It all began in a Honda Pilot en route to Portland, ME.
Amici Lucia Aniello, Jen Statsky and Paul W. Downs were headed to tape a segment for the latter’s Netflix comedy special, and a discussion broke out about legendary female comedians, who never got their due, and for one reason or another, might have tripped in their career, and got cancelled by the industry. Such were the origins of their HBO Max comedy series Hacks, which has already been ordered for a second season.
“I thought of it,” deadpans Downs on conceiving Hacks to which Statsky sarcastically retorts, “Any man needs two good typists.”
Downs and Aniello were former Upright Citizens Brigade pals. Statsky and Aniello met in 2007 as the only femme members in a sketch group which forgot to invite them back. They all merged on the writing staff of Comedy Central’s Broad City, and later on with the Sony Scarlett Johansson party comedy Rough Night which Aniello directed and co-wrote with Downs, with Statsky doing punch-up.
We talk with the trio today on Crew Call about the Hacks finale, how comedian and Hannah Einbinder (the daughter of SNL alum Laraine Newman) landed on their radar, and whether cancel culture is, well, cancelling comedy.
Says Downs, “I still think art should be shocking, art should be challenging, art and comedy should be taboo, especially satire when you’re speaking truth to power.”
“I think what’s important and what more people are more understanding of now is your target and where you’re punching,” adds the comedy scribe who shared a WGA nom with Aniello and Statsky for Broad City.
“There’s a way to talk about really taboo stuff and things that make us different, and even stereotypes; there’s a way to do it in which it isn’t harmful,” adds Downs.