece of music to create a half-hour comedy. It was a slab of gloriously cheesy disco if you’re wondering. So cheesy I had to shower all the cheese off me when I got home. And it’s still not all off.

What are your leisure time activities?

I’d like to say walking around museums but seeing as how I never do, I won’t. I’m such a bloody couch potato! So watching TV would have to be my primary thing. I’m not so great at marathoning things as I get bored easily, but watching lots of different things keeps my interest. What do I watch?  I’m obsessed with the British Big Brother – it’s so different to the American one which is as vapid as it sounds. But I stay glued to the TV for the 3-4 months it airs on UK telly. I’m also a big fan of The Daily Show. Do I sound sufficiently boring yet? Because I kinda am.

Thank you

To follow Hayden,  head to https://twitter.com/haydenblack and to see Goodnight Burbank visit www.hulu.com/goodnight-burbank

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