At six feet three inches, Rob Riggle is used to towering over his fellow comedians, which likely played a part in his being cast in a new series of humorous ads for Head & Shoulders. Given that the online campaign also stars infamously hirsute Pittsburgh Steelers defensive wizards Troy Polamalu and Brett Keisel, Riggle's impressive football knowledge—which he unleashes every week on Fox NFL Sunday—couldn't have hurt, either. The goofy ads offered us a convenient excuse to quiz the boisterous alum of The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live about his other projects and, because he was raised in Kansas, his thoughts on barbecue.
DETAILS: What's the concept behind the commercials?
ROB RIGGLE: The idea is that we've gotten together to form this Troy Polamalu School of Deeper Learning. Basically they came to me and said, "Hey, we have this idea that's really fun," and I looked at it and thought it could work. If you go to DeepLikeTroy.org, you can see all of the videos that we shot. We played around, did a little improvising...
DETAILS: Did you get a lifetime supply of Head & Shoulders?
ROB RIGGLE: That should have been the deal. It's too bad I'm not a more savvy negotiator. They did hook me up with a bunch of bottles, probably enough to get me through the year. Probably not a lifetime's worth, though.
DETAILS: Have you met lots of big-name NFL players since joining the Fox pre-game crew?
ROB RIGGLE: Yes, although I hosted the ESPY Awards this summer and I actually met more NFL players at that than anywhere. It was a blast. I got to meet Aaron Rodgers, hang backstage with Drew Brees. Just a bunch of people I really admire and try to pick every year on my fantasy-football team.
DETAILS: Did you try to mine them for information for your fantasy-football team?
ROB RIGGLE: I did squeeze their arms. I was like, "How does this feel? Does this feel okay?"
DETAILS: With the election going on, do you miss being a correspondent on The Daily Show?
ROB RIGGLE: Well, yes and no. There is a part of me that enjoys watching the election coverage, and there is another part of me that looks at the 2008 campaign and just remembers how hard we worked. Once I think about how many sleepless nights there were, I don't miss it so much.
DETAILS: You're currently featured on NTSF:SD:SUV, a wacky parody of police procedurals that airs on Adult Swim. How did you get involved in that?
ROB RIGGLE: Paul Scheer is the creator, architect, and star of NTSF:SD:SUV. He and I have been doing comedy together in New York and L.A. for the last decade. We were in the same improv team at the UCB Theatre for seven years. Anytime we have a chance to work together, we try to do it.
DETAILS: Paul Scheer was also in the sketch group Human Giant with Rob Huebel and Aziz Ansari. You guys were responsible for one of my favorite sketches ever: Corn Chowder. How the hell did you ever think that one up?
ROB RIGGLE: [Laughs] I think it was Paul's idea. But look, I've been playing with these guys for 13 years. We just showed up and started messing around and having fun. We know how to play off each other. It was absolutely ridiculous, but we somehow just kept it going. Rob, Paul, and I are still really good friends. We still perform here in Los Angeles on Wednesday nights if we're all around—we have a Facebook show at UCB. If I'm in town, I'm usually over there trying to do some improv.
DETAILS: You often use the fact that you are a big, intimidating guy for laughs. Do you have a fitness regimen you stick to?
ROB RIGGLE: It's funny you say that, because I was planning on running some of the shorter events at the Marine Corps Marathon, like the 5k or the 10k, so I've been training. Sadly I blew out my knee when I was in Kansas City, so my training regimen has taken a hit. But overall I try and stay active. What's that old adage? Try and do something that will make you sweat every day. If you do that, you'll do fine.
DETAILS: As a guy raised in Kansas City, can you tell us what is so special about the local barbecue?
ROB RIGGLE: Kansas City has your molasses-based barbecue that you find a lot in the Midwest. To me, if you're molasses-based, you are already winning. Once you get out to North Carolina, then you're getting into vinegar-based barbecue, and that doesn't fly with me. My palate has been calibrated for Kansas City barbecue. I was actually back there last weekend for a Nascar race. While I was in town, I made sure I visited Jack Stack BBQ. Man, they do it right. I got a Kansas City beer, Boulevard Wheat. I got some ribs, some coleslaw. Man, I was in heaven. There are a lot of other great barbecue places—Gates Bar-B-Q, Arthur Bryant's, the new kid in town, Oklahoma Joe's—but pound for pound, I'll take Jack Stack.
DETAILS: By the way, are you still a Marine?
ROB RIGGLE: I'm still in the reserves. I'm a lieutenant colonel, 23 years in. I'm probably going to be retiring in January, if they approve it, which I assume they will.
—Keith Wagstaff is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn. Follow him @kwagstaff.