”Chelsea Peretti is late as usual” will be the first sentence of this story, if Ike Barinholtz has his way. Peretti is indeed running late to lunch at Asanebo here in Studio City. Barinholtz arrived at the sushi restaurant on time, and he’s more proud of his punctuality with every passing Peretti-free minute. (”Actually,” he amends, ”let’s open with ‘Ike cut his meeting with Steven Spielberg short to arrive on time.”’) We’re down the street from the Fox lot—home to the set of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, where Peretti, 36, stars as the acerbic, too-cool-for-school Gina Linetti, and The Mindy Project, where Barinholtz, 37, writes and plays the wacky, too-weird-for-this-world Morgan Tookers.
Their résumés are as different as their characters. Barinholtz was a member of the Amsterdam comedy troupe Boom Chicago, whose alumni also include Seth Meyers…and Jordan Peele. Five years on MADtv (and a one-season role as a Russian ballplayer on Eastbound & Down) led to Mindy, which in turn led to parts on Meyers’ Hulu animated series The Awesomes and in the upcoming Tina Fey/Amy Poehler comedy The Nest. Peretti was a stand-up who minted her comedy cred writing for Parks and Recreation and Kroll Show and appearing on holy-grail auteur-coms Louie and The Sarah Silverman Program. Now she’s a regular on Brooklyn, not to mention the star of her own ongoing podcast, Call Chelsea Peretti, and stand-up special, One of the Greats, which debuts Nov. 14 on Netflix.
Peretti and Barinholtz are both prime examples of our modern multihyphenate comedy culture: writer-actors whose extracurricular activities are at least as important as their sitcom day jobs. A lunch with them could very well provide insight into the whole nature of modern comedy.
Of course, first we have to actually get them together. After a flurry of texts and emoji—”She wrote: skull, skull, skull, skull, sad face, skull,” says Barinholtz—Peretti arrives, and the riffing begins.
Chelsea, what would you like the first sentence of the story to be?
CHELSEA ”Chelsea walked in at 12 on the dot. She was warm and approachable.”
IKE ”Early as usual, Peretti sashayed in.”
Well-regarded comedians Key and Peele have taken over our magazine. Where did you meet them?
IKE I met Jordan Peele in Amsterdam at a theater called Boom Chicago. I came to Los Angeles, and I started working on MADtv. And I was like, ”Oh, you need to hire this guy, ‘cause he’s so funny.” Key and I met at Second City. It was a similar thing where MADtv was like, ”Oh, we saw this guy,” and I was like, ”Oh, he’s amazing.” So they can thank me for their careers.
CHELSEA Can I do the headline of the story? Barinholtz Not a Huge Presence at Lunch; Peretti Shines.
Where did you meet Key and/or Peele, Chelsea?
CHELSEA Me and Jordan also met on the Internet, on Twitter. He was very complimentary of the Web series I once did. We were gonna go to Sizzler on our first… Am I supposed to talk about the fact that we live together? [Laughs] Or should I pretend he’s a business colleague?
This week, Key and Peele are my bosses. What should I know about them to suck up?
IKE Keegan’s more in-your-face nice. ”Hey, man, how are you? Good morning. You look amazing. You are blessed. I am blessed. Go, brother.” And Jordan’s more quiet-nice. ”Hey, man, how are you, man? Whatever.”
CHELSEA Jordan gets into long conversations with everyone at parties. He won’t shut it down at all.
[Barinholtz picks up a piece of sashimi with his hands.]
CHELSEA Let it be known Ike just used fingers to pick up a piece of sashimi.
IKE Let it be known that the number one sushi chef in the world recently said you’re supposed to eat sushi with your fingers.
CHELSEA Sushi. Not sashimi.
IKE Goddamn it.
CHELSEA ”Peretti completely destroyed his entire line of argument.”
I’ve lost track. What’s the headline of the story now?
IKE Barinholtz Scores Big at Lunch.
CHELSEA Chelsea Kills; Barinholtz Weaker, but Still Great. What would I have to do to get removed from this article entirely? If I had a horrible allegation against me, like a murder, would you make it just Lunch With Ike?
IKE You’d be the cover! Murderer’s Last Interview!
CHELSEA The new headline should be: Aggressive Presence From Both.
What were the most traumatizing moments you guys experienced when you were coming up?
IKE I auditioned for CSI. I had to do this monologue while I was getting stabbed. I was playing a Quentin Tarantino-ish director, and I was like, ”So we’re gonna have the lights over here… Ahhh! Ugh! Stop stabbing me!” And the director started laughing. It was embarrassing.
CHELSEA I did a show one time where absolutely no one looked at me in the entire audience. And then when I was done the MC was like, ”She wasn’t funny, but I’d f— her.”
IKE Come on.
CHELSEA I invited my brother and his girlfriend. Which is just not good thinking. No one looked at me, and then the whole subway back, I was just crying.
You are both on major network shows now. Do you feel like you’ve made it?
CHELSEA Everyone I know is on a TV show.
IKE Everyone is like, ”I’m on a new show.” ”On what?” ”It’s on Netscape.”
CHELSEA I would rather be a young comedian now than in the ’80s. There is so much you can do now.
How do you guys write? What’s your process?
IKE I like to put on my underwear and lay in bed like a prisoner who has given up. I heard Robert Evans used to stay in bed till noon and eat cheesecake. And then he’d go produce The Godfather. I’m the Robert Evans of the show. I think I’m comfortable saying that.
CHELSEA I would love when I was off on script for Parks, because you can be in your PJs, make coffee, and lay on a couch under blankets. Anytime I can be on a couch under blankets, I’m at a hundred percent. Oh my God, I just thought of something! If I ever have my own writers’ room, what if it was all fainting couches?
IKE So it’s like an opium den.
CHELSEA Yeah! That would be amazing.
IKE This is a great idea.
CHELSEA This was all off the record, right?