Three Great Things: Adam Pally

The actor, writer and comedian, whose show Champaign ILL just hit Hulu, on Tim Robinson and some of his other favorite stuff.

Three Great Things is Talkhouse’s series in which artists tell us about three things they absolutely love. To mark the release on Hulu of Champaign ILL, the hip-hop themed comedy series starring Adam Pally and Sam Richardson, actor, comedian and writer Pally shared some of the things that make his life richer and more meaningful. — N.D.

New York City
I moved back to New York City five years ago and I feel really lucky to have been in the city through the pandemic. Other places were divided and didn’t feel safe, but New York kept its beating heart, and I was able to give my kids a kind of normalcy that my friends in other places, even Los Angeles, didn’t have.

It was amazing to have places like Central Park and Chelsea Piers for us to go to. We’re not a big nature family – we don’t like bugs, we get heat rash, and we like AC and easy access to lattes – but the connectedness of the city did something to my state of mind. Even in the early days of the pandemic, we could put a mask on our kids and go for a walk with them, and the sight of other people in masks going through the same thing changed my psyche. It helped me see, “This is a community. It’s communal.” I was just very thankful to have that right outside my door.

At this point, I’m old, I’m a dad, I’m not up on current events, and one of the only interesting things about me is that I live in New York City. I stuck it out here, and it’s given me more than I could have asked for.

I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson
I’ve been watching a wealth of good comedy lately, but I don’t think I could have lived through the pandemic without I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson. I love Tim and I love that show – I‘ve watched it probably 40 times. I will put it on at night sometimes if I’m feeling anxious. It’s silly and goofy, and just the funniest.

It’s so cool that I Think You Should Leave is now on its second season, because it means we’ll get a third season and we’re going to get some really amazing stuff from Tim because Netflix has invested in him. They’re going to let him make a movie and it’s going to be fucking awesome.

Tim Robinson in I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson.

Tim is also just a great dude, and everything he does is so funny. He came to visit set while we were making Champaign ILL because he had worked so closely with Sam Richardson, and we had a fun night out in Atlanta and hung out for the weekend, watching football. He’s basically just a great, funny, cool skater dude. I love him.

Sketch comedy has always been comforting to me. When I was a kid, I would fall asleep to old tapes of Mr. Show, and as I got older, Chappelle’s Show became my show, and then Key & Peele then Inside Amy Schumer … Sketch comedy as an artform doesn’t get a lot of love, but it’s amazing. Sketches are like great songs – they’re beautiful. You can hear the rhythm of a sketch, and if you play it a couple of times, it starts to soothe you. You laugh at different points, but you know what’s coming. I feel like that’s the groove I got into with Tim’s show. I’m laughing, even just thinking about it. It’s perfect.

My Family
Call me sentimental, but I don’t know what I would have done without my family the past couple of years. I would have struggled and been miserable without them, especially at a time when life has been so out of control. I’ve also come to realize very acutely that I like having somewhere to be, some place to go, something to do in my life, that’s outside of my career. Especially when there’s not a lot going on in terms of work, it’s great to have something to do, like get the kids to school.

In the past, I’ve been a working dad who has been ushered from set to set, and sometimes I’ve just slept on the floor of my kids’ room so I could feel like I was with them. But recently I’ve become the dad who dependably picks up and drops off the kids at school every day. What I’ve learned from it is that I want to be here all the time, because I really love having a place to be, whether it’s birthday parties, holidays or dinners. Events that will happen regardless of whether I get a certain part or sell a pitch.

Time is so valuable. When I’m present as a parent, I see how my kids are growing up in real time in front of my eyes, how they’re becoming different people. When I was younger, I had a push-pull relationship with being a dad – I really liked it, but I was also very ambitious. I’m still focused on my career, but over time I’ve realized that what I like even more than success is taking one of my kids to a birthday party at 11 a.m. on Saturday – even if I’m tired and/or hung over. It turns out, that’s really what I wanted. But, just in case you think I’m getting soft in my old age, don’t get it twisted – I can still kick your ass!

Adam Pally is an actor, comedian, writer, and producer. He is best known for starring as Max Blum in the ABC comedy series Happy Endings and as Dr. Peter Prentice in The Mindy Project. Pally can currently be seen in Champaign ILL on Hulu. The 10-episode comedy is written and executive produced by Daniel Libman, Matthew Libman, Jordan Cahan and David Caspe, who also wrote the pilot. Pally will next be seen in the animated TV comedy Crossing Swords 2 from creators Tom Root and John Harvatine IV. Pally was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series at the Critics’ Choice Television Awards for his work on season three of Happy Endings. Pally has appeared in such films as Iron Man 3, Sonic the Hedgehog, Band Aid, and will next be seen in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. (Photo by Jeff Vespa, courtesy Adam Pally.)