Rob Riggle Transcript

Clint Betts

Rob, thank you so much for coming on the show. You're a huge movie star, man. You're like a—

Rob Riggle

You're giving too much credit there. I'm in movies and I've been lucky enough to be in some really fun movies, for sure.

Clint Betts

And I think the first time that you came on my radar as just a lowly, regular citizen is The Daily Show. How did your career get started?

Rob Riggle

It was something I always wanted to do. I was a theater and film major in college. In high school, I did a thing called Forensics, which was kind of like improvised duet acting. And then you do scene work. You did it on the weekends. It was a competition thing, but there wasn't much behind it. It wasn't theater, that's for sure. But it was fun.

Clint Betts

Kind of like improv? Is that what that was?

Rob Riggle

Yeah, kind of. There were elements of that, but you could prepare scenes as well. They had different categories. I remember DA was Duet Acting. So you and a scene partner would work up a scene and go do it. You'd do it for three different judge panels and then they would vote on you. And then there was Improvised Duet Acting, IDA. And that was improvised stuff where they'd give you a subject and you'd have to come up with something.

So I always enjoyed that stuff. But I just didn't think it was very realistic as far as making a living. So I just didn't think it was real. But as I got out of college, and actually I had my pilot's license. So I took this test, the AQT, FAR or whatever. But I scored well enough that I got a flight contract with the United States Marine Corps.

And I always wanted to serve. So I was like, "Well, I'm going to do this," because as a theater and film major from the University of Kansas or any other university, really, you're going to be a waiter for a long time, "or I could be TOPGUN." And I was like, "TOPGUN, TOPGUN, waiter, TOPGUN." So I figured I would do that. So as I went through Officer Candidate School, The Basic School, Aviation Indoctrination, Primary Flight Training, Intermediate Flight Training. And I was down in Quantico, and then I was down in Pensacola, and then I was in Corpus and I was doing all this training.

And it was fine, I was enjoying it, but I felt a calling. And I had some friends who were up in Chicago doing Second City and ImprovOlympic and some things up there. They reached out and said, "Riggle, you got to do this. You got to do it. It's what we did in college, only it has a name. It's called improv. You really got to do it."

They planted the seed and it got me thinking. And I thought, "If I pin on those wings, they're going to have me for 10 years, maybe even 11 by the time my contract is up." At that point, I don't think I'd get out. I'd only have nine years to retirement and I didn't think I'd get out. So all of a sudden I was like, "Wow, they got me for 20 years. I want to try acting and comedy before I die."

So I switched out of flying to the ground side and became a ground officer. Then when I finished my ground tour, I got myself to New York and started pursuing comedy and acting there.

Clint Betts

Where did you go on tour? Did you go to Iraq?

Rob Riggle

As far as military tours?

Clint Betts

Yeah, yeah, sorry, military.

Rob Riggle

Oh, I had a bunch of different deployments. '96—

Clint Betts

I don't know why I called it a tour. Yeah, deployment. Sorry. Where did you go on tour, dude? You get all the major cities?

Rob Riggle

Yeah. Hey, there's a great comedy club in Baghdad called the Chuckle Hut. No room, but a great place. No, '96, I helped evacuate the embassy in Liberia, Africa. '99, went to Kosovo in Albania. And then in 2001, 2002, I went to Afghanistan two different times. So those were my deployments. And it's so funny because I ended up spending a total of 23 years in the Marines, 9 years on active duty and 14 in the Reserves.

And while I was in the Reserves, I was on Saturday Night Live, I was on The Daily Show, I was making movies, and still going to Command and Staff College down at Miramar on the weekends. And still honoring all my military commitments.

But yeah, so it was a convoluted journey, one that probably most people don't take. And I'm giving you the Reader's Digest version, because if I went step by step, it would take forever. And probably boring as molasses. So that was the Reader's Digest version. I got myself to New York. I started grinding down at the UCB Theatre. Well, first I did stand-up and I hated it.

Clint Betts

Why did you hate it? That's interesting.

Rob Riggle

Well, because it sucked. It sucked. The people are grumpy and nasty. I didn't know. I just knew I wanted to do comedic acting or comedy. I was very nebulous. I didn't have a clear vision other than I wanted to be on Saturday Night Live, which, when I quit flight school, I wrote in the back of the book that I was reading at the time, because I had never quit anything in my life up to that point. And I said, "Look, if I do this, if I give up on flight school, then it's got to count. It's got to matter. So what am I going to do? What am I going to accomplish?"

And the first thing I wrote was, I'm going to get on Saturday Night Live. And that was, I think, September of '94. And September of ... or sorry, that would've been August of '94, I think. And August of 2004, 10 years almost to the day, I got a call from Lorne Michaels asking me to join the cast of Saturday Night Live.

So it took 10 years, a couple wars. I got married in that timeframe. I had a kid. There were all kinds of distractions, but I kept my eye on the prize. And that was to get on Saturday Night Live. And I did it. And I got back from Afghanistan at the end of 2002, the beginning of 2003. And then I got SNL in 2004. So it wasn't long after I got home that I got SNL. And then SNL was gone like that really fast.

Oh, by the way, let me go back. Again, I'm giving you the Reader's Digest. So I may be burying some of the details.

Clint Betts

No, this is great.

Rob Riggle

But the book that I wrote in the back of, and I said, I'm going to accomplish these certain goals if I do this, was Tony Robbins, Unlimited Power. I had just finished—

Clint Betts

You're kidding.

Rob Riggle

No, absolutely. Tony was a huge inspiration for me as far as taking the time to identify what it is I really want in this life. Also, to believe that it's in the realm of possibility for me. And that I just have to apply myself, take the action steps. Everybody dreams. But it's not till you start scheduling and making appointments and making calls and taking classes and doing the work, taking the action steps that'll start to build that ladder to get where you want to go.

It seems so basic and so easy and so simple. It's not. It's easier said than done as is all personal growth. But I did find that it is true. If you take the action steps, things will happen. Results will appear. So anyway, that's how I got to New York.

I grinded for seven years. I was at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. I was very lucky to be there because there were some great comedians that were up and coming. The founding members were Amy Poehler and Matt Walsh and Matt Besser and Ian Roberts. So I was learning from some of the best improvisers in the country. And I was getting to play with great, great, talented people who have gone on to amazing things.

So I felt like I got a master's degree in comedy by being there for seven years, doing shows, sketch shows, improv shows, teaching, coaching, doing tech for other people's shows. Whatever it took to be around the theater, that's what I did with the hopes of getting an opportunity. And I was lucky enough to get an opportunity. So that's a lot going on there. I'm sorry.

Clint Betts

The pinnacle of any comedian's career is Saturday Night Live. That's the goal. If you can get on Saturday Night Live, how incredible is that? So how did that come about? Was it through the group you were with, with Poehler and others who made that introduction? You did the tryouts. How did that come about?

Rob Riggle

Well, that's just it. You have to be invited to audition. You just can't go knock on the door and say, "I'd like to audition." So every year, everybody in the theater would be hoping that someone had put in a good word, or someone had come and seen something that we had done. I don't know, you grind and hope that the work you're doing is being noticed, I guess.

And usually, the way Lorne and the producers over there, they walk around to the writers and the other cast members. And they say, "Hey, who should we be looking at? Who's out there that we need to have on our radar?" They have a sense of these things. And for whatever reason, somebody had mentioned my name. It might have been, I think, Amy or Horatio, because they were on the cast at the time. And they were spending a lot of time at the UCB. So I think I got on the radar that way. And then you just make the most out of your opportunity. So I prepared my audition as best I could and tried to do my best.

Clint Betts

What did you do for your audition? I mean, because isn't it ... like I know anything.

Rob Riggle

Well, I'm not a stand-up. Stand-up comedians, if they're invited to audition, usually do their best five- to seven-minute routine, whatever the best five, seven minutes material. If you're an improviser like me, you do characters and impersonations. Well, I don't do very good impersonations. I do better characterizations. I think Will Ferrell's really good at characterizations. His Bush and stuff like that are very good. Not necessarily like Darrell Hammond who's a savant when it comes to impersonation. He hits the voice, the tone, all that stuff. Or a Frank Caliendo, he's an impersonator. I don't do impersonations that well. I can do more characterization.

So I created three original characters and I did three impersonations. And that was my six minutes, because each character got a minute. I tried to create a funny monologue for each character. And tried to make them different and unique. So that I could show a little range or whatever you want to call it. That was it.

Then you put it together. And then the whole process of auditioning is kind of a gauntlet. But I was the only guy hired that year, which I was blessed to be hired. It was a dream come true. I'm always eternally grateful for that. I don't have a bad thing to say. I wish I would've gotten more time on the show, but it wasn't meant to be.

But I have no regrets about anything that happened other than I wish I would've trusted myself a little bit more. As the season went on, I started to lose my voice a little bit and tried to please like 20 masters. And if you try to please 20 people, you don't please anybody. So I kind of lost the vision of how I got there and what made me unique. So that was a good lesson though. It was an important lesson that I learned and I haven't forgotten it. I never will.

Clint Betts

You were on for that one season?

Rob Riggle

Yeah, 2004, 2005. It was an election year. So normally SNL, on an election year, gets a big bounce in the ratings because everybody tunes in to see their election coverage and the mock debates. It's a very funny time. It's always a great time to be on the show during election year. For whatever reason, that election was not popular. It was Kerry and Bush, and nobody cared. So we didn't get a big ratings bounce. And when that happened, I think the people at NBC panicked. And they were like, "We're not getting the ratings. Something's going on."

So they made a big overhaul and I was the last one in, first one out. So I got caught up in that. But I have no regrets. I was very proud of the season I had and the amount of time I got on. Because when you're the only new guy on the cast of 15, you're lucky to see airtime. And I saw a lot of airtime. I got sketches on and I got characters on. So I was happy. But circumstances I don't think were necessarily on my side.

Clint Betts

And where did you go after Saturday Night Live?

Rob Riggle

Into a deep depression. No. I do remember when I didn't get my contract extended, I did have a little pity party for about 15 minutes where I felt really bad for myself. And felt cheated and felt robbed. I was like, "This is bullshit." Or sorry for the language, but, "This is—"

Clint Betts

No, you can say bullshit. It's fine.

Rob Riggle

I was hurt. I was was hurt. I was embarrassed. I was sad. I felt ashamed. Just all these terrible feelings, they flood in. They flood in. And they will take you down if you let them. Then I realized, "Okay, well ... " I remember I was at my parents' lake house. The whole family was upstairs and they knew I was getting this call.

And when I came back up, they were all, "All right, are we extended? Are you going back?" And I had to say, "No, it's over." That hurt a lot. I didn't want to tell them that. And then my wife and I had just had a baby. So it was over. The pity party was over pretty quick. I was like, "Well, I need money. So I got to get back to work." So I got on the phone with my manager and I was like, "Okay, that's done. So what's next? Where's my next paycheck coming from? Because I got some people who are looking at me. And I need to pay rent and I need to get food and all that stuff. So what's next?"

And that was it. I started grinding. My comedy partner at the time, we got a pilot deal to write a script, a pilot for NBC, which we did. It didn't get picked up. But at least it was a little bit of a payday. And then I just was scrapping for work for about a year. Then I got a chance to audition for The Daily Show. I auditioned out in LA and got invited to New York to meet with Jon and auditioned in the studio. I think there were three, four other guys there.

And I went in, I did my audition, I felt like I screwed it up because they used previous stories and scenes or whatever, or previous correspondent bits. One was supposed to be in front of the green screen standing and then the other one was supposed to be at the desk with Jon. So I went out. I had never used a teleprompter, I don't know a teleprompter from a hole in the wall. I've seen them, I know what they are, but I'd never used one.

And so I wasn't very comfortable with it. It was scrolling and I was trying to read. I was more focused on that than being present. So I asked if I could practice. So they rolled the script and I'm just reading it, but I'm thinking, "Okay, I'm just trying to get familiar with some of the words."

Then Jon was like, "That was great. Come on over, have a seat." I thought, "Oh no, I was just screwing around. That wasn't my real read." I wanted to say, "Let me do it for real this time." But he called me over to the desk. So I was like, "Well, shit." So now I go over to the desk and I sit down. And he goes, "Let's do the desk piece." I'm kind of in a state of shock. So I'm like, "Okay, yeah, yeah, absolutely."

But I'm trying to be cool, but I'm not. I got this panic going on. All I'm thinking about is, "I want to get back over there and do the green screen again. That's all I want to do." Meanwhile, I'm in the middle of reading this other scene off. I was in four different places at once. I was all screwed up. But I guess I did well enough. I don't know.

Jon, we had a laugh. We shook hands. He said, "Thanks for coming in." They sent me back to the green room. I remember I called my wife at the time. This was the summer of 2006. And I was like, "Well, honey, I screwed it up. I'm sorry. I don't know." I try to explain everything just like I explained to you. I said, "But don't worry, don't panic."

I was a major in the United States Marine Corps at the time. It was the summer of 2006, and they needed all hands on deck. Because we were at the end of our money. We didn't have any more money. So I said, "All right, I'll go back on active duty. If we don't get the job, I'm going to go. I know who to call. They're going to pick me up in a heartbeat. I have a very high security clearance. They're not going to say no. So I'll go back. Now, I'll probably have to deploy. It won't be like, I'll be here in the States. But I'll go back on active duty. We're not going to starve."

I remember just promising her, "We're not going to starve. We're not going to be out in the street. We're going to be fine. One way or another, we're going to get paid. We're going to get a payday here." But I had really thought that I was going to have to go back on active duty the next week, or at least put in a phone call and see if I could. And I went and sat in the green room and waited for them to come in and politely say, "Thanks for coming in. Here's your return ticket home."

And they didn't. They came in and said they enjoyed it. And they offered me the job, which I was thrilled, thrilled, as you can imagine. I was so grateful. But the problem was they only gave me a six-month probationary period. It wasn't like, "You're hired, you're in, it's done." It's, "Hey, you got the gig for six months," because they want to reserve the right to let you go if you turn out to be crazy or you don't work hard or you're not getting it or whatever. They reserve the right to kick you out the door.

So it started at six months. I was like, "Okay, great, but that doesn't mean I can move my family all the way from LA," which I had just moved them out to LA. Now I'm back in New York. Now I can't move them out there for six months, because what happens in six months if I'm out? So I'm like, "Ah." So I go, I do the first six months.

On Craigslist, I found a studio apartment from some very nice lady who was going over to Spain to get her master's degree for the next two years. So I was like, "All right." So it was furnished, but it was a little studio. So I had a bed. And the rent was reasonable, because you're not getting rich on The Daily Show. You're not getting paid a lot of money. I took the gig, got the apartment, and then every third weekend I would fly home, because it was all I really could afford. And I would see my wife and daughter. So it was a hard life. A lot of family separation.

And then, also, I was still in the Reserves and I still had to go to Command and Staff College. When you're a field grade officer, you have to go to Command and Staff. That's the professional school you have to go to at that particular level. And that's a two-year school when you do it the way I'm doing it, which is on weekends. So I would fly home, pick up my family at the airport. We'd drive down to Miramar in San Diego.

We'd stay at a hotel off base. I would go to class all day, study Clausewitz and naval doctrine and all this stuff. And then I would get done with that. I'd go back to the hotel, swim in the pool with my daughter. We would order a pizza or something to the room. My daughter, my wife at the time, and I would eat pizza and have gummies and watch Mickey Mouse Club until my daughter fell asleep. And then my wife and I would step out on the patio and we'd sit there and catch up as much as we could. Then the next day I'd get up and go back to Command and Staff College on base. And they'd go to Legoland. Then we'd meet back in the evenings.

And we did that all weekend until Sunday. When I was done on Sunday, we'd go play or have dinner somewhere or whatever. Then they would drive me up to LAX, drop me off at the airport. I'd take the red eye back to JFK, land the next morning on Monday morning, and then take a cab from JFK to The Daily Show with my suitcase. And be ready for work that morning. That went on for two years.

But what happened was when I initially started, it was six-month increments. It was always, "Hey, you passed this test. Good job. You get another six months." And I was like, "Great. I'm happy, but you're killing me. Give me the gig. Lock me in so I can move the family out here or not."

And then finally, after that first year they go, "Hey, congratulations. We're giving you a year. Now it'll be a full year." I was like, "That's still just one year. It's not worth moving. Do you know the cost of moving everybody out coast to coast? And then when they get out here, you don't pay me enough to live in New York. I'd have to find an apartment in Jersey and I'm on the road all the time anyway."

It was always a challenge. Always a challenge. So doing about three years on The Daily Show and long distance before finally I just had to say, "I have to go home. I have to go home."

Clint Betts

By the way, you were incredible on The Daily Show. You were unbelievable. I mean, I remember you were at the height of the Daily Show's cultural significance, at least in my mind, in my experience, in my world. The Daily Show was really powerful and really part of the ethos of America and the conversation when you were on it. And you had this all-star cast. You had Jon Stewart as the host, obviously, who had become an American icon. Just won the Mark Twain Prize award and all these types of things.

What was your experience like with Jon? And was Colbert there at the time too? No, he had already left to do the Colbert show. But wasn't that all happening at the same time?

Rob Riggle

Steven had left the show. And then Corddry and Helms had just left. So there was two openings. And it just so happens they hired Jon Oliver and then they hired me.

Clint Betts

Yeah, another incredible comedian, Jon Oliver.

Rob Riggle

Yeah. Oh, I was so lucky too, because Jon and I ended up sharing an office for years. He was the one who got me back into doing stand-up because he did stand-up and he was very good at it. And I didn't like it very much. But I used to drag him down to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. And I'd say, "Hey, just do monologues for the A.S.S.S.S.C.A.T. show on Sunday nights. You make it up. It's easy. They give you a suggestion, you make up a story ... or not make up. But you tell us a story that that reminds you of, and then we do scenes on it'll be easy."

So he did it because he's a natural comedian and he knows how to tell a story. And he doesn't need any preparation. And he's a very funny, funny, funny man. And then he was like, "All right, now you got to come with me and do stand-up." And I was like, "Ah." I hated stand-up.

But at the time, basically I was, as the Marines call it, a geographical bachelor because I had that small, little studio apartment. When I got done with work, I would walk because I was all the way on the other side of town. I was on 2nd Avenue and The Daily Shows over on the West Side Highway on 11th Avenue. And so I would have to walk all the way across town, back and forth, back and forth. So when I got done with work, I would just walk. And it was beautiful. It was almost a mile-and-a-half, two-mile walk back to my apartment.

I loved it. I always loved that walk. It was decompression. But I'd stop at Chipotle, get a burrito bowl, and go back to my apartment. And wait until about midnight my time. There it'd be 9:00 West Coast because that's about when my wife at the time had put down my daughter. And I could call and we could have conversations. So that was my life.

And then finally, Jon was like, "Forget that," because if you jumped in a cab in New York, you could hit five open mics pretty easy. And that's what we did. We just started getting in cabs and jump and we'd go down to The Slipper Room, The Piano Room, all these different clubs. We'd sign up and we'd start building materials, start building sets, trying to make each other laugh. And that's kind of how I ended up doing stand-up.

I always thought it was important to do stand-up if you're a comedian. You got to have the full wheel, comedic, acting, improv, sketch, stand-up. I think you should have all the spokes in the wheel. So I was glad to do that. I was glad to work with Jon, and I learned a lot from being on that show, for sure.

Clint Betts

What was your sense of the cultural significance of The Daily Show at that time?

Rob Riggle

Well, Jon Stewart used to get upset when people said, "I only watched The Daily Show for my news." He would be like, "Don't. It's a bad idea. Don't do that. We're a comedy show." He would say, "We have sock puppets on right after us doing crank phone calls." So he was adamant about that. But I understand. People watched and they wanted to hear the take on it. I always compare it to the court jester in king's court. The only person sometimes who could speak the truth to the king was the court jester. I think sometimes you need those folks. You need some comedic voice. You need the jester to be able to speak the truth to whoever's in power. And—

Clint Betts

Were you political? Are you political? Was that natural for you?

Rob Riggle

Well, I have an opinion on everything. But I don't necessarily share it with everybody, just because it's not necessary for me to do that. If I ever feel it is necessary, I will. But for the most part, my job is comedy.

Clint Betts

Yeah, that's incredible. So what happened after you left The Daily Show? Where did you go?

Rob Riggle

Movies. Movies. I started doing more movies. I started doing The Hangover. I think that's kind of where it started, Hangover. And then Step Brothers and The Other Guys and 21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street, Let's Be Cops. Just movies. I started doing movies and then I got more TV offers started. I made a lot of pilots with me as the lead that never went anywhere. But I always kind of put my head down about that. I was like, "That sucks. It didn't work out."

But I've talked to so many actors in this town. They're like, oh my God, I did 8 pilots, I did 12 pilots, I did 5." And then you realize, "Oh, people do pilots all the time that never pan out. There's a bulk of pilots that never panned out or never got made into TV shows that could have been made into TV shows. And would've been very successful. But for whatever reason, and you never know what the reasons are, it could be political.

Go down the laundry list of reasons why something doesn't happen. And yeah, that's fine. Again, any day I get to work in this business, I consider it a blessing. It is a gift to be able to work in show business. So I don't take it for granted. I'm always happy.

Clint Betts

Well, you've had some incredible roles in these movies. I mean, the best scene in Hangover is when you're shooting Zach Galifianakis in the head—I mean, that's the highlight of the whole movie. It's incredible. What are you up to now? I mean, I know you're still acting. I know you're still doing comedy and all that type of stuff.

But we got introduced through you coming to speak at an event I put on for the tech and business community in the State of Utah. I wonder what is your connection with entrepreneurship and business and that kind of world that led you to our stage?

Rob Riggle

Well, I love business. As TR said, "The business of America is business." So I love entrepreneurship and I love entrepreneurs, because in my opinion, small business, business owners, innovators, people that think and do and build, those are the people I want to be around. I love their inspiration and their motivation. I love their dedication. I love everything they do.

And I enjoy hearing about new innovations. I love hearing stories of people who have taken their dream, their vision, and found a way to make it happen. There's something about that that is very inspiring to me and something that I wish would catch on.

And I'm always looking to be a part of a business or grow a business because I'm always interested to hear how people solve problems. It's fascinating, and I love watching the creativity. You'll find the best creativity, not necessarily on the silver screen, but entrepreneurs trying to solve problems. So I always appreciate that.

And I think that's how I came to the event that you put on, which is a great event, by the way. I really enjoy it. I really enjoyed listening to the presenters and speakers you had there. They were absolutely amazing. So yeah, you could always learn. You can always learn. If someone sits down and shares with you an anecdote or whatever, listen. Soak it up.

I think that's a problem. And here's the old man. Here's the gray beard in me going, "These kids today." But if someone who has been successful wants to share a story with you, listen. Just listen. That's all you got to do. You don't have to critique it, you don't have to judge it. You don't have to comment on it. Just soak it up. Soak it up from the perspective of, "Wow, okay, so that's how you approached it. Why did you do that? Why didn't you do this? Did you ever think about this? Was that even an option at the time? And how did you come to make that decision?"

I think you can learn so much. You don't have to crash yourself against the rocks to learn it. If someone says, "Hey, go this way and you won't die," go that way. It may save you about five years. So I love opportunities like that, to go to events.

Clint Betts

You've been living the entrepreneurship journey. I mean, the story that you just described of your career and putting in the time and putting in the hours and work, I mean, that's entrepreneurship, man. That's what you were doing all those years. I can't even imagine the strain that takes on your personal life, having to be away from your family that long and keep pursuing this dream and all that type of stuff. I mean, that's the hard stuff, right?

Rob Riggle

It is. It is. And sometimes you get it right and sometimes you get it wrong. Sometimes you are on a hot streak. And then sometimes you make mistakes. And then sometimes people in your life let you down and there's nothing you can do about it. It's just life. I think that's one of the takeaways I'm learning is I always continue seeking out personal growth, because I think, as Tony Robbins talks about, constant and never ending improvement. I love that phrase, and I think that's just one of the mantras of my life.

But how you react to failure, how you react to disappointment, how you react to hardship or betrayal or any of those really negative things that can happen and will happen at some point in your life. You're going to be faced with adversity. Everybody is. Sometimes when it rains, it pours. And that's when your character gets tested. That's when your mindset gets tested. And you have to figure out a way to keep moving forward.

If you do that, in my opinion, you're going to be fine. You're going to make it. You're going to accomplish whatever it is you set out to do.

Clint Betts

Yeah, you're the man in the arena, man. You called him TR, which I love, but Teddy Roosevelt is my favorite president. It sounds like it might be yours as well.

Rob Riggle

Oh my gosh.

Clint Betts

I mean, what have you learned from studying his life? I mean, everything you just described is like, man, this guy has studied Teddy Roosevelt.

Rob Riggle

Well, I do. I remember there was a trilogy of biographies. And I remember I read maybe the middle one first or something, but I just remember—

Clint Betts

The first one always sucks because it's always about the childhood. And it's like, all right. We all had childhoods.

Rob Riggle

But I loved his childhood too, because this sickly kid who couldn't do much until basically his dad, I think, came in and said, "Either you get tough or the world is going to run over you like a steamroller. And there's nothing you can do about it." It kind of dropped the gauntlet in front of him. And he willed himself, with a trainer and with help, but willed himself to become this robust, powerful character who leaned into the pain, who leaned into his weaknesses, and turned them into strengths. This sickly kid couldn't do anything. He was just this weak kid and became this boxing champion in college. And wore spectacles.

And the one thing I remember about him specifically after reading was his boundless energy, which is necessary. It's necessary if you want to accomplish the things that you have in your mind, the dreams, the hopes, the desires, the wealth, whatever it is. And don't be ashamed of it. If you want to be rich, don't be ashamed of that. If you want to be successful in business, don't be ashamed of that. If you want to be a politician, don't be ashamed of that. But if you want it, it's going to require a boundless amount of energy. You are going to have to put it in.

Don't come at me and tell me, "My dreams aren't coming true and I'm putting in 70% effort." Well, I mean, I can tell you why. I can tell you why. If you want it, it's going to require no less than 100%, and probably more like 105% to 110%, which you don't think you have. But it's there. You just got to tap into it. That's what it's going to take. I don't think people sign up for that when they start on their journey to success. They're like, "I'll give it two or three years. And if it's not happening by then I'm out." Okay, that's not how it's going to work. It requires that level.

And so when I would read about TR, I was always blown away because his energy was boundless. I mean, the guy held every major job there was, all the way up to the presidency and including the presidency of the United States. This guy, there wasn't anything he wouldn't do. And then when he had the job, it wasn't just to get the title of police commissioner of New York or assemblyman or the secretary of the navy or whatever. He made radical changes. When he was police commissioner in New York, he would go out in the wee hours of the morning and walk beats and spy on the police to see if they were doing their job.

And he would get the pulse of what was really going on, not just sit in his ivory tower and get reports from his lieutenants. He would go out there and do the work and would see with his own eyes. Same thing when he went out west and started exploring out west. He would chase down criminals. He organized his own military unit and took them to war.

Clint Betts

I know. It's so crazy.

Rob Riggle

And then charged up the hill and got the Medal of Honor. And then when the military wasn't taking care of his troops, he risked everything to take care of his men, court marshals and everything. The man was just a tremendous leader who meant what he said and said what he meant and did what he said. That energy, that boundless energy, I don't think it's ever been repeated. But I think if you do it or if you commit to it, you'll have amazing results in your life.

Clint Betts

Yeah. And just being true to himself was always fascinating. And being ready to seize moments. I mean, he became president after an assassination. I mean, he was vice president and the president was assassinated. It's like, you're the president now. This is crazy. It's funny you bring up, he goes out west.

One of my favorite Roosevelt stories is they're like, "Where's the president?" It's like, "I think he's hiking around in Yellowstone." How do you get ahold of the president in Yellowstone in those days? It's just like, "The president's in Yellowstone. We'll see when he comes back."

Rob Riggle

Yeah, hope he comes back. Hope it all works out.

Clint Betts

It's pretty incredible. I love that you study him. That's really cool. I have a huge affinity for him as well. What's next for you, Rob? What are you working on these days?

Rob Riggle

Well, unfortunately there's a writers and an actor's strike going on. So that's kind of sidelined everybody.

Clint Betts

Oh, yeah. What's that? What's the town like right now?

Rob Riggle

Oh, it's frustrating. I think it's frustrating. I think nobody wants to be on strike and people want to work. Everybody wants to work, but you do get to a point where you have to carve out some space for yourself and for the future. I think what started out as a residuals fight is probably turning into more of a AI battle. That's always a little scary because nobody knows what that's going to be. It's all uncharted water.

But it's something that's necessary. We got to talk about it. We got to figure out what all this could potentially mean and what it means for everybody in the industry. I always believe in people. I understand people get emotional and people can dig their heels in. And people want to win their wars and battles or whatever.

But eventually, people will come together and we'll work things out and come to some sort of understanding is my hope. It's the hope of everybody. We can work this out sooner rather than later. But yeah, the industry's slowed down right now.

Clint Betts

Yeah. What is the overall sense in Hollywood of AI and the transformational effect that could have on the industry? I mean, obviously every industry is looking at what is AI going to do. But particularly in the creative space and just like the tools that are coming out daily with it, I'm sure it almost feels like an existential crisis to Hollywood.

Rob Riggle

It could be. I mean, I can't speak for everybody in town. And I don't have a tremendous depth of knowledge of AI. I just know that it's a burgeoning technology that has so many potential ramifications to this industry. Nobody knows what it means yet. How good is it going to be now? How good is it going to be five years from now? What can it do? How's it going to replace humans? How can it be trusted?

I don't want to start shooting my mouth off on something I don't really understand that well, other than that I understand that it's a threat. And it's a problem unless we get some sort of understanding of it.

Clint Betts

Yeah, sure. Are you touring? Are you doing any stand-up anywhere?

Rob Riggle

No, I haven't done stand-up in years.

Clint Betts

Now are you touring in the right ... You see how I used it ... the right way that time?

Rob Riggle

There you go. Yeah, absolutely.

Clint Betts

What if I would've said, "Are you deployed? Are you deployed around cities yet?"

Rob Riggle

I haven't deployed anytime recently, and I haven't done any touring. And that's fine. Touring's a hard life. The life on the road is really hard. It's really hard, especially when you're doing stand-up. You get done with that last show around 12:30 in the morning, 1:00. Your adrenaline is cooking because you just did two shows. And you're at the height of your adrenaline flow. So you got to calm down. That takes till about 3:00 AM. Then you're not sleeping. So then you go have a breakfast somewhere at a late-night diner about 4:00 or 5:00. Then you go to bed and you gain weight. It's the worst. It's the worst. It's hard. It's a hard life. So I haven't toured in a while.

But I'm always developing. Glengarry Glen Ross, very famous. Always Be Closing, right? ABC.

Clint Betts

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rob Riggle

Well, I kind of twisted that in. So ABD, Always Be Developing. In my industry, you have to be developing, because unless you're one of about 10 A-listers, Brad Pitt or someone, no one's writing scripts and turning them into me. So I have to create a lot of my own stuff and create my own material and my own shows. And hope that I can get those going. And then while I'm doing that, obviously, I'm still trying to find work in front of the camera just like everybody else. Just trying to be a working actor.

Clint Betts

That's incredible, man. Well, I'm such a huge fan of you and all the work that you've done. I appreciate you coming on, appreciate you coming to speak. And yeah, let's stay in touch, man, because yeah, you're living the entrepreneurial journey always. I mean, it feels like in some ways, maybe even more so than actual entrepreneurs, which is great.

Rob Riggle

Absolutely. No, I'm always trying to build businesses outside of show business. I'm also trying to build businesses within show business. So yeah, I'm very much into entrepreneurship. I love business, I love capitalism, and I like to see things flourish and grow.

Clint Betts

Well, I appreciate you doing this, man. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Rob Riggle

Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

Clint Betts

Thanks, Rob.

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