How David Wain Does Breakfast
“I have two kids so I’m not really a part of the brunch scene”
Way back in 2004, I interned for the short-lived Comedy Central show Stella. I was in the locations department, so I had to drive around the city and ask people if we could shoot in their restaurant, bar, or Moose Lodge for a little bit of money. Even if you’ve never seen the show, you’ve heard of the three guys who produced and starred in it: David Wain, Michael Showalter, and Michael Ian Black. They've also made great stuff like The State, Wet Hot American Summer, and They Came Together, among many others. I watched their "Pizza" video on YouTube for the first time 12 years ago and still think about it whenever someone talks about “Brooklyn pizza.”
Way back in June 2016, when we launched Extra Crispy, I was thinking of people to interview for the site. David Wain would be good to interview about breakfast, I thought, so I got in touch with him and interviewed him about breakfast. I was going to run the story soon after that but then I rescheduled it for whatever reason. Then I pushed it again and forgot about it for a while because I’m super busy (that’s what people say when they’re disorganized and put things off). I wanted to run it later that summer, but there wasn’t a good news hook, and it sat neglected in my Google docs for a year and a half.
But now there’s the perfect hook: David’s new film A Stupid and Futile Gesture is available on Netflix starting today. It’s a biopic about Doug Kenney, the brilliant and troubled editor of National Lampoon magazine who went on to make Animal House and Caddyshack. So yeah, that’s the hook. And here’s the long lost, almost forgotten David Wain breakfast interview.
Extra Crispy: What’s your ideal breakfast?
David Wain: I tend to eat eggs every day, but I was told my cholesterol is high so I tend to eat less. I love pretty much anything made with eggs—breakfast burritos in particular, or scrambled or omelets—and accompanied with some espresso, fruit. And there ya go.
Are you in New York or Los Angeles more these days, and how do you think LA breakfast compares to New York’s?
LA. Not as good. I mean there are good places, but what’s great about New York is that there are so many little, interesting coffee shops that are open early that you can find, and I know where they all are all over town. And I tend to go out for breakfast a lot because it’s my personal time to gather my thoughts for the day and sit outside my house and start things. I love early, early morning breakfasts in New York. I often get to a coffee shop or a little breakfast place before it opens or right after it opens and there were places I used to go in NY all the time where I was very often the only one there from 6:30 to 6:45 in the morning.
What are your favorite spots in New York?
You know, I actually moved away three years ago but when I was there one of the places I used to go daily was Cocino on Greenwich Avenue and another one was… it was called… OMG, I went there everyday… it’s the word for “home” in… I’ll get you the name of it. But it was on 7th Avenue and Waverly, but then they moved. Now they’re down further on 7th Avenue, I think. Doma. D. O. M. A.
I think I remember that. I lived on Greenwich Street for a year, way back when, so I was around there.
Well, there you go. I used to go to Doma all the time, and it was like a whole breakfast community there. It was amazing. Doma also has the most incredible oatmeal.
I remember, because they didn’t cook it, so they toasted it overnight or something and I’ve just never had it anywhere else in the world that looks something like that. I didn’t even try to make it. They have this weird, special way of making it, and I would have that every day.
What are you working on now?
A Futile and Stupid Gesture. A biopic of Doug Kenney, who was the founder of National Lampoon and the writer of Caddyshack.
Do you eat a lot of food from the craft services on set? Like in the morning or do you kind of pass on it?
When I’m working and shooting like this, I usually will get the quickest, easiest thing. So, I’ll generally get a breakfast burrito from the caterer, and coffee, and go from there.
So when you moved to LA, were you discouraged with the breakfast options?
There are good places in LA, too. You just have to drive to them. I love finding little, cute, cool, little places. I never go to chains pretty much ever. I found a place called Vivian's Millenium Café, which is not far from where I live in LA, which I love. It’s kind of this weird, funky little breakfast place and there’s another place called Good Neighbor.
Do you feel breakfast has a special place in people’s lives?
Well it does for me. It’s my main meal. I eat enormous breakfasts every day.
Every single day?
I do. I eat so much. If I’m working, I’ll eat breakfast as soon as I get to set, at like 6 a.m., or whatever. And then I’ll eat again around 7, like another one. I often have two breakfasts. I just like to frontload my eating. On a regular weekday morning, I’ll have what people think of as two hotel brunches. I love to wake up and reminisce and indulge in that meal and then I take it easy from there.
Do you ever go for sweet breakfast foods, or is it mostly savory for you?
Not too often because my sweet tooth in general is diminished as I’ve gotten into my middle age, but I do go with my kids. I have two kids and I take them to breakfast a lot or I make breakfast for them and they like having pancakes and waffles and stuff like that. So I’ll take a bite of that. And then sometimes I’ll feel for a croissant with chocolate in it or I’ll have maybe a mocha, or something.
Do you have any favorite breakfast scenes in movies or TV that you could think of?
I think probably the obvious and most famous is my favorite, which is the end of Big Nightwhere they make an omelet. It’s like the greatest scene ever because of its simplicity. Oh, I loved as a kid watching Dynasty and how they would just wake up out of bed and just go downstairs and there was beautiful, tea service breakfast and everything. I always thought that was such a huge thing.
Are you a big coffee drinker?
I drink espresso or coffee in the morning, and that’s it. I like coffee places and I like good coffee, but I don’t necessarily understand it. I don’t talk about different roasts and stuff. There are also many coffee shops around New York and LA that I’ve gotten to know at different points. I’ll spend hours in the middle of the day if I’m writing something. I enjoy that scene a lot. But after the morning I switch to water.
Do you have any feelings on brunch and obsessing over brunch and how people wait in line for brunch?
I think waiting in line for anything is absurd. When it’s your free day or the weekend and you’re going to do something you enjoy, or if it’s your time to decide how you spend it, and to spend an hour of it to go wait in line to eat eggs or something is bizarre and I would never do it.
Do you find that’s an LA thing, too—or more of just New York?
Oh, hugely. It’s a little different in New York just because the nature of New York is so much more condensed. But yeah, there are all the hot brunch places in LA just the same and people wait in line. I get it, some of the food is great. If there’s no line at the place across the street that’s not quite as good, I’ll get to another place another time. Plus, I usually eat breakfast so early that there’s not a big problem. And I have two kids so I’m not really a part of the brunch scene.
What’s your go-to breakfast you make for your kids?
I’ll make them anything. I’ll make eggs and toast and pancakes and waffles and French toast. Their tastes run the normal, American breakfast. I make oatmeal whenever.
Do you ever do bloody marys or mimosas?
Not really. Let me think. Yeah, no. Although I remember the time we were doing the movie Wet Hot American Summer and we were doing interviews all day long at Sundance when I was 30 years old and it was the weirdest sort of experience. We just started drinking bloody marys starting at 7 a.m. and drank all day long.