Cory Cavin, Bill Grandberg, and Josh Lay, aka Awful DJ, are based in New York.
Photo Credit: Josh Goleman
How did you guys meet?
We all met in an Upright Citizens Brigade Level 1 class nine years ago.
Where did you get your name?
We wrote a sketch in our very first UCB show titled “Awful DJ.” Even though the sketch was a disaster and about ten minutes too long, we all really loved it. The name reminds us of where we were at in the beginning. Hopefully our sensibilities have grown since then. We have only performed it one other time.
What’s your creative process like?
We like to meet at a really terrible diner in the morning and grab breakfast and terrible coffee. We like to throw out a bunch of ideas, then start improvising with those ideas. When something makes all three of us laugh, we make sure to write it down. Then one of us will attempt to put it in script form. It’ll go through a couple more drafts before we’re happy enough to perform/shoot it. It continues to evolve as we refine it in front of an audience.
What was your inspiration for “The Trunk” series?
Josh was thinking — what if you told a story through the perspective of an inanimate object like the trunk of a car? The rest of the group latched onto the idea and proceeded to turn the simplest concept into one of the most challenging productions we’ve ever done. [More on the making of “The Trunk.”]
Cory had this, again, very simple idea that we turned into a very elaborate production. The original idea was going to be a series of 30-second vignettes of a normal guy and a supermodel living together, and what it would be like to be married to a model. We held an audition to cast “the model.” Originally, she was not supposed to have any lines. She was just going to be doing weird “model things” while Cory reacted to them. Fast forward to meeting Carme at an open casting. She was unbelievable — one of the most talented people we’ve ever met. So we were like, “Uh, let’s not be dumdums. Give her more lines!” She’s the star of the series.
What was your craziest shoot?
Our season finale for “Model Wife.” We shot in the freezing cold right after a blizzard in the dead of winter at this random bar in Greenpoint. Our extras, crew, and cast were all freezing but being absolute soldiers. That same night also happened to be the season premiere of The Walking Dead. The same bar was having a viewing party. Long story short, we blew a fuse, and the TV went dead. Needless to say, patrons of the bar were not happy.
Do any of you have any Obsessive Compulsive Disorders?
Yes. All of us. Just ask our director, Edmond Hawkins. We are so meticulous, we will all argue over a joke for, literally, hours until we get everyone on board with it. If we’re not all on board, we don’t do it. We also produce and edit the series because we’re control freaks. We once argued the logistics of watching Frasier without watching Cheers for a good three days — which resulted in a short, throwaway line.
What’s your favorite TV family?
We all loved watching Breaking Bad together, even though that’s like the most dysfunctional family ever. We even invented a game based on the show to play in swimming pools. It’s basically just Marco Polo but you yell “JESSE!” and “MR. WHITE!” in the characters’ voices.
Favorite crime family?
Josh used to religiously watch true crime shows on Discovery ID and TruTV. During the time they were roommates, Cory was convinced he was studying how to kill him and dispose of the body without getting caught.
Ever pulled any good pranks?
During a recent sketch show, Josh and Bill decided to completely switch roles without telling Cory. The thinking was that we’d gone over the material so many times (again, that OCD!) that we’d be able to adjust on the fly. Surprisingly, our thinking was correct and the show went off without a hitch, even getting laughs in places we hadn’t before. Basically, we were all our own understudies.
Any embarrassing moments from your lives, individually or together?
Bill discovered that he’d been mispronouncing the word “costume” (as “costum”) his whole life. Josh only ate pizza and McDonald’s until five years ago. Cory crapped his pants while taking the SATs as a teen.
Fun fact about Awful DJ:
Cory and Bill share the same birthday, as does Josh’s mom. We’ve been trying to get her to replace her son for years, but she keeps refusing.