Sitting down with Griffin Newman and Peter Serafinowicz, who play the slightly unhinged heroes of Amazon’s “The Tick,” we notice right away that the mismatched pair mirror their characters. Newman shuffles in first, his hands clenched inside of his sweater, impossible to see beyond his sleeves. Serafinowicz follows — essentially, a gentle giant with a soft, inviting British accent. “Cool glasses by the way,” he says — and man, does this dude believe in eye contact. “Do they do a monocle in those?”
After that, he dismisses the PR woman who has been hovering near the door and the three of us get down to brass tacks. What was supposed to be a quick round of lightning questions turns into something that's less of an interview, and more of watching Newman — who plays the nebbish sidekick-turned-hero Arthur Everest, and Serafinowicz, the Tick himself — have their own conversation, where we're allowed the occasional aside.
Here, we talk comics, sketch comedy and how to undo President Trump’s misdeeds.
“The Tick” is the first time either of you have played a superhero. Who are some of your favorites?
Griffin Newman: My boring answer is Spiderman. He just so archetypically represents everything that I love: the outsider as superhero. Someone who has all this power, but never feels high status and is so defined by their choice to do the right thing rather than being innately heroic. It’s an act of decision on a daily basis.
I really like the new Ms. Marvel. Centurion is another Marvel character I love.
Peter Serafinowicz: So what was the question? What are your favorite 25 superheroes?
GN: Yeah, I got 22 left to go. Do you have a favorite, Peter?
PS: Adam West’s Batman is my favorite of all the Batmen. I enjoyed “The Dark Knight” but I find it a bit too dark.
What's your favorite comedy on TV right now?
GN: “Nathan for You,” for my money, is the best comedy on television.
PS: His targets are wrong for me. I think he's really funny but I think there’s a cruelty about it.
GN: I think the jokes are always turned on him in that show, and that’s what I like about it. I have a big problem with that in comedy. But in “Nathan for You,” he sort of is exploring how people change when a camera is in front of them. He’s never really mocking people. The other people in the show often come out looking better than he does, which I like about it.
“Fleabag” is my favorite thing I’ve seen in the last year. It’s a perfect example of “it’s the singer, not the song.” Because you can’t describe that show to anyone and make it sound like anything you haven’t seen a thousand times. It’s just how well executed it is, and how specific the character is. It’s a brutal show at times.
PS: I love “Better Call Saul,” which is less of an out and out comedy. But it has two of my all time favorite comedians, Michael McKean and Bob Odenkirk. They’re just f—king amazing actors. Particularly Bob — he’s such a great actor and nobody was as familiar with him in that capacity.
GN: I always thought of him as my favorite sketch actor. His work on “Mr. Show” is my favorite sketch comedy acting I’ve ever seen.
Griffin, I know you like to tweet “F—k you” to Trump, because he’s the worst, and Peter, you have Sassy Trump which I love. So what superpower do you think we need to take down the current administration?
GN: We have this conversation every day on set — what is it going to take that would actually do this guy in?
PS: In all honesty there must be spies ready to assassinate him. This is the way the world works isn’t it?
GN: It would be the most cathartically satisfying thing if you could get him under Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth. Get him tied up for just thirty minutes and get him to just admit he doesn’t care about anyone. I think he’s physically incapable of telling the truth without a lasso.
PS: What I would do is get Superman to kiss him passionately for a long time. Like ten minutes. And he would forget everything that he learned since he was a baby. But if Trump had the mental faculties of a baby, of a one day old baby, he would still thrive in the f—king White House.
Follow Rachael Vaughan Clemmons on Twitter — @rachaelclemz