Quick Draw’s Bob Clendenin Talks Season 2 [Exclusive Interview + Preview]
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
Set in 1875 in Great Bend, Kansas and featuring outlaws, working girls and a colorful cast of characters traveling through town, Quick Draw is a hilarious snapshot of the Wild West. The series is centered around Harvard graduate John Henry Hoyle. Played by John Lehr, Sheriff Hoyle solves crimes using the newfangled concepts of criminology and forensic technique. I spoke exclusively to John Lehr last year before the series premiered and this year I had a chance to talk to Bob Clendenin, town undertaker (and occasional deputy) Vernon Shank. We talked about how he got involved in the show, what’s coming up for Shank and his favorite moment this season featuring a [too rude to mention before the jump].
TV GOODNESS: For people who are new to Quick Draw, introduce your character and tell us what he’s gonna be up to this season.
Bob Clendenin: “My name is Vernon Shank and I am the town undertaker. Traditionally an undertaker is essentially the guy that just builds the box, dresses up the body and drops it in the ground. When Sheriff Hoyle comes to town, because I’m the closest thing in town that would have anything vaguely resembling any medical equipment or a stable, Hoyle enlists Vernon to be his deputy coroner, a bit of a ballistic assistant, which Vernon’s not crazy about but he goes along with it. The first season I would help him with the occasional autopsy and things like that. Vernon’s not an idiot, but he’s not the brightest bulb either. He’s a loner and we find out in the second season some of the stranger things that Vernon gets up to. Hoyle gets Vernon involved in a cattle drive, we end up going to a rodeo. We’re both rodeo clowns. So he’s Hoyle’s foil, a little bit of an unwitting assistant and a sounding board for Hoyle. I really love the Shank/Hoyle relationship. I think Shank really likes the fact that Hoyle’s his friend but also has contempt for him. They’ve got a relationship where they pick at each other, but there’s a lot of love there. I really like the way the relationship developed over this last season.”
TV GOODNESS: I enjoy that relationship too. It’s so funny and interesting.
Bob: “Yeah, it’s almost like brothers who can’t stop busting on each other but that are sort of inseparable.”
TV GOODNESS: Correct if I’m wrong. You’ve worked with John Lehr in the past and that’s how you learned about the series?
Bob: “Right. Nancy [Hower] was the one I first met through a friend of a friend. I ended up doing a really small independent film that she did. Through that she brought me in when she and John did 10 Items or Less for TBS. That’s when I really got to know those guys and we did that for three years. [It] was a very similar format in terms of the improvisational aspects of the show. I think we’ve just gotten a lot better at it with Quick Draw. We’ve been doing it longer. We have a better sense of how each other works, but it was a similar show. I think we probably did 30 or 40 episodes and then they did Quick Draw after that. There’s been a couple other little projects. We did a thing called Jailbait for Crackle, which I did couple episodes of. They’ve got a ton of things going on.”
TV GOODNESS: When did they first tell you about Quick Draw and what your role would be?
Bob: “It was probably six months before we did the first season when they knew that they were gonna go ahead and make the pilot. They floated the idea that I was the undertaker. They know I really like roles that have the creepy, mysterious undertone and this [was] a really good fit. I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’ve trusted those guys every time and it’s always paid off because even [though] some of their stuff’s so out of this world, I know that they’re gonna be able to pull it off. It took almost zero convincing to get me to do this.”
TV GOODNESS: When I talked to John last year right before the series premiered, he told me he writes really detailed scripts but there isn’t any dialogue. That’s still the case, right?
Bob: “That’s absolutely the case. They will give us a rough idea of what is gonna happen in the story in terms of the narrative of it, the arc of it, but they’ve written zero dialogue. So generally a scene will start and Nancy will give us the bullet points we need to know and hit during the course of the scene. At first we’ll stumble through – and it’s pretty rough. We’ll come up with a couple things we think are funny and we’ll run the scene, usually for a lot longer than we want to. But that’s sometimes when the best stuff comes out, when you’re really just gasping for air. We’ll talk about it and then take another pass at it and eventually the scene takes shape over three or four different takes. Filming with three cameras the whole time, she’s getting a huge amount of footage that she can piece together. The editors are the real heroes of the show because they’ve got literally hundreds and hundreds of hours of footage to cobble together to tell the story that they’ve written out. If we’re really struggling, [Nancy] will throw out some stuff that she wrote, but it’s still all coming for us. I think the actors love doing it because you feel so empowered and you can really take it in almost any direction you want, but there’s enough structure that you don’t feel like a complete free-form and there’s no safety net. I think it’s one of my favorite shows to work on.”
TV GOODNESS: It seems like that would be a really fun and exciting challenge for someone who likes to improv.
Bob: “Yeah. I think for the people who aren’t as sure, especially some of the guest stars that come in for one episode and they don’t really know what to expect, it can be pretty terrifying, especially coming into a group that’s pretty solid and they all know what each others rhythms are and we’re familiar with each other. But we try our best to make everybody feel comfortable and Nancy and John couldn’t be more encouraging and gracious and thankful to all the actors. It’s a really healthy environment. I’ve been in some really unhealthy environments, so this is really nice.”
TV GOODNESS: I’ve seen the first two episodes and I love that you get deputized again this season. I have to say I’ve never laughed so hard watching this show as I did watching that bear scene.
Bob: “Ok. The bear was out of control, right? Just when the bear shows up period, I was lost. It’sÂ just one of the funniest things ever. I agree with you.”
TV GOODNESS: Do you have a favorite moment or scene from the season?
Bob: “There were a ton. I love the bear one. The rodeo clowns could not have been more fun. I’m not the most competent horseman, so I was a little scared with the cattle stuff but I think the scenes that John and I had during the cattle drive were really, really great. There’s also an episode, which I don’t think you’ve seen yet where a doctor – well, we’ll call him a doctor – comes through town with the cure for women’s anxieties, does that sound familiar?”
TV GOODNESS: No.
Bob: “Ok, well this is a historical fact and I have to get a little bit off-color here with it. Historically, there was a guy who developed a steam-powered dildo. You’re familiar with that? So we crafted a whole episode around this.”
TV GOODNESS: That’s sounds great.
Bob: “Shank gets it into his head that he would really like to cure his own anxiety and the scene where I try to convince the doctor let me use the machine, that may be one of my favorites. You’ve got that to look forward to.”
TV GOODNESS: Is there anyone in particular you enjoy working with or does it depend on the scene?
Bob: “There’s nobody who I don’t like working with. John is one of my weaknesses in terms of maintaining my composure because he’s so free-form and his stuff is sometimes so outrageous that it even catches me off guard so I’m not expecting it. Sometimes I will be pinching my palm or my thigh to avoid breaking character. Every single one of them, I think, are hilarious. We had some really, really great guest stars this year.Â Arden Myrin came on the show. I don’t know if she’s in either of the episodes that you saw, but she plays Hoyle’s ex-wife.”
TV GOODNESS: I haven’t seen that yet. It sounds great.
Bob: “She’s hilarious. Tim Bagley, who you remember from last year. I love to death. He’s a Groundling as well. I don’t think there’s a single weak link. I think they’re all great. David Hoffman, I think is very, very funny – Clay Tidwell, who we dressed up in drag to get together, he was the school teacher, I think he is particularly funny. Everybody’s great.”
TV GOODNESS: What else do you have going on? I love that you’re so busy. Any time I see your name in the credits or know you’re going to be on the show I feel like it’s gonna be funny or funnier because you’re there.
Bob: “Thank you. I really appreciate that. Zach Braff’s movie just came out, I Wish I Was Here, which I had a small role in. All these relationships. I can trace that one back to Scrubs. Hollywood, as you know seems huge at some point until you realize how small and insulated it is in other parts. I just went off and shot the sequel to Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which is just surreal for a number of reasons. That’ll come out next year. Then I did a really fun kid’s movie called The Canine Adventures, which will probably go straight to video but it’ll come out in the next month or two. That was fun for me because I got to do something which finally my little boys could see. So much of my stuff is pretty adult. It’s nice. It’s G-rated, it’s kids with a dog solving crimes movie and so I’m excited to at least be able to show my kids that. And then we start Cougar Town in another three weeks right after Labor Day we’ll start filming the last season.”
TV GOODNESS: Any final thoughts on Quick Draw?
Bob: “It really is one of my favorite shows to work on. I’ve seen three episodes of this upcoming season and I’m blown away by how good they look. The stories are tight. They’re really super ambitious compared to last year, but I think that we pulled it off. I think they’re gonna be blown away with the kind of programming we’re doing and the fact that it’s improvised, I think, is icing on the cake so I’m really looking forward to having people see it and find out what their response is.”
Edited for space and content.
And yes, I did ask Bob about the final season of Cougar Town. Check back in before the premiere of the final season for this thoughts on that show.
The first 2 episodes of Quick Draw‘s second season premiere Thursday, August 7th at 12:01 am on hulu.
All images courtesy of Hulu.
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