For Adam Pally, a chance to star in YouTube Premium's new series Champaign, ILL, meant a chance to pay tribute to one of his favorite shows.
"I love the show Entourage, both ironically and unironically," Pally said in an interview with Ranker. "So I thought it would be funny to kind of play one character who was all three of those characters put together."
In the series, Pally plays Ronnie, who returns to live with his parents in Illinois after his close friend, rap star Lou (Jay Pharoah), dies in a freak accident. After years of being pampered in Lou's entourage, Ronnie and his other high school friend Alf (Sam Richardson) have to learn to live in the real world. Returning to their hometown of Champaign after years of globetrotting, Ronnie and Alf have some choice criticisms of the place. Naming your show after a real town, and almost making the town a character in itself, is bound to draw the attention of the locals. Champaign was no exception, and Pally said not everything has been positive.
"I'm in a feud right now with a lot of the people from Champaign, specifically the young people," he said. "A lot of the people from Champaign are upset that we didn't actually shoot in Champaign, and that they themselves aren't involved in the show. I can't tell what kind of entitlement that is, where you believe that just because your city is in the name of a show that you should be in it and it should be shot there. I'd like to remind the people of Champaign that Star Wars wasn't shot in space, and toys don't really talk when you leave the room."
Pally has a history of playing fan-favorite characters – most notably as Max on Happy Endings and Peter on The Mindy Project – and he thinks Ronnie shares a lot in common with those characters. Except for one aspect.
"The big difference between Ronnie and Max or Peter is that he's not confident," he said. "Ronnie doesn't know what he is or what he wants. Both Max and Peter were very comfortable in their own skin. Ronnie hasn't found that yet, which is a fun difference to play."
That lack of confidence leads Ronnie to some pretty questionable decisions early in the season. At times, it's hard to tell whether Ronnie is really a good person or not. That's just how Pally likes it.
"We're all good people who've done sh*tty things unless we're bad people who sometimes do good things," Pally added.
Champaign, ILL, premieres Wednesday, Dec. 12.
While promoting the show, Pally also spoke to us about his one-night hosting gig for The Late Late Show. Back in 2015, CBS had a series of guest hosts fill in during the three-month gap between Craig Ferguson's last show and permanent host James Corden's first show. Pally stepped in for one episode. After flying him coach to New York, a snowstorm hit which stopped all the guests and most of the planned bits from happening. Pally had to scramble – and steal cameras – just to put his show together.
Below are some of the moments he remembers most from that hectic day.
Of all the moments from the entire show, Pally remembers how much the crew disliked him the most.
"Because of the snowstorm, I had to do it in Charlie Rose's studio after he had done the morning news – and I assume sexually harassed like six people. I started taping the show at 10 in the morning, which is very early for that type of comedy, and the crew audibly hated me. You could hear the camera people almost verbally booing anytime I would do a bit. That was my favorite. That's where my sweet spot is. That definitely ranks number one – just how loud the actual people on the show disapproved."
Pally's interview with Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett really highlights the haphazardness of the show. It was a satellite interview because Bennett was preparing for the Pro Bowl at the time, but that didn't stop him from being game for whatever topic Pally wanted to talk about – the crown jewel being the two discussing their favorite web fonts.
"There was a snowstorm, and we lost all our guests and were scrambling. CBS had a satellite at the Pro Bowl so they asked Martellus Bennett if he wanted to be interviewed, and he was like 'sure.' Martellus Bennett is a bearded angel."
Comedian Eric Andre also joined the show as a last-minute guest due to the snowstorm. Andre has a penchant for trying to get things off the rails – which was clear when he spent most of his interview spinning in his chair.
"Eric's a cool guy, I've known him for a long time. We were hanging out the night before, and when the producers called me and said the other guests had canceled he was nice enough to understand that it was beneficial for his career as well."
During the broadcast, Pally mentioned that he got a tattoo for the show. If you watched the episode live then you got to see the host in the tattoo parlor actually getting his new ink. Unfortunately, they didn't have the rights to include it when the episode went online, so if you watch it now, you'll hear Pally mention it but never actually see it. Getting the tattoo was also an idea born out of the snowstorm.
"I was supposed to film a bit, and then the snowstorm hit so they canceled it. I needed to film something, so I did what I used to do when I was a kid and it snowed – go to a dive bar and drink a ton. So they filmed me doing that, which ended up with me taking a very dangerous Uber ride to a tattoo parlor and getting a tattoo of a tree. It ended up looking more like a piece of broccoli."