Comedy duo’s have littered entertainment like graffiti on New Years at Times Square. Some you know instantly and some you discover and realize you know their work much better than you thought you did.
Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant (Ben) have been working, writing and acting together for many years now. Some of their work you may know, like the Night At The Museum films and the Comedy Central hit show Reno 911! and some you may not like Balls Of Fury and their new film, Hell Baby.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Tom and Ben about their new film and their careers and history together.
When you were writing the film Hell Baby, were their and horror films you had in mind that gave you the idea or was it just and original collaborative idea?
Tom: Without a doubt Ben and I have very similar tastes when it comes to comedy and horror. i think we were both looking at like The Orphanage and were like, what if we did a version of The Orphanage with a bunch of unbelievably silly people and just played it very straight.
Ben: It’s sort of a horror movie cast with idiots. (laugh)
Did you know the cast you wanted as you were writing it or did that come along later?
Ben: We met him on Reno  and he was “The Hypothetical Guy” and he pitched us this character and we totally fell in love with him. So the movie is sort of reverse engineered for him to come in and do his thing. The cast is just so good and we had worked with everyone before except for [Rob] Corddry and [Leslie] Bibb and they were just dreams. Everyone in the cast was our first choice.
You’ve done bigger movies with the Night At The Museum films coming to mind, but that doesn’t seem to be your drive. You also have the cult hits so when it comes time to make a movie, what is the first thing that drives you to make a film.
Tom: Ben and I have been working together, daily, since 1988. I think we are both really passionate, even tho we are creating really stupid stuff, we are just really passionate. Honestly we made this movie because it’s a movie I would like to see. I will say writing movies for the studios is awesome, it’s a great job!
Ben: It’s the best job in the world! Were the luckiest people in the world just to get to write screenplays for a living and think up weird stuff and just do it is really, really fun.
How did you guys meet up and start writing together?
Tom: Pretty much the very first day at NYU. We very accidentally ended up in a comedy group which ended up becoming The State. We didn’t write that much at first but as the years have gone by being in writing partnership is as hard or harder than being in a marriage.
Ben: Well it lasts longer (laugh). We both grew up on Monty Python and SNL and David Allen At Large. Weird comedy nobody got and we both ended up in New York at the same time. I didn’t know what I wanted to do I just wanted to make comedy better at the time.
Can we expect any Reno 911! reunions anytime soon?
Tom: I don’t know about that, but I do know every time we get together, The State gets more and more serious about doing something.
Ben: Netflix came to us about Reno. Reno feels kinda done to me.
So hopefully, while Reno appears to be done, a reunion of The State, their comedy group looks like their may be something in the works their. Hell Baby appears in Theaters Sept. 6