How ‘Party Down’ Pulled Off That Hilarious ‘Big Lebowski’-Inspired Episode

The Party Down cast in an episode of the Starz revival series.  (Photo: Courtesy of Starz)

He party downstairs aired in an episode of the Starz revival series. (Photo: Courtesy of Starz)

Talk about a party. The fourth episode of Starz’s party downstairs revival dwells with a big lebowski-inspired half hour that not only ranks among the best episodes in the show’s history, but also one of the funniest stoner comedies since the blazing glory days of half baked and smiley face. “lebowski It was definitely in my head,” the episode’s director, and party downstairs cast member: Ken Marino confirms to Yahoo Entertainment when the comparison is made to the Coen brothers’ favorite from 1998. “That’s perfect.”

In “KSGY-95 Prizewinner’s Luau,” everyone’s favorite servers are hired to provide drinks and hors d’oeuvres at a very special luau hosted by a local radio station that transports VIP guests to a Sting concert. Behind the scenes, Henry (Adam Scott) and his girlfriend Evie (Jennifer Garner) decide to throw their own party courtesy of some magic mushrooms, and the rest of the Party Down crew, minus Marino’s direct boss, Ron , joins. in the fun

But as the mushrooms take hold, their respective psyches threaten to split in two. Soon, resident chef Lucy (Zoë Chao) is preparing wood-pulp appetizers; aspiring influencer Sackson (Tyrel Jackson Williams) disappears during a live broadcast of her first trip; and Henry and Evie are playing the Dude as they try to solve the mystery of where he’s gone. Meanwhile, the group’s cynical, sci-fi-loving resident Roman (Martin Starr), whose streak of paranoia is as great as his love for Philip K. Dick, discovers that the luau is in fact a police sting operation designed to catch parents who don’t pay child support.

Clearly, there’s a lot going on in this episode, but Marino and the cast really unite the room by playing up the drug humor in a big way… but no. also big. “The goal of shooting something like this is to try to be as real as possible,” explains the director. “Don’t get too joking about it; be as specific as you can.”

Scott echoes Marino in discussing how he approached playing a completely stoned Henry. “It’s always a challenge if you have to play drunk or high, because you don’t want it to be fake,” he said. Parks and Recreation explains the fan favorite. “We’ve all seen the fake version of each different type of intoxication. I’ve always found that the more specific the better, so that’s where I usually start from. And since we were all doing it, it was a lot of fun to just hold onto each other’s hand in hand and jump off that cliff together.”

According party downstairs showrunner John Enbom details of “KSGY-95 Prizewinner’s Luau” changed a lot during season 3’s production. “It originally started out as a completely different episode,” he reveals, adding that the abandoned version of the episode would have featured Lizzy. Caplan as Henry’s on-again-off-again girlfriend Casey Klein, the only main character from the first two seasons not to return in the third. (Caplan had intended to be a part of the revival, but had production conflicts with other shows that required him to pull out. That’s when Garner was enlisted to make the rom-com of hers return as Henry’s new love interest.)

“Once we realized it wasn’t a Lizzie episode anymore, we had to rethink what we were doing,” continues Enbom. “The idea we had was that they were in this beautiful place and it’s a boring job, so they’d try mushrooms. That’s where we started, and everything else was just something we came up with. [later].”

Adam Scott and Jennifer Garner in Season 3 of Party Down.  (Photo: Colleen Hayes/Starz)

Adam Scott and Jennifer Garner in season 3 of party downstairs. (Photo: Colleen Hayes/Starz)

Like every episode of party downstairs —which has always relied heavily on improvisation— the cast had a lot of leeway in deciding how their characters would behave during their respective journeys. “They gave me a surprising amount of freedom,” says Williams, who was not a part of the show’s previous seasons. “I was very moved, because his experience is so intense and negative Ken told me, ‘You can go as far as you want, and if we need to dial it back, we’ll do it.

And many Sackson outtakes found their way onto the cutting room floor mainly due to a lack of time. “During the live broadcast audio, where Sackson babbles incoherently, there are numerous takes where Ken says, ‘I’m going to leave the mic on, just say whatever,'” the actor recalls. “It was so unbelievably stupid some of the stuff that came out of my mouth! But it was a lot of fun; I hope some of it gets to see the light of day.”

Bye, who is doing it too party downstairs debut this year, says Williams’ mushroom-enhanced performance became the gold standard the other cast members had to meet. “We filmed my stuff after he filmed his, and Ken said, ‘You guys I have to I see Tyrel in ‘mushrooms,'” the actress says, laughing. “And I was like, ‘SHIT, Tyrel is knocking it out of the park! Now I have to do it too.'” Fortunately, she was able to come up with her own version of how Lucy’s journey would play out.

“I was really stressed because I joined the show in Season 3 and I didn’t want to mess it up,” she explains. “And I was doubly scared by this episode, because you’re discovering a new character, and then you’re also discovering what that character is like when they’re high. The thing that guided me the whole season was my props, so I was like, ‘The answers are out there! here!’ It’s fun to see Lucy not in some angry, resentful place, but in this happy, excited creative space and just going for it.”

Another scene that didn’t make the final cut is Roman’s reaction to discovering that his car has been stolen by one of the indolent parents. Needless to say, he is not so happy. “When we were filming it, I was like ‘My car is right here,’ and then I pretended to get in and drive it, but it wasn’t there. It was just me walking around. That was kind of quality. Where’s the blooper roll?”

Naturally, someone had to stay sober while filming the episode, and that responsibility fell on the shoulders of Marino and Enbom. “I spent a lot of time in my trailer, while everyone else was running and having fun running around this park in Malibu,” says the showrunner. “I’d show up and they’d say, ‘We’re having a great time!'”

For his part, Marino calls the episode a “blur,” but not because of the substances he drank while directing it. “We were moving very fast and I was involved every moment,” he recalls. As for how he stayed in character, and kept a straight face, as he watched the rest of the cast lose their minds, he indicates that he channeled the Walter Sobchak within him. “When someone is playing an altered version of themselves, it’s fun to just sit back and watch and react. You get to react differently based on what they’re giving you.” That’s like his opinion, man.

party downstairs airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on Starz.

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