What’s your most humiliating puberty story?
I got “pantsed” in seventh grade. But my underwear came down as well, and my penis was exposed to the girl that I had my crush on. I hadn’t hit puberty, so it was a bald little cashew. That definitely had a lasting effect.
You’ve called this the most autobiographical of all your shows.
So many of the feelings and emotions that I was going through at 12 and 13 have become the DNA of the rest of my life. I’ve been in therapy for a long time and found that things I was talking about I would then use in building the character of Nick, and vice versa.
When did you start puberty?
I got my first pubic hair when I was going into high school, so about 14-ish. I was very small and gregarious and, I think, a likable kid. Then when I hit puberty, I became much more temperamental and explosive, and my parents were taken aback. I also grew probably 10 inches in high school, to a strapping 140 pounds.
How did your parents cope?
I was the youngest of four, and my mom’s way to handle it was very straightforward, like, “A boy’s nipples will become engorged, and those are all secondary sex characteristics.” Her way of demystifying it weirdly had the effect of me staring at my friends’ nipples and being like, “I guess he’s probably going through puberty.” And it left me more aware of what wasn’t happening to me.
A lot of these lessons are quite sensitive. How about the episode in which Andrew wonders if he’s gay because he gets an erection when he looks at the Rock?
The impetus was kids figuring out their sexuality. You get sexually excited by different things, and you don’t exactly know what that means or why something is titillating. At that age, people have friends that they’re incredibly close with and they’re trying to parse what that means. And I think we can all agree that, however you want to identify sexually, the Rock is inherently an attractive person.
Are you working with a sex-ed expert?
Peggy Orenstein wrote “Girls & Sex”; that was a major influence on [our desire] to give equal weight to the experience that girls have. In the fifth episode, Jessi has a conversation with her vagina, voiced by Kristen Wiig. It’s been amazing that Peggy has since reached out to us on Twitter, and we’ve got a little dialogue going.
John Mulaney also co-starred in your Broadway hit, “Oh, Hello.” Have we seen the last of Gil and George?
If Gil and George have their druthers, we’ll be in Branson, Mo., at Yacov Smirnoff’s theater doing “Oh, Hello 2” soon. [Silence on both ends] I’m joking, of course.
Amy Sedaris was a guest on “Oh, Hello.” Then she returned the favor on “At Home With Amy Sedaris,” and gave you an anatomical feature your mother could appreciate.
[We shot the episode around] my birthday, and spending the day playing with her was the best birthday present I could ask for. I got there, and they were like, “How would you feel about having pepperoni nipples?” I was ready to say yes to anything.