Comedian Nick Kroll is returning to standup — and doing it via Netflix, the home of his animated comedy “Big Mouth.” Kroll’s first stand-up special in a decade — and his first for Netflix — is titled “Nick Kroll: Little Big Boy,” and will premiere globally on September 27.
The special will air a month before the Season 6 return of “Big Mouth,” which returns Oct. 28. For “Little Big Boy,” Kroll shot the special in June at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C.
“I could be wrong, but I don’t know if people think of me really as a stand up, because I’ve been doing sketch and animation and acting and the writing stuff,” said Kroll, who beyond “Big Mouth” and his voicework is perhaps best known for “The League” and “The Kroll Show,” as well as playing the geriatric Gil Faizon, opposite John Mulaney, in the “Oh, Hello” sketches that eventually turned into a Broadway show (also taped for Netflix).
“But I’ve always done stand up,” he said. “It’s always been in the background. It was 2018 and my girlfriend at the time, now my wife was like, ‘why don’t you do a special? How come you haven’t done an hour?’ I didn’t really have a good reason. Except of being busy with other stuff. And at that point, I decided to really commit to do a special.”
Kroll toured in 2019, preparing his material for the show — which he planned to shoot in June 2020. But then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. “The lockdown happened and shut down all stand up,” he said. “But then also, a ton of life stuff happened to me. The special, even before the pandemic, was was thematically about this feeling where I had turned 40, and yet there were still elements to myself that I felt were not entirely grown up. So I felt sort of in between. And then the pandemic happened and I got married and had a child.”
Those big life changes fed into those themes of figuring out what it’s like to be a grown adult, but not always feeling that way. Kroll went back out and tried new material that reflected his new life, and figure out were it could be integrated into his existing show.
“It was a combination of, where am I in my life? How does that apply to the themes that I was already talking about, around being a man, self worth, letting go of things from my past?” he said. “And realizing that inside of that, that the things that were happening to me in real time, [such as] getting married, having a child, could be integrated in. But it also meant shifting things around, pulling certain things out that were jokes that I had been doing on tour that worked really well but now didn’t feel quite like they were in sync with the rest of the show.”
The end result is a piece that Kroll believed was “more honest and revelatory and vulnerable than historically I had been in stand up.” And in some ways that makes it feel like a good fit for fans of “Big Mouth,” which is loosely based on his and co-creator Andrew Goldberg’s adolescent years.
‘Doing ‘Big Mouth’ really has been been such an exercise in vulnerability,” Kroll said. “There are a lot of autobiographical elements to it. And I think the lesson I learned with it was that audiences really connected to the more honest, truthful, vulnerable material. And if I tried to do that on my stand up, that I would hopefully connect with people, that there be the opportunity for a deeper connection with the audience.”
As he mines more of his personal life, Kroll said he’s still “trying to figure out that line with everything with stand up. You want to talk about what’s going on in your life. So how do you find the line of what can I talk about? What can I share that is respectful of other people’s personalized private lives inside of that? I have no answer for it, but I think it’s something that a lot of comedians have to make choices along the way about what you’re going to share, especially with a kid who hasn’t signed up for any of this.”
“Nick Kroll: Little Big Boy” is executive produced by Kroll, John Irwin, Casey Spira and Christie Smith. It is directed by Bill Benz. Kroll chose D.C. to shoot the special because he attended Georgetown University, and knows what that city’s audience is like.
“It has always been a town that I feel a strong connection to. It’s also just a great comedy town,” Kroll said. “They are really smart. And the Warner Theatre, I’ve performed at a few times. It’s just a beautiful theater and it’s got a nice history to it. It felt like a home team, without having to be in New York or LA.”
Kroll’s other credits at Netflix include the “Big Mouth” spinoff “Human Resources.” “Big Mouth” is exec produced by Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin; the quartet also make up the animation production company Brutus Pink, wich just reupped its overall content deal with Netflix. Under that pact, Brutus Pink will develop and produce new animated projects for Netflix.
“I’ve had a very good relationship with them for a long time,” Kroll said of Netflix. “You can’t argue with the scale, the audience that they have, and especially for stand up, they have really put their flag down as the place to go to watch stand up. I know so many of my friends whose careers have changed dramatically from having a special on Netflix or two specials on Netflix. I’m excited to become a part of that library. The audience for the most part on Netflix, I think knows me from ‘Big Mouth’ and and which I’m incredibly grateful for, but really think of me as an animation guy and a voice guy. It is sort of a companion piece that I don’t think will seem to come out of nowhere to people who are watching ‘Big Mouth’ to then watch the stand up hour.”
Watch Big Mouth season 6 teaser here: