‘Do You Know Who I Am?’: The True Story Behind ‘Nobodies’

One of the most shocking things about the outrageous comedy ‘Nobodies’ is how much of it is based on real life.

Starring Rachel Ramras, Hugh Davidson, and Larry Dorf, Nobodies tells the story of the three Groundlings alums trying to make it big in Hollywood… with some help from their famous friends.

Rachel, Hugh and Larry started at the Groundlings -- an improv and sketch comedy school in Los Angeles -- alongside performers like Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Nat Faxon, Annie Mumolo, Ben Falcone, and Melissa McCarthy.

Speaking at the BUILD Series about how they came up with the idea for Nobodies, Rachel explained that it was during the 2012 Oscars when Kristen, Annie, Melissa and Nat were all nominated for Oscars.

“It seemed like all of our friends were at the Oscars and we were writing a Looney Tunes show in our pyjamas… the juxtaposition, to use a big word, just seemed very funny to us.”

In the show, the trio is trying to pitch a movie called Mr First Lady, a comedy about the first female president of the United States’ husband. In reality, the trio did actually pitch the project to Ben Falcone, Melissa McCarthy’s husband and production partner.

“That was all real,” Hugh explained. “We had an idea for a movie about the first male First Lady… we pitched that to Ben and not to Melissa. We went out to lunch with Ben, it was very uncomfortable. It felt like we were asking to borrow $36,000 or something.”

Suggesting his wife may be perfect for the role of the president in the film, the trio’s meeting with Ben never went anywhere, so they decided to try and pitch the movie anyway without Ben or Melissa officially attached. Sadly, that also didn’t go anywhere, but the idea for Nobodies had been born.

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“We realised that it was just our lives, the pathetic side of our lives, was funny,” Hugh joked.

Larry, Rachel, and Hugh also revealed that most of the cringe-worthy moments in the show are actually based on real-life anecdotes, occasionally exaggerated just a bit. In one scene Larry bodyslams Jason Bateman during a particularly aggressive basketball game.

According to Hugh, it’s not actually that much of an exaggeration as to Larry’s basketball style but the story that inspired it actually happened at Groundlings.

It was Kristen Wiig’s first time back after her time on Saturday Night Live and, before going on stage, the performers were taking turns throwing wadded up balls of paper into a hoop. When Kristen went to take a shot Larry jokingly blocked the shot and accidentally smacked her in the face… just seconds before they all had to go onstage.

“Anything that seems particularly cringe-y or shame-y in the moment is always funny 20 years later… we put them all in the show,” Rachel said.

“We don’t necessarily poke fun at Hollywood but we certainly poke fun at ourselves, that's where a lot of our content comes from.”

The show is jam-packed with cameos from their Groundlings co-stars and Hollywood’s finest including Maya Rudolph, Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, Allison Janney, Sia, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, and Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy -- all playing versions of themselves.

Nobodies series 10 play Melissa McCarthy Ben Falcone

“It was very fun that Melissa pitched that she plays a horrible version of herself,” Rachel said. “I think when we started out writing it, we were very kind and generous and complimentary and she was like, ‘This is so boring.’”

“We didn’t want to piss her off,” Hugh added.

In the show, Melissa plays a vicious diva, one lacking all self-awareness and humour.

“Do you know who I am?” she hisses at the trio in one scene, “Melissa McF***ing McCarthy and you are nobodies!”

When asked what it meant to be a nobody, Rachel had the most interesting description:

“It’s all your own perception because obviously everyone is important and somebody to someone, but it’s really your own insecure version,” she said.

“Like, I always love when I see women in hats and then I put on a hat and I’m just like, ‘I’m wearing a hat, I’m wearing a hat, I’m wearing a hat. Everyone’s looking at me,’ you know what I mean? We’re so hard on ourselves.

“Wear a hat, be proud!”

You can watch every episode of Nobodies on demand on 10 play now.