You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Jack Black, Aasif Mandvi on Balancing Geopolitics and Comedy in HBO’s ‘The Brink’

The creators and cast of the HBO show “The Brink” discussed balancing comedy and drama, and tackling serious issues with a wink at the show’s premiere at the Paramount Theater on Monday.

“I don’t think we crossed any nuclear lines… if you will,” said Jack Black. “I think it’s all funny.” The comedian added his thoughts on what makes the show especially relevant considering current geopolitical conflict. “Everyone sort of has this sort of thing in the back of their head, this dread that something bad is going to happen at some point. So I think it’s refreshing to be able to laugh at this whole situation. If you can laugh at something that’s scary, then you’re better off.”

In the tradition of black comedies like “Dr. Strangelove” and political satire like “MASH,” the new HBO comedy focuses on a geopolitical crisis and its effects on three disparate men: the Secretary of State Walter Larson (Tim Robbins), a foreign service officer (Black) and a Navy fighter pilot (Pablo Schreiber).

Aasif Mandvi, who stars in and writes for “The Brink,” said there was one point when current events had an eerily resembled the show’s plot. “There’s a story later in the season where we have seven Pakistani girls that Jack and I have to rescue,” he said. “And at the same time that we were writing it, the Boko Haram thing happened.” The “Daily Show” comedian said that it was a reminder to him that “the world is far more absurd than any satire could ever be.”

Exec producer and pilot director Jay Roach said one of the things he hopes viewers take away is the show’s ability to shed light on people with issues who are tasked to save the world, which he said is more realistic than perhaps we would like to think. “You might walk away thinking, ‘I bet it’s actually more like this than some of the more serious stuff that we’ve ever seen,'” he said.

Schreiber confessed to feeling uncomfortable with a particular subplot that happens later on the show. “(It) felt pretty crazy, and it was hard to wrap my head around that,” he said. “We were experimenting with that line throughout the season.” But ultimately he felt it was his own issues as an actor, rather than the plot itself, that caused him to hesitate.

Creator and executive producer Roberto Benabib boldly stated that, as the show progresses, the possibilities are limitless. “There is nothing we won’t approach,” he said. “But this is a show about geopolitics. It’s not a show about terrorism, so that’s a distinction. But in comedy, if you can strike the right balance, nothing should be sacred.”

In addition to Benabib and Roach, Jerry Weintraub and Kim Benabib are the show’s other executive producers. The 10-episode season bows Sunday, June 21.

(Pictured: Jack Black, Esai Morales and Aasif Mandvi at “The Brink” premiere)

More Scene


    Donna Karan, Mary-Louise Parker Honored at David Lynch Foundation's Women of Vision Awards

    Donna Karan, Mary-Louise Parker and Deborra-Lee Furness were celebrated for their charitable work at the David Lynch Foundation’s 2019 Women of Vision Awards. “We are all being guided to come together as one. There is so much chaos in the world right now,” Karan said, while accepting her Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual luncheon on [...]

  • Bill Hader

    Bill Hader, Greg Berlanti, Margie Cohn and Cindy Holland Inducted Into Variety Hall of Fame

    Variety’s annual Hall of Fame ceremony mixed comedy, gratitude and warmth at the annual awards ceremony Tuesday night at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. Because the class of 2019 celebrates technical innovation and achievement across film, TV, digital, video games and music. The honorees — Greg Berlanti, Bill Hader, Cindy Holland, Dametra Johnson-Marletti, [...]

  • Billy Porter FNAA

    Billy Porter Explains Why Fashion 'Can and Should' Be Activism

    On Tuesday in New York City, a handful of fashion’s marquee names, including Kenneth Cole, Tommy Hilfiger, Steve Madden and Pete Nordstrom, and many of its muses, including Billy Porter, Lena Waithe, Adriana Lima and Paris Hilton, gathered to celebrate the annual Footwear News Achievement Awards — or, as it’s more colloquially dubbed, the “Shoe Oscars.” Activism and the potential for designers to spur [...]

  • Tiffany Haddish Black Mitzvah

    Barbra Streisand Gives Tiffany Haddish Star of David Necklace for Her 'Black Mitzvah'

    Tiffany Haddish rang in her 40th birthday Tuesday night by celebrating her black and Jewish heritage with a star-studded “Black Mitzvah” party. One of Haddish’s famous friends, Barbra Streisand, was noticeably absent from the festivities, but sent the comedian a special memento for the occasion. “She got me this beautiful Star of David,” Haddish told [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content