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'Corporate' creators mine workplace misery for laughs

"Corporate" co-creators and stars Matt Ingebretson, left, and Jake Weisman.
Comedy Central
(L-R) Matt Ingebretson, Aparna Nancherla and Jake Weisman in "Corporate."
Comedy Central

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The new Comedy Central series, “Corporate,” is a workplace comedy with a seriously dark streak. The proof is right there in the show's tagline: “Misery loves a company.”

The company is a fictional, morally questionable corporation called Hampton DeVille, which has a hand in everything from household appliances to military-grade weapons.

“Corporate” was co-created by Matt Ingebretson and Jake Weisman, who also star in the series as mid-level Hampton DeVille employees.

"I think we were reacting a little bit to the office comedies we'd seen in the past," Weisman says. "Not that they aren't great shows but I've never liked going to work. I don't think anyone I know likes going to work.

"Comedies in the workplace are often portrayed as these fun places where you get along with a ragtag group of friends that you would otherwise never meet. And any time I'm at work, I just think, What went wrong with my life that led me here? When do I get to go home?"

Weisman and Ingebretson spoke with The Frame's host, John Horn, about "Corporate."

Interview highlights:

On the inspiration for their fictitious company, Hampton DeVille:

Matt Ingebretson: It's a company that is sort of in the vein of Berkshire Hathaway or G.E. or Honeywell — these large, multinational conglomerates that seem to have their hands in everything. And [have] no social awareness or consciousness.

Jake Weisman: It's like the world's largest vacuum that can never be satiated. The [goal] is infinite growth. If you are the number one company in the world, that's still not enough. Then you want to take over the moon. It's sort of this need for the American Dream to consume everything and win. And winning almost doesn't mean anything anymore because you're never happy.

"Corporate" stars (L-R) Aparna Nancherla, Adam Lustick, Anne Dudek, Matt Ingebretson, Jake Weisman, and Lance Reddick.
Comedy Central

On the thinking behind the bleak mood of the show:

Ingebretson: It mostly came out of our real feelings about what it feels like to live in America right now ... like everything is burning around us and that we are all contributing to massive problems in the world. And that is awful and it feels bad to be here. But we don't really have a choice and so it's sort of, make fun of it, I guess. 

On the source material for the show's storylines:

Weisman: Part of it is imagination. We have a writers room and people talk about their different work experiences and experiences their friends have had. But also we did interview people from Amazon and Google and other corporations like Viacom. Basically, we had our suspicions confirmed. And they were able to add specific details and little stories. But, in our opinion, there's no way it's a good experience. And everyone was like, You're right! It's a really bad experience. Everyone yells downhill. And everyone's in fear. And everyone's trying the best they can to just get through the day. 

Ingebretson: The tone and feel of it was based on when I first moved out here. I had a lot of day jobs in social media marketing or digital marketing and copy editing at large entertainment companies. And I found these offices to be extremely artificial, confusing environments. It's very existential to spend your days working on an Excel spread sheet, and yet that's what a lot of people do. And suddenly, I'm typing in an Excel spreadsheet and none of it makes any sense on a real human level, and that's what I'm spending my life doing. 


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