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article imageThe Office's Darryl Reveals On-Set Info and Why His Stand-up is 'Like a Picnic'

By David Silverberg     Jul 12, 2008 in Entertainment
Playing the likable Darryl in NBC's The Office, Craig Robinson knows all about sharp delivery and comedic timing. And now Just for Laughs and Hollywood are embracing the actor. He spoke to DigitalJournal.com about stand-up, Steve Carell and porn.
Digital Journal — It’s been a banner year for Craig Robinson: in the recent season of The Office, his character Darryl inches further into the spotlight by dating Kelly; he is starring in two upcoming comedies from directors Kevin Smith and Seth Rogen; and Just for Laughs invited him to rock the stand-up stage in Montreal and Toronto in late July. Momentum is swinging in Robinson’s favour and he tells DigitalJournal.com this is just the beginning.
If you’ve ever watched NBC’s The Office, the warehouse worker Darryl stands out as a caustic outsider: he sarcastically welcomes the suited staffers to the warehouse, delivering snarky jokes to Michael Scott (Steve Carell) as if he’s truly unhappy to see the dopey boss. He embarrasses other workers with like it’s second nature, and he displays a nonchalant attitude that instantly makes him a likable character.
As an actor, his comedic timing is dead-on. His lines are offered with deadpan expressions, varying nicely from the contorted facial expressions exhibited by Rainn Wilson who plays Dwight, for instance. There is an understated comedy in Robinson’s performance that is winning him attention in other venues.
In July, he will performing stand-up at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal and Toronto. He will also be hosting a sketch comedy show in Toronto, which is comfort food for Robinson. “I graduated from Second City so I love seeing sketch,” Robinson says in an interview with DigitalJournal.com. “I’d relish the opportunity to hit the stage and try out sketch, something I haven’t done in awhile.”
When it comes to stand-up, Robinson says audiences should expect a relaxed vibe. “It’s like you’re in a basement chilling with friends and family. Like a picnic. Hey, you might as well bring some watermelon.”
He adds that he is anticipating his return to Canada, where he recently shot the film Night at the Museum 2. “It starts with the people,” he remarks when asked about why he likes Canada. “They’re so nice and sweet. In the States, people don’t talk to you if you’re in an elevator. In Canada, they’re asking how you’re doing. It’s very different.”
Born and raised in Chicago, 36-year-old Robinson worked as a music teacher in high school before he moved to the west coast to try his hand at comedy. After winning the Oakland Comedy Competition, he soon started earning some TV love. He scored minor one-time roles in The Bernie Mac Show and Friends in 2004, and then auditioned for The Office. Since 2005, Robinson has played Darryl and he loves every moment of his time on set.
“I just go in and watch the genius happen,” he says. He has lots of praise for the writers: “I read the script and think, ‘Yeah, this is exactly how I’d say this.’”
The cast of The Office
The Office is one of NBC's most popular TV shows
Courtesy of Canwest
Many Office fans think the show is partly improvised but Robinson dispels the rumours. “The script might look improvised, and yeah, there’s room to play around, but these writers know what they’re doing. It’s so good it looks improvised.”
Robinson mentions one of the most memorable moments he’s had on The Office so far. In the episode where Michael is researching on Wikipedia on how to fire employees, Robinson’s character Darryl chats with the boss about the online encyclopedia. “For the first two takes, I was deadpan, I didn’t laugh,” Robinson remembers. “But Steve was too funny, making faces and what not, and I was cracking up. If you look closely at the episode, you’ll see me smiling a bit.”
Maybe there’s another reason Robinson is smiling. His star wattage on The Office has won him attention in Hollywood, and now major directors are turning to him to add some comedic edge to their films.
Seth Rogen’s Pineapple Express features Robinson as gunman looking to murder two potheads who witnesses a crime. On working with comedy star Rogen, Robinson gushes, “His improv skills are amazing. You truly got to be on your game working with him.”
Robinson is also starring in the recently wrapped Zack and Miri Make a Porno, directed by Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats). Robinson gets to flex his acting muscle by playing a porn flick financier who has been married for 18 years and is in desperate need of “seeing some new titties,” as Robinson describes the character. Working with Smith was also a learning experience: “He’s laid back and knows exactly what he wants. He is truly one of the coolest dudes ever. Kevin isn’t the type of director who’s going to be out of there as soon as the shoot is over. We went out for dinner, went bowling, it was great.”
When asked if he could picture The Office becoming a Hollywood blockbuster, Robinson laughs and says, “I been thinking about that lately, since Sex in the City is a huge hit. Just picture how great The Office would be as a movie!”
He’s also passionate about the TV show. He has no plans to leave for other jobs, even though he has a dream of starring in a one-hour special featuring his comedy and musical talents (Robinson plays a mean keyboard).
He says he is enjoying the best job he ever had. “The Office producers would have to pry my cold dead body to get me off the show,” Robinson declares, only half-jokingly.
Craig Robinson performs at the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal on July 18 at 1594 St-Denis and at Metropolis (59 Ste-Catherine E). He performs in Toronto on July 26 at Massey Hall. For info, visit www.hahaha.com
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