Matt Rogers came to Little Gold Men prepared to podcast. “My setup was already set up, in fact, from this morning,” he admits. A cohost of iHeartRadio’s incredibly popular Las Culturistas podcast with close friend and Saturday Night Live cast member Bowen Yang, Rogers—who arrived with his own microphone already set up—is now taking his talents to multiple kinds of screens. On Showtime, he is currently costars on Vanessa Bayer‘s new series, I Love That for You. Rogers plays Darcy Leeds, a senior associate—not assistant—to the CEO of SVN, a QVC-style home shopping network. “The thing about retail therapy and why it works is it helps us feel like we’re filling a hole, you know what I mean?” Rogers tells Little Gold Men about QVC culture. “It helps us feel like we’re fulfilling something. Even just getting something in the mail—especially during a time like the pandemic, sometimes it would be all I was looking forward to.”
These days Rogers has a lot more to look forward to. Along with his scene-stealing turn as Darcy Leeds, Rogers stars as Luke in Searchlight’s upcoming Pride and Prejudice–inspired comedy, Fire Island, which hits Hulu on June 3. Written by and starring Rogers’s close friend Joel Kim Booster and also costarring Yang, the film represents an emotional milestone for Rogers, who began his career “screaming in basements in New York City,” he says. “Coming through the New York comedy community is a real badge of honor for me,” Rogers says affectionately, name-checking other comedians of the moment like Yang, Booster, Patti Harrison, and Catherine Cohen. “So to see these people sort of come up through the entertainment industry and now be movers and shakers, it’s so great to be involved in that.”
The comedian sat down with Vanity Fair to chat about I Love That for You, fire island, and what might happen if his two characters were to ever meet.
Listen to Little Gold Men Above, and below find an abridged transcript of the interview.
I want to dive in and talk about your fantastic new show on Showtime, I Love That for You, created by Vanessa Bayer. Starring Vanessa Bayer, starring just some casual people. Vanessa Bayer, Molly Shannon, Jenifer Lewis, and yourself. Diving into that experience and sort of sharing the screen with such sort of legends, what was that like?
Well, you have to imagine you’re me, and you walk into a room and it’s Vanessa Bayer, Molly Shannon, Jenifer Lewis, and then you’re also sort of expected to be there and perform, and it’s sort of out of body . I mean, really. You can’t pick people that are more formal for me. I mean, not in a weird way where it’s…It wasn’t distracting. In fact, it was more, Okay, this is actually…I’m here, let’s get to their level. But it’s tough when they’re firing at such 10s. And I mean, this show really gives them all the opportunity to really go there. It’s of course a great showcase for Vanessa, but what happens with Jenifer and Molly’s characters is just so…It’s very demanding. And I spoke with Jenifer recently, and she was saying, “I thought I signed on to do this little comedy and then it demanded so much of me.” I think we’re all just really excited and sort of emotional about people seeing it because it’s a very special show with, like you said, incredible people. I mean, Molly, Jenifer, and Vanessa are right there. I mean, that triumvirate—how do you improve upon it? You cant’t.
I guess we should talk about what the show is about, because it’s laugh-out-loud funny, but it also has a very sort of dark emotional center with Vanessa Bayer’s character, Joanna Gold. She had childhood leukemia and beats it and then becomes a QVC-type host on a channel called SVN. And to keep her job she says her cancer has come back. That’s in the pilot episode, and that immediately sets the tone. It’s hilarious, but it’s also definitely dark.
No, I mean, it’s a Showtime comedy, and Showtime comedies, they, quote, unquote, “have elbows,” as it were, so it definitely is a show that asks you to opt into…It really explores the human psyche. Basically, the fun way of pitching it is it’s basically The Devil Wears Prada but set at the Home Shopping Network. And yes, I do get to be the Emily Blunt, which is sort of a gay man’s dream. To say you’re the Emily Blunt type in anything is really huge.
Basically, we find Vanessa’s character at a time in her life where she feels like she’s capable of so much but is not doing anything in her life. And she feels that this thing from her childhood, which is that she was a cancer survivor, is holding her back because she’s coddled by her parents; she doesn’t have a relationship; her friendships are surface at best. And by stroke of opportunity and talent, she does get the job. And when she finds out that it’s a very cutthroat atmosphere, the Special Value Network, it’s pretty…It goes there.
It’s pretty cutthroat.
I think what the show explores is just how far we’re willing to go into the depths of pretending to keep a façade up that will make us happy. It really explores just what we project to others versus the reality. Because I think we all know what it’s like to be one thing but show another thing. How to make yourself more marketable to people. How to make yourself more palatable—
That’s Instagram. That’s social media. I mean, it’s so crazy.
That’s what makes it a great show for now, because I think on paper Joanna Gold does something that if you read about it you’d be like, Put her in jail, but I think this explores the reality of what happens when someone…feels they have no other choice. And it also really examines just our society today. We, as consumers, we accept so much about what we’re told, and we know so little about what really goes on. I really enjoy being on a show that…Like we said before, it really is funny, and it is a hard comedy first and foremost.