Collider Goes to the PARTY DOWN Marathon Hosted by the Alamo Drafthouse; Plus Cast Interview

     June 28, 2011


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  if there’s a reason to live in Texas, it’s Tim League’s Alamo Drafthouse chain, a collection of theaters that make every other big-ass theater chain currently operating in America feel like the shantytowns they are. Whereas most theater chains only screen new movies (and, perhaps, Rocky Horror on Saturday nights), the Drafthouse also offers up elaborate film- and TV-geek friendly events…in addition to a full bar.

Their latest event?  A Party Down marathon that unfolded last weekend across two different parties and one Drafthouse theater.  While the entire series screened for the assembled crowd, the cast and crew (including series creator Rob Thomas) was on-hand to talk about their pre-Party Down careers, the potential for a Party Down movie, and the best way to watch Party Down now that it’s been cancelled.  Read on for our report from the front lines, after the jump.

party-down-posterStarz’ Party Down has been off the air for a couple years now, but thanks to the series’ recent addition to Netflix Instant, it seems that an entirely new fan base for the show has sprung up over the last few months.  Whereas Party Down fans once had to beg others to watch the show (often in conversations with people who couldn’t even tell you if they had Starz), people now seem much more aware that it exists…and are, in fact, becoming fairly vocal about their love for the series.

In that way, Party Down‘s a lot like FOX’s Arrested Development:  a truly great comedy that was canceled long before it should’ve been…but one that we can always revisit through the magic of DVD (or, in this case, Netflix Instant).  As a long-time fan of the series, I gotta admit that it’s awesome to see things playing out this way.  And besides, the more people that get onboard the Party Down train now, the more likely it is that we’ll get a Party Down movie at some point in the near future (unlike, say, the oft-rumored Arrested Development movie, which seems destined never to get made, sadly).

This weekend, the Alamo Drafthouse scheduled another one of their signature events, one built entirely around celebrating Starz’ dearly-departed series and bringing fans of the show into direct contact with the Party Down cast.  Things kicked off at the Highball (the combination bar/karaoke-palace/bowling-alley/performance-hall that’s right next door to the Drafthouse’s South Lamar location) with a party– attended by the cast and crew, as well as by Nick Offerman (who’s Party Down star Megan Mullally’s husband in real life, and who was celebrating his birthday the night of the party)– whose soundtrack was provided by Austin’s own Diamond Smugglers.  The Diamond Smugglers are a Neil Diamond cover band, and it is not exaggerating to say that they blew the effing doors off the Highball that evening.

The following morning, everyone met up downtown at the Drafthouse’s Ritz location on 6th street.  Around 10am, the day-long Party Down marathon started, and– well, here, take a look at Ken Marino and series creator Rob Thomas introducing the day’s event:

With that out of the way, the Party Down marathon started.  It’s here that I’ll say the following:  if you’re not a fan of this series, you represent everything that is unjust and horrible in the world.  Which is to say, you should really start watching Party Down.  Thomas created the show with Paul Rudd, John Enbom, and Dan Etheridge, and their writing on the series is some of the best that’s ever appeared in (on?) a televised comedy.

party-down-marathon-imageThe show stars a slew of incredibly funny people– Martin Starr, Lizzy Caplan (goddess amongst mortal-women), Adam Scott (now on NBC’s Parks and Rec), Ken Marino (The State, a billion other things), Jane Lynch (Christopher Guest’s films, Glee, everywhere), Megan Mullally (also featured on Parks and Rec, but best known for her work on Will and Grace), Ryan Hansen, and a steady parade of guest stars.  Bonus:  It’s a comedy set within the service industry, so all of us poor, unfortunate souls that ever spent a day waiting tables (or catering!) can vouch for the show’s authenticity– things really are this twisted and bad.

In the middle of all this, a few journalist-types were pulled out of the marathon (well, maybe not “pulled out”:  that makes it sound like we were under duress, doesn’t it?) to speak with the show’s cast (plus Dan Etheridge, John Enbom, and Rob Thomas) next door at the Chupacabra Cantina (which, by the way, serves an outstanding margarita).  The conversation I had with the guys was extremely leisurely and low-key, but I did manage to ferret out a few interesting tidbits of information.  We’ll get to the interview-proper in a second, but for those of you that simply can’t wait for the goods, here’s the highlights:

– When asked what her character’s been doing since the show ended, Lizzy Caplan imagines that she’s “just sleeping, waiting for the movie”.

– The Party Down crew has had a lot of new fans approaching them on the streets about the show, telling them that they’ve been checking it out now that it’s on Netflix Instant.  The fact that Party Down is now available to everyone with a Netflix Instant account seems to have doubled its fan base.  This bodes well for the movie.

– Speaking of the movie, Rob Thomas says that they’ve envisioned a film that unfolds over the course of three different parties, with each act containing a different catering event.  Specifically, Thomas envisions a Four Weddings and a Funeral-style structure for the film.  Characters’ plotlines will be developed and wrapped for good by the end of the film.

– Ryan Hansen (who played the dim-witted ladies’ man, Kyle, on the series) wants to see his character playing “bigger venues” in the Party Down movie…and reveals that he once worked as a “Party Pumper”, professionally.  You’ll have to read on to discover what the hell a “Party Pumper” is (it’s not as dirty as it sounds).

– Megan Mullally will gladly introduce you to her husband, Nick Offerman (who plays Ron-f-cking-Swanson on NBC’s Parks and Rec) if he happens to be in the area.  And if she does, your head will explode from the overwhelming awesomeness.

Without further ado, here’s’s interview with the Party Down cast in Austin this weekend:

party-down-marathon-image-3Do you recommend taking the show in one large viewing like this or do you generally like to split it up?

KEN MARINO: I think watching, what is it, 10 hours of TV is a lot.

MARTIN STARR: I wouldn’t let your kids do that.

MARINO: (Me and my kids) Do ten-hour Yo Gabba Gabba sessions, in chunks. But uh, I think watching two or three at a time is great…If it’s your first exposure to the show, maybe try jumping in and sticking around through “Senior Singles”…

ADAM SCOTT: People that watch the show usually end up seeing it on Netflix and watch two or three at a time. But I’ve also ran into people that are like, “I watched season one last night.”

It’s an easily digestible show.  That’s how I saw it the first time: I bought the first season, watched it in one sitting…

LIZZY CAPLAN:  It’s like a Pringle. Once you pop, you cannot stop.

How many of you guys actually worked in the service industry before you got in the show? Was everybody involved at one time or another? Like waiters/ waitresses, stuff like that…

CAPLAN: Yeah, Busboy.

Does anyone have a particularly horrible story that they’d like to share from their time served in the service industry?

RYAN HANSEN: I was a Party Pumper. Its kinda the same type of thing.

What is that? How does that work?

HANSEN: Like you hire a DJ, you also can hire a Party Pumper and you go and pump parties…

CAPLAN:  Are you serious?!

HANSEN: What, I never told you?

Like the guy in Mighty Mighty Bosstones that just runs around on the stage?

HANSEN: Yeah, and just skanks all day. I would just get people pumped. I did bat mitzvahs, I did a wedding.

SCOTT:  What do you do?

HANSEN: YOU PUMP IT! You dance; break out the Electric Slide…

party-down-marathon-image-4Can you pump up this interview?

HANSEN: (Laughs) Yes, I can. EVERYBODY UP!  (Everyone stands)  And clap (Everyone claps)…YEAAAAHHH! (Everyone cheers) Here we go…

STARR: You did that a little at the party yesterday.

HANSEN: (Laughs) I DID!  Yeah, anyways, I pumped parties.

Do you guys spend anytime since the show ended thinking about what you characters are doing now?

CAPLAN: I like to think of her sleeping.


CAPLAN: Just sleeping till the movie. It’s just easier to think of her sleeping till then.

Of course, I gotta ask about the movie. Can you tell me anything about it? Are there any ideas in place?

ROB THOMAS: Yeah, we have a couple ideas. We talked about structuring it like “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” We don’t envision the movie as one long party. We think each act would be a new party and we’d stretch it out over the better part of a year so we’d be able to see the growth and do long arch stories for our characters and get some finality to some of the existing storylines.

So you’re looking to make this like a bookend to the series to close things off?

THOMAS:  Right.

MARINO: But it will be self-contained, right? You won’t have to see the series to enjoy the movie?

THOMAS:  That’s correct.

party-down-marathon-image-7If that’s the case, do you guys have anything that you’d like to see your characters doing in the movie? Like, Lizzy, you want your character to be sleeping.  So there will be no arch for you.

CAPLAN: (Laughs) Well, she’ll be sleeping for a couple of minutes and then she’ll wake up. I don’t really care what happens after that.

That would be cool for like a pre-credits thing. You’d be asleep and then Adam would kick in the door and he’d be like, “We gotta cater something!”

HANSEN: I would like Kyle to play a couple bigger venues.

Were you actually in a band at some point? Cause you seem like you have that…I dunno, that kind of persona.

HANSEN: Its funny you ask, no but I was in choir. Just glee club that’s it.

After rewatching the first episode, where you’re singing into your phone, it seems like something you could actually pull off well.

HANSEN: That’s very nice of you to say. I’d probably like to be in a cover band.

I don’t know if it would be a good band but…

HANSEN:  I do have a cover band coming out, it’s a Sugar Ray cover band.

Oh really! That’s exciting.  Is that a scoop?

HANSEN: Yeah, it is.  It’s about to drop.

party-down-marathon-image-1Ok, well, you just saved my job.  Anything Mark McGrath related, frankly, is a bonus to my employers.  Moving on, I just wanted to say to you, Adam, that I’m a huge fan of Parks and Rec.  I know is kind of rude to take this into that direction but, well, I gotta say it while I’ve got the chance…

MARINO: Woo Woo Woo… this is about Paarrrty Doowwwnn.

That’s right.  But while I’ve got Adam in the room, I might as well say it.  I don’t know if I’ll ever run into him again.

MARINO: Are you doing Community questions?

He’s not even on Community.

SCOTT: Well, Ken always calls it “Community Two: Electric Bugaloo.” I tell him that that’s not what it’s called…

That’s kind of derogatory, Ken.

MARINO: We’re gonna have to agree to disagree on that.

HANSEN: What were you going to ask Adam about Parks and Rec?

That was it (Laughs).  I didn’t really have anything lined up to ask about it.  I just figured I’d tell him I was a big fan while these guys (ed. note–at the other end of the table) started to talk amongst themselves. I thought I’d get away with it but now it’s brought everything to a screeching halt.  Which is good…

SCOTT: Did you know that Ron Swanson was here last night?

No way! You mean, at The Highball?

MARINO: Yeah, it was his birthday.

party-down-marathon-image-2Wow, now I’m mad that I didn’t get to see him.

MEGAN MULLALLY: Did you know he is my husband?

Yeah, but I didn’t know he was here with you.

MULLALLY:  Would you like to meet him?

I, uh…wait, what?

MULLALLY:  He’s picking me up in, like, 10 minutes.  Hang around with me and I’ll introduce you.

Oh, I dunno.  That might be awkward, me just running up to his car and accosting him…

MULLALLY:  He won’t mind at all!

MARINO: Parks or Party— which do you like better Adam?

CAPLAN: Yeah Adam… [laughs].

SCOTT: [Laughs]

CAPLAN:  Assh-le.

STARR: Traitor [laughs].

Are you guys surprised at how it seems the fan base just keeps getting larger for the show? Because a year ago, I’d talk about the show and people didn’t really know what I was talking about, but now, we can fill up a theater on a Sunday…

MARINO: Yeah, it’s been a real slow build.

MULLALLY: Yeah, a lot of people told me they only recently watched the whole first season.

THOMAS:  It’s rare to meet someone who saw it on TV. Everyone I’ve talked to who’s seen it has either seen it on Netflix streaming or downloaded it somewhere. I’d say the vast majority of those who’ve seen it had done so after the episodes had already been aired.

party-down-marathon-image-6How does that make you feel? Maybe, if more people had watched it while it was still on, you could’ve done a couple more seasons… or are you happy to have left it where it is.

MARINO: Well, when you put it that way…[laughs]

THOMAS: In the plus column, I think there is a buzz building around the show which allows us to start moving towards a movie. I think there is a lot of good will out there for us. Trust me, if we would’ve had to do 100 episodes a lot of them would’ve sucked.

STARR: It’s like dying when you’re young and attractive. It does have its upside.

That’s true; you get to go out on top. Well, guys, thanks for the interview…


(The room get party-pumped, applause and laughter)

party-down-marathon-posterAnd that was my time with the Party Down cast and crew.  After the interview, the marathon continued on until about 7pm, at which time the cast took the stage to field questions from the crowd.  It would be fair to say that– at that point– a fair amount of drinking had occurred over the course of the day (not to mention the drinking that had occurred the night before), so the mood was…well, very festive.  Once the Q&A wrapped up, the entire audience– and the cast/crew from the show– wandered over to the Stephen F. Austin International Hotel for the second party, where even more drinking and shenanigans unfolded.  News reports indicate that the Party Down event depleted the greater Austin area of up to 65% of its entire booze supply between Saturday night and Sunday evening.  FEMA is currently rushing bottles of Jaeger to City Hall.

Stay tuned for more on the Party Down movie (just keep watching the show and recommending it to people, folks:  these guys seem committed to the idea, and the best way to help is to show your support in episode-views…and, if you’ve got a few bucks, DVD purchases), other projects starring the Party Down cast (and crew), and for more on-site reports from the Alamo Drafthouse as they unfold.  As always, special thanks to Brandy Fons and Fons PR, Jack Plunkett for the photos, and everyone at the Alamo Drafthouse who put this one together: we all had a blast.