Hulu's Reboot Stars Paul Reiser And Rachel Bloom On The World Of Writers And Cracking Up On Set [Exclusive Interview]

Paul Reiser and Rachel Bloom both have extensive experience as comedy writers. Reiser is a seasoned stand-up comedian who created "Mad About You" and has been a staple of film and television for decades. Bloom created, executive produced, wrote, and starred in "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," on top of all her eclectic comedy experience. So it makes perfect sense to cast Reiser and Bloom as a father-daughter TV writing duo in Steven Levitan's new Hulu comedy series, "Reboot."

In the show, Reiser and Bloom play an estranged father and daughter who are forced to work together on a revival of an early 2000s sitcom called "Step Right Up," which is reminiscent of the cheesiest comedy TV shows, taking cues from the likes of "Full House" and "Step by Step." Throughout the show, Reiser and Bloom found themselves in the middle of hilarious scenes taking place in the fictional show's writers' room, which resulted in laughs on screen and behind the scenes. Ahead of the debut of "Reboot," with three episodes now available on Hulu, we spoke with Reiser and Bloom about their perfect dynamic in the series, the world of writers, and working with seasoned talent like Steven Levitan, Fred Melamed, George Wyner, Larry Pressman, and more.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and content.

'We both know what it's like to be in a writers' room where you're butting heads with someone else'

The dynamic between Gordon and Hannah is one of the best parts of "Reboot," and I was just wondering, considering you two are both accomplished comedy writers yourselves, if you have had a hand in helping develop that relationship on the page.

Reiser: No.

Bloom: No, it was there.

Reiser: Yeah, Steve Levitan is, obviously, a really talented, smart guy, and he's assembled a great writing room. So it was all there on the page. But then, of course, you get to play it. And Rachel and I hadn't met. We were both fans of each other, but we hadn't met. And it kind was easy from day one. It felt like, "All right, we knew this, we know how to do this." We both know what it's like to be in a writers' room where you're butting heads with someone else. And then the personal stuff between our characters was really fun to play.

Bloom: Yeah, I remember the first day, first moment, we acted together was we didn't even have a line, I just had to storm out of your office. And Steve wanted me to get teary, and I was like trying to get to the actory place. And Paul, in character, you were like, "What? Are you going to cry? It's showbiz, kid," like helping me prep. And I was like, "This is going to be awesome."

Reiser: I did that?

Bloom: It was awesome.

Reiser: Apparently, I was accidentally awesome. I think I was actually probably trying to be cruel.

Bloom: You were just talking to me?

Reiser: I was just talking. In general, I just walk around muttering insults to people, and this one landed well.

'It felt like, in so many ways, a show that was a little bit of a masterclass on comedy and show business history...'

You mentioned the real writers' room, but there's some great comedy that comes from the comedy between the old guard and the new generation with the writers' room within the show. Can you talk about just being in that room, especially with all the comedic talents in there, and how much fun that is?

Reiser: Well, I remember when Steve just tossed out the idea that he was going to do that. And that's really, in many ways, where part of the core of this show is. It's like, it's a show that's rebooting, so how do you change from what you used to be to what you should be now? And Hannah, Rachel's character, [and] my character are the flag bearers of each. So we each bring our writers, each — my character's trying to keep it how it was. "I got old people who know what they're doing." And Hannah's like, "I got new people who can bring some freshness." Throw those in a room, it's going to be funny. And the actors that they got for those roles are so funny. I think we spent a lot of time just laughing in that room.

Bloom: It was so fun. I love those writers' room days.

Reiser: It was real. [To Bloom] Can you tell when you watch a thing that you're in, it's like when it's an actual laugh, it's you laughing and not the character? It's like, "Okay, you know what? That's funny." They actually got me laughing at Rose [Abdoo]. Yeah, it was very fun. And those guys were great, Fred Melamed and George Wyner, those guys you've just seen in so many things, you walk in the room, you go, "I get it. I know these guys."

Bloom: It felt like, in so many ways, a show that was a little bit of a masterclass on comedy and show business history, just because Steve's also created and written on so many shows. I think he started on, I want to say, "Wings." And then Larry Pressman, who plays Jerry, the show's director, in between takes, whenever I had scenes with him, whenever anyone had scenes, he's been working since the '50s.

Oh, wow!

Bloom: So he just busts out the craziest s***, and it's awesome.

Reiser: Yeah, he would throw out names, and you're going, "Natalie Wood? You worked with Natalie Wood, really?"


Reiser: Yeah, and he's like 89 and he's so vibrant and smart.

Bloom: He's right there, and he'd be like, "Oh, yeah, yeah. Sandy Meisner was always really nice to me. Stella Adler was not. He –"

Reiser: Legendary acting coaches.

That's so great. Now, not unlike the writers' room on the show, you two come from two different generations of comedy. Do you feel like you guys have been picking up things from each other along the way?

Reiser: The part of the characters that feels really real, Rachel will throw some names out and I go, "Yeah, I don't know who that is." It's like, "But they're very big." "Yeah, no, I'm not familiar." So I definitely learned a lot. My information bank was brought a little bit up to date by Rachel's kindness.

'I think that a lot of people in the arts are f***ed up, because we are seeking some sort of validation for our life experience'

Rachel, there's plenty of self-deprecating humor about writers in the show — how they dress, how awkward they can be. But was there anything that you wanted to avoid in your characterization of Hannah?

No, I think it's well-written. I think that writers are f***ed up, and a lot of them are in therapy. I think a lot of people in the arts are f***ed up, because we are seeking some sort of validation for our life experience. And that's the root of many things in life. It's the root of road rage. I mean, when someone flips you off in traffic, it's because they haven't been validated by a turn signal, say.

So, no, I think it's very realistic. And the opening scene where the actress says to me, "Writers can wear anything," as I've gotten older — I used to be a size zero in high school. Now I'm not. I used to resent that. What I'll say about writing, with writing, you have more control. You don't have all of the control, but with writing, you write a thing, it's on the page, you have a thing that you can see. It's tangible. Acting, you can't see it as you're doing it. You're so out of control. So I think that writers are seen as neurotic, but I actually think actors are just as, if not more, neurotic.

Reiser: Oh, for sure.

Bloom: Fundamentally less control.

Reiser: One of the things that was so funny to me, Judy Greer playing the wildly insecure neurotic actor, she nailed it. And it was so funny, because we're all on that knife's edge where we want to be self-deprecating, but not really. We went too close. And one of the things somebody said, "Well, this is sort of a spoof of sitcoms," and it's not. It's really Steve Levitan's love letter to the craft of making sitcoms, which includes, yes, a lot of people. Of course, nobody's unflawed, and nobody gets out of here alive. Everybody is damaged in some way. But I think it really is quite fair and celebratory of what it takes to make anything.

There's a beautiful scene between Rose, the veteran comedy writer who has been mostly in the writers' rooms, throwing off these really caustic one-liners, and Judy Greer's character, the actor who wants to learn how to be a writer, she wants to come in and take over. And Rose delivers this beautiful speech about, "Yes, it's really hard for a woman in a world of guys, and it was harder for me than it is for you, but grow up, toughen up, roll up your sleeves, and learn how to do it." It was a beautiful space, because it straddled both worlds of, yes, it's not easy for a woman to go into a world where it's mostly men, but at the same time, nobody's going to hand you anything, so you need to earn your respect and you need to learn your craft.

I thought that was a beautiful tone that the show strikes. It really does appreciate the hard work of writing and of acting. Actors put on the thing, but they're coming from getting off the phone, or a fight with their partner, or troubles with their kids, or, in Johnny Knoxville's character, trouble with his addiction. So it's all a miracle, the fact that any show or any movie ever works is the result of a lot of wounded, imperfect people.

Bloom: It's just a bunch of people trying to get by and heal their wounds and not get fired. It's always conspiracy theory, "Oh, Hollywood. It's big Hollywood." A lot of that's antisemitism. Let's be real. But the parts of it that aren't antisemitic are people assuming that the people who control the media or whatever, who have power, know everything, have all the answers, or they're on some sort of pedestal. No, we're all just kind of feeling our way. We don't know s***.

Reiser: And also, at the executive level, too, those people making the decisions, they want to not get fired.

Bloom: They're just trying not to get fired.

Reiser: Yeah, exactly.

'I try to help Eddie out whenever I can, and to boost his career'

Before I go, Paul, I just have to ask real quick, what's it been like reuniting with Eddie Murphy for "Beverly Hills Cop 4" after all these years?

Bloom: What?

Reiser: I try to help Eddie out whenever I can, and to boost his career. So it's an honor. It was great. I was finally glad to see that he actually didn't quite look 23 anymore. It's like, a year ago, this f***ing guy looks exactly the same. We were chatting, and I remember, I was at his 21st birthday party, which was at Studio 54, or whatever Studio 54 became.


Reiser: And now, we're in our 60s, even Eddie's in his 60s. I'm like, "That's a long span. We've been doing this a while." But what was really funny is we were instantly reminiscing about, "What was the name of that guy who ran the club, the comedy club out on Long Island?" Jarring names out of our brains that have not been uttered for 40 years.

Bloom: I didn't know anything about this.

Reiser: Oh!

Bloom: About "Beverly Hills Cop."

Reiser: They're doing "Beverly Hills Cop 4," and I got a little part. They just called me, and they said, "Would you be you, and..."

Bloom: You're playing Paul Reiser?

Reiser: No, no. Playing a character that I — well, but you know the funny thing, I had such a little role in the first one, and they got a little bigger in the second one. And the third one, they didn't call me. And I heard I didn't miss anything. It's not even announced, by the way. How do you — I don't think they announced that I'm in it yet.

So what happened was, somebody nearby, while you guys were filming, snapped a shot of you on set along with Eddie and Judge Reinhold —

Reiser: Oh, yeah, I saw that. But I was glad it was at least a picture of me walking. It wasn't like picking my nose and whatever. I guess, so anyway, I'm sure it'll be out soon. I'll make sure that they'll announce it. Because America's waiting. 

Bloom: Oh, let's see. I'm looking at Twitter images.

Reiser: Let me see. Now, I'm scared. Yeah, that's the picture. It's me walking with a cup. By the way, I'm wearing the pants I drove to work in, because they go, "You're in a car, we're only going to see you from here." I go, "Well, I'm leaving my sweat pants on. Don't make me..." Get lazier. Get lazier as we get older. "Do I have to take off my shoes?" "No, we don't see your shoes. "All right. F*** it. I'm wearing them."

Bloom: And I'm also in the new "Rush Hour" coming up.

Oh my gosh!

Bloom: It hasn't been announced, but I play a gun.

I would pay to see it. Absolutely.

Bloom: I go, "Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom."


Reiser: Wow. I want to see that.

Bloom: Thank you.

Reiser: Rachel Bloom as you've never seen her.

Bloom: "Boom, boom, boom."

[laughs] This was so much fun.

Reiser: Take care.

The first three episodes of "Reboot" are streaming on Hulu now, and new episodes debut on Tuesdays through October 25, 2022.