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The Five Spot: Julie Klausner

Julie Klausner got her first taste of the TV industry as an intern for Comedy Central’s cult classic Strangers With Candy. “I remember Amy Sedaris, Stephen Colbert and Paul Dinello writing this fabulous, bizarre show, the likes of which no one had ever seen.…I remember thinking, ‘This is the dream. I can’t imagine anything cooler or better.’” Klausner, an Upright Citizens Brigade alum, has held many jobs in entertainment, from recapping Real Housewives episodes to hosting a podcast. Her career came full circle this year as Difficult People, whose season 2 debuts July 12, was feted at PaleyFest L.A. to an audience filled with recappers and podcasters. Her first job was at the Paley Center (then the Museum of Television and Radio) as a curatorial assistant. “That was a big deal for me to have a little bit of a homecoming that way,” she said. An edited version of Klausner’s conversation with B&C contributing editor Luke McCord follows.

How did you and Difficult People costar Billy Eichner meet?

We were mutual fans of each other. I’d seen his videos online before he had his own show. I thought he was brilliant, and I wrote him a note. We together in the hopes of collaborating. That never materialized, but Billy ended up getting his own show—at the time it was on Fuse—Billy on the Street. He asked me to be a writer. There was not a lot of lead time between when the show was greenlit and when it would be shooting, so he needed me to start right away. We really got to know each other throughout the course of working together.

What’s it like to play an exaggerated version of yourself on the show?

It’s great. You get to say things on TV you weren’t brave or smart or fast enough to say in real life when they happened to you. You get to act out, be crazier, braver, dumber, louder, angrier, sillier. It’s the best.

How did the series land at Hulu?

I wanted to write a script for a show that I wanted to make more than anything, and I didn’t think about whether it was going to be salable. I wrote a pilot for myself and Billy. I knew [James] Urbaniak was going to be in it as my boyfriend. I knew my mother was going to be an important character. I sent the script to Amy [Poehler]. Amy really liked it and helped develop the script into an actual show. USA gave us money to make a pilot presentation. We made a pilot on that money. USA’s scripted comedy department dissolved. We shopped the pilot around everywhere. Hulu loved it and gave us a series.

What has it been like working for Hulu vs. linear networks?

Well, I’ve never had my own TV show before, so there’s not a lot to compare it to. But based on what I know about other networks, people’s experiences with other networks, I’ve been completely lucky to be working with Hulu because their notes are either nonexistent or extremely intelligent. They love the show for what it is and have never tried to make it anything different.

What can people expect from the second season?

A ton of crazy celebrity guest stars that you wouldn’t even necessarily expect, playing themselves and different characters. There’s a lot of story lines that start in a realistic place and then end up in places you wouldn’t expect. Billy is almost killed. We do something terrible to a celebrity in the first episode. There are tears. There are laughs. There’s very graphic sex scenes…not really. We put the dogs in outfits. The dogs are wearing outfits at least twice.