The Secret To Ken Marino's Emmy Success: Ungodly Portions Of Lobster
"When we shot this show, everyone was required to eat lobster. Craft services was only lobster — lobster chips, lobster rolls, boiled lobster, any kind of lobster." No vegetarians allowed.
After the Emmy nominations are announced, publicists often hook their nominated clients up with media outlets so that the exhilarated stars can talk about how excited and honored they are about even being given a shot at winning TV's highest yearly honor.
Ken Marino took a different approach on Thursday.
The veteran comedy actor, perhaps best known for his time with The State and Party Down, stars in and executive produces the very funny Burning Love, which was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Special Class - Short Format Live Action series on Thursday morning. When he got on the phone with BuzzFeed to discuss the big moment — it is his first nomination — he was very open about the secret to his success: eating lobster.
The following is an edited transcript of the crustacean-rich conversation and perhaps the most revealing interview in history.
How do you prep the night before they announce the Emmy nominations?
Ken Marino: Our tradition every time Burning Love has been nominated for a web series Emmy, we go out and we go to an all you can eat lobster buffet. We just eat as much lobster as possible, just to try to get in a little food coma because we just want to go to sleep, otherwise we'll just be up all night. We eat as much lobster as possible, and once we wake up, we tune into the guy, the host from The Tonys, what's his name? We watch him talk about who the nominees are and then we cross our fingers and hope that we get nominated. And if we then immediately go out and get some lobster rolls.
Is lobster only a Burning Love thing or is it an industry secret and everyone does it?
KM: We only do it for Burning Love. When we actually shot this show, everyone was required to eat lobster. Craft services was only lobster —lobster chips, lobster rolls, boiled lobster, any kind of lobster.
Any reason why you chose lobster?
KM: It's a classy food; the goal for us was to just eat the best seafood possible on the set, so we did that when we shot and it became a tradition. I only eat lobster during the Emmy season.
So lobster only for a few months?
KM: Yeah, I don't know when the Emmys actually are, but we'll be eating lobster up until then, and if we lose, we'll go out and drown ourselves in some lobster. So it's a win-win; at the very least, we're going to get lobster.
How many ways do you have it prepared?
KM: Oh, you know, the traditional ways, you can broil it and sometimes we'll do a grilled lobster, of course butter is always involved. But we'll also do the laid back take on things, maybe a lobster salad, sometimes we'll get a little crazy and do a lobster sashimi. But it's mostly whatever is on the Red Lobster menu.
Do you have a lobster sponsor that bankrolls this lobster venture?
KM: We don't; we're hoping that with all the press that's been coming out on BuzzFeed and whatnot over the years that hopefully we'll get some sort of lobster sponsor. Fingers crossed. But right now, we just eat lobster for the love of it.
How many people are involved in this? Do interns and production assistants get lobster?
KM: Everyone gets lobster. Ben Stiller is wonderful with that. He makes a decent amount of money on some of these big movies so he's happy doling out 1 ½ pound, 2 ½ pound lobsters to everybody. Anyone above the line, below the line. It boosts morale and that's the most important thing.
What about vegetarians and people who keep kosher who work on the show?
KM: I'm not concerned with them. We go through a whole vetting process when we do Burning Love. Not one person was a vegetarian. There was some very funny people that we wanted to work on the show, and when they revealed that they were a vegetarian, we had to say no and we had to turn them down. And it's a shame because there were some very funny vegetarians out there, but quite frankly ... I don't have time to run around getting kale for them, I'm working on an Emmy nominated short form web series! I can't get kale for everybody who doesn't want lobster! You understand what I'm saying?! It just gets me all worked up.
How much do you hate kale?
KM: Its not that I hate kale; I like kale. I just don't have time when I'm working on an Emmy-nominated short form web series to be concerned about kale. Kale is terrific for you, but let the chefs of the world and the supermarkets of the world deal with the kale. Right now, it's about producing some funny, 11-minute shows and eating lobster.
Is there anyone on the set that doesn't particularly like lobster that you had to force-feed lobster?
KM: We didn't force-feed any of the actors lobster on the set. I think that's against SAG regulations, I think that would have gotten in trouble for that. SAG is pretty on top of that stuff. I don't think you can force-feed anybody lobster or any sort of seafood. No, I think you can force-feed tilapia on actors. But shellfish, you can't force-feed on anybody. I think it comes down to allergies or something, I haven't looked into it.
Do you bring lobster to the show on Emmy night?
KM: I bring just a couple of lobster tails in my suit pocket, because you can't bring the whole thing; the claws get a little too much, it screws up the lines of the suit and stuff like that. But I'll carry a couple of tails with me. Those Emmy shows go long so you want a little lobster to nibble on.
What is your preparation the night of the Emmys?
KM: It's mostly going seafood store to seafood store with coolers, getting as much lobster as possible. We do the traditional thing, like with turkey on Thanksgiving, we let one lobster go free. We go to a seafood place, we get a live lobster, we go over to Santa Monica pier and we let it out into the ocean. Just for shits and giggles we leave the rubber bands on the claws. We let it free and we hope it appreciates that. The truth of the matter is that I don't speak lobster, I have no desire to speak lobster, but I have to imagine that they're grateful that we let one go free.
If you were to speak lobster, it would end up being horrifying, to hear what these murdered lobsters were saying.
KM: Yeah, i think that's one of the reasons I haven't learned lobster at this point in my life. And probably the other reason is that I don't care what they're saying.
How many do you buy live to boil yourself, or do you buy them prepared?
KM: Honestly, we get so many different types and variations of lobster, we have some live, some are frozen. Frozen lobster gets a bad rap but honestly, frozen lobster holds up great if it's packed properly. Mostly anything on the Red Lobster menu is what we get, but then we go out and deal with other lobster products and sources.
Was there any food before you settled on lobster?
KM: Come on, lobster is the king of seafood. I don't even understand the question. It's insulting to me, it's insulting to lobster, and most importantly, it's insulting to Burning Love.
What about your other projects? Are those lobster sets?
KM: No, they don't follow the Lobster Rule of Production, that's what I call it. I'll bring my own lobster from time-to-time, but sometimes when I get away from Burning Love I like to get away from the regular craft services, whatever they have, the chicken, the meats, the other seafoods. Lobster is just solely for the Burning Love set. I think that's probably the main reason why it did so well.