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BlizzCon 2009: interviews Sandeep Parikh

Mike Schramm

Sandeep Parikh has alternately charmed and creeped out fans of The Guild as Zaboo, the hapless love interest of Felicia Day's Codex. Ever since the very beginning of the series, he's made for some of the web show's most awkward, and not coincidentally, most funny moments.

And while the guy behind the character is definitely funny, he's also clued-in in a way that Zaboo isn't -- coming from an improv background, he knows how to put a scene together, and he's got a good amount of web video experience himself from producing, writing, and directing the popular (and very NSFW) Legend of Neil series.

We sat down at BlizzCon with Sandeep to talk about his work on both web series, including Felicia Day's secret blue streak, what you can do with alcohol and an old Nintendo system, and what's in store for his character in The Guild's upcoming season 3. Read on below.

Let's start with Legend of Neil -- how's that going?

It's going great. We're on season 2 right now, and season 2 episode 3 will go out on Monday. It's a musical episode, so we're very excited about that, and for people to know about it. You'll see Felicia Day as our fairy, singing probably the raunchiest musical since Avenue Q.

I saw it -- she's already in it, right?

Yes, but this is the musical episode.

So it's her actually singing raunchy raunchy stuff.

Raunchy stuff, we're very excited.

People love The Guild, and Legend of Neil is also hilarious, but it's much more blue than The Guild. Where was the choice on that?

The choice on that was that I just wanted to be gritty and dirty. That's just a sense of humor that makes me laugh, I like South Park, I like stuff that's a little bit raunchy, and to be truthful, so does Felicia. She doesn't like to admit it all the time, but she's one of the bluest improv comedians I've ever met in my life. So when I wrote that role, I knew I wanted her to play it.


Yeah, she's got a little potty mouth on her. Maybe not something she wants to publicize, but there it is.

Well there you go, you just broke the story.

I don't think it's that big of a surprise.

Are you taking things that you've learned on The Guild and putting them into what's going into the Legend of Neil?

It's funny because The Guild and Legend of Neil are very different productions. They're both web series but actually Legend of Neil was started before I ever shot a frame of The Guild. We shot the pilot ourselves, with money out of our own pockets. And then Comedy Central swooped in after we distributed it on YouTube and got half a million hits, Comedy Central and swooped in and said they wanted to fund the rest of the series. So we've done five more episodes in the first season and then six more episodes in the second season. The Guild is funny -- that was more of a grassroots thing, in terms of like they shot when they had the money. It was all about getting donors to fund the show. And the audience themselves, clicking the Paypal button, and throwing in two, five, ten, sometimes even a hundred dollars, just to see the show continue. Whereas Legend of Neil is more of a funded effort from Comedy Central. It's still web money, it's pretty low, but we're able to shoot everything all at once and then cut the episodes from there, whereas The Guild is more like episode to episode.

But now that The Guild is backed by Microsoft, they're able to do stuff that's similar to the way we shoot. But Legend of Neil is such a different show in a lot of ways -- the production value in terms of the artwork, and building these caves and dragons and all that kind of stuff is, at least artwise, more intensive.

You're right in that they're both web series, but they couldn't really be more different in terms of the ways they're made. They're both comedy.

They're both comedy and about gamers. So in that sense they share a sensibility, but they're really different. And I think they reach different audiences.

Where did the series come from originally, The Legend of Neil?

The idea, the concept? My roommate got a care package from his mom that included an old Nintendo and a Zelda, and I remember we were a little tipsy, and he was like I can beat Zelda in under an hour, and I was like that's impossible, that's not true, that's a lie. And he proved me wrong, he started playing it. I was watching and drinking and enjoying watching him totally kick the game's butt. And to him I was just like who's this old man in a cave giving you wooden swords to go out and defeat creatures with? That seems very impractical. So I started coming up with the dialog in my head and actually I whipped out my laptop right then and started writing the sketch. And then, in the morning it was still kind of funny, and I was like hey I want to shoot this, do it really cheap, and voila.

That's how the muse comes, I guess. So this is going to be season 3 of The Guild. What has changed since you started working on it, just in terms of you and your character? Obviously, the arc of the story, but in terms of the character and what you do. Felicia, obviously, is writing, so it's her voice and her character, but you're probably the second biggest character in terms of people who have been on the series.

(feigning modesty) Well I wouldn't say that -- Yeah. That's true. She obviously created the character and invented it, but she wrote it for me and with me in mind, so it was really easy to inhabit that character. I know what this character is going to sound like because in improv, she saw me play really hyper energetic, impish characters before, so I knew where to take it. And I think it's become a really nice collaboration, where she writes these great lines and I can pair those up with some variations or things that I think that he might say, and she's really open and receptive to all of that. It's all about whatever's funniest and whatever makes people watching laugh.

With the stuff you're doing -- you're working out, and in the first episode of season 3, you're making out with Michele Boyd. When you do that kind of stuff, is there an edge there that you could just fall off into complete silliness, or do you do stuff to try to bring it back and make it sort of a full character? Or do you just all out go nuts?

I don't know -- I always try to make the comedy pop physically as much as I can. I think folks like Kramer are really funny because they can do a lot of stuff physically. So that's important, but at the same time, yeah, I want people to care about Zaboo, not hate him and not think he's a total goofball. There are times when Felicia and I will go back and forth talking about hey, you know, at the end of season 2, I really wanted, really fought for that speech, where he says "I guess my princess is in another castle." I really wanted that to be more of a real moment than a jokey moment. Moments like that, they flush out the character and they make you care about him and care about his relationship, because ultimately, you know, his love is pure, and even though he does stuff that's really creepy, and totally over the bounds, it's not like he's doing it with malice.

Yeah -- kind of pulls it back around instead of doing all of the silly stuff and says oh this is a real person that's doing this stuff. And then you can go back to doing crazy things.

That's always fun.

Anything you can tell us about season 3 that we don't already know?

Well you guys know about Wil Wheaton, that's exciting, and he was really fun to work with, so you'll see a bunch more of him and the rival guild, which you guys know about as well. I don't know if I have anything I can say.

Is this complete and total bliss for Zaboo and Riley at this point?

Nothing is as it seems. I think you will find out very quickly that her character has some dimensions that you haven't really seen yet.

Cool, sounds good. Thanks very much.

Like The Guild? We do, too! We've got all the episodes of the first season: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, as well as links to all of the season two shows. Stay tuned this week for more interviews with the cast from BlizzCon.

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