Billy Eichner Q&A: ‘Difficult People’ and ‘Billy on the Street’
Billy Eichner has multiple chances for Emmys this year. His roaming New York game show “Billy on the Street” is in the running for Best Variety Sketch Series, and he’s also a contender for Best Comedy Actor for Hulu’s “Difficult People,” which premiered last summer and returns for its second season on July 12. We chatted via webcam about both of these red-hot shows (watch above).
In “Difficult People,” Eichner plays struggling comedian Billy Epstein. He and his friend Julie (played by series creator Julie Klausner) frequently “make fun of people who are more successful than us,” but though they may seem like misanthropes, there’s pathos beneath their bluster. “There’s a lot of vulnerability there as well in our characters,” Eichner explains. “These are very broken people inside. They happen to be funny and sharp when making fun of other people, but they’re searching for some sort of emotional connection.”
The upcoming second season will focus in part on that search for connection for Billy: “A lot of my storyline in the second season involves this desperate late-30s – in terms of my age and not the era – search for love in the age of apps, Tinder, Grindr and all of these things.”
“Billy on the Street,” meanwhile, will return for its fifth season later this year. It aired its fourth season – its first on the TruTV network – last fall. “Not to toot my own horn, but someone’s got to toot it,” Eichner declares. “We had built up some good will over the years leading up to our move to TruTV, and with that came some creative leverage and a trust that at this point I knew what I was doing.”
“I’m very proud of the show,” he adds. “It comes from somewhere within a deep, absurdist part of my imagination, and it’s really inspired by my lifelong obsession with the entertainment industry, and a love-hate affair with everything good and bad about it.”
The season brought a wide array of comedy bits, including a Shondaland obstacle course and guest appearances by the likes of Tina Fey, Chris Pratt, Anna Kendrick, and recent Oscar champ Julianne Moore, who acted for tips in Times Square. “That was my way of saying that to me Julianne Moore – a great actress like that – is my superhero. She’s my Spider-Man. The whole world is obsessed with ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘Suicide Squad,’ and I don’t really give a shit about that. [Julianne Moore] is what turns me into a fanboy.”