Few people today are committing to the bit at the level of Jeremy Levick and Rajat Suresh. The New York comedy duo is responsible for some of the finest satires of the cultural conversation, whether riffing on the Shane Gillis podcast appearance that got him fired from Saturday Night Live, a conservative lecturer destroying a SJW college student, or Joe Rogan—via a 12-hour podcast with Tim Heidecker.
Ahead of the Oscars last week, Levick, 28, and Suresh, 27, dropped a new video that shows just how far that commitment goes. Enter: The Hollywood Recorder, a 54-minute-long parody in the style of The Hollywood Reporter’s venerable actors roundtable. For the unfamiliar, the actual segments consist of the year’s hottest actors discussing their careers, roles, and processes with a mixture of deep solemnity and self-effacing jokes.
In the Hollywood Recorder version, Levick and Suresh, along with Vince Edgehill, Stu Li, Stephen Cofield, and moderator Colin Stokes—and, uh, Justin Theroux—straight-facedly discuss their processes, try to top each other with fake charitable endeavors, and bemoan missed opportunities, all in pitch-perfect tone. (“I know you’ve been working on Broccoli: Live!” “I will be playing the cheese that goes all over the broccoli … it’s a very intense role.”) There’s a whole bit within the bit about Theroux starring in a fake awards bait historical biopic directed by Ron Howard called MLK’s Dresser—about a fake tailor who dressed Martin Luther King Jr.—for which they shot actual footage.
Anyway, just watch it here:
So how did Levick and Suresh pull this one off? And how did they get Justin Theroux involved?
Levick told me in an email that he and Suresh were initially planning to film a video with the two of them doing a version of Variety’s Actors-on Actors conversation after Suresh had a bit part on Severance.
“We’d briefly considered doing one in the style of The Hollywood Reporter‘s roundtable series, but nixed it because it would be logistically difficult to pull off,” Levick said. “Then when our producer Harris Mayersohn and director Johnny Frohman got involved, they pushed us in that direction. I think it was the right decision, because having eight people there was fun and it allowed us to tackle a greater variety of topics, such as broccoli.”
“We also now own a big tabletop. If anyone wants to buy it for $1,000 please contact us,” Suresh said.
“As I said in my Facebook Marketplace posting, it’s 8′ diameter round table in Maple plywood/MDF, 1.5″ thickness with maple edgebanding. Table separates in two parts, assembles on site with screws from the bottom,” Levick added.
“Again, it’s not a table. It’s just the top. It functionally serves no purpose whatsoever. It’s $1,000,” Suresh continued.
The final sketch ended up being a mixture of written and improvised material. When asked whether this was inspired by any particular roundtable exchanges, Levick said he noticed a few recurring themes in all of them.
“Every [roundtable interview] starts with the moderator jumping right in with a hard question, and one of them making a joke like ‘Whoa. Guess we’re jumping into the deep end!,’” he said. “The roundtable content I revisit the most, though, is the 60-second motivational clips that get shared on TikTok, IG reels, and YouTube shorts. It’s usually an actor saying something mundane about working hard but there’s emotional music underneath that makes it feel like a dramatic speech. For example, there’s one of Tom Hanks saying ‘this too shall pass’ and Jamie Foxx nodding and going ‘right’ and it has 6 million views.”
As for Theroux, they were connected by mutual friend Dave McCary (aka Mr. Emma Stone). Suresh said that “MLK’s Dresser was Justin’s idea but it wasn’t until midway into editing that we had the thought to make it into a cutaway.”
Justin Theroux, when asked to comment, told me in an email that, “I was so grateful to be invited to talk about my craft and a story I am so passionate about. As for my Film ‘MLK’s Dresser,’ it was an honour to tell the real fake story of this towering fictional man who shared such a special fake story with the real Martin Luther King Jr. Had he existed, the impact he could have had on the Civil Rights movement is staggering. I could go on of course but am currently away shooting the sequel ‘MLK’s Dresser: A Stitch in Time.’ I hope GQ editorial might find a few columns to spare closer to its release.”