This new season of “Documentary Now” ripples with offbeat wit. Here’s the story I sent papers, keyed to the film that airs Wednesday (Feb. 27).
By Mike Hughes
It’s easy for an actor to savor the rare show that clicks.
Taran Killam can tell you that; he got to co-star in “Hamilton,” in Los Angeles. “I felt like I’d won the lottery,” he said.
But what about the failures? The latest “Documentary Now” film, written by Seth Meyers and John Mullaney, pretends to be the making of the cast album for a show that has already flopped. And yes, the actors know the feeling.
“I was in a play once where they fired the director right before we opened,” James Urbaniak said.
Richard Kind recalls being in “Luck,” a luckless HBO series. “First day of (shooting) our second season,” it was cancelled.
And Killam recalls the near-misses. “The closer you get to success, the more it hurts.”
Now they do a comedy version of failure. Urbaniak plays the show’s director, with Killam as the film’s director and Kind as one of the actors.
For Killam, portraying a failure requires some make-believe. He grew up in California, had a small movie role at 12 and started getting steady roles at 17. At 19, he became the youngest “MadTV” regular ever.
A few years later, he met Cobie Smulders. “On our first date, she said, ‘I just got this pilot.’” That was “How I Met Your Mother,” which would run nine years; they’re married now, with two daughters.
Killam went on to “Saturday Night Live,” where Meyers co-wrote his bits as Jebediah Atkinson, the world’s crabbiest critic. In the three years since leaving “SNL,” he’s ranged from guest shots to “Hamilton” to “Single Parents” on ABC. “It has been a busy few years,” he understated.
And now he plays a documentary director, surrounded by failure. That requires some acting.
— “Documentary Now,” 11 p.m. Wednesdays, IFC.
— Each episode is a comedy take-off on a documentary; the Feb. 27 one spoofs a 1970 film on the making of the cast album for Stephen Sondheim’s “Company”
— Also on Wednesdays, Taran Killam stars in “Single Parents,” at 9:31 p.m. on ABC.