You probably recognize Zac Oyama from College Humor videos. At one point he kind of became the face of the Tide Pod challenge. He’s also a regular on Comedy BangBang and the Upright Citizens Brigade. He worked on Key & Peele and Adam Ruins Everything. He’s just one of the funniest people in the business today.
And he’s an old friend from high school.
On this bonus episode of the Reckon Interview, Zac and I talk about growing up in Alabama, how his dad established a Karate empire in Birmingham, Alabama, and also scored a role in Jordan Peele’s Get Out, how the internet has changed the entertainment business, the In-N-Out vs. Milo’s vs. debate. And more.
Here are a few excerpts from the episode to get you started.
Zac Oyama on how he wound up on Key & Peele and his dad wound up in “Get Out”
Finishing up my degree at Alabama, I still needed an internship. And I was really fortunate that my brother-in-law was producing a movie that was shooting in Atlanta, and I got to go intern on that movie. You know, Alabama was a great experience in school, but we never really had the access to a major film set or anything like that you would have if you went to say like USC or whatever. That’s a pretty foreign feeling but, yeah, I was just really lucky that I was able to drive over to Atlanta and then just be on set this movie called Wanderlust. It had, you know, Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd and Jordan Peele who I met there, and interned on that movie.
And then that was my last credit I needed [at UA] and so when I graduated, I moved to LA and worked as a post-PA just like getting editors lunch and stuff on that movie as well. And then from there, you know, I had met Jordan and some other people in that movie and so when Key & Peele, a show that I didn’t know what it would be like was picked up, I just emailed them like, “Hey, I would love to be a PA if you need one.” And he hired me. And so that was the beginning of my LA period.
So I ended up working on Key & Peele for a number of years as like a PA, and then their assistant to the producers. And then I got to be associate producer. For four, it felt like three or four years, like just constantly worked on that show without a break. Because all cycles of the… like writing would go into the pre-production would go into production and then editing, go right back into the writing again. So that was my life for a couple years.
My dad was in town because you know, me and my sister live out here and, like you said, it’s sort of a family business and he came to visit set one day. Jordan and Keegan both loved him. You know he’s a very charismatic, strange man that it’s hard not to enjoy his presence.
Jordan when he was going to film Get Out. They ended up shooting in Fairhope, but I think there was a number of places that they’re looking at. Alabama ended up being the place. Because that happened, Jordan, I think casting in Alabama was maybe a slightly daunting thing, or he just didn’t know what it would be like. And, you know, I can tell you from personal experience, there’s not a ton of Asian people in Alabama. And, and since he had met my dad, he literally texted me was like, “hey, would your dad want to be in my movie?” And it was truly just like… “I think he would do it. I don’t…Are you sure?”
I know that he kind of didn’t know what it would be and then was very excited with the results of it. And it’s definitely very fun for him. Because he loves movies and stuff. And it’s so like my dad that me and my sister could come to California and work super hard to try to have careers and stuff. And then he could be like, “oh okay, I’ll try it,” and he’d be in an Academy Award winning movie.
Zac Oyama on In-n-Out vs. Milo’s
Okay, so I love In-n-Out. I think In-n-Out’s really good. The fries, I think are a train wreck. I’ve grown to like them a little bit just because like fries are good but like they’re too like spongy and hard and like small. They’re like this crazy little tiny fries. Yeah I’ve made myself like them.
Yeah, but the burgers are incredible. I love In-n-Out burgers. I love generally flatter burgers. Like weirdly I hate going to a gastropub or whatever where you get like a huge burger that you can’t fit in your mouth and then it like falls apart and like it’s messy, you know, don’t like that.
But Milo’s is… you know, I feel like every department kills it. Like the sweet tea is amazing. The burger itself is amazing. The sauce, that’s amazing. The shakes are amazing. Me and my friend would do a thing in college where we would go to Milo’s get a Mega Meal, and then also get chicken tenders and put the chicken tender on our burger.