Interview with Comedian Sean O’Connor on Blake Griffin’s ‘Space Jam’ Table Reading

James Lumalu
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Sean O’Connor is a stand-up comedian residing in Los Angeles, California. The talented O’Connor has performed on Conan and “The Half Hour” on Comedy Central. He has also contributed as a writer on projects such as the “Sports Show with Norm Macdonald” and the MTV Video Music Awards.

Last month, Sean and his partner Jensen Karp made headlines after setting up a table reading of Space Jam that featured the Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan and quite a few celebrities as well. We caught up with Sean to learn more about his sports fandom, how the table read came together, what it was like working with Griffin and DJ, and much more.

 

The Fumble: Since this is a sports site, I have to leadoff with a gimme: are you a sports fan?

Sean: Oh yeah! I’m a huge New York Mets fan. Baseball is number one. And then I grew up a Nets fan, but then I really…I jumped teams to the Oklahoma City Thunder just because they’re so exciting.

 

The Fumble: You didn’t get into football at all?

Sean: Oh I love the [New York] Giants. Hockey is the only thing I never really got into.

 

The Fumble: Jumping right into the Space Jam reading. It was you and Jensen Karp that came up with the idea to do this?

Sean: Yeah so basically at the end of last year we did a secret table reading of a script that still has not come out, but it’s coming out, and we made this big deal about it. It sold out in like a day. And then we were trying to come up with what we could do to follow it. I still can’t say what that movie was.

 

The Fumble: You really still can’t?

Sean: No. I think like…seven months from now we’ll be able to talk about it. But then we were like, what can follow that? Cause that was so crazy and secret-y, and then we decided we’re going do Space Jam with Blake Griffin. Blake Griffin follows us both on Twitter and we were like, “oh we’ll just ask him that way.” And that didn’t work so we had Shelby Fero help us connect with him because they were Funny or Die interns together.

 

The Fumble: So you had Blake Griffin in mind for this?

Sean: Immediately. We were like, we are going to do Space Jam with Blake Griffin.

 

Al Bello/Getty Images

 

The Fumble: And Space Jam was the only movie you had in mind for the next table read?

Sean: Well, we knew we wanted to top it so we were like, the most famous person either of us had any sort of contact with was Blake Griffin. So it was like, where would he fit in and it was Space Jam! And then it turns out he’s a huge Space Jam fan. He had a Space Jam-themed birthday party.

 

The Fumble: I always feel like that’s an obligatory basketball thing.

Sean: Oh yeah!

 

The Fumble: So after you guys decide the movie is Space Jam, and you know you want Blake Griffin. What is the next step?

Sean: We went out to all of our friends and people we kinda knew. Paul Scheer was in the first one so we were like, we want Paul Scheer to be a constant in the show, he really brings something special to everything. And then we were like, “Well what if we got DeAndre Jordan to play [Charles] Barkley?” So then we e-mailed his agent and were like, “Blake’s doing this! Is there any interest?!” And then he just came back with a “Yeah! Lets do it!”

 

The Fumble: I’m pretty sure they are a package.

Sean: Yeah they’re a package and they are the greatest comedy team of all time. And then as we were doing it we realized one thing we didn’t know about DeAndre Jordan is he does the greatest Charles Barkley impression. And I think it’s going to be something that he becomes known for.

 

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The Fumble: How long did this take to set up? I’d imagine bringing together athletes, actors, and comedians in one place would be tough unless it’s like an award show.

Sean: We did this in about a month. It takes about a month to arrange these ’cause we go to UCB (Upright Citizens Brigade) with an idea and they go, “Okay, can you do it this day?” And we are like yeah, and then we just e-mail everyone we know.

 

The Fumble: I didn’t see you in the short clip that is online, were you playing a role?

Sean: Oh yeah! The thing we do every month is I play every person with one line. Jensen reads stage directions and I play all one-line characters.

 

The Fumble: So basically every one liner was yours?

Sean: Oh yeah, but then you realize in Space Jam none of the one-line guys get any jokes because they are around Looney Tunes. But I did play Larry Bird…so that was great. I did an impression of Larry Bird. I realized that not enough people know how Larry Bird actually sounds for them to give me anything for my impression [laughs].

 

The Fumble: Since the clip that is out now is short, is there going to be a longer one that hits the web?

Sean: Yeah…it’s going to debut on Funny or Die soon.

 

The Fumble: The whole thing?

Sean: I don’t know about the whole thing, but there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes and then they’ll also put on like…umm clips from the show. I guarantee DeAndre Jordan’s Charley Barkley is going to be in that. [Nick] Kroll’s Daffy Duck. Yeah – the real crowd-pleasers are going to be in there.

 

The Fumble: After everything was done, was it everything you expected it would be?

Sean: It was so much more. A couple of my friends were there ’cause it sold out in five minutes. That’s crazy because you can’t even get your friends in there for it. So two of my friends got tickets immediately and then – yeah.

 

The Fumble: It’s hard to sneak people in?

Sean: Yeah it’s hard to sneak people in. They were like…not even sports fans and were like, “that was the best thing I’ve ever seen.”

 

The Fumble: Anyone else give you feedback?

Sean: Everyone loved it. Yeah…it was an overwhelming hit which was cool. And then like every sports blog picked it up, which I really liked.

 

The Fumble: Yeah, I actually saw it on Sports Illustrated.

Sean: Yeah it was really cool to have my name on Sports Illustrated, which didn’t seem like it was going to happen…after I quit high school baseball.

 

The Fumble: Oh yeah, what did you play?

Sean: I played first base. Yeah…I played AAU, I was pretty good.

 

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

 

The Fumble: I don’t know if you heard, but a couple of months ago there was talk of a Space Jam sequel with LeBron James. If they were to do a sequel, do you think LeBron or Blake for the lead role?

Sean: I’m going to go Blake.

 

The Fumble: Is that a biased answer?

Sean: Well I mean…no. I think Blake has more charisma. LeBron is so serious all the time. And that’s not going to be fun to watch him interact with anyone.

 

The Fumble: Let alone cartoon characters.

Sean: Yeah ’cause as we were going through the Space Jam script we realized that uh—Michael Jordan doesn’t have a single laugh line in the entire movie. Like he’s just always serious and there’s all this craziness around him, but he’s like Michael Jordan. So if you’re going to do that I guess LeBron is the correct pick, but I think Blake could enhance that character and be a more fun leading man. And I think you go instead of Wayne Knight as his assistant, Kevin Hart. Kevin Hart. Blake Griffin. $200 million, I’m guaranteeing that’s how much it makes.

 

The Fumble: Alright, you chose Blake Griffin, but do you think they should touch the original at all?

Sean: Yeah. Yeah. I think they should do that every 15 years with like a star. Like Jordan’s tough to beat, but that’s why you go Blake Griffin because he’s funny.

 

The Fumble: I was actually thinking about a sequel, and what if they did it with like other cartoons? Kids in this generation don’t really watch the Looney Tunes…

Sean: The last Looney Tunes movie anyone saw was Space Jam.

 

The Fumble: [laughing] If you could substitute the Looney Tunes for another cartoon, what would you go with?

Sean: Oh, I don’t know. I write for cartoons and I don’t even know what the popular cartoons are.

 

The Fumble: Well are we going PG, or rated R?

Sean: I think you got to go PG, it was so innocent. It was just a battle of good versus evil. Also I don’t think Michael Jordan could beat a team by himself with Looney Tunes that consist of Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, Muggsy Bogues, and Shawn Bradley. Also the script took a weird shot at Shawn Bradley we found out.

 

The Fumble: Really, what was it?

Sean: It was like they’re not just stealing the talents of the stars. They’re also stealing the talents of 7’6 genetic freak Shawn Bradley. Or just insult him. Yeah he’s not good, but he’s weird to look at.

 

The Fumble: But back to the cartoons…I don’t really know what a PG cartoon would be. The first thing that popped to mind was “Adventure Time,” but that’s kind of out there.

Sean: Yeah, isn’t “Adventure Time” like set after a nuclear apocalypse?

 

The Fumble: It’s a little weird…

Sean: Yeah. So then you have time travel where they have to travel back in time…It is a good question but I think Looney Tunes works just because you have a basic idea. How old are you?

 

The Fumble: 22.

Sean:  You’re 22. I’m 28 and uh…even our generation—we’re probably not even in the same generation but we are, let’s say we are.

 

The Fumble: Close.

Sean: Neither of us grew up with Looney Tunes, so like—I think they are the perfect people where it’s like their world is set how it is. It’s like the 1950s no matter what. Yeah they might be the perfect people. It’s either Looney Tunes or Disney cartoons.

 

The Fumble: What was it like working with Blake and DJ? Did you guys do like a dry read beforehand?

Sean: No. It was just like, we got there, they showed up. DeAndre Jordan didn’t let anyone know he had a Charles Barkley impression and then he pulled it out and got a standing ovation. It was pretty awesome.

 

Stephen Wade/Getty Images

 

The Fumble: You’re hyping the DJ-Barkley impression!

Sean: It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s my favorite thing. My two favorite things were that and Kroll’s Daffy Duck. But yeah, it was really exciting to work with them. I worked on a show called “Sports Show.”

 

The Fumble: Yeah with Norm MacDonald.

Sean: We did a sketch with Blake and DeAndre before that.

 

The Fumble: So you met them prior?

Sean: I hadn’t met them prior but I had pitched jokes on that video. This was my second chance and I didn’t even bring up that I had worked with them on that! [laughing] I was so afraid! I made a few jokes around Blake, I was wearing a Hundreds sweatshirt, and Jerrod Carmichael was also wearing a Hundreds sweatshirt, but he gets them for free because he’s sponsored by them. And then I was just talking about how I paid for mine [laughing]. So that was basically our whole conversation. I am not sponsored by a cool company. Be my friend.

 

The Fumble: But it looks like it!

Sean: I looked like I was. I didn’t have to say it.

 

The Fumble: So if you had ‘who is funnier’ between Blake and DJ, who would you go with?

Sean: I think they are equally funny. I really want to see them do like a buddy comedy type thing. It really sucks that they are professional basketball players…this is like a hobby for them.

 

The Fumble: Blake seems like more of a dry humor guy, but how would you describe DJ?

Sean: Ah! I don’t know, he did voices. He knows how to do voices so like…

 

The Fumble: So he has a talent as like a future voice actor?

Sean: Oh yeah. He is made to be a Monstar.

 

The Fumble: Anything you want to plug?

Sean: Yeah I hope everyone comes to all of these and buy tickets fast it turns out.

 

The Fumble: How often do you guys do the live reads?

Sean: I think we’re going to do them monthly or every two months. The response to this one was so big that we have a lot of momentum right now. I know we’re doing one in the beginning of May. It might be something we bring to festivals and involve all the famous people at the festivals to do it.

 

The Fumble: Do you and Jensen have something in mind for the next one?

Sean: We are circling two different scripts.

 

The Fumble: That’s all you can say? Maybe genres?

Sean: I think we’re always going to go with like ridiculous or cult classics. I mean…we are trying to hit our favorite movies.

 

The Fumble: So you have some shows coming in June?

Sean: Oh yeah! But more importantly, if you’re in the LA area, the best place to go is The Church on York. We have shows there every other week. It’s in Highland Park. It’s at a church. It’s a former church that is now a music venue, but we run a show there and we have big names coming in every week. 

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