Neanderthal: Nick Kroll

Photo: From left: Patrick McMullan, Bob D'Amico/Courtesy of ABC

When ABC announced plans to develop Cavemen, a sitcom based on the popular Geico ads, critics were skeptical. Now that the show has arrived, critics are … well, still skeptical. But everyone should be heartened by the presence of New York comedian Nick Kroll, who stars as a snarky sidekick. Emma Rosenblum spoke to him.

The show’s gotten a lot of negative press. Is it true that it’s been totally reworked?
It’s not like it was a panicked reworking. I think they just realized that there’s more that could be learned and explored. It’s interesting that people are like, “Oh, they must be scared, they’re reworking it.”

People have also noted that the three guys who star in the commercials aren’t on the show.
One of them has a show on TBS, so he couldn’t do it. And another one, Jeff Phillips, is actually on our show—he plays this guy named Maurice, who’s kind of our buddy. The third guy, well, that’s a question the producers would have to answer.

Cavemen seems to be, in part, an allegory about racism, but some people have called the show racist.
People want to make a story out of these things. It’s not about any specific group, like blacks; it’s a parable for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider. At the same time, it’s just a show about three dudes hanging out together in San Diego.

Truthfully, it was kind of hard to watch the pilot, because the cavemen are really ugly.
That’s sort of offensive, because I wasn’t wearing makeup in the pilot. Seriously, though, they’ve toned down the makeup a little bit.

But aren’t you worried that, with all that makeup, people won’t recognize you?
All I want to do is be on TV and make people laugh, and the idea of being recognized is secondary to wanting to be on a funny show. At least that’s what my publicist told me to say.

I kept wishing they’d magically discover they weren’t really cavemen. Sort of the opposite of Shrek.
I’d love to have a Nick episode in which he has a dream sequence where he’s a human being. But as a lady, I hoped you’d realize that it’s not what you look like on the outside, but what kind of person you are on the inside that matters.

Is that what ladies are supposed to think?
That’s what I’m told by Oprah.

ABC. Premieres October 2, 8 p.m.

Neanderthal: Nick Kroll